Country Clubs in the US and around the world have enjoyed an interesting history and, sometimes, incredible notoriety. After all, these clubs occupy the most beautiful and sought-after ground in a community. They offer wonderful amenities, like world-class golf courses and clubhouses. But, some of them have also gotten in hot water for being too exclusive or, even worse, exclusionary. Fortunately, country clubs today have changed with the times, sometimes as a result of great pressure or litigation. Most clubs today appeal to men and women of all ages and ethnic groups looking great golf, tennis, recreation, socializing, fine dining and lovely views.
What is a “Country Club?”
By definition, a country club is a private, exclusive club for its members. New members are usually recommended by existing members and, often, there are waiting lists for admission as a member. Most country clubs offer a wide variety of recreational activities, like golf, tennis, polo, croquet and swimming alongside dining and a myriad of social activities. Some country clubs make their facilities available to members and other guests for weddings and private parties.Golf, tennis and swim clubs or communities that happen to have golf courses and club houses are not, by definition, country clubs. Instead, they may offer golf, tennis and swim memberships to sports enthusiasts, or lifestyle amenities to homeowners. Some cities have private membership clubs that offer dining and social activities. The Union League, Capital Club and University Club are just a few examples of these high-voltage, often politically-based, social and supper clubs.
Country clubs, on the other hand, are far more exclusive and much more expensive than your garden variety club house or golf course. Country clubs offer amenities across a wide range of interests, rather than just golf, though golf certainly dominates most country club action in and around Washington, DC.
Best Country Clubs in DC, Maryland and Virginia
As a world class city and surrounding metropolitan area, Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia have long had clubs that appeal to the rich, powerful and well-connected. Many of them have had to refurbish and update with the times. No longer can the appeal of exclusive club membership draw members today. Rather, Washington, DC’s metropolitan country clubs have had to update their golf courses and recreation programs, appeal to whole families, and diversity their dining options. The sports and leisure dollar is highly desirable, and country clubs must compete with more affordable options like public and community golf courses, health clubs, Gold’s Gym, and, even, the more upscale YMCA. Among the notable country clubs in the National Capital Region are:
Army Navy Country Club
2400 18th Street South
Arlington, Virginia 22206
Telephone (703) 521-6800
Army Navy Country Club or ANCC as it’s commonly called is a private, membership-owned recreation club that was founded in 1924. Members include active duty and retired commissioned US military officers and their families. ANCC is also open to eligible civilian members. ANCC was established to offer an affordable recreational and social facility for military and civilian members who share love for country and have worked to advance national defense. ANCC is minutes from downtown Washington, DC, the Pentagon and a number of military bases in and around the nation’s capital. Its grounds provide a lovely oasis from the serious business of national defense. Teens and ‘tweens in and around Arlington County have fond memories of ANCC as host of monthly cotillion meetings and dances.
Belle Haven Country Club
6023 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, VA 22307
Telephone: (703) 329-1448
Founded in 1924, Belle Haven Country Club is truly the belle of the ball with its dining facilities and recreational activities. Located one exit off the George Washington Parkway from Old Town Alexandria, Belle Haven is, likewise, prized for its proximity to the nation’s capital. Its rolling hills and great views provide a lovely respite from the hum of government and industry in progress. Fine dining, recreation, 18 holes of golf, 2600 square foot fitness center, tennis and paddle ball courts, what more could Belle Haven members and their toney guests want from this elegant beauty?
Chevy Chase Club
6100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
Telephone: (301) 652-0891
Take a drive down Connecticut Avenue on the way to the District and it’s hard to miss the Chevy Chase Country Club. Founded in 1892, Chevy Chase is notable for its lovely gardens, grounds, clubhouse and athletic facilities. Many Washingtonians treasure the Club for playing host to some wonderful outdoor weddings and private parties. Today, the Club boasts an 18-hole golf course, practice facility, 21 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, 7paddle tennis courts, a fitness center, 3 lovely swimming pools, 8 lanes for duckpins, an outdoor ice skating rink, a guest house, dining rooms, nature trail and greenhouses. What more could Chevy Chase’s A-list ask for?
Congressional Country Club
8500 River Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20817
Telephone: (301) 469-8633
Founded in 1924, Congressional Country Club has hosted heads of state and titans of government and industry. Among its many famous members include Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge and Eisenhower. Congressional has long served as host for any number of world-class tournaments, including the US Open and PGA. Congressional has also played host to family gatherings and private parties down through the generations.
Congressional is a gem, start to finish, and promises even better things to come.
Kenwood Golf and Country Club
5601 River Road
Bethesda, MD 20816
Telephone: (301) 320-3000
Since 1928, Kenwood Golf and Country Club has graced the countryside of Bethesda, Maryland. Fine dining, golf, swimming, and so much more, this Country Club has long been home to some of Maryland’s more connected set. Kenwood’s grounds are lovely, minutes to National Institutes of Health and only six miles from the White House. Who could ask for more?
Washington Golf and Country Club
3017 N. Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22207
Telephone: (703) 524-4600
Across the river from Congressional and Chevy Chase Club sits the lovely Washington Golf and Country Club. Founded in 1894, the clubhouse was recently renovated and sports a wonderful view of the golf course and city beyond. Down through the ages, the club has claimed Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, several high ranking, government figures and, even, US Supreme Court Justices. The Club features a number of amenities, including a golf course, driving range, practice greens, a swimming pool, 10 outdoor tennis courts, and several dining rooms. Over the years, kids and families have gravitated to Washington Golf and Country Club’s generous 4th of July fireworks celebration, one that rivals those in Washington, DC.
National Club Association
Club Managers Association of America
River Bend Golf & Country Club