More Than Thriving, It’s Bustling
As Golf bursts back onto the scene as one of the few safe havens during Covid, Napa Valley Country Club (NVCC) has parlayed the newly found demand into “the busiest summer, fall, and now winter in our recorded history,” according to Ari Kreisler, General manager of NVCC. “We have great buzz right now. New members are signing up at a record pace. Last year, the club added more than 100 new members, compared to 32 in 2019. Smoke, Covid, heat waves, whatever. We just adapt and move forward.”
Napa Valley Country Club has a rich history that dates to 1915. Nestled among 181 oak-studded acres and surrounded by some of Coombsville’s most prestigious vineyards, NVCC has established a stalwart reputation of marrying tradition with adaptability to remain relevant and flourish. The long driveway leading to the clubhouse hints at hallowed and venerable grounds and showcases a panoramic golf course, seven lighted tennis courts, an Olympic size pool, a private clubhouse, and recently added pickleball and bocce courts. Yet, the mix of pick-up trucks and Mercedes lining the parking lot reveals a casual inclusivity that is not often found at a private golf club.
Kreisler learned early that his favored traditional three-piece suits did not exactly match the club’s unpretentious vibe. “First, everyone told me to lose the jacket,” laughed Kreisler. “Then they told me to lose the tie. Then it was ‘untuck your dress shirt!’ But Kreisler said not to be fooled by the casual ambiance, as the club is the choice of some of Napa’s most prominent citizens, who also appreciate the “country club casual” atmosphere. “Don’t get me wrong,” contended Kreisler, “we have a dress code and higher expectations than you will find around town. We just aren’t that ‘hoity-toity’ club that you might expect upon arrival.”
The Club’s main attraction is its golf program. Boasting a 6,298-yard par 72 course, NVCC offers over two dozen competitive annual member golf tournaments with additional fun member golf events. “We provide the ultimate “golf club” experience for our members,” stated Kreisler. The ladies have their own day each week, and the club also provides golf events for couples. The talented golf staff offers instructional programs for all ages, custom club-fitting, and ‘Demo Days’ where manufacturers like Titleist, Taylor Made, and Ping spend a day at the club to provide members the ability to test the latest in golf equipment.
Just as golf has remained a Covid constant, so too has tennis, and NVCC is known as one of the best places to play tennis in the Napa Valley, with its junior’s programs, adult clinics, and everything in between. “Our Tennis program is thriving like never before, and that begins and ends with Chris,” said Kreisler of NVCC’s head tennis professional Chris Kubicka. “Chris can be found teaching on the courts early in the morning and late into the night,” thanks to the lights that adorn each of the seven available tennis courts. “Chris offers something for everyone, including pickleball lessons and drop-in events.”
Kreisler joined NVCC in June 2020 after spending the first 19 years of his career serving two clubs in Southern California as the Controller, CFO, and General Manager. One of 154 candidates considered for the NVCC job, he was selected for his leadership skills and ability to gather a top-notch team.
“A golf club is not simply about amenities,” said Kreisler, a Southern California native who has quickly grown to love his new surroundings. “It’s about the people. Our staff is a big part of our brand, providing an incredible experience you can only get in a private club.”
Heather Vigil serves as the club’s in- finitely capable membership and human resources director. Steven Tevere serves as Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director, and according to Kreisler, is a “celebrity” amongst members who appreciate his delicious ‘to-go’ dinners. During Covid restrictions, when members cannot use the clubhouse and restaurant, Tevere creates a special dish with sides and dessert three nights each week, focusing on one well-priced and perfect meal. “When you have a club that has been around as long as ours, it takes some time to make your mark,” said Kreisler. “Not for Steven. His food and ideas have taken this place by storm.”
Kreisler also credits the NVCC Board of Directors for being integral to the significant advances the Club has made in such a short amount of time. “Board service can be challenging, especially in a fast-paced changing environment,” he explained. “It’s their behind-the-scenes work that I am the most thankful for.” Nobody knows that better than Board President Martin Olsen. According to Kreisler, “Being the Board President is the toughest volunteer role of all, and Martin performs it with dedication and tenacity. He never flinches in the face of difficult decisions, and these achievements we keep making would not be possible without his leadership.”
Asked his plans for NVCC’s future, Kreisler said, “Think big but keep it simple. Keep it affordable. Hire good people. Communicate to the members more often than you think you should. And then communicate again.”
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Article By: Fran Miller