As the winter season approaches, being able to promote your pickleball club as a year-round facility is something no club owner should take for granted. In certain parts of the country, the weather limits outdoor play to about half of the year, forcing players to look to indoor facilities. However, at Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Virginia, their Racquet Sports Facility is able to host pickleball year-round at the resort.
In addition to their tennis program, the Wintergreen Resort Racquet Sports Facility has a comprehensive pickleball program that includes regular open play times, lessons, a variety of social events, tournaments, and world class instructional camps. The facility has eight dedicated pickleball courts and six temporary indoor courts for club members and lodging guests to enjoy.
Being that this pickleball program is hosted at a four-seasons resort, it was imperative that recreational activities, like pickleball, are suitable for all four seasons for resort guests. Pickleball “can be played year-round if you have the right weather conditions and access to indoor courts,” says Steve Campbell, Wintergreen Resort’s Director of Racquet Sports. With this in mind, leadership at Wintergreen Resort determined it was worth the investment to create a space suitable for year-round pickleball play. Of course, during much of the year in Virginia, players can enjoy use of the outdoor courts. However, during the colder months, players can choose to use the “beautiful, well-designed indoor facility that can accommodate up to six pickleball courts.” Moreover, because of the thoughtful design of the indoor facility, both the tennis and pickleball programs can run simultaneously throughout the year.
At Wintergreen Resort, they regularly have guests choosing to stay at their resort because of the pickleball accommodations. “Now that word is out that Wintergreen Resort has pickleball, [they] have guests certainly attracted to pickleball” as one of the many amenities offered at the resort. Further, Campbell emphasizes that their tournaments and special clinics have brought many guests to the resort since it is easy for anyone traveling from out of town for a tournament or clinic to also stay at the resort where they’ll be playing.
The typical clientele coming to play at Wintergreen Resort varies greatly, from beginners to tournament-level players. Additionally, they frequently host families and corporate retreats, “which encompasses a wide range of ages and abilities,” creating a diverse group of players coming through the pickleball program.
In order to balance the pickleball and tennis programs, Campbell and his team at the Racquet Sports Program have had to do considerable research to ensure both programs are adequately supported for year-round play. Their effort and research led them to “adjust hours and courts, as well as the activities and lessons,” to accommodate two year-round racquet sports programs at the same facility.
Campbell has learned a lot during his tenure at Wintergreen Resort and gained much insight about running a year-round pickleball program. One of the things he considers of utmost importance is to “monitor your courts in terms of hours, when are the peak hours, what time of play, is play singles or doubles,” and the like. Having this deep knowledge of what is going on on your courts will help you make the best decisions for the program. Campbell quotes Star Trek saying, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” noting that if you “take care of the large groups… the [pickleball] program will build” itself. Further, Campbell advises being open to trying a multitude of options to see what does and does not work for your program. He recommends being willing to try new things, but also “be willing to change and don’t be afraid of failing if something doesn’t work.” Campbell is happy to offer advice to burgeoning pickleball program directors looking to solidify their programs for year-round play.