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Fauquier Springs Country Club adapts, adjusts to realities of the pandemic

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John Thorsen

Fauquier Springs Country Club member John Thorsen lines up a shot.

 The Fauquier Springs Country Club on Springs Road in Warrenton – like other local businesses -- has taken steps throughout the pandemic to maintain a safe environment for its members while continuing to provide opportunities for camaraderie. The 18-hole, 71-par golf course is the centerpiece, but the club also offers tennis courts, a pool and restaurant. Although large gatherings have been somewhat restricted for much of the last year, the country club is slowly reopening as a venue for community events and private parties, from weddings to catered board meetings.

In April 2020, the club partnered with the Irish Golf Academy. Barry McMahon as golf operations director and Jim Steigelman as head golf professional have brought a new set of eyes and ideas to energize the club while recruiting new club members. The number of rounds of golf increased in the spring of 2020 by more than 1,100 compared with the same time period in 2019. IGA staff oversees all lessons, camps, clinics, golf tournaments, golf trips and the driving range. McMahon said, “Golf is healthy during these tough times; keeping members active and happy has been our goal.”

While maintaining safety guidelines, golfing groups for men, women, couples, low-handicappers, beginning golfers and seniors have continued to play throughout the pandemic. With a focus on developing the golfers of tomorrow, IGA held a junior program in 2020 for 39 youth, in addition to three junior golf camps. Club members’ enthusiasm for golf was maintained even while the course was renovated under the stewardship of Ryan Peach.

In December 2020, the club added David Zabelsky as its clubhouse manager. He oversees all clubhouse activities, including banquets and member dining, as well as the club’s administrative functions. He grew up in Northern Virginia, earned a degree in journalism from Penn State and has extensive experience in hospitality management. 

Laura and Ryder Bartee

Laura and Ryder Bartee anticipate a snack.

Despite the hurdles imposed on the food service industry, the club’s Grille Room has continued to serve members and guests lunch and dinner with curbside service, outdoor dining and limited indoor seating six days a week. During 2020, the club helped its quarantined membership by catering meals for special occasions like Easter and Mother's Day. One member stated, “It is almost like going out to eat for the celebrations.”

The club recently has resumed scheduling weddings as well as other parties, banquets and meetings while following the state’s COVID restrictions. In October, the club once again hosted the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce Valor Awards in a combined online and in-person recognition ceremony.

Improvements to the FSCC pool were made in 2020, including installation of two diving boards and a stroller and handicap ramp. In addition, the club launched a weekly one-hour, high-energy aqua fit class to help members cope with pandemic stress. This year, FSCC is offering a summer swim membership for families with children interested in joining the swim team and enjoying the use of the pool, clubhouse and golf facilities.

Other activities are slowly returning, including weekly yoga and Paint and Sip.

FSCC is located on the former grounds of the historic Fauquier White Sulphur Springs Resort, a prominent mineral water resort in the South from 1830-1896. The club’s application to erect a historic marker on Springs Road was approved last year by Virginia’s Board of Historic Resources. An unveiling ceremony for the marker was held during the summer, and a History Day has been rescheduled to spring 2021; it will be open to the public. The application for the marker was a joint effort; the club worked with the Fauquier County Historical Society and the Afro-American Historical Association in The Plains.

In addition, the club has granted a conservation easement to the county to preserve the beauty of the club’s open space.

FSCC members have a personal interest in the success of the club; in fact, throughout 2020 members volunteered to help on landscaping and painting projects. Club President Huntley Thorpe III said that FSCC has demonstrated how a country club survives the pandemic with its membership engaged and the club ever stronger: “None of this would have been possible without the commitment of our staff and membership to the safety of our community and Fauquier Springs Country Club.” (www.fauquiersprings.com)

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