Ben duPont talks about decision to buy country club  (WHYY with video)

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By Shirley Min

Family heir Ben duPont and a former DuPont Company executive recently announced they’re not only buying the DuPont Country Club, but also investing millions to spruce it up.

Longtime members duPont and Don Wirth believe making the DuPont Country Club more family-friendly will be the key to increasing membership and profits. Country clubs nationwide have been struggling to stay afloat because significantly fewer people are golfing. Currently, there are 1,750 members at the DuPont Country Club, down from 5,000 in 2004.

“The experts that I’ve talked to, and I agree with this consensus, say, families are looking for more things to do together over shorter periods of time. So that means 18 holes of golf for dad by himself or mom by herself is out,” duPont said. “But 9 holes, or a rock climbing wall, or a chance to get fitness, and swim in a pool, or hit golf balls in a driving range — those things are actually on the uptick nationally. And we think by just listening, doing a better job listening to the market that we can turn this around.”

The businessman said they’re investing $18 million to upgrade the club. For starters, they’re improving the internet speed at the club; creating a phone app that allows you to make reservations for your children, order takeout or reserve a meeting space all from your phone. They’re also elevating the quality of food service at the club.

This summer, duPont said construction will begin on three all-season swimming pools, a 15,000 sq. ft. fitness facility and an indoor driving range. Construction is expected to be complete by summer 2020.

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