No offense to Head Golf Professional Mike Montgomery or golf course superintendent Dave Bocci and the pristine course and outstanding services they and their staffs provide, but the Bellingham Golf and Country Club wouldn't be the Bellingham Golf and Country Club without a little touch of home cooking - literally and figuratively.
"My push this year is definitely the family aspect," BGCC president Don Van Andel said in a phone interview. "I think that's what holds us together. If the family is strong, the club is strong."
It's that kind of thinking that has helped the Country Club through its first century of existence.
"We're very family focused here at the Country Club," BGCC General Manager Trent McAllister said. "We're like a big family. Some of our employees have been here so long we feel like a big family."
McAllister should know about as well as anyone, as he's worked "just about every job out here, though some of them weren't for too long" since he came to the Country Club as a teenager shagging golf balls.
That sort of tenure has allowed McAllister and many other BGCC employees to get to know the club members like family and vice versa.
Even members stay so long they get to feeling like family members with one another.
"We consider it inclusive," Van Andel said. "It's not exclusive at all. We want everybody to come in. The neat thing Mike Montgomery and (former head golf pro) Dean Russell did is they don't make you have to call for a tee time. Just come on down as a single or a couple of guys. There are always a couple of openings out there. They'll introduce you and let you go play together. When I go down there, I always try to introduce myself. My goal is to introduce myself to somebody new every time I go through the gate. There are always a lot of people down there."
The golf course is not the only place to meet new people at the Country Club.
BGCC is also known for its family-atmosphere restaurant, which is "like you're eating out of your own kitchen, only better," Van Andel said.
"The food is excellent," said Vic Bradbury, who's been a member for 35 years. "We've always had an excellent chef. I don't think there is a better place in town to eat. The prime rib is out of this world. I have a daughter that lives in Canada, and she comes down just for the prime rib and garlic mashed potatoes. And these girls have been all over the world, but they love to come here."
The pool, which opened in 1961, is another hot destination when the temperatures finally start to rise in Bellingham during the summer, and the club offers swim lessons.
"The swimming pool makes it a real family atmosphere," Bradbury said. "You'll see a lot of guys that go out and golf in the morning, while their families will go and enjoy the pool. Then you'll see them at the pool with their wives and kids after they finish their round or meeting up in one of the restaurants or sitting out on the deck having a great time."
At the heart of it, having a great time is what the Country Club is all about.
"It's not all about golf," Van Andel said. "It's about fellowship and companionship and making friends. It's not fun to golf with the same people all the time. You want to keep adding people to your group. That's where the family aspect comes in."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.