Orchard Creek Country Club is an attraction located in Waynesboro built right on top of what used to be an apple orchard. In 1948, 162 acres of Quillen Farm were purchased to build a golf course. Designed by Fred Findlay and his apprentice Pete Lang, the course opened for play in 1950 with 9-holes. In 1955, the Hewitt Dairy Farm was purchased and construction began on the back nine. Since then, the Club has served as a retreat for families in the Shenandoah Valley and across central Virginia. Other than the beautiful Golf Course access, Orchard Creek hosts an aquatics program, including a water aerobics program and swim lessons, in conjunction with social events and activities happening all over the grounds, the restaurant, and event space. Zanny Bandy, the Director of Member Experience, stays busy daily helping people make memories and enjoy their time here in the valley, and more specifically, Waynesboro.
We sat down with Director of Member Experience, Zanny Bandy, whose self-proclaimed job description is “in charge of all the fun,” to learn more about Orchard Creek Country Club and how an influential experience as a young adult landed Zanny in a role she loves.
Growing up, Zanny’s favorite job to date was as a camp counselor, and later in life aspired to “get that fun and passion back.” To do so, she started in casino hotels, which she claims to have been a “really cool way to enter the industry,” while it required lots of off-the-job skills and training. Further, Zanny pursued her Hospitality Management Degree, where she realized along the way that “life was going to happen and that these places don’t typically close….” Upon deciding to shift gears, Zanny found herself working in construction, obviously a different track. Paths eventually aligned for the better, and Zanny met David and Teresa, who guided her journey to where she is now, thriving at Orchard Creek Country Club.
To Zanny, David and Teresa Gauldin exemplified their passion for what they wanted to do in the community by continuing to improve the land and avoiding a potential eyesore amid Waynesboro. The fact that the two pursued a sought-out place for families to be was what specifically drove Zanny to love the nature of David and Teresa’s ever-growing project. Because of the experiences she witnesses every day, Zanny says, “it has been like being a camp counselor every single day.”
Recently, Orchard Creek has added a few more summer activities to the mix. The front lawn area is open all day, every day, for member use. As long as the weather permits, the team will take out solo stoves to accompany games with tasty s’mores on the side! According to the crew, children seem to enjoy the lawn the most, indulging in four-square volleyball, yard Jenga, and jumbo Connect-Four, as well as the ability to simply let the imagination run wild while little legs run and play freely– within the parameters of a fence, of course… don’t worry, parents! Since the beginning of COVID-19, Orchard Creek has implemented numerous outdoor availability and experiences to keep the community connected without increasing the risk of direct contact; Golf was especially popular during the peak of Covid. Due to the nature and set-up of their facilities during this time, the country club saw a significant boost in new membership signees.
“We’re just trying to incorporate as much of the community and invite everyone in and not be an exclusive, stuffy country club.” Says Zanny, “That’s not who we are here. You will find kids, and you will find families, young adults, and young professionals, as well as some of the original OGs of Waynesboro, who are still here. But it’s a great place to go for community, and it’s warm and welcoming. So it’s not that old stuffy country club feel. We don’t even have carpet on the floors anymore. We’ve evolved.” In turn, many non-members tend to ask about their membership deals after experiencing a meal on the property.
As most readers may agree, Waynesboro, Virginia, is one of the best places to live and do business. “It’s virtually an untapped market. People don’t understand what’s here until you get here and have boots on the ground. We have members who come in all the time who’ve moved here from Charlottesville and can’t believe how they can get many of the same bigger city experiences here, and our community programs are just amazing. And that’s why I think most businesses thrive here, is the real sense of community, and everyone wants everyone to do well. There’s great support amongst the business owners, and that’s what I appreciate the most about this town,” Zanny says.
There are no doubt many individuals in Waynesboro and the surrounding areas that either struggle with fully committing to the idea of entrepreneurship or simply working on getting back into what they love while making a living from it– which is sometimes believed to be impossible. Zanny has a great way of putting it all into perspective: “Go with your gut, and that is a hundred percent. If I hadn’t listened to my gut, I would still be doing payroll and not enjoying my days as much as I am now. Who in their right mind chooses to go into events and membership coordinating in the middle of a pandemic when the fundamental role has been shut down? It sounded completely crazy, but if I hadn’t followed my gut, intuition, and believed in what we were doing here, I would’ve been so sad. I’m so happy I did it.”
To learn more about Zanny and the crew at Orchard Creek Country Club in Waynesboro, check out their Facebook as well as their website, at www.orchardcreekva.com, which has up-to-date menus, restaurant hours, golf information, contact information for the Gauldins and Kandy Comer, as well as the lessons she provides.