The High Life
At Forsgate Country Club, a short drive from Princeton, members enjoy exceptional golf, fitness facilities and so much more
by Jenny Graham

Sitting on 320 sprawling and bucolic acres of land in Monroe Township, N.J., just outside of Princeton, is Forsgate Country Club. Here, members discover a destination for not only excellent golf but also an elite country club experience that is ideal for the whole family.

Ryan Dionne is director of operations for RDC Golf Group, which oversees Forsgate, as well as Tallgrass Golf Club in Long Island, N.Y., and Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, N.J. Dionne has been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. He began his career in hospitality with extensive experience in the food and beverage industry. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is a classically trained chef with experience working for illustrious clientele across the globe, perhaps most notably Prince Albert of Monaco.

With such experiences on his résumé, it fits that Forsgate’s catering facilities are at the top of his list of club assets. “A lot of people have the misconception about private clubs,” he says, noting often people think only members can hold events at clubs such as Forsgate. “This is not the case. Our catering facilities are open to the general public, whether a person is looking to host a corporate event, a wedding or a bridal shower. We hold dozens upon dozens of events throughout the year.”

Such events can take place in the grand ballroom, which has seating for 450 people, or in one of the several other private event rooms, which offer seating for anywhere from 15 to 150 individuals. There are also rooms for smaller social events, which can seat up to 100 people.

There is also Restaurant 37, which can serve as a private catering facility featuring lovely vistas of the golf course. This space is perfect for smaller weddings, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, or bridal or baby showers, Dionne notes.

“We have quite a few legacies in terms of social events,” Dionne says. “We have people whose grandparents and parents got married here; then, their children and grandchildren get married here.”

Members have another dining option in the Tartan Grille, a spot that serves regional American cuisine, which Dionne describes as “casual dining featuring everyday favorites.” The Tartan Grille is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and hosts numerous events, such as New England-style clambakes and wine or beer tastings, throughout the year.

Of course, no country club would be complete without world-class golf. “Forsgate has a great golf culture,” Dionne says. “The membership has a sense of community and loves the courses and the environment.”

Forsgate has two separate courses, each designed by a nationally renowned name in golf: the Banks course, designed by Charles Banks; and the Palmer course, originally designed by course architect Hal Purdy then redesigned with input from the great Arnold Palmer more than 20 years ago.

As one might expect, the club’s two 18-hole courses have seen their share of celebrity players, from Chi-Chi Rodriguez to Nancy Lopez. Just last year the acclaimed Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie represented Forsgate as a touring golf ambassador.

“We are very fortunate,” Dionne says. “Our Banks course was just named one of the top 20 by in the state of New Jersey by Golf Digest. We’re fortunate to keep a pretty rarefied air.”

One person deserving of credit for keeping the grounds in top shape is Tom Saunders, corporate director of agronomy, who is a 32-year industry veteran who oversees all aspects of landscaping and golf course maintenance. “He knows all the ins and outs of the club,” Dionne says.

Along with expert grounds maintenance, Forsgate has recently improved upon members’ ability to reserves tee times via an online tee-time registration system, which was implemented just last year.

Forsgate’s members can enjoy far more than golf and great dining. The club offers access to a fitness center staffed by Elevate Fitness. Members who take advantage of these facilities also have the benefit of guidance from lifestyle and performance coaches, as well as professionals who can help with nutrition and exercise programs. Popular fitness activities include aquatic fitness, boxing, group circuit training and swim lessons or swim team membership for young people.

Those looking to enjoy some sun and swimming without necessarily embarking on the rigors of exercise will be happy to know Forsgate has both a main pool and children’s pool with four cabanas offering beverage and towel service.

Members can also benefit from a host of social activities. Programs such as summer golf camp and the five-day-a-week summer camp, which provides young people with not just a great place to hang out for the summer but also instruction in activities such as cooking, martial arts and swimming. As Dionne says, “Families are our central focus.”

Speaking to the excellence of service and amenities at Forsgate are its members, many of whom have been with the club for generations. One such member, Tom Kunigonis—“a fixture,” as Dionne calls him—has been a member, along with his wife, Barbara, for 46 years. “We have several members who have been continuous members for 40-plus years,” Dionne adds.

It is not just the members who have remarkable tenures with the club. Dionne notes many of Forsgate’s employees too have been on staff for years. From an operations standpoint, Dionne explains that consistency in staff has a direct impact on members’ experiences.

“We are very, very fortunate to have a long-tenured staff that knows our members,” Dionne says. “I’ve never been involved with a club that had so many dedicated, long-term employees.”

To exemplify he notes that one such employee, Winnifred Stumpf, has been a server at the club since 1967.

“This consistency allows us to provide a much higher level of member services, as our staff knows members’ preferences, their likes and dislikes,” he says. “This is difficult to achieve with a highly transient staff. This adds a little extra something that members don’t get at a lot of other clubs, and allows us to provide an exceptional level of service.”

Forsgate Country Club
375 Forsgate Drive
Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Photograph by Alison Dunlap