Fresh efforts at the Williamsport Country Club

CARA MORNINGSTAR/Sun-Gazette Matthew Wood, executive chef, works his magic in the kitchen to make every item from scratch at the Williamsport County Club, 800 Country Club Drive. Visit www.wcc1909.com or call 570-323-3709 for more details.

Over the last year, the Williamsport Country Club has added a new club manager and a new executive chef to bring some expertise and new features to spruce up the club.

John Sheedy, club manager, started in April 2017 and Matthew Wood, executive chef, started in September, and the two have really stepped up to bring their experience to the club.

“I’ve been in private clubs for 28 years,” Sheedy said. “For the last 18 years, I’ve done what they call rescues for clubs that are struggling. In almost every case, I go in and turn the food and beverage operations around.”

He said for the Williamsport Country Club, they were already transitioning to a family friendly club before he came.

“It really appealed to me,” he said. “And, it’s just 90 minutes from where I grew up. I wanted to come get closer to home.”

He said he was excited to come to a club that already understood the concept of being a family friendly place.

“They hired me because of what I could do with food operations, and of course, I hired a talented chef,” he said. “He has really turned things around … Our food sales are through the roof.”

He said every single thing that Wood makes is done by hand.

“He makes every sauce. He makes every dessert … He doesn’t buy anything premade,” Sheedy said. “A lot of people will buy bases or sauces. He makes everything from scratch.”

He said cooks come from all over, including graduates from local culinary schools, to learn Wood’s techniques.

Wood, originally from Louisiana, previously owned his own restaurant for over a decade but felt like he wasn’t having as much fun because he wasn’t cooking himself. Rather than spend his time worrying about the bills or paperwork, he wanted to get back in the kitchen.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do, literally since I was about six years old,” he said. “It’s a big thing in New Orleans.”

He said he had worked at a country club outside of Atlanta, Georgia, for the past 10 years, which made him enjoy the country club atmosphere. He came to Pennsylvania to be closer to his wife’s family.

“I like the fact that you’re giving a lot to the families. You do have a set clientele … but once you get to know your clientele, you can really cater to everything they like,” he said. “It makes it a lot of fun. You feel like you’re giving back to the members and their guests.”

He said the city quickly felt like home.

“This club really attracted me. Mr. Sheedy had just gotten on board, and he was very excited about the potential of this club,” he said. “They brought me up, and I just fell in love with this club. The Williamsport area is very nice as well. It’s such a nice, small town. I have two small girls, so it’s nice to bring them up here.”

The 450 members of the club can enjoy an open and friendly atmosphere.

“A lot of people think of country clubs as uppity, but it’s very welcoming and very warm here,” Wood said. “From a cuisine standpoint, you get to enjoy cuisine here in Williamsport that you’d typically have to go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to get the quality of meals. You can expect fresh, everything made in house, seasonal cuisine.”

Sheedy said they have areas meant for families and children to play games and hang out in the pub downstairs or the full service swimming pool, and they also have quiet areas upstairs for members to enjoy by themselves.

“The club has something for everyone,” he said. “Once people come here and see the fun that everyone has and how comfortable everyone is, it’s a home away from home.”

The club was established in 1909 and boasts an A.W. Tillinghast designed golf course. Chris Macdonald, head golf professional, has been with the club for 16 years and Paul Krout, golf course superintendent, for 19.

“It’s a fair but challenging course. We don’t haze a lot of hazards, a lot of water or things like that,” Macdonald said. “We have small, tilted greens that are quick … It’s a fun course for people to play. You can play it multiple times and not get bored.”

He said they pride themselves on being one of the longest short courses people play.

“It does play long because of the elevated greens we have, and our conditions are always in top shape,” he said. “It makes you have to play your best.”

They also offer beautiful areas for events like weddings or banquets. Visit www.wcc1909.com or call 570-323-3709 for more information.