CURATED talks with Tom Lawrence, Chairman of the prestigious Eden Club, a multifaceted international private club offering Members access to events, the most luxurious private estate at "the home of golf," and a unique concierge service to some of the world's top links.
You launched The Eden Club in 1997. At the time, nothing similar existed. What were your inspirations?
It started as two ideas. Around that time, some U.S. developers came over to Scotland and opened really different high-end clubs. Loch Lomond was one of them. They set the bar and I knew we could reset it. I imagined a next level multi-dimensional club at St Andrews. As a businessman, I was always traveling and would want to play at private clubs but arranging the details was challenging. Every club before us had been venue dependent. People have upwardly mobile desires—to experience food, wine, and golf all over the world. We broke the mould and established relationships with private clubs in amazing golf destinations around the globe.
Describe an Eden Club member.
Today, we have over 800 members from around the world. For a lot of them, The Eden Club is their second, third, sometimes even fourth-plus membership. These are people who really love golf—golfaholics. They are high-net worth, well-traveled, sophisticated individuals who are very busy. During 20-odd days a year they have with us they want to indulge in fine, wonderful travel experiences.
Has the demographic changed at all over the years?
In the beginning, it was a bit of a men's club. Now we really service all aspects of family. You are competing for members' social time and family is very important. We have a lot of father-son, father-daughter, and couples' events. We also cater to a lot more women who want to play, many who are more enthusiastic golfers than their husbands.
How has the product evolved?
We offer a much broader product, including a shooting club, outdoor areas for fishing, archery and falconry, and indoor golf simulators.
Pittormie Castle, a gorgeous baronial castle located in Fife, is the heart of the club. Why is a brick-and-mortar base so crucial to the member experience?
It is the only destination in the world we can control the furnishings, the food, the way the drivers behave, and how our full-service staff greets guests. When you can do that, you can deliver an exceptional product. Our members come to us from outstanding places and we have to surpass their expectations, and it's often down to the bespoke details. My philosophy has always been, 'this year is good, next year we must do better.' We're always investing in the core product which keeps our members coming back.
Your events aren't just about playing golf. What makes them so special?
Every last detail is curated and thought out, from arrival to departure. The events are about bringing people together. There's a science to it. Some people can walk into a room and immediately mingle, and others have to be mixed in and made to feel at home. In our click-click world people are placing more value on relationships and we facilitate a setting where like-minded people can connect.
Why do you feel families are gravitating to clubs like yours?
Some of the best times I spent with my dad were on the golf course. It was our reason to get together as father and son. My dad has since passed, and when I look back, those are the times I treasure. Legacy is a critical part of why people join The Eden Club. If they can pass this along to their children and give them the opportunity to enjoy themselves, well, in my opinion, there's no greater gift you can give.