There are myriad things that detract from your life—traffic, social media, being chained to a desk, the daily grind of life, but at Shannopin Country Club, it’s all about enhancing your life and making lasting memories.
Nestled in the picturesque, wooded hills of Ben Avon Heights, just minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, Shannopin has been a sanctuary from the stress of daily life since it was incorporated as a private club in 1920. The club was founded by three local friends who wanted to take up golf again after World War I. The trio purchased Jackman Farm and the adjacent lands and construction commenced. The founders decided to name the country club after the Lenape tribe’s Chief Shannopin, who is thought to have found sanctuary with his tribe in these hills as the expansion moved westward.
Shannopin’s golf course was designed by famous course architect and Oakmont native, Emil Loeffler, who was a professional golfer, World War I veteran, and prominent golf course superintendent. Over its century of existence, Shannopin has responded to the maturing needs of its membership by adding a swimming pool area, and most recently, a new racquet complex and state of art fitness facility. The club also offers a wealth of events, making it the place to be for fun, friends, family, and food.
Mike Meissner, Shannopin’s General Manager has been on staff for three years, and he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations around the entire campus—everything from clubhouse dining to the golf course and in between.
“I am also responsible for helping to build and lead our team. We have wonderful team members here at Shannopin, and they all deserve recognition. I also assist our Board of Governors to build and implement a strategic vision to keep Shannopin a premier destination for recreation here in the North Hills,” said Meissner.
The outstanding, dedicated staff at Shannopin makes Meissner’s job easier. “Essentially, it is the people that we have here at Shannopin, both the members and employees, that set Shannopin apart. Just in my time here, we have grown so quickly and have made so many improvements. Of course, there have been growing pains along the way, but I see the excitement from everyone when we talk about the possibilities that the future holds for us,” said Meissner.
“Shannopin is like a family,” said Brian Geisler, the country club’s Food and Beverage Manager, who oversees all dining services, including the banquet department, dining rooms, men’s grill, Tiki bar and snack bar. “I started working here when I was 14 years old as a caddy, and I’ve done everything from bus tables to shine shoes. I was working as the food and beverage director at a hotel in the city when COVID started, and I was laid off. Rico, the men’s locker room manager, called me and told me to come back, so I did. I returned in August of 2020, and it was like coming back home. Then I was promoted to food and beverage manager here last December and it has been great! We have many staff members who have been here for decades, and they’ll likely all retire from here. It’s that special of a place.”
One of the aspects that makes Shannopin unusual is that it is member-owned. “We’re not corporate-owned. Here, the members own the club,” said Geisler, “which means I have 500 bosses, but that’s fine because I love what I do. We’ve got a great mix of people from carpenters to corporate executives to professional athletes. And they keep on coming here because we go above and beyond to make them happy.”
“Everything here from the food to the amenities is provided to please the membership. It’s a collaborative effort. When you walk in the building—the staff, membership—they’re like family. The better we tailor our services to our memberships’ needs, the more we are hearing that Shannopin is the place to be.” said Geisler.
As with most things in life—weddings, vacations, a dinner out—these moments can be spectacular…especially if the food is extraordinary. At Shannopin, your dining experience will be nothing short of perfect. Bill Radder is the country club’s Executive Chef, and he has worked everywhere from dive bars to 3-Star Michelin restaurants in Manhattan. Chef Bill and team assures every dish at Shannopin is exceptional.
“We are all about fresh ingredients, using seasonal products that are locally sourced if possible. We change our menu approximately every 6-8 weeks to reflect that. We take the food people love and make micro-seasonal changes. For instance, in late October, persimmons come into season, and we reflect that in our menu,” said Radder.
Radder credits Executive Sous Chef Zachary Galante and their staff with the ability and drive to uphold the highest standard of food on all occasions. “We have a dedicated staff, and we all work together to please our members,” says Radder, adding, “and all of our meats and seafood are fresh, nothing is pre-made. Even the sauces and dressings we serve are made from scratch. Chef Radder and Zachary Galante use their creativity and passion to introduce new menus incorporating unique flavors with a variety of dishes to please everyone.
Being a private club, the expectation to make every experience enjoyable is taken very seriously. During Covid, staff faced many challenges but successfully came out on top. The club had to follow the state restrictions and forgo many social functions, but members took to the golf course in large numbers. No wonder, the 18-hole par 71 course roams over 6401 yards of rolling hills, providing a challenging round for all skill levels. The course also showcases breathtaking views of the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh.
Not only is the golf course a peaceful, serene escape for golfers, it’s also a beautiful, scenic backdrop for banquets and events. The views are unlike any other in Pittsburgh. When the sun sets in the evening and bounces off the downtown skyscrapers, you can’t help but become entranced by the beauty of our city and forget about the daily stresses.
“We help people celebrate life,” said Jacquie Ricketts, Shannopin’s Banquet Manager for more than three decades, who helps members to host baby showers, wedding showers, First Communion parties, graduations and anniversary parties as well as weddings. “I think I’ve overseen more than 600 weddings, and 2021 and 2022 were a bit crazy as we played catch up for a lot of weddings that had to be postponed due to COVID. We are already booking weddings for 2024.”
“We host athletic banquets, church events and fundraising events here too,” said Jacquie, who speaks proudly about the way her, and her staff handle everything so that you don’t need to engage an event planner. “We handle the details, and we don’t force you to work with certain vendors. You can bring in your own entertainment, centerpieces, and cakes. And yes, we accommodate the beloved Pittsburgh cookie table.”
Jacquie will custom design a menu for your event, and one advantage of hosting your event at Shannopin is that you are assured of great service. “We can accommodate weddings of 225 guests. We have one server for every 20 25 guests, whereas many other places have one server for every 50 guests. From the setting to the service, food, and amenities, we always receive great reviews on the popular wedding planning site The Knot.” Shannopin has hosted a wide variety of events from people all over the Pittsburgh area. Event sponsorship is required and can be accommodated for outside parties.
This year, Shannopin built a new racquet complex that features four paddle tennis courts, two regular tennis courts, and pickleball courts. The club will soon unveil a new Racquets Lounge on the first floor of the new, state-of-the-art Fitness Complex. There, members will find a spacious area to lounge, socialize, and host events.
“Shannopin is full of unique individuals and families that all have the same common goal. They want to be here to relax, enjoy, make lasting memories and connections,” said Katie London, Director of Membership and Development. “The membership is what defines Shannopin and I am proud to say that we have the best community of individuals around.” Katie has been at Shannopin since 2012 and has seen a lot of changes over the years but says one thing remains consistent. “In today’s world full of technology, people still need to feel a personal connection. At Shannopin, we recognize that and strive to make sure each time a member or guest enters the club, they feel valued and receive that personal connection that cannot be found anywhere else.” This holds true on the banquet/event side as well. Each party, event, and banquet is unique and Shannopin staff wants to make sure every special moment is memorable and exceptional.
Shannopin offers a variety of social events every year. From Nine with wine golf events to PJ’s & Pancakes Gingerbread House build, Shannopin offers unique events for every age and family dynamic. “One of my favorite events is the Fourth of July celebration. We bring in a band, petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, and of course, FIREWORKS!” The Independence Day Picnic is just one of the many events Shannopin Staff plans every year for the enjoyment of members and their guests. In the service industry, no one does it better than Shannopin Country Club.
On a sunny, hot summer day, there’s nothing better than sitting around a beautiful pool, and Shannopin certainly has that and more. In addition to a clean, crystal-clear competitive-size pool, there is a Splash Pad and baby pool for the little ones, as well as poolside food and beverage service, a Snack Bar, and a Tiki Bar.
New this year at Shannopin is a completed racquet complex & lounge, new bunkers, additional social events, and a kids summer camp. Camp Shannopin, which in collaboration with KE Camps, will provide children entering grades 1-6 with the highest quality summer camp experience. Each week’s activity schedule will include arts & crafts, fun with Foods, STEM activities, group games and service projects. In addition, campers will participate in golf twice a week and enjoy daily swim periods.
“We’re all about adding value to your life,” said Katie. “And we have various levels of membership to suit your needs.” London has brought in more than 150 new families to Shannopin over the last three years. Membership at Shannopin is attracting more young families looking for amenities to suit all ages. “Families are looking to spend more quality time together and want to be more involved in social activities. Quality time with family and friends is precious and Shannopin will help make every visit a memorable one.” Katie, as well as all Shannopin Staff, has a passion for people and strives to make Shannopin a Home away from Home for all members and guests.
“I see Shannopin as being the premier family country club in the North Hills. I think for a long time, Shannopin has been known as a “best-kept secret” in our area that was really about the golf and dining experience. While these areas of focus will never go away, we are quickly adding a full line of family-focused amenities that will guarantee our future as the top community-focused country club in our area,” said Meissner, who invites people to come see for themselves just how special Shannopin is.
For more information on Shannopin Country Club, visit the website at shannopincc.com or to arrange a visit, contact Katie London at (412) 761-2900.
By Janice Lane Palko