Skip links

The Olympic Club: In a League of Its Own


The Olympic Club in San Francisco is, in many ways, in a class of its own: At more

than 160 years old and serving 11,000 members whose common bond is an active lifestyle and competitive nature, few private clubs can be considered comparable. Founded in 1860 by a small group of exercise enthusiasts, The Olympic Club has remained steadfast in its commitment to cultivating and training world-class amateur athletes. Olympic Club members of all ages currently participate in competitive amateur leagues in 19 different sports—and with both an extensive city club and a 45-hole golf club that offer a full range of amenities, The Olympic Club’s operation cannot easily be relegated to any one of the typical private club categories. One might say that it’s more than a club; it’s an institution.

Olympic Club members—who use the moniker “Olympi- ans”—have access to the club’s two locations. The City Clubhouse’s in-town San Francisco location in a historic

building contains 18 hotel rooms, casual and fine dining outlets, banquet and business rooms, two indoor pools, athletic courts, two gyms, a fitness facility, spa amenities, locker rooms, physical therapy services, shoeshine services and a barbershop. In 1918, the club assumed ownership and operation of Lakeside Golf Club located seven miles from the city club. Today, The Olympic Club at Lakeside offers three world-renowned golf courses on the edge of the Pacific Ocean—one of which offers a customizable experience allowing golfers of all abilities to enjoy a round. It also features tennis, aquatics, fitness, and dining facilities. Host to five U.S. Opens, several other USGA Championships and countless other high-profile competitions, Olympic Club members will also have front-row seats at the 2028 PGA Championship and the 2033 Ryder Cup.


The Olympic Club’s membership demographics are not typical. For example, there are dues-paying members who are in elementary school; there are no family member- ships, only individuals; and athletes are occasionally scouted, recruited and incentivized by reduced rates to join the club. Each of the club’s many teams can accept a limited number of recruits and there are guide- lines in place to incrementally increase recruited members’ financial commitments and gradually transition them into a regular membership category.

Unlike many clubs, the membership roster’s growth is not necessarily a goal. Leadership is cognizant that providing the club’s signature excellent experience to each of its members within the physical confines of the facility could become challenging if the club were to get overcrowded.

“We are not looking to open the floodgates and populate our waiting list, nor do we currently court any particular demographic. For the last 20 months our focus has been broad-based: maximize the availability of the facilities for members and create ways for members and teams to remain active and competitive under limiting conditions,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Muessle, CCM, CCE.

To keep their teams and leagues competitive and the members active during COVID-19, Muessle and his team utilized the Lakeside property to accommodate as many outdoor activities as possible. Because of local health man- dates, accommodating its swim teams was the most challeng- ing, but the club swiftly brokered a deal with a private swim club pool for its swimmers to train. They fashioned basketball courts in parking lots, held pop-up youth training wherever feasible and erected fitness pods for socially distanced training all over the property.

While the club boasts a number of elite amateur programs and an impressive history of athletes who have brought home Olympic medals, international titles and world records, the club’s members compete across a range of skill levels in different age groups and classifications. Most members are not elite athletes, but they are decidedly devoted to sport. As such, lifestyle sports such as golf and tennis are a large component of the club, and members of all abilities are welcomed and encouraged to be active in their pursuit to master their sport. The club’s basketball program operates under the leadership of a full-time basketball director—a position not often found at clubs—and supports more than 450 athletes and continues to grow; the Masters swimmers is an elite program that has won multiple national championships and trains some of the country’s most competitive swimmers; and the commitment to sport begins early with nearly 1,000 junior golf members participating in golf, squash, basketball, swimming, water polo, tennis and handball.

To manage such a large membership, coordinate 19 sports seasons, and uphold the highest standards of service, The Olympic Club has 450 year-round employees, most of whom work full-time. Additionally, members comprise the 22 committees, including a very active Athletics Committee, that help guide the programming and propel the club forward in its mission to continue “Fostering Amateur Athletics in a Spirit of Close Harmony.”

Muessle and his team are in the process of implementing a Salesforce-based CRM platform to better manage the club’s data. Once they have the tools in place, the club can use the data to execute more targeted recruitment campaigns as well as better analyze the successes and opportunities of its various programming and different aspects of the facilities. For example, women were first welcomed as members a little over two decades ago and there are approximately 2,000 women members today. This data analytics platform will enable them to gauge the trajectory of that segment of the membership, determine if a targeted strategy to increase that number is necessary, and analyze the potential effects on the club facilities. Additionally, Muessle looks forward to using the data to better curate the member journey based on their usage trends and preferences to optimize and personalize the club experience.