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The Birchwood Club: Where Members are the Heart and Racquets are the Core

Nestled along Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Shore is the vibrant enclave of Highland Park, a bustling upscale suburban city of 30,000 residents. Since 1958, racquet-loving locals and their families have gathered at The Birchwood Club to enjoy an array of friendly and competitive racquet sports; excellent upscale casual cuisine in its pub, dining room and poolside; casual swimming in-season and a never-ending supply of camaraderie year-round. Currently at 275 families, Birchwood’s membership roster has topped out with a healthy number of hopefuls standing by on the waitlist.

Birchwood’s pristine 12-acre facility is central to the livelihood of its tight-knit members. As private clubs go, it’s decidedly a racquet-central club with a casual, family-friendly vibe, yet its mid-century modern details and sleekly appoint- ed, light-filled clubhouse elevate the aesthetic. The club’s well-heeled membership embraces its active multi-genera- tional atmosphere and cleans up rather nicely for regularly scheduled food and wine pairings, chef’s dinner specials and themed social events for members of all ages.


Although Birchwood is undeniably members-centric, racquet sports are the core. The club’s year-round outdoor racquet sport programming includes tennis, paddle and pickleball. Players of all skill levels are encouraged to join leagues, participate in tournaments and enjoy practice and fun with family, friends and guests. A team of enthusiastic certified pros—headed up by nationally ranked co-directors Alison and Adam Morgan—creates exciting opportunities for members to learn in a supportive environment, hone their skills, and prepare to compete in a variety of tournament play group and individualized coaching.

Tennis. Birchwood’s tennis enthusiasts have access to 12 Har-Tru outdoor clay courts and one Deco-Turf outdoor court where they participate in both individual and group lessons for athletes of all ages and abilities. The club runs weekly technique classes and popular cardio drill sessions for conditioning throughout the season and hosts competitive league play for men and women. About 100 members comprise the nine ladies’ teams that compete with other clubs on the North Shore and another 100 players compete on the club’s seven men’s teams. The teams’ members range in age from mid-30s to 70 years old, but Co-director of Racquets Adam Morgan says there is a solid group of 70 to 80-year-olds who regularly play socially.

The club’s Hitters Program is a unique perk: They employ two hitters who are available to hit with members if they want to practice or their partner is unavailable. Hitter service is free to members when available and can be reserved in advance.

Platform Tennis/Paddle Tennis. That Birchwood is considered the epicenter of paddle tennis on the North Shore is a great source of pride for members. With weekly drill sessions, league and social play, and special events for men, women, and juniors of all levels, the club’s six heated outdoor courts are busy year-round.

The club’s 1,200-square-foot paddle viewing Pavilion has floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides and is a light-filled retreat where members gather to take in the matches and enjoy seasonal food and beverage items as they cheer on their teams. The exterior space features a 250-square-foot area defined and protected by a buttress and extends to more than 1,200 square feet of heated deck and heated walkways, which are key for both safety and comfort.

Members gather around the firepits to watch matches, rehash competitions or simply enjoy the wooded vistas. Within just feet of the club’s pub, the Pavilion has made spectating paddle matches more comfortable and accessible and has likely contributed to the increase in member participation; Birchwood is currently adding two more paddle courts.

Pickleball. Birchwood members had pickleball fever well before it became mainstream. Combining elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, experienced racquet players readily grasped its subtleties while novices were drawn in by its social element. Birchwood currently has three permanent outdoor courts, weekly professional instruction for beginners and drills for competitive players looking to improve their game. With its five pickleball courts in high demand, the club is in the process of adding three more.

Instruction, Coaching and Fun. The club’s team of award-winning racquets professionals engender a love of their sport and instill a respect for the nuances of the game. Their genuine passion enables them to be equally effective in introducing new players to the sport or coaching experienced players on the finer points of footwork, positioning, or strategy. Members participate in a variety of group classes and individual coaching. The club has a full calendar of member and member-guest tournaments, various interclub leagues, as well as junior programming, and family events.


The Birchwood Club is currently adding courts to keep up with demand for court time and is looking at its 10-year projections to help create a strategy to ensure that the clubhouse will continue to meet the members’ needs.

“The atmosphere at the club is energetic, competitive and friendly, the courts and equipment are state-of the-art, and Adam and Alison’s team is committed to bringing passion and top-quality programming to a membership that is bound by a love of racquet sports,” said General Manager Tom Conroy.

“Overall, I think our members have a great appreciation for each other, the staff and the environment that Birchwood provides for them to do what they love,” said Membership & Communications Director Aimee Sheufelt.