Lily Braswell is the Club House Manager for the nearly 100 year-old Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY, with the first round of golf played in 1923. Winged Foot has a history of hosting national championships golf and is getting set to host the U.S. Open in 2020.
Lily Braswell brings her special touch to the Winged Foot club. She has been in the hospitality industry for the past 15 years. After graduating with a Business Degree from the University of Lima in her native Peru, Lily moved to New York to pursue an Associated Degree in Culinary Arts as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Upon graduation, Lily was hired as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Caterina Di Medici Restaurant at the CIA. After a year there, she later relocated to Westchester County, NY where she worked at a couple of distinguished restaurants amongst them, the highly acclaimed Café Meze in Hartsdale.
In 2007, the opportunity to work in private clubs arose and Lily took the position of Food and Beverage Manager at the Coveleigh Club where she learned the ins and outs of private club dynamics. The opportunity to interview at Club House Manager at Winged Foot Golf Club arrived three years later. Lily has been at Winged Foot for the last nine years.
Her confidence, determination and passion for her work have been the key elements to achieve success at her position at Winged Foot Golf Club, and also why she was named one of the 2019 Top Women in Metro New York Foodservice & Hospitality.
As a child was there someone that had an impact on you getting into the business?
For sure, my father had a great interest in food and wine. As children, he took us to many great restaurants and encouraged us to try different cuisines. By age 14, I was lucky enough to have dined at some of the most respected restaurants in the world, such as Le Bernardin and Le Cirque. So when the opportunity came to attend The Culinary Institute of America, there was no turning back.
Can you talk about some of the mentors along the way that had an impact on your career?
I have been lucky to have some wonderful people I have worked along with. First and foremost, John Fischer gave me the opportunity to work the front of the house by his side as a fellow after graduation at the CIA. My career would have most likely taken a different path if I did not have this opportunity. Moving forward to my time in clubs, my current boss Colin Burns has been instrumental in my career in the golf club world. He has really not only taught me a lot about golf (I did not play or was familiar with the game!) but has pushed me to be a better professional and to strive for the level of service our membership deserves.
What brought you to your current position at your club?
I was working at the Coveleigh Club in Rye, NY, when I received an email from the Chef at Winged Foot. He asked if we could meet to discuss our transition from the restaurant business to private clubs. We had lunch and the General Manager at Winged Foot “stopped by” to say hello. It was at that point I realized this lunch was not social, but they were looking into possibly having me join the Winged Foot team. Six months later, I was on board. It has been a really great nine years and counting!
How would you describe the needs of your customers?
We are a member’s only golf club; so most needs are mostly golf related and somewhat predictable. In an environment like Winged Foot is all about excellence in service both on the golf course and in the clubhouse.
How have those needs evolved and what has your company done to respond to those needs?
Being a very traditional club with multigenerational families, change is somewhat a challenge. But it is a challenge we embrace and make the necessary changes to provide the experience our members expect. Whether it is technology, food trends, golf services, locker room services, we do our absolute best to keep up with the changing needs of our membership. We are constantly evolving to keep up with the demands of current times.
Crystal ball. What’s on your agenda?
Right now, it is a very exciting time as we are all focused on the 2020 U.S Open, which will be hosted at Winged Foot. It will be my first major championship, so very excited to be able to be part of the team. It will be a very busy year but look forward to hosting the 7th major championship at our club.
To learn more about Winged Foot Golf Club, visit their website.