Lakeland’s Oldest Private Club Celebrates 100 Years of Creating Memories


By RJ Walters
Archived photos courtesy of Lakeland Country Club and current photography by Dan Austin

The Lakeland Country Club has been a home away from home for many Lakelanders for many years—100 to be exact.

Opened as The Lakeland Yacht & Country Club by A.H. Stahl in 1924, the grounds was once home to the original Cleveland Heights golf course and clubhouse and it has been a premiere spot for many debutante balls, holiday meals, private celebrations and so much more.

In 2019, the club entered a new chapter of its history with the opening of a brand new building that pays some homage to the original club’s architecture, yet is home to contemporary amenities like a state-of-the-art workout facility, a robust tennis program, a gorgeous kid-friendly pool and dining experiences that are aiming to be the best in the area.

General Manager Patrick Reilly said the historic club is still a “hidden gem” in some senses, but he and his team are excited to change that and build off the momentum the club has experienced from a surge of younger families becoming members.

“People who drive by the building may not realize that this club is a community of people that are similar to a family,” he says. “There are generations of families that support the Club and are now bringing in a younger demographic, with their children, to build the membership for the future.”

“The Lakeland Country Club is a delightful and entertaining place to go. ’”

– Longtime member Clyde Roberts Sprott

A “Go-To” Spot for Many Occasions

When Clyde Roberts Sprott moved to Lakeland with her husband Kingswood in 1989 she fell in love with the club that Kingswood has been a member of since the 1960s.

Sprott said she knew “no one” when she moved to Lakeland, and the club was the place where she really found her footing and made friends, and eventually built a lot of business-centric networking relationships.

She has memories of Thanksgiving meals at LCC, as well as taking her grandson to visit Santa and the Easter bunny.

Her husband passed away in 2021, but today the club remains as important to her as ever.

“The Lakeland Country Club is a delightful and entertaining place to go,” she says. “Whether it’s to sit down for lunch or have a glass of wine…it’s my go-to place.”

She jokes that “people dress differently than we did in the 60s” when people dressed to the nines more frequently, but she has enjoyed seeing more families with young kids join the membership.

Developing a World Class Food and Beverage Program

One of the perks of club membership is access to elevated food and beverage experiences that are not accessible to the general public. Reilly is passionate about the role that great hospitality and service plays in bringing people together for a good time, and he’s committed to elevating the club to new heights in this arena.

“One of my goals is to make The Lakeland Country Club the best food and beverage experience in Polk County,” he said.

He is excited about the recent hiring of Chef Jason Lynn, a Certified Executive Chef, who has aspirations of becoming a Certified Master Chef, the most distinguished level of certification offered by the American Culinary Federation.

Reilly said the club is introducing more formal dining options and will continue to add more sophisticated food and beverages to its menu offerings.