We advise, consult and mentor pickleball club entrepreneurs, and a great thing about that job is traveling to see awesome pickleball spots! I just spent 3 days in “The Big D” on a pickleball mission. The goal was to learn more about the evolving pickleball market, visit interesting venues, watch professionals play, test my skill against Texan picklers and oh yeah, visit my sister and her kids that live in Dallas. I achieved 4 of 5, which is not bad! (I never got to play because of rain on the days I was free).
USA Pickleball National Championships
Located in Dallas at The Brookhaven Tennis and Golf Club, this was nirvana for scoping out pickleball play, shopping for swag, and immersing in the pickle scene. Pro play took place both indoor and out with great elevated viewing available on many courts. There were also dozens of courts featuring amateur play at many levels. So amazing to see rec play and pro play interspersed in the same quality environment. I can’t think of another sport that could pull that off. Our shuttle bus ride from the parking lot was filled with an amazing cross-section of visitors: old, young, men, women, athletes, non-athletes. Literally the full cross-section of pickleball enthusiasts.
Imagine going to the US Open (Tennis or Golf) and being able to play on the same courts the pros were playing on. Genius. A great boondoggle weekend for guys, gals or couples would be to play and watch at the pro tournament while eating and drinking in the host city. You even get exercise!
Searching for cool dedicated Pickleball clubs
To be honest, I was stunned by the lack of publicly available, dedicated pickleball courts in Dallas. My Google and Pickleheads searches found plenty of “generation one” venues: municipal courts, community centers, re-purposed parks etc…but where are the dedicated pickleball places? Metro Dallas is immense in square miles AND in population. The weeklong USA Pickleball tourney was jammed with players – but the clubs have yet to open. I found 2 places where you could reserve a court, drop-in and pay to play: Chicken n’ Pickle, and Pickleball Oasis. BOTH are 30 to 40 minutes outside Dallas proper depending on Traffic.
Chicken N Pickle
I’d was dying to see this place because much has been written about it, and many of our clients reference it when planning their own clubs. I’ve reviewed my experience in a separate post: click here if you’re interested.
Located in Rockwall, Texas a good 30-50 minutes from central Dallas depending on traffic. This huge complex is co-located with a trampoline park, a swimming area and other family activities. It has an amazing 40 outdoor courts with a dozen or so that were covered for shade and rain, also a cool pro shop. I borrowed my sister’s car and shlepped out there for their 8am to Noon open play —- but unfortunately it was pouring rain and only a few courts were playable (and I didn’t want to horn in on the regulars).
This place is really a big time tournament venue, not an intimate local club. They do have an active membership ($55 per month), and some cool programming, but the high number of courts is really to accommodate hosting major tournaments that feature pro and amateur play. That’s a key part of their business. The facility has the parking and can create the championship courts and other amenities needed for competitions.
Like Chicken n’ Pickle, the massive real estate makes something like this impractical closer in town and regular pickleball players are unlikely make the drive on a regular basis. Also, as I experienced, weather can effectively shut it down. Why can’t there be dedicated, quality, smaller facilities in or around the city? Where’s the indoor courts and clubs!? They’re coming. Several groups have made announcements about openings in Dallas —- it would seem there is plenty of demand.
Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor. We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace. To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.