Leaders and members of the Pleasanton, Calif. club have been exploring options for addressing costly ADA-compliance concerns with the clubhouse and pool. But members have voted down a bid to pursue negotiations with the Bay Club to take ownership of the property, and the club will now look to address those issues internally through a clubhouse committee and possible assessment.
Members of the Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, Calif. rejected a proposal to negotiate a letter of intent for the Bay Club to take over ownership of the club and its two 18-hole golf courses, the Pleasanton Weekly reported. Castlewood members recently voted 250 to 211 against moving ahead with negotiations with the Bay Club. A total of 555 members were eligible to vote.
For the last few years, the club’s Board of Directors and committee members have been analyzing how to address a number of challenges facing the club. Heading the list is that the 1970s vintage clubhouse and its older pool facility were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1991, the Weekly reported. Both facilities do not comply with the ADA and need major renovations to come into compliance.
In addition, Castlewood’s membership is shrinking. The dated facilities are limited in what can be offered, the Weekly reported. After a series of town-hall meetings and the club’s general membership meeting in January, the Board narrowed potential options to three: The Bay Club takeover; doing ADA-only improvements to the clubhouse and pool area; or investing significant money to renovate both areas, in addition to bringing them into compliance with the ADA.
Earlier this year, the Board asked the membership to choose between just making ADA improvements, or making those improvements as part of major clubhouse remodel, the Weekly reported. In that March 5 vote, members voted 211-189 for the more expensive option.
Some supporters of the more-expensive option openly campaigned against the Bay Club option, with one member putting up a sign outside of his home on the golf course, while others wore buttons advocating against the Bay Club option, the Weekly reported. The Bay Club purchased ClubSport last November, including its facilities in Pleasanton and Danville, Calif..
When asked about what’s next, John Vest, Castlewood’s General Manager, e-mailed that it was an internal club matter and that the club would have no comment, the Weekly reported.
After that March 5 vote, the Board outlined two next steps for members, the Weekly reported:
1) The clubhouse committee will begin to develop a plan to implement the remodeling plan and bring it to the Board and eventually the membership; and
2) A second committee would continue to evaluate the Bay Club option and develop additional materials evaluating the sustainability of the club, potential Valley course land-use options, an asset valuation of the club, and summary of the water rights owned by the club.
With the Bay Club option now off the table, the clubhouse committee will presumably now move into high gear, the Weekly reported. Documents distributed to members indicated that the remodel option would result in a member assessment of about $200 per month for 20 years, because the club would have to borrow the money.
Sustainability could be a key challenge moving forward, particularly with dues already around $1,000 per month without the additional assessment, the Weekly reported. Over the last 15 years, membership has fallen from more than 800 to 555 that were eligible to vote in May (down three from March’s total). For older members, who are thinking of selling their membership as their ability to golf lessens with age, the acquisition by the Bay Club would have offered the opportunity to cash out. But that’s now in limbo as the club develops and executes on the remodel.
Last year, while evaluating options, Castlewood representatives entertained a conversation with Ponderosa Homes of Pleasanton about a potential joint venture to develop the Valley Course into homes, the Weekly reported. That faced numerous hurdles, including the Arroyo de la Laguna that borders three holes, the railroad tracks, and the likely need to annex that part of the property into the city of Pleasanton and also change the agricultural zoning to residential.
From a membership standpoint, the Valley Course, which gets about 60 percent of Castlewood’s play, is a critical offering for the club because it is walkable, the Weekly reported, while it takes a well-conditioned person to walk the Hill Course with its elevation changes and slopes on the fairways.
Castlewood’s situation is not unique, the Weekly reported, with other private clubs in the area also pursuing new membership strategies.
The Club at Ruby Hill in Pleasanton, which Arcis Golf purchased from developer Jim Ghielmetti in 2015, has launched an aggressive membership campaign, the Weekly reported. Arcis remodeled Ruby Hill’s main clubhouse to improve dining options for members and bolstered the club’s tennis, bocce and swimming programs.
Ruby Hill recently sent an e-mail outlining its May “specials,” the Weekly reporwhich included an initiation fee of $10,000 for the full golf categories and $5,000 for young professionals (39 and under). The special offer also included wfive months of free dues; free golf carts for a year, interest-free financing, and 12 free golf guest passes. And in bold capital letters, it proclaimed “NO ASSESSMENTS EVER.”
Crow Canyon Country Club in San Ramon, Calif. is also offering special programs to attract new members, the Weekly reported, while Blackhawk Country Club in Danville, which boasts two 18-hole courses with one large clubhouse/banquet facility on its Lakeside Course, last year opened a 9,400-sq.-ft. fitness center in its sports complex with tennis courts, pickleball courts, bocce ball lanes and a bar and grill.