(Photo of longest-tenured members Bill and Rene Rubach by Christopher Chung/The Press-Democrat)
The new 20,000-sq. ft. building at the Santa Rosa, Calif. club was built at a cost of close to $20 million and is slightly smaller than the one that was leveled by the wildfire. It features a golf shop, office space, meeting rooms, two dining venues and a pair of outdoor dining terraces and is generating excitement from a now-full membership, some of whom also lost their homes to the fire and greatly appreciated services provided by the staff during the long recovery period. “People believed in the dream, and they signed up,” says General Manager Russ Bond.
The official opening of the gleaming new clubhouse of the Fountaingrove Club in Santa Rosa, Calif. is set for December 21st, The North Bay Business Journal reported.
But someone forgot to tell that to five guys who were posted up at the club’s new bar a week earlier and laughing up a storm, seemingly oblivious to the barking of a small dog that belonged to one of them, The Business Journal reported.
The bar was not technically open, the club’s General Manager, Russ Bond, explained with a tight smile, The Business Journal reported. But a limited number of people had been invited ahead of the official opening for lunch and dinner, to help the club’s new staff get things figured out through some soft-opening practice.
One could hardly blame the gentlemen at the bar for a bit of premature jubilation, The Business Journal reported, because the unveiling of the new facility at the private, member-owned Fountaingrove Club, which is managed by Troon, has been a long time in coming. The club found itself directly in the path of the 2017 Tubbs fire, and while the golf course and athletic center came through that inferno relatively unscathed—other than the 1,000 or so trees that were damaged or lost—the 25,000-sq. ft. clubhouse was leveled.
Since then, club members have been “roughing it” in temporary facilities, The Business Journal reported, waiting four years and two months after the fire for the replacement clubhouse to be ready.
The new building cost close to $20 million, said Bond, who took his position at the club in August of 2020. It is slightly smaller than its predecessor, at just over 20,000 sq. ft, and features a golf shop, office space, meeting rooms, two dining venues and a pair of outdoor dining terraces, The Business Journal reported.
The new clubhouse was conceived by San Francisco-based BAR Architects, which describes on its website how the designers sought to use “natural materials crafted with minimal detailing” to embrace the surrounding landscape “with understated elegance,” The Business Journal reported.
The finishing touches that still needed to be made ahead of the reopening included engraved name plates on members’ lockers, according to Membership Coordinator Melanie Bartlett.
While membership numbers at the Fountaingrove Club dipped in the wake of the Tubbs fire, they’ve since rallied strongly, The Business Journal reported. Where in 2019 the club had 244 golf members, as the end of 2021 approached that number was close to the club’s cap of 368 (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/the-fountaingrove-club-reaches-membership-milestone-on-anniversary-of-the-tubbs-fire/). And that was despite having to make do until now with a temporary restaurant and temporary pro shop, Bond said.
“People believed in the dream, and they signed up,” he said. And as the club has conducted tours of the new building, member feedback has been positive “to a person,” he added.
Bill and Rene Rubach, who are the club’s longest-tenured members, dating back to 1987, were among those getting their first look inside the new clubhouse ahead of the official opening, The Business Journal reported.
“This is so modern, compared to the old one,” Rene Rubach enthused. Both gave the project a thumbs up — which was easier to do, Bill added in a slightly conspiratorial tone, “because nobody really liked the old one.”
The Rubach’s house, which backed up to the fairway of the first hole, was also lost to the fire, The Business Journal reported. When a neighbor knocked on their door early on the morning of October 9, 2017, “the wind damn near blew me over,” recalled Rubach, a retired oral surgeon.
In the 10 minutes they had to gather belongings, Bill recalled, “I grabbed my passport, my iPad, my checkbook, my vodka, and realized I’d forgotten Rene!”
If her eye roll was any indication, this was not the first time she’d heard that joke, The Business Journal reported.
After also losing their Fountaingrove home in the blaze, members Howard Lasker and his wife Debbie moved about 15 miles north, to Healdsburg, Calif., The Business Journal reported. Sorely missing the community they felt at the Fountaingrove Club, but unable to make the drive most weekdays, they still visited the club “religiously on weekends,” Howard Lasker said.
To make their visits worthwhile, along with other members who continued to support the club, Scott Butler, who manages the club’s athletic center—and who also lost his condo in the blaze—worked ‘round the clock, with other club employees, to clean and repair that facility, which became a kind of refuge for members who’d lost their homes, The Business Journal reported.
“It was a place we could shower, and get food supplies,” said Lasker, who remains deeply grateful for that support.
Since 2005, he added, he and his wife had only been members of the club’s athletic center. But inspired by the bonds they’d forged at the club, with members and employees alike, and impressed by “the vision management was creating,” they recently signed up to be golf members as well.
“They have been tremendous to us,” Lasker said.
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