Hidden Treasure

Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio
Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio

The course maintenance facility at Scioto CC was still functional, but not fit to be seen. Now it looks—and is—good enough to live in.

For many clubs, the primary consideration when “designing” a course maintenance facility is often to try to hide it from sight as much as possible—preferably in the farthest reaches of the property.

Sometimes, however, a club’s ability to keep its maintenance operation out of sight—and therefore out of members’ minds—is limited by a property’s history, size, layout or how its activities have changed over time.

In the case of Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, all of those factors came together to present the club with a real dilemma. Founded in 1916, the club’s strong golf heritage includes a Donald Ross-designed course, close ties to Jack Nicklaus (a Columbus-area native and Ohio State player who learned the game at Scioto under the tutelage of teaching pro Jack Grout), and membership in an elite group of properties that has hosted five different major championships.

Scioto CC’s existing maintenance buildings (top of diagram at right) were expanded and hidden from view by new structures (shown at bottom of diagram) that now serve as aesthetic “screens,” in addition to providing new functions and features.
Scioto CC’s existing maintenance buildings (top of diagram at right) were expanded and hidden from view by new structures (shown at bottom of diagram) that now serve as aesthetic “screens,” in addition to providing new functions and features.
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But golf’s prominence at Scioto, along with the fact that the course and other facilities are confined within a tight parcel of land in the heart of Ohio’s capital city, led to the club’s maintenance facility occupying a prominent place as well. Scioto’s maintenance buildings—some of which date to the 1920s— have long been located behind the 14th green and 15th tee, directly off the main drive leading to the clubhouse, and in close proximity as well to the club’s paddle courts.

The maintenance buildings’ presence in that spot really began to stand out as a problem at the start of this decade, after Scioto launched a $12 million, multi-phase renovation of its then-95-year-old clubhouse and surrounding facilities. Executed over a three-year period under the watchful eye of former Long-Range Planning Chairman, Board member and club President Greg Comfort, and the direction of General Manager Greg Wolf, CCM, CCE, the comprehensive makeover made up for decades of neglect and introduced an up-to-date look that still pays proper homage to Scioto’s traditions and legacy (“From the Inside Out,” C&RB, February 2012).

The upgrade of Scioto’s clubhouse, however, only made the maintenance buildings that were still in view when approaching it more of an unmatched eyesore. In addition, there was growing urgency to update and expand the functionality of the maintenance facility, so Scioto’s course-and-grounds department could be properly prepared to host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open in the club’s 100th anniversary year.

Project Summary
Scioto Country Club
Columbus, OhioCourse Maintenance Facility Size: 18,400 sq. ft.
Project Cost: $2.3 million
Project Timeline: November 2014 to May 2015
Architect: M+A Architects
Contractor: Thomas & Marker Construction Co.
Project Highlights:
• Space doubled cost-effectively through unique approach that retained functionality of existing buildings while “screening” them with new, more aesthetically suitable structures
• Space allocations extended beyond course maintenance needs—”five in one”project also added cart storage, restroom complex for paddle tennis, a renovated laundry facility, and intern housing
• Wasted space eliminated through “form follows function” design approach

Finding A Better Way
As the club began to look into either a major renovation and expansion, or complete raze-and-rebuild, of its existing facility, it came to realize that the cost of those options would be hard to swallow on top of what had just been spent on the clubhouse. Further, it was recognized that the existing maintenance buildings were still structurally sound; the biggest issue was not their usefulness, but how they looked.

That revelation started Scioto CC’s management, led by Golf Course Superintendent Bob Becker along with Comfort and Wolf, down a different path. Working with M+A Architects and Thomas & Marker Construction Co., a plan was devised to create a new course maintenance complex for Scioto that would still make use of all of the existing buildings’ space (7,770 sq. ft.). To expand on what the club already had, a 500-sq. ft. addition would be built onto one existing building, a new, separate 950-sq. ft. chemical containment building would be erected, and a new 9,250-sq. ft. structure would be positioned in front of the older buildings, designed to not only provide a better fit with the new look of the clubhouse, but also to hide what was already in place behind it.

As the Scioto team began to brainstorm how the various areas, old and new, would be used under this plan, another plus emerged: Not all of the space would be needed for the course-and-grounds department, so other parts of the club operation could also benefit from the project.

Long-Range Planning Committee Chairman Greg Comfort
Long-Range Planning Committee Chairman Greg Comfort

“It turned out to be five projects in one, and that was key to having the membership vote overwhelmingly for the project,” says Wolf. “Along with a new maintenance facility and a dedicated chemical storage facility, we created additional cart storage; a restroom complex for paddle tennis, which is adjacent to the facility; and created intern housing with eight rooms. And part of the old facility was renovated to house the club’s laundry operation.”

Membership buy-in was also gained, Wolf adds, through the “unique approach to keep the old structures and use the club side of the new building as the ‘screen’ to clean up the look, while keeping the back side very utilitarian. That let us nearly double our space, at much less the cost of knocking the old [buildings] down or renovating to get up to standards.”

Further cost and operating efficiencies for the project resulted from having the Scioto grounds staff do the majority of the site work, under the daily oversight of Becker, and because the design approach was truly one of letting form follow function. “Our staff worked very closely with the architects to plan all of the spaces to the exact square footage needed for each function that would be performed in them,” Wolf says.

“The big thing was how the architects listened as we described how we worked and what we wanted in each area,” Becker adds. “They built around our needs, versus our having to fit our operation into whatever new building they might create.”

In addition to now being much better equipped and organized to prepare for the Senior Open—not only with his own crew, but also using the interns and colleagues from other clubs that he previously wouldn’t have been able to accommodate—Becker already sees benefits from the new facilities that promise to pay off for Scioto well into its next 100 years.

“It’s been huge for morale,” he says. “Everyone who was already here is very proud of the new facility, and it shows in their performance. For new people, it sets the right standards and expectations right out of the gate. Anyone can now clearly see how we’ve upped our game.”