Locking It In

Hombre Golf Club, Panama City Beach, Fla.
Hombre Golf Club, Panama City Beach, Fla.

Locker rooms for men and women can be updated in a myriad of ways—from simply rearranging the space to doing a complete top-to-bottom overhaul.

Sometimes little things make a big difference. While no one joins a country club simply because of its stellar locker rooms, having facilities that are modern and comfortable helps members feel more at home.

Likewise, it doesn’t necessarily take a big overhaul to update a locker room. By calling attention to interesting features or making better use of space, clubs can improve their locker rooms on a budget. If a major investment is in order, it’s possible to do some pretty impressive things in an often-forgotten space.

Summing It Up
• If the locker room footprint is finite, switching from full to half lockers can be a big space-saver.
• Differences in color choices and shapes can create men’s and women’s locker rooms that feel coordinated but customized.
• Make sure locker rooms have good lighting, especially in grooming and makeup areas. Decorative lighting can draw attention to areas you want to highlight, and investing in energy-efficient lighting will save money in the long run.

Smarter, Not Bigger
Updating the locker rooms fell into the scope of a complete clubhouse remodel at Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Fla. The rooms hadn’t been redone in 25 years and needed more contemporary décor. The club also wanted to add more basic amenities, but didn’t want the locker rooms to take up more space within the building.

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Hombre’s solution was to change the layout of the locker rooms. “We realized we needed to be more efficient with the square footage,” General Manager Craig Hanlin, PGA, reports. “That allowed us to put more things that were truly needed in the locker rooms.”

The actual lockers were underutilized, so the club made the locker area smaller, put fewer units in each space and reused the existing wood lockers. “They were in good shape, so there was no reason not to [reuse them],” Hanlin says. And as a result, money was saved that could be invested in other features.

Hombre Golf Club, Panama City Beach, Fla.
Hombre Golf Club, Panama City Beach, Fla.

Fewer lockers also meant more space for the things people really wanted, including sinks, showers and toilets. The club installed waterless urinals, which have already cut down on its utility bill, Hanlin says. The new countertops are wood that’s been highly lacquered for protection and shine. A combination of recessed lights and light fixtures with gold trim creates bright spaces for grooming.

The locker rooms are immediately adjacent to the golf course, so members don’t have to trek through the entire clubhouse to reach them. They can be accessed by entering a code on a keypad, a function that helps to protect member privacy.

Hombre has some slight differences between its men’s and women’s lockers rooms. The men’s has square sink basins, while the women have oval basins. The single mirrors hanging over the sinks have the same colors, but they’re different shapes and have different borders. Still, “the look and feel is very similar,” Hanlin says. “They seem like they go together.”

Changing for the Better
When the staff and members at Tripoli Country Club in Milwaukee, Wis., started thinking about a locker room renovation, they had a few goals in mind. Foremost among these was to update the rooms so they were more in line with current styles, and to also create a calming space.

The Right Combinations

Choosing the right lockers is one of the most important decisions clubs must make during locker room renovations. There are three main material types for lockers: metal, plastic and wood. Here’s a quick look at the benefits that each type can provide:
Metal lockers are the least expensive option for clubs. Good-quality lockers will be made of stainless steel and treated with a special coating so they do not rust. They come in a range of colors and styles, but are the most likely to show scratches.
Plastic lockers are very durable and great in areas where they’re likely to get wet, such as next to pools or hot tubs. They are very durable, come in a range of colors, and are also quite affordable. However, they may give a cheaper look to a room.
Wood lockers are attractive and give a refined feeling to your facility. They can be quite durable; good-quality wood lockers will not warp even when exposed to steam and some moisture. Wood lockers can be more expensive, though, and do not offer as many color choices.

For any type of locker, here are a few special touches that can serve clubs well:
Key pads instead of combination locks
• Lockers that come with built-in extras such as drawers, shoe cubbies and lock boxes
Special hinges and latches that promise less noise when the lockers are opened and closed
Ventilation systems that will dry damp clothing quicker and cut down on odors and bacteria

“We really wanted members to be able to relax and enjoy themselves in an area that was open, spacious and friendly,” says General Manager/COO David Coffey.

The club started the remodeling project by making the locker rooms bigger, and décor was the next major consideration. “The ladies wanted a brighter locker room, while the fellows wanted a more masculine feeling,” Coffey says.

The men’s space features slate grey and natural wood. It has quartz countertops, sunken sink basins and a small grooming station. The furnishings in the women’s space are white with gold accents. Porcelain counters, above-counter basins and a larger vanity area give it a different appearance. The wet areas in both rooms have durable porcelain floors.

Those planning the remodel knew from the get-go that they wanted to replace the metal lockers with wood, Coffey says. Full-length lockers with a cherry wood veneer were chosen for the men, and the women’s lockers are painted white.

Both locker room areas have high vaulted ceilings with beams that were often overlooked, Coffey adds. The builders accentuated the wood beams by painting the ceiling with soft shades. New modern light fixtures also draw attention to the spaces above people’s heads.

The men’s locker room has an adjacent bar, while the women’s area has a card room. The women’s space already had a deck, and the club added one on the men’s side, so members had a place to get some fresh air or smoke cigars. Gas fireplaces in both rooms have proved to be quite popular.

Tripoli Country Club, Milwaukee, Wis.
Tripoli Country Club, Milwaukee, Wis.

Coffey cautions club managers to allow ample time for renovations—with plenty that can go wrong during the construction process, the work often takes longer than expected, he notes. Tripoli CC hoped to complete its locker rooms by March 2015, and the project took until May.

Coffey also advises managers to get plenty of member feedback during the redesign process. “Our goal was to give members exactly what they wanted,” Coffey says. “They couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Equal Space
Until 2014, men seeking a place to shower and change at Bala Golf Club in Philadelphia, Pa., would find a locker room conveniently located next to the first tee, golf shop and grill. But women who wanted the same amenities had to cross the street to a small room in the basement of an underutilized building.

Bala Golf Club, Philadelphia, Pa.
Bala Golf Club, Philadelphia, Pa.

“We knew we needed to do something to make the club more marketable to female members and the spouses of male members,” says Head Golf Professional and General Manager Chris Barletta, PGA. “The Board thought it was important to ensure that the women’s facilities were on par with, or better than, the men’s.”

The club enlisted the help of several female members, who make up most of the Board, to work through the planning process.

To make space for a ladies locker room on the main part of the campus, the Board approved taking 33 percent of the men’s locker room and rededicating it to a space for women. Switching from full-height lockers to half-height lockers was a key component in saving space in both rooms, Barletta says.

Bala’s locker rooms now have a streamlined, utilitarian feel. The space is divided into three separate areas: the lockers, which are immediately off the golf course; the wet areas, including showers and sinks; and a room with a well-lighted vanity, which has a dedicated area for signing up for tournaments and accessing club information.

The women’s locker room is now also similar in appearance to the men’s. The lockers are metal, the benches are wood, and the large mirrors are unframed. Photographs of the golf course serve as the main decorations in both. The biggest difference between the two facilities is that the men’s locker room has a steam room.

By eschewing extras, Bala GC was able to build the women’s locker room and renovate several other areas inside the building for $400,000, as part of a cost-effective project that benefited all members in some way.

Barletta advises any club preparing to renovate a locker room to get the membership involved in planning and designing the space. “The ladies, in our case, are the ones who will be using the space and the ultimate judge of whether the enhancements were a success,” he says. “Our female members were very happy with the renovation.”