Providing space for kids enables the youngest members to enjoy club amenities of their own design.
Move over, Mom and Dad. Give them some room, Grandma and Grandpa. Kids are staking a claim at private clubs across the country, where amenities and dedicated spaces tailored to their interests are commanding a solid presence. Be it a cozy space for hosting camps and open play, a playground that extends fresh-air fun or an indoor facility that lets junior golfers perfect their swing, these hot spots are the place to be for today’s kids.
From Fitness, to Fun Central
What was once a space that housed cardio machines and ellipticals is now outfitted with a teepee for pretend play, tables for arts and crafts, and giant building blocks for free play. Kids rule the room at Treyburn Country Club in Durham, N.C., where a former fitness center has been converted into a permanent space for its youngest members.
The idea for a kids-only room, which opened this past April, had been in the works ever since the club moved its fitness facility into a larger setting.
“Before that, we did not have a good space to utilize for children’s programming and had to get creative on where we held camps, kids’ night out and other functions,” says Membership Director Matt McConnell. “With our membership continuing to grow and our hopes of bringing younger families in, we did feel it was a priority to have a more welcoming kids’ room for them to enjoy.”
Located on the first floor near the group fitness room, main fitness center and golf shop, the 904 sq. ft. kids’ club offers convenient access to both dining and health/wellness amenities. Outfitted in a child-friendly layout with pint-sized furnishings, a movie zone and video gaming center, the space is well-stocked with assorted entertainment options.
“We wanted to create a room that engages a range of ages, filled with color and spaces to be creative,” explains McConnell.
In addition to hosting kids’ programming and other structured events, the club serves as a drop-in play center for ages 7 and up.
“This [room] is great for individual or small-group play, a quiet reading area to do homework, but most importantly, an area to have fun,” McConnell says. Babysitting services are also available, enabling members to take a fitness class or a golf lesson while their child is otherwise occupied. And with the group fitness room just across the hall, future programming may encompass a complementary kids’ fitness program.
Looking ahead to what promises to be a busy summer season, Treyburn is gearing up for camp sessions, for which the kids’ room will be put to good use. According to McConnell, the kids’ club will serve as home base for various activities, a pick-up/drop-off destination, a lunch spot and an afternoon rest zone after a full day of fun in the sun.
Gaining More Ground
Kids will soon have even more places to play at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla., where an influx of family memberships has driven the construction of an outdoor entertainment venue, due to open this summer. According to COO/General Manager Rick Dente, the club has experienced an increase in young families over the past five years, prompting the club to expand its existing youth-focused offerings.
Conveniently situated on the north side of the tennis courts, the 150 x 50-ft. playground will be easily accessible from the aquatic center, just off the Splash Club outdoor game room and activity pool.
“This location strengthens our commitment to kid-friendly facilities and serves as a backdrop for year-round kids’ activities,” explains Dente. An assortment of colorful swings, play structures and game boards made from metal, rubber and plastic will make up the space, designed for ages 2-12.
In addition to meeting ASTM and CPSC safety standards, the playground has been outfitted with a resilient flooring system to ensure a secure environment. Since the project has not experienced any setbacks, it will conclude just in time for summertime fun.
Suiting Young Golfers to a Tee
Youth programming in Chicagoland has expanded its reach, enabling up-and-coming golfers to use a dedicated practice space year-round. A combined effort between the First Tee – Greater Chicago and KemperSports has given new purpose to an unoccupied locker room in the Waveland clubhouse and transformed it into a facility that houses a simulator room and lounge for hosting education workshops or simply for hanging out. The indoor facility, which opened its doors last fall, will be bolstered by an outdoor short game and putting green area slated to open this July.
“We’ve had a longstanding partnership with the Chicago Park District, and this was underutilized space next to a golf course with great potential,” explains Lea Jesse, Chief Executive Officer, First Tee – Greater Chicago. “KemperSports made a long-term commitment to First Tee – Greater Chicago to fund the new clubhouse and help bring kids from all neighborhoods of Chicago back to this area for year-round, affordable youth development programs.”
During a complete renovation of the 100-year-old clubhouse, the existing structure was brought up to code.
“The plan from the beginning was to maintain the character of an old building, while incorporating modern updates and new technology,” says Jesse.
For starters, lockers were removed and golf equipment was emptied out. Next up was restructuring the layout, which involved rejiggering the former design to fit a new purpose.
“The biggest change we made to the space was to fill in the stairs to the basement area to make room for a new bathroom,” explains Jesse.
The original shower room became the ideal spot for an indoor simulator, without requiring any change to the dimensions of the previous space. Designers were also able to maintain other elements within the original footprint, including the terrazzo floors with brass inlays and light fixtures that were refinished and restored.
To maximize the design’s flexibility, leagues are held in the simulator during the fall and winter months, while coach training sessions and educational workshops are hosted in the lounge area. When not occupied by guest speakers, the latter space is kept open as a social spot after school.
“Kids can hang out with their peers, rent a laptop and get some homework done in our workstation area, practice their putting on our green in the lounge or take a few swings in the simulator room,” says Jesse, who is also eyeing the idea of hosting a podcast for participants in a separate office area. “The clubhouse really opened up a whole new world of possibilities to explore character-based educational programming beyond golf lessons.”
For Phase II, a 60,000-sq.-ft. outdoor practice area will play host to camps and clinics for up to 50 kids at a time. The space can also be used for corporate events and donors when youth programs are not in session. If the success of the indoor facilities is any indication of how well the expanded outdoor facilities will be received, then Jesse is hopeful of its potential.
“There isn’t another space like this in Chicago that is solely dedicated to indoor youth golf in a very accessible way,” she says.
Adds Steve Lesnik, Founder and Chairman of KemperSports and a founding member of First Tee – Greater Chicago, “We are happy to make this long-term investment to help young people develop real-world skills, grow as individuals, and become responsible adults and leaders in their community.”
Summing It Up
> Clubs with increasing interest from young families are carving out spots exclusively for kids.
> Underutilized or vacant rooms can be refurnished to accommodate gaming and free play zones.
> When not used for special events or scheduled programming, kids’ clubs can offer babysitting services for member parents using other areas of the club, such as dining or fitness facilities.