The $10 million facility at the La Quinta, Calif. community is expected to further the trend that has already seen a swing from 95 percent golf memberships to 60 percent sports memberships among the property’s 1,400 members. The sports complex includes a fitness center, jacuzzi, swimming pool, bocce ball courts, dog park, drive-up movie area, tennis, a splash area for kids, pickleball courts, a restaurant and an open-air bar with fire pit.
When Jennifer Jenkins started work at PGA West 22 years ago, reported The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., the La Quinta, Calif. community was all about golf.
“We sold literally 95 percent golf,” Jenkins, the property’s Director of Marketing and Sales, told The Desert Sun. “Now, we are actually almost 60-40: 40 percent being golf and the 60 percent being our sports membership.”
The idea that more people are joining private country clubs these days for reasons besides golf, The Desert Sun reported, is one of the factors why PGA West spent $10 million on a new sports complex, which was unveiled to its membership on the weekend of November 10-11.
The four-acre PGA West sports complex, which incorporates some of the land from the tennis and fitness center that occupied the land before, includes a fitness center, jacuzzi, swimming pool, bocce ball courts, a dog park, a drive-up movie area, tennis, a splash area for kids, pickleball courts, a restaurant and an open-air bar with fire pit, The Desert Sun reported. It’s all part of more activities for people who aren’t as intrigued by golf as past generations.
The new complex is also about getting members to PGA West who are not homeowners at the La Quinta complex, The Desert Sun reported.
“We have 1,400 memberships, and probably 80 percent of those members live on campus, so they live on one of the golf courses,” Jenkins said. “We actually went back to the community first, so people that had passed [on a membership], or didn’t play golf, [were targeted for] our first mailing and e-mail campaign.”
The sports club memberships are also open to those who do not live at PGA West but want access to the facilities, Jenkins added. Those non-golfing members may, in turn, want to upgrade their memberships and become golf members in time.
A membership to the PGA West sports complex is $10,000 for an initiation, which does not include golf, The Desert Sun reported. A $20,000 sports membership includes the sports complex and limited access to golf on a pay-as-you-go basis. The full golf membership is $45,000 and includes the sports complex.
The opening of the new sports complex hardly means that golf is hardly going away from PGA West, assured Jenkins.
“Not only do [PGA West members] play, but they actually play more here,” she told The Desert Sun. “They might play three or four times a week versus when they are back in their summer home [when] they play maybe once a week.”
Ben Dobbs, General Manager of the three private courses at the six-course PGA West complex, told The Desert Sun that the opening of the sports complex reflects how the property now wants “to be more than just a golf community.”
“We’ve got great golf, but in order to attract new members and keep the members we have, we need to be more than just golf,” Dobbs said. “So we’ve got to offer something for the kids, something for the grandkids.”
While golf remains important for private clubs, it can’t be the only focus for attracting or retaining members, Dobbs added. So PGA West, The Desert Sun reported, has joined other clubs in abandoning the golf-first approach of the past to attract new members, who bring with them initiation fees and monthly dues.
“We need to do everything we can to keep the members we’ve got. The more value and amenities we offer them, the better chance that they will stay,” Dobbs said. “At the same time, it’s important to get the new members, young families, up-and-coming members to be able to join. Because we still have to hit that niche of young families.”
Those who came to PGA West for golf understand the need for a focus on fitness and lifestyle and less of an emphasis strictly on golf, he added.
“Our Board really gets it,” Dobbs said. “We do a good job with communicating to them about trends in the business and where we are.
“We are still putting money into our golf courses,” he added. “They are not deteriorating here. Our golf courses are still getting money and doing well, and they are still classic courses.”
The sports club might actually help keep those members, and maybe even bring more members of the family, Dobbs noted.
“One of the reasons that our members leave is that grandkids pull them away from the desert to different places,” he said. “So we wanted to make a product that the grandkids love so much when they get here that grandpa and grandma couldn’t leave.”
PGA West is not alone among properties in the Palm Springs area that have shifter their focus away from golf, The Desert Sun reported. Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif. has enhanced its club with casual dining, fitness areas and swimming pools in the last two years. Other desert clubs have added fitness centers and popular pickleball courts while maintaining their golf courses. Renovated clubhouses and even new clubhouses, like those at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells and Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., are more about the community of the country club and less about golf.