While updated patios are rarely the sole focus of club renovations, they can provide supplemental social space as a surprising and welcome bonus.
Outside of multipurpose rooms, few spaces within a clubhouse are as versatile as an outdoor patio. Often overlooking an attractive amenity, such as a well-manicured golf course, distant mountains or a bustling pool area, patios can act as a transitional space, where golfers relax after a round before moving inside for a meal, or couples enjoy pre-event cocktails on date night.
But these outdoor spaces can also serve as destinations in and of themselves. When equipped with extra amenities such as fire pits, outdoor televisions, heating and lighting, and with easy access to food-and-beverage service, patios have the potential to become a favorite spot among members. And with many patio spaces open year-round (weather permitting), they’re proving to be worthwhile investments in creating a unique club experience.
|Summing It Up
• Using design elements that mirror the clubhouse’s interior and exterior helps newly created patios look like a more cohesive part of the property.
• Offer a variety of furniture options, from high-top tables to low soft seating, to give members the opportunity to choose how to use the space.
• Highlight the aspects of the patio that make your club distinct—whether it’s an enormous tree, a walk-up bar, or the clubhouse’s unique architecture.
A New Hub
In 2010, Forsyth Country Club in Winston-Salem, N.C., began the early stages of what would become a two-phase, $7 million renovation. During an in-depth planning process that included focus groups and surveys, the club honed in on dining enhancement, which had emerged as a primary priority of the membership.
After breaking ground in 2013, the club unveiled its first phase in spring 2014, which updated the dining facilities and enlarged its adjoining existing patio by 40%. The uncovered patio runs the entire length of the clubhouse, around 6,000 sq. ft., and is available to members up to nine months of the year, weather permitting.
“Members can walk up to the patio off the putting green or after a round,” says Chief Operating Officer Lee Smith, CCM, CCE. “Or they can access it from inside the clubhouse, where there’s a casual bar, to have a cocktail and step outside to have dinner, or vice versa—it flows both ways.”
Forsyth CC has members of all ages, and with family as the “core to what we do,” creating spaces that appeal to everyone was important in the renovation, Smith says. “We were trying to capture and maintain the look of the clubhouse’s architecture, while offering more outdoor dining space,” he says. “We recognized how attractive it was out there, but the previous [patio] just didn’t have the capacity.”
The clubhouse’s Georgian-style architecture, featuring brick that is painted white, is contrasted by darker pops of color on the patio, with brick pavers on the floor, 35 black tables and chairs with gray umbrellas, and light-green soft seating.
“It creates its own nest off the back of the clubhouse, and accents the building well,” Smith says.
Beyond the nest, a wide, inviting staircase leads down to the putting green, and stepping stones lead to a fire pit, with a brick paver knee wall and cast stone on top, that’s surrounded by twelve Adirondack chairs.
There’s also one unmistakable feature: a massive, 75-year-old oak tree that shades almost half the patio and creates a nice breeze. “We worked hard to save that tree,” Smith notes. “We got materials around it while building, and so far it has survived well.”
The result of all the effort, Smith says, is an outdoor area that’s the first place on the property to fill up in spring and summer. “It has been very well-received,” he says. “Before the renovation, we didn’t have a bar or a place for people to just gather and relax.”
And concerns about how the more modern patio would fit in with the classic look of Forsyth’s 100-year-old clubhouse have proved unfounded. “It looks like it has been here since the day it opened,” Smith notes. “That’s the overriding comment from members—it feels like an old, traditional Southern country club.”
When Red Rocks Country Club in Morrison, Colo., doubled its clubhouse’s size to 24,000 sq. ft. in a $4.2 million renovation, it also added a very important feature to its patio: a permanent hardwood awning.
“Before, we had a canopy roof and maintenance was very hard, especially with the high winds we get here,” says Jackie Mack, Marketing & Communications Director. “Right before our expansion, the majority of the canopy was destroyed by hail. Now we won’t have those issues anymore, and with built-in lighting and ceiling fans, it’s so much nicer.”
Now, 1,800 sq. ft. of the patio’s 4,300 sq. ft. are covered by the permanent hard-top lid, the top of which is concrete tile roofing. The underside is lined by attractive tongue-and-groove pine.
Of course, the rest of the patio got an update as well. A large window leads to a walk-up bar (see photo, pg. 32), so members can get service without setting foot inside. The patio now features poured concrete, all-new outdoor tables, chairs and lounge couches, plus a new flagstone fire pit.
“The fire pit was something we didn’t have before, and people out here love them,” Mack says. “Going into summer, people sit around it and have drinks, and we can roast marshmallows for kids’ events.”
The open season for the patio will be April through October, Mack estimates. But there have already been days this winter where people sit outside. “We have furniture out there year-round, so members can dine and have drinks, overlooking the driving range and Red Rocks Amphitheater,” she says.
The patio wraps around the west and north sides of the building, offering multiple entry points to the clubhouse. “A lot of attention was paid to make sure everything flowed well together,” Mack says. And despite a few hitches that made the construction phase of the project last about a month longer than expected, the members are thrilled with the new space. “They absolutely love it—they love the look, their bar, the fire pit, everything,” Mack says.
From the Ground Up
Clubs are tasked with countless decisions during renovations, but the choice of what material to use for a patio’s flooring can shape the tone of the entire space. Here are a few options:
Connecting the Dots
Though it’s often said that two is better than one, Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville, N.C., connected two of its patios to create a space that’s greater than the sum of its parts, says Club Manager Phillip Loney.
Unveiled in March 2015, the now-combined patio space features two areas—one covered and one uncovered. The 667-sq. ft. covered space, which was previously protected by a fabric awning, now features a permanent wood structure with fans and can lighting. The patio is adjoined to the 782-sq. ft., uncovered raised deck, separated by steps and a low brick wall. Slate is used as flooring throughout.
“We were looking to revitalize the space,” Loney says. “It had taken a beating from usage, and needed upkeep.”
Two banquet spaces in the clubhouse lead out to the patio, which faces the 10th tee and 18th green. “The two spaces are still very distinct,” Loney says. “The uncovered space is often used for larger functions, with standup seating and high-top tables, while the covered area has more of a comfortable lounge feel, with sofas and low chairs.”
The style of the space is beachy, bright, and bold, Loney says, with bright white walls, columns, and painted brick contrasted by furniture that is sandy brown. The area also features blue soft seating that carries throughout the clubhouse, and colorful patterns on pillows. The club also installed a raised stone fire pit in the patio’s uncovered portion.
Beyond events, the club offers an extension of its casual dining and lunch menu. “Primarily, our members go out there to mix and mingle,” Loney says. “Many golfers enjoy using the space after their round or to just relax with the family.”
Fit for a President
Knowing—as the club’s name would suggest—that its members love patio dining, Out Door Country Club in York, Pa., opted to upgrade its patio, along with its clubhouse, as part of a $1.6 million renovation. Before the update, the club’s patio consisted of a cracked rectangular concrete slab outside the dining room.
“A few years ago, we put in the President’s Terrace, which is used for wedding ceremonies,” says Jen Morris, Director of Marketing and Membership. “It was done in paver-style, so we took that and expanded it into the entire patio.”
Running the length of the clubhouse and adjoined to formal and casual dining spaces as well as the ballroom, Out Door’s entire patio now measures 5,400 sq. ft. Weather permitting, the expansive patio is open year-round, with the warming glow of a newly installed fire pit keeping members warm on chilly evenings.
The furnishings are a mix: bar stools, high tops, round and rectangle tables with umbrellas, woven rockers and chairs throughout with various styles and fabrics, featuring a mix of dark brown and shades of neutral beige, yellow, and gray. A 70-inch outdoor TV is installed over the space, and members can stand on the patio to see the golfer’s scoreboard. Planters run along a curved wall on the clubhouse exterior.
“The patio offers that casual atmosphere—you can just run to the club to get a pizza, sandwich or burger,” says General Manager/COO Thomas Gibb, CCM. “It really brings in the families and it’s used extensively after golf.”
Servers are equipped with wireless tablets, to make them more mobile and able to seamlessly take orders and send them to the kitchen.
“The nicest thing is that, in the past, the patio was used mostly for golfers, but now there’s something for everybody to use,” says Morris. “We had a need for a family place—the dining rooms tend to be more formal—and on the patio, both the golfers and the kids can be loud.”