Investing in updated outdoor furnishings can help clubs better serve—and seat—their members.
Pull up a chair and lend an ear: Clubs are revamping their outdoor spaces with furnishings that are not only comfortable, but plentiful. As many members extend their stays to include a post-round/match/swim cocktail or time spent with other families and friends, they’re seeking out a place to sit back and relax.
Those facilities that acknowledge this shift in club culture are wise to re-invent their outdoor space with furnishings that are comfortable and attractive. Deciding on how best to update these layouts, while maximizing a property’s available outdoor real estate, results in a place ripe for member memory-making.
|SUMMING IT UP
• Carrying over a décor style from indoor to outdoor settings creates a seamless, consistent design throughout.
• A flexible layout ensures that both large and small parties can be accommodated.
• Furnishings with weather-resistant fabrics that are durable and lightweight are ideal for maximum usage and easy storage.
Extending the Season
At Raritan Valley Country Club (RVCC) in Bridgewater, N.J., the property’s outdoor space underwent a major upgrade last fall with the addition of new lounge seating, tables, chairs and umbrellas. The installation of a custom 50’ x 100’ permanent awning under the terrace, and custom-made natural gas fire pits, rounded out the renovation.
RVCC’s updated outdoor furnishings are a mix of brown and cream, designed to correlate with the club’s interior palette of subtle earth tones. “The thought process behind the upgrade was to make the outdoor space feel like an extension of the interior spaces, allowing for an easy transition from inside to out,” explains Chief Operating Officer Ryan Dionne.
A flexible layout allows the new furnishings to be interchangeable with the club’s other outdoor pieces. While the seating can provide an intimate setting for four, it can also be transformed for larger groups of up to 20 people.
“Because RVCC offers a family-friendly environment, our newly designed outdoor space serves as a gathering place for families, as well as a nice spot for adults to enjoy a post-round cocktail by the outdoor fire pits,” Dionne notes.
Because the new furnishings are part of a larger, 10,000-sq. ft. outdoor area on the RVCC property, events can be configured for parties of up to 120 people, maximizing the facility’s usage. To spotlight this updated setting, the club unveiled its new furnishings at a par-3 golf tournament last fall that included an evening cocktail party with live music.
“This early-evening event allowed us to not only showcase the furnishings and awning, but the natural-gas fire pits as well,” says Dionne.
Weather or Not
As club owners have come to know all too well, depending on Mother Nature’s compliance when hosting outdoor events is not advisable. So, when selecting and storing outdoor furniture during inclement weather, clubs must have a game plan.
At Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater, N.J., the new outdoor furniture was selected for its weather-resistant woven resin material and the cushions for their moisture-wicking fabric. In the off-season and during bouts of rainy weather, which the Northeast experienced this past spring, weatherproof boxes house the cushions.
In Colorado, where snow prevails during the colder months, The Club at Crested Butte (Colo.) stacks and stores its outdoor furnishings indoors for the off-season. The changing climate also played a deciding factor in Crested Butte’s purchasing process. After evaluating the pros and cons of different material selections, the club settled on outdoor furnishings that could withstand the sun, be rinsed free of dust particles, and dry quickly. The large-scale furnishings will be secure in most winds, while still allowing pieces like dining seating to be moved and stacked with ease.
Utilizing an existing set-up during foul weather is the M.O. at Shepherd Hills Golf Club in Wescosville, Pa. A large, partially covered pavilion doubles as a storage unit that can be used on a moment’s notice. “If we know of bad weather, we can just push all the furniture into the covered part,” says General Manager Michelle Konish.
More recently, RVCC hosted over 180 people for a cocktail party during its 65th annual invitational tournament, during which the outdoor space affirmed its reputation as a favorite club gathering spot.
Because of these new additions, member feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. On top of the praise Dionne has received, the club’s social calendar has now extended beyond a typical season in the Northeast. “Once used primarily during the spring and early fall, the combination of improvements has turned the outdoor terrace into a space that can be enjoyed nearly eight months out of the year,” Dionne enthuses.
Taking the Long View
The picturesque setting at The Club at Crested Butte (Colo.), which includes trout-filled lakes, aspen trees and mountaintops, is one that begs visitors to linger longer. But with dated outdoor furnishings, it was time to make a change and create a new and improved atmosphere.
“The rugged mountain landscape that surrounds the club demands one to enjoy it,” explains General Manager Brad Bogard. “Updating our exterior furnishings allows for this enjoyment and for the increased comfort of our members while doing so.”
To carry over the relaxed style of the club’s interior, Crested Butte incorporated clean lines for its outdoor furnishings. Woven-mesh table seating was selected for its easy cleaning and quick-dry capabilities, and marine-grade fabrics on the soft seating and umbrellas were picked to withstand the sun’s powerful rays. The corrosion-resistant aluminum frames are lightweight and tough, making it an ideal material for outdoor furniture, the club reports.
Because Crested Butte’s exterior space is designed to accommodate a mix of large and small groups, special attention was paid to achieving a well-balanced layout, considering how people circulate through casual conversation areas and dining spaces.
Although the club did not choose to unveil the new furnishings during a dedicated event, members have continuously taken note of their enhanced surroundings. “The procurement of new exterior furnishings brings a whole new level of comfort to our members,” says Bogard. “Their addition not only allows for an expansion of our revenue stream, but gives our members the opportunity to extend their day with us, their friends, and families while taking in some of the best amenities and views in Colorado.”
Revitalizing the Outdoors
As part of a larger property-wide renovation, Shepherd Hills Golf Club in Wescosville, Pa., now boasts an outdoor dining area that encourages members to stick around. Under new ownership, the club’s Tiki Hut has been redesigned with synthetic teak furniture and an expanded seating area.
“We wanted to bring some life back into the space, and decided to invest in new outdoor furniture,” says General Manager Michelle Konish.
Prior to the renovation, the club’s outdoor dining area did not encourage extended socializing. “There wasn’t a lot of room, just enough for some high-top tables,” Konish explains. “People were mostly just standing around the bar area.”
To create a fresh look that is distinct from the rest of the club, the space was outfitted with a mixture of low- and high-top tables and casual seating. “We went back and forth between that and wicker, and decided that teak would be best,” she adds, citing the material for its durability and chic, modern look.
Because Shepherd Hills has a diverse membership and caters to seasoned golfers and young families, the layout is designed to facilitate mingling for all ages. Depending on the time of day, patrons can range from kids eating lunch outdoors to golfers enjoying a cocktail at the bar after a round. On a busy night, the Hut can seat up to 100, allowing more guests to grab another drink and extend their day on-site.
To help kick off the newly renovated outdoor space, the club hosted a Cinco de Mayo party that earned rave reviews, despite the inclement weather. “It rained, but the bar was packed,” enthuses Konish. “All of our guests loved the new furniture and commented on how stylish it is.”
Members both old and new were quick to point out how comfortable and functional the space is, she adds. “They are not standing around anymore—anyone who has been at the club for years has nothing but positive things to say about the upgrade,” Konish says.
Continuing the momentum at Shepherd Hills this fall, the club will be adding a side portion to its deck area that can be closed off for private parties. An outdoor fireplace and additional casual seating will complete the picture, creating even more opportunities for members to enjoy the outdoors as the seasons change.