The formerly golf-centric property in Fort Myers, Fla., which was bought from the members for $5 million by Donald Garrett in March and is being renamed The Club at Gateway, is adding a wellness center, resort-style pool, bocce and pickleball courts and expanded dining and banquet space to complement its Tom Fazio course. “We thought the name change [and additional activities] gives a feeling of more of a community golf club,” says Garrett.
The formerly golf-centric Gateway Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., which was bought from the members for $5 million by Donald Garrett in March, is adding a wide range of new amenities to make the club more appealing to the whole family, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.
Although the club’s Tom Fazio-designed golf course has been a tournament-worthy success since its opening in 1989, Garrett and his partner, Jimmy Lynn, felt that the addition of amenities such as a wellness center, resort-style pool, bocce and pickleball courts, and expanded dining and banquet space would make the renamed The Club at Gateway more in tune with current country club industry trends, the News-Press reported.
Garrett, who owns Naples, Fla.-based D. Garrett Construction, has worked in the construction industry for 37 years, specializing in clubhouse and golf course projects.
“You start with a great golf course to sustain the game of golf,” he told the News-Press. “You supplement that with other activities such as bocce, pickleball, a resort-style pool, wellness and fitness. So you build around a great golf course and that’s what we’re doing.”
“It’s a careful balance,” Garrett added about the club’s name change, noting that the griffin logo that was used under the previous name is being retained. “We wanted to give the club somewhat of a new look without it being a major change. We thought the name change here gives a feeling of more of a community golf club.”
Lynn, the club’s general manager from 2010-13, is now its operating partner, the News-Press reported. He has joined with Garrett to form Life Style Management Group of Florida, a company for managing golf clubs. Lynn is President of the entity, which aims to manage other golf clubs beyond this one.
A complete golf course renovation at the club is expected in 2021, the News-Press reported, that will include new cart paths, a new irrigation system and renovation of greens, bunkers, tees, fairways and roughs.
The new pickleball and bocce courts are being built this year, and In 2019, plans include doubling the size of the banquet room, adding a second-story wellness center and building a display kitchen to enhance the 4-year-old Grille & Pub, which added more than 4,500 square feet of casual indoor/outdoor dining.
“It’s not dad’s club anymore,” Lynn said. “It’s also about mom, the kids, everyone.”
Today, the club has nearly 500 members, the News-Press reported, through a mix of membership types. It employs as many as 70 people during peak season, then scales back for the summer months.
The club also offers six Har-Tru clay tennis courts, and the planned upgrades are designed to help grow membership, “but not to the point it affects the member experience,” Garrett told the News-Press.
“We do not want to dilute the value of the membership, we want to make it more valuable. It’s a private club, and members expect certain privileges.”
A Topgolf location that is expected to be constructed near the property is no competition, Garrett and Lynn said, and If anything, such ventures help to attract more people to the game.
The new owners are also in the process of putting together corporate membership packages, wishing to partner with local businesses on corporate functions, the News-Press reported.
Robert La Belle of Downing-Frye Realty, who lives in the community, confirmed to the News-Press that members of Gateway were almost unanimous in their support of Garrett’s plans.
“All country clubs are a little bit in trouble because of the membership,” La Belle said. “Golf courses are less and less. We had different offers of $4.5 million to $8 million for the club and golf course. Everything he wants to do makes a lot of sense to attract the younger people. We’re very happy about it.”
The News-Press’ full report can be read at https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2018/06/01/gateway-golf-and-country-club-becomes-club-gateway/656640002/