The elaborate 18-hole layout set up in the ballroom at the Lafayette Hill, Pa. club includes a fog machine and water feature, 10-foot-high “tiki god” figures and other tropical-themed props procured from a theater-supply store. In this episode of C+RB’s video series, Facilities Manager Kevin Kilgore and Executive Chef Drew Smalbach describe how the course’s opening brought many members back to the club after a long winter and pandemic-induced absence, boosting food-and-beverage business in the process. The course is now seen as an attraction that can be set up throughout the property and offered for weddings, corporate meetings and other events, in addition to being brought back—with new features that could include a lazy river and volcano—as a special member amenity.
“The Road Ahead” video series from Club + Resort Business highlights how clubs are moving forward to create successful new programs, events and amenities and enhance the member experience.
This episode features the “beyond outrageous” indoor mini-golf course that was set up this spring in the ballroom of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill, Pa. The elaborate 18-hole layout includes a fog machine and water feature, 10-foot-high “tiki god” figures, and other Aztec-, Mayan- and tropical-themed props procured from a theater-supply store.
“It’s like something you’d find on a Jersey shore boardwalk,” says Whitemarsh Valley Executive Chef Drew Smalbach, CEC, who worked with Facilities Manager Kevin Kilgore and others on the club staff to conceive and develop the course. (Smalbach even drew up the “recipe”” for all that went into making the course, with over 35 “ingredients,” including 1,600 sq. ft. of turf, 200 gallons of water and ‘endless TLC—tools, love and cash.’)
After the course was opened, Smalbach says, it attracted many members who had been away for the club for an extended period during the pandemic, boosting food and drink business in the process (members could play the course for free).
With undulations and breaks built into the greens, “rough” to capture errant shots, multiple cup placements on each hole and an overall layout requiring 35 to 40 minutes to play, it also served as a good alternative for the club’s more accomplished golfers when they couldn’t play Whitemarsh Valley’s snow-covered course, Kilgore adds. “We had a group of some of our best players who came in on one bad-weather day and played several rounds,” he notes.
While the course will be disassembled after its initial ballroom run, its modular construction will allow easy reconstruction on other parts of the property, and the Whitemarsh Valley staff anticipates offering it as a special attraction for weddings, corporate meetings and other events. At the same time, it will be brought back—with new features that could include a lazy river and volcano—throughout the year as a special member amenity.
(Viewing time: 9 minutes)
Watch episode here:
Previous episodes of “The Road Ahead” can be viewed at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/the-road-back/
Upcoming episodes will feature how one club has built up an extremely active takeout F+B program and plans to continue its growth, even as members come back on site, and another club’s success with golf fitness-specific programs to help members improve their overall game and health.