Look Inside Five Recently Renovated Country Clubs In Martin County
Willoughby Golf Club
Willoughby Golf Club general manager Michele Reilly affectionately dubbed it “the fitness closet.” The underwhelming gym was crammed with low-tech equipment grudgingly used by residents. Plans called for the creation of a new exercise concept that would encompass 5,200 square feet, modernize the routine workout and overlook a lake.
“The difficulty was finding the right location,” Reilly says. “We’re a little land poor. We really don’t have a lot of room for expansion.”
Appealing to a new era of owners set the course for the renovation of the old cabana bar.
“You have to kind of be savvy in what you’re offering,” Reilly says. “Our membership is getting younger.”
The fitness center boasts flat-screen TVs, wireless connectivity and a studio for circuit training, Tai Chi and yoga; it saw 300 visitors in the first month.
“It really brings a total new feeling to the club that wasn’t here,” Reilly says.
As for the old cabana bar, it was replaced by a structure with a fixed roof, automatic screens and a fireplace.
“We try and do something new every couple of years,” Reilly says. “We love nothing more than when members return in the fall and we have something fresh and new to share with them.”
A desire to improve overall efficiency, update aging infrastructure and maintain a level of relevance led to the makeover of Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club’s golf courses—Golden Marsh and River Ridge—and the addition of an 18,000-square-foot lifestyle center called Lakeside. The latter cost the club a tennis court.
“We had 10, but the expansion meant we would have nine,” general manager Michael Salerno says, noting that today’s residents want more than golf, tennis and treadmills. Instead, they want a lifestyle that revolves around health and happiness.
“It’s about wellness,” Salerno says. “Wellness is the largest trend. Members expect to have it right inside the gates of their own community.”
Golf-course views were enhanced as a result of the makeover, revealing the beauty of the fairways and greens and complementing the more than 400 acres of natural landscape within the club’s footprint. Last year marked the third-best home-sales year since 1995.
“We continue to see an increased level of interest in Harbour Ridge,” Salerno says. Lakeside, formerly 4,500 square feet, impresses with a salon and spa, Pilates and spin rooms and a tennis shop, all of which have received rave reviews.
“Our members are saying they’re healthier than they’ve ever been before,” Salerno says. “They’re saying Lakeside is the reason for their improved condition.”
Mariner Sands Country Club
The club sorely needed a face-lift. The bar spanned less than 250 square feet, the pool was stuck in the ’70s and the faded umbrella tables surrounding it served as modest seating for the walk-up kitchen.
“It was showing its age, and it was time,” chief operating officer Bill Ward says.
Two of the club’s nine tennis courts were relocated to make room for a 6,000-square-foot multipurpose swimming amenity. A 5,200-square-foot bar and grill was constructed for casual dining. The old tennis shop was knocked down and rebuilt in another spot so that a pair of pickleball courts could take its place.
“How are you going to get all the certain components the members desired to fit within the space that you have to work with?” Ward asks. “That was one of the challenges.”
Residents now say they feel as if they have been transported to a tropical resort when they visit the new facility. They describe it as an experience in the Bahamas.
“It was a huge hit,” Ward says.
Food and beverage revenues jumped 36 percent as a result of the project, and member-satisfaction surveys came in with high marks.
“It’s obviously a very competitive industry, and being able to provide these features that not only current residents but future homebuyers are looking for is key,” he says.
Piper's Landing Yacht & Country Club
With 70 percent of the membership voting to gut the clubhouse, with the project being completed on time and on budget and with nothing but compliments when the new venue debuted, this private community’s challenges were minimal.
“How many clubs renovate, and you receive no complaints from members after the renovation?” asks COO Brian Reich. “The members absolutely love it.”
A small issue arose with the delivery timeline for the carpet, which originally was set to ship from China on a boat. Quick scrambling to re-route the product via plane succeeded, but the furniture arrived first.
“We had to double back,” Reich says. “There was some moaning and groaning, but we got it done.”
A 60-foot bar that could be the biggest in Martin County anchors the 32,000-square-foot clubhouse.
“We really did it up with some beautiful wood finishes, a marble top, and we added five 55-inch TVs around the room,” Reich says.
A covered patio with seating for 100 and a sunken fire pit ringed by 15 chairs comprise the outdoor portion of the re-do.
“It’s really a spectacular look,” Reich says. “We spared no expense.”
Another 100 seats were tacked onto the indoor operation, increasing total dining to 200-plus.
“At the end of the day, I would say we have an award-winning clubhouse,” Reich says.
Developing a strategic plan. Presenting it to residents. Getting them to buy in. All had to be accomplished prior to the first piece of equipment appearing on the property. Then came a review of best industry practices and meetings with several study groups. It was worth it, says general manager Edward Ewing Jr.
“The overall response of the membership since completion has been terrific,” Ewing says of the renovations, which comprised tearing down the old lunch stop on the golf course and replacing it with the Cross Roads Café; building a health and fitness center and an outdoor-dining terrace; and editing the casual- and formal-dining areas on the upper level of the clubhouse and the spa on the lower level.
“The additions and renovations have been a significant enhancement,” Ewing says. “The biggest trends today are for casual dining and health and fitness.”
Both have been welcomed with open arms.
“The addition of the Terrace Grill and the Cross Roads Café have turned out to be the busiest dining venues,” Ewing says. “Members and their families love them. They also love the focus on health and fitness. The feedback has been outstanding not only from existing members but also new and prospective members.”