When Bernardo Heights Country Club in San Diego, Calif., wanted to upgrade its 24-year-old clubhouse to stay competitive, the club didn’t want to borrow money or raise members’ assessments. Instead, Bernardo Heights CC opted to renovate in phases, starting with the locker rooms. “Updated locker rooms would give us the biggest bang for our buck,” says Bob Hayward, General Manager. “It’s one of the spaces inside the clubhouse that everyone cycles through when they are here.”

Well-appointed locker rooms provide a comfortable and casual space for members and guests while complementing the clubhouse as a whole. Because of their inherent functionality, locker rooms often make the first impression, thus setting the tone for the overall club experience. “What a club does in the locker room says a great deal about the kind of facility you have—how clean it is, how fresh and updated it is, and the direction the club is going,” says Julie Stone, House Committee Chair at Bernardo Heights CC.

Finding Lost Friends
Finding a balance between form and function is the secret to successful locker room design. While the goal of the men’s locker room renovation at the University Club of Chicago was to increase capacity and attract new members, the renovation also allowed the club to improve the flow of the bustling space, which was comprised of aisle upon aisle of lockers. “One of your good buddies could have been 10 feet away, and you wouldn’t even know it,” says John Flanigan, Athletics Director.

To improve the locker room flow, the new design included wider alcoves with a grooming station at the end of each row of lockers. “When you walk through the locker room now, you get a better idea of who else is in there,” says Flanigan. “This has become a more social setting for members, as opposed to just a changing room.”

SUMMING IT UP


• Locker rooms can set the tone for members’ and guests’ overall club experience.
• Updated design touches can warm up a locker room and help improve the flow of the space.
• Comfortable seating, plasma televisions and food and beverage service can transform a locker room from a simple changing area into a bustling social setting.

The University Club of Chicago also focused on customizing the space to meet members’ needs and habits. With squash being a primary sport at the club, each locker has a high hook to hang a squash racket. The lockers also have small shelves for members to store their watches, wallets and glasses.

Removing the Chill
Design details that create an inviting atmosphere can transform a locker room into a more inviting space. With a 100-year-old clubhouse, the men’s locker room at Deal Golf & Country Club in Deal, N.J., needed a facelift to both expand and warm up the space. The club replaced the original metal lockers with dark wood lockers, and added rich leather chairs and benches to add coziness to the previously stark space.

Prior to the renovation, the men’s locker room also had long industrial lights hanging from the ceiling. Once these lights were removed, a beautiful, beamed wooden ceiling became more visible. The club highlighted this feature with pendant lights and up-lighting.

“Now you actually see the ceiling,” says Pollack. “It’s beautiful, with beams running across it for a ‘chalet’ look. Even though it had been there for years, people are just now noticing it.”

Preserving Personality
While updating a locker room often involves modern design touches, such as wood lockers and granite or marble countertops, it is possible to preserve a club’s history and character while giving fixtures and surroundings a timely facelift.

Members and guests at the Toledo (Ohio) Country Club are proud of the club’s 111-year-old history. The former men’s locker room captured that history with an old-fashioned design. “It almost looked like a professional football locker room, with the metal lockers and benches out in front of them,” describes Tom Wiland, General Manager. “It was one of those places that was so old and so rustic that it had charm.”

Three years ago, however, the club decided to modernize the locker room. The metal was replaced with wood, new hardware was installed in the wet areas, and existing marble was restored. The men’s locker room bar was also upgraded with a new bar top and an additional marble back bar. The bar area was further outfitted with three televisions, bistro tables, bar stools and overstuffed leather chairs.

While the new men’s locker room is certainly more contemporary and comfortable, the space still has plenty of history. In fact, the members named one of the rooms off the men’s locker room bar “Herman’s Den,” in honor of Herman, a beloved men’s locker room bartender at the club for the past 47 years.

The club also displayed one of the old metal lockers at the entrance of the locker room. “We put one of the old lockers in there, with the funny-looking golf attire and the old wooden golf clubs inside, so people can remember what they they looked like,” says Wiland.

Gathering Points
For many members and guests, the locker room is a place to reconnect with friends. “Locker rooms are nice places to hang out,” says Marty Lass, Head Professional at Edina (Minn.) Country Club. “If people want to have a beer or just chill, they can do that in the locker room, and no one will bother them.”

The new men’s locker room at the University Club of Chicago features a large limestone fireplace, wireless Internet access, plush leather chairs, and two large flat-screen televisions.

One of the missions of the University Club of Chicago is to build community, and its new men’s locker room lounge is helping it do just that. Upon entering the locker room, members are welcomed by a large limestone fireplace. The area has wireless Internet access and is set up with plush leather chairs, two large flat-screen TVs, trophy cases, a large oak dining table, and an honor bar. “In the mornings and evenings, there is always a group of guys in there reading the paper, chatting and solving the world’s problems,” says Flanigan.

Similarly, the Bernardo Heights Country Club made updating the social spaces in its locker rooms a top priority. To accomplish this, the club opened up a card room in the men’s locker room with new furniture and a plasma television. And the card room in the ladies’ locker room was redone with a new plasma TV, new card tables and chairs, new carpet, and new paint.

“The locker room is probably the number-one social area,” says Hayward. “There are a lot of people who are strictly golfers and don’t utilize the rest of the clubhouse. The locker room is where they gather.”

Renovating locker rooms can instill members with a renewed pride in their club and can ultimately lead to new memberships. “The first six weeks after opening the new locker room, it almost felt like we were at a museum,” says Flanigan. “Members would bring their friends and guests in to show them the new room—and we picked up about 100 new members that summer and fall.”

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