Locker rooms have matured into first-class amenities that can help properties gain a competitive edge.
SUMMING IT UP
By their very nature, locker rooms are where members and guests feel most at home. At their most basic, locker rooms are the place where members and guests shower, change their clothes, and use the bathroom. They’re also the places where everyone can kick back and relax—where boys can be boys and girls can gossip. But as clubs continue to improve the member and guest experience, these once-utilitarian spaces are evolving into much more.
A modern, clean, well-appointed locker room can provide a club or resort property with a real edge. And increasingly, properties are providing additional comforts—including lounge and reading areas, bar service and fully equipped foodservice stations—that encourage members and guests to come and hang out in locker areas, even if they don’t need to change their clothes.
“Our members are well-traveled, going to beautiful resorts and spas. When they come home to their own club, they expect the same,” says Christina Toups, CCM, General Manager of Ridglea Country Club in Forth Worth, Texas.
“Locker rooms and fitness rooms are the biggest areas of change in clubs today,” Toups adds. “Before, the locker room was a secondary place where members would go to change their shoes after golf. That’s not the case anymore. The amenities found in the locker room have become part of the standard of what you would expect at any high-class facility.”
Out of the Time Warp
With locker rooms becoming an increasingly important amenity, many clubs and resorts are recognizing the value of updating these spaces. The former men’s locker room at Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore, Wash., simply did not fit with the rest of the clubhouse. With clunky metal lockers, a 1970s-style “popcorn” ceiling, ragged carpeting and outdated wet areas, the space needed a serious makeover.
“The locker room was holding us back,” says Clubhouse Manager Karen Peterson, CCM. “We have a beautiful clubhouse that was built in the 1920s, and our grounds are meticulous. But when I took prospective members around the property, I was embarrassed to take them to the men’s locker room. It looked like a junior-high locker room, and didn’t match the rest of the club.”
After surveying its members, Inglewood decided to completely gut and renovate the old locker room. Maintaining the original footprint, the space was reconfigured to better meet the club’s current needs.
The locker room’s original breezeway, which had previously been walled-in, was opened up during the renovation (see photo, pg. 23). Now, a more modern breezeway connects the locker and wet areas to the new locker-room lounge.
Aside from the better flow, one of the locker room’s biggest improvements was in the wet area. Open showers with no partitions and dilapidated yellow tiles were ripped out and replaced with four private showers, each individually tiled with white, travertine tiles.
When it came to the actual locker area, Inglewood, which had a locker waiting list, decided to add 50 lockers. Previously, the club’s metal lockers stood 16 inches wide by eight feet tall. To increase the number of lockers within the same amount of space, the club utilized a combination of narrower half- and full-sized wooden lockers, bringing its total number to 300.
While the full lockers are generally more popular, Facilities Maintenance Manager Rod Maxwell notes there is a growing demand for half-lockers. “A lot of people are going to the half-lockers,” he says. “Giving the members an option to pay half the price may appeal to them if they don’t want to store a dress coat or other larger items in there.”
Locker-room designs that are inspired by spa settings can maximize both efficiency and luxury. “A lot of clubs are going to that resort-style spa area in their locker rooms,” says Ridglea CC’s Troup. “Adding spa areas was a top priority for our locker-room renovation.”
Ridglea CC added a sauna and whirlpool to its men’s locker room and a sauna to the women’s. The club also upgraded its showers by adding a private marble vanity area to each shower. “This is really nice, especially for the ladies,” says Toups. “They can come out of the shower and have their mirror and vanity right there, without having to come into the public area. It’s a really nice touch.”
All of the toiletries that members and guests need, from shampoo to cologne, are available in the locker room, too. The club keeps these supplies available in trays on the main vanity countertop. Three full-time locker-room attendants organize and restock these items throughout the day.
Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., also went all-out with spa-worthy amenities in its locker room. “To retain and attract new members, we needed to set ourselves apart from the basic men’s locker room,” explains Larry Conner, PGA, Director of Golf Operations.
All of the countertops and showers at Prestonwood are now granite and marble, and each shower has dual showerheads and a private changing area. The locker room also houses a stainless-steel and ceramic-tiled steam room, and a separate, artesian spa-style hot tub room outfitted with tumbled marble stone work and mosaic designs (see photo, above). A wide range of toiletries are organized in rows on an elevated granite shelf in the common vanity areas.
Seeing the Light
Locker rooms’ increased elegance means lighting needs have also matured, going well beyond basic fluorescent bulbs to become complementary illumination that highlights the space’s increased comfort.
The men’s locker room at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., utilizes unique recessed up-lighting that is positioned on top of the lockers, to warm up the space. “Proper lighting can add a soft touch to the locker room,” says Gilbert “GT” Taylor, Locker Room Manager. “It can make the space warmer and more welcoming, instead of being so bright and harsh.”
Inglewood GC also used lighting to help transform and update its locker room. “The old locker room was kind of like a cave. It was really dark and confining,” says Maxwell.
During the demolition, however, the club discovered some original windows that had been built into the walls. Those windows were refurbished and are now located in the shower area. They stand nine feet off the ground, allowing natural light to pour into the space without compromising members’ privacy.
Wall sconces, up-lighting and chandeliers are also making their way into club locker rooms today. Prestonwood CC, for example, gave its locker room an additional shot of luxury by hanging a number of simple yet elegant chandeliers throughout the locker-room space.
Social spaces have long been part of the locker-room experience. And creating social space that was even more inviting and comfortable was a top priority during the locker-room renovation at Inglewood GC.
Prior to the renovation, men would gather in the mixed grille after a round of golf. But that grille was also heavily used by families with small children, resulting in demographic contrasts that didn’t make anyone happy.
Today, the new locker-room lounge gives the men a place to call their own. The room has two 42-inch televisions mounted on either side of the 12-foot granite bar, with a mahogany backdrop. There are four stools at the bar, and six four-top tables. Oversized, cozy, leather chairs that overlook the fireplace and a 60-inch television add further comfort to the space.
“Now, the guys who come in after a round have a space that is not quite as family-oriented,” says Peterson. “It’s a place where they can get more raucous, without irritating the families in the mixed grille.”
Social space can be equally, if not more, important in ladies’ locker-room designs. One of the most successful aspects of the new ladies’ locker room at Ridglea CC was the redesigned card room. Before, the card room was separate, but now the new ladies’ card room flows right into the main locker room.
The card room is also decorated in the same style as the locker room, with cherry-wood details and a rich color palate of burgundy, green and brown. The room is decked out with 10 to 15 tables, a big-screen television, and a bar with an attendant. Photos from the club’s golf and tennis championships hang on the walls for added personal touches in this popular member space.
“Before, the ladies card room was underutilized—but now that it is connected to the locker-room facility, it is used every day,” says Toups. “Now, they just have to go from one door to the other. The design of the space definitely added to usage.”
View photo galleries of the locker rooms at Inglewood Golf Club, Kenmore, Wash., Prestonwood Country Club, Cary, N.C., and Ridglea Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas here.