The great outdoors II: Safe, comfortable dining experiences

Editor's note: this is the second of a two-part series on how outdoor entertainment spaces are helping clubs to serve members through the pandemic.

Recently, Chambers team members visited a golf club that had its grounds crew install brick pavers, resulting in the creation of new areas for outdoor dining tables. At the same time, the firm also assisted golf clubs with their bars, particularly by advising them on the ways in which they can creatively move their bar experiences outside.

“By setting up a temporary mobile bar off of a dining area on a patio or in an unused, grassy area, clubs can increase their capacity, while also helping members feel safer outside,” Turner said.

A majority of Troon-managed golf clubs have extended their clubhouses’ patios and added more outdoor seating, typically with pavers or hardscape. Covered spaces are also significant, so the company ensures that shade elements are included in each clubhouse design and redesign. Some golf clubs are even utilizing areas that were previously used for events and transforming them into dining locations for the pandemic.

In addition, spaces that are currently off-limits, mainly bars and indoor restaurants (depending on the state), are being transformed into usable areas. Although some golf clubs were well prepared for COVID-19, as they already had to-go food and cocktail options, others weren’t prepared at all. Consequently, they’ve had to renovate their kitchens, focusing primarily on redesigns that enhance their “grab-n-go” meal preparations.

Some golf clubs have also renovated their bars and restaurants to create half outdoor/half indoor environments, which can be fully enjoyed after the pandemic too. Some have chosen to not renovate at all, as they’ve simply blocked off bar stools, used adjacent tables for seating and utilized their bar areas for dining tables and chairs, thereby adding more seating capacity, according to Turner.

“They’re not transforming the spaces into other uses, aside from dining, as they’re hopeful they can be reutilized again soon,” said Cindy Anderson, senior vice president, clubhouse design and development, Troon. “At the very least, the space will be used for physically-distanced dining options.”

As golf clubs prepare for the future, they must also realize they’re becoming safe havens for members, especially as COVID-19 continues, Turner said. Clubs should bear in mind that their potentially short-term design solutions have an impact well beyond members’ safety, as they also influence their psyche.

“Every design initiative should have members’ comfort in mind too, as clubs continue to offer them escapes—golf, food, fun, camaraderie—during these unprecedented times,” he said. 

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