Fire-destroyed clubhouse at Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove Golf to be rebuilt with family-oriented focus
The Tubbs Fire that swept through the Fountaingrove Golf and Country Club in Santa Rosa on Oct. 9, 2017, at 1:30 a.m. destroyed the 30-year old clubhouse, the pro shop, golf cart barn, maintenance buildings, gate house and also damaged the restroom on the first nine-holes of the golf course – sparing only the Athletic Center.
Now management and members are planning to transform the clubhouse into what they describe will be welcoming and comfortable place for all ages in keeping with today's trend toward family-oriented clubs blending golf and athletics.
'This is a collaborative effort involving ideas for the future from our board, staff and 1,000 members based on feedback from a survey asking them what can we do to improve the club now that we have the chance,' said COO Ron Banaszak.
'The new clubhouse will feature a clean, contemporary look and feel. It will have an entirely new design and we're making it better than before.'
The night of the fire some 250 members and nine employees lost homes. One week after evacuation orders were lifted, and while National Guard and police barricades were still in place, club managers worked with Santa Rosa authorities and The Salvation Army to establish an official Comfort Center within the surviving Athletic Center.
It became a place where those displaced could feel safe, have access to rest rooms and showers, brush their teeth, take meals and find a respite amid the chaos and anxiety around them – while also enjoying the warmth, hugs and love from staff and friends. A Google-sponsored food truck came in, and therapists were on had to offer massages.
Banaszak said, 'Thankfully, just before the fire, we completed a new five-year strategic master plan for the club, so we did not have to start from scratch, just update and tweak it a little.'
He said the club's first three post-fire priorities were member engagement, retention of its 120 employees and hiring the right architect to create the design. BAR Architects of San Francisco was selected and new renderings were drafted to incorporate proposed changes. Artist elevation concepts were displayed on Sept. 11 at a town hall meeting.
The club lost 25 percent of its members due to the fire. Now the club is experiencing record-breaking growth up 15 percent over prior highs. In addition, golf course memberships usually increase by 10 to 20 annually, this year 40 signed up, and there are 60 new Athletic Club members.
'While many individuals are willing to travel longer, often up to 10 to 20 miles or more to play on a golf course, a majority of family members prefer athletic clubs within about five miles from home. The Fountaingrove Club supports both group's needs and requirements.'
On Nov. 1, 2017, the Athletic Center reopened with members doubling attendance figures almost daily. Yoga, fitness and group exercise classes were the first to restart. Many volunteered to help on member cleanup day, including the club's golf course crew.
The club sponsored town hall meetings, and focus groups among members to gather input for what they would like to see included in the 2018-2022 master plan, as well as to update everyone on progress.
To show evidence of anticipated changes, the club's name was changed to The Fountaingrove Club and a new logo was created to unite everyone in the transformation process with the slogan 'We Are One Club, One Community.' Ongoing town halls are planned every quarter to keep everyone in the loop. By the first of December management had input from members on the new direction.
'Our board stepped up to provide strong leadership from the start,' according to Mark Leavitt, past president past president and board liaison to the steering committee and architect on the building design.
'The golf greens were a priority and two 500-gallon water trucks were brought in. Within two days all of the fairways were irrigated using hydrants on site to refill tanks. Without this immediate watering effort, it would have taken six months for the golf course to recover. As a result, we were able to reopen on January 18th.'
The former clubhouse occupied 24,000 square feet of space and was constructed using a lot of wood. The new design is only 20,000 square feet, since administrative offices will be relocated to the Athletic Center. The large indoor banquet room with seating for 200 was eliminated in favor of expanding the patio for outdoor events, and hall space was reduced allowing for more usable space. The objective is to eliminate wasted space, areas not used, and concentrate on enhancing functionality for core requirements.
The cost to rebuild the clubhouse is estimated at between $14 and $15 million, not including contents and other structures destroyed by fire. A few years ago, the club's valuation was updated. Some $20.3 million will come from the club's commercial policy settlement with EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants.