There is nothing like golf – while a typical round on the course requires about four-and-a-half hours, the actual golf experience can be a five-, six- or even seven-hour affair involving the 19th hole, an integral part of a clubhouse’s atmosphere and golf experience.
Tom Hoch, President of Tom Hoch, a leading design-build firm, has been working in the interior design business for more than 20 years, with creations such as Bel-Air, Lost Canyons, Marriott Desert Springs Resort and PGA WEST under his belt. His personal passion for golf, combined with his profession, led him, and his firm, to plan, design and build memorable, timeless golf club interiors.
One of my favorite 19th holes Tom Hoch has worked on is Bel-Air Country Club. It has great views; it has a traditional style to it; it’s not trendy at all and it’s been that same motif and design for 40 years. Plus, the membership there has a lot of celebrities and Hollywood movers and shakers. It’s kind of like the melting pot of great stories. The 19th hole is always about being a great story.
A project which I believe would inspire any designer is The Tap Room at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. It’s a fun, casual, upscale and charming setting right off the Pacific. The space is warm and inviting and the decor celebrates the history of Pebble Beach, almost like it’s separate from the effects of space and time.
I’ve seen it more recently because of the economy. Golf clubs have had to reinvent themselves and get more revenue from their food and beverage. Most of the private club 19th holes are hospitality driven, and you see at the better ones there’s more energy there. So now many of the daily fee clubs are starting to see a need to go that route.
I think great food makes a great 19th hole. Views are important; also, great style and character is paramount. And actually great style is different from being trendy. If you look at all the great pubs across the country and in Scotland, those places have great design style and character. So they tell a story and they’re rooted in the history of the story.
Tom Hoch has been able to accomplish this with our work at several projects in Southern California including Lost Canyons Golf Club, TPC Valencia, PGA West and Mission Hills Country Club. One thing you’ll see at all of these clubs is enduring style, not design trends that will be dated next decade.
Not really. For a private club the membership and committees design its 19th hole to be a cool hangout place, like it’s their own local pub. And I would take that same concept to a daily fee. Everyone is looking for a nice, casual place to hang out and tell a story. A great 19th hole is not a sports bar, so the number of flatscreens shouldn’t matter. What matters are the ambience, design and character of the place that invites you to tell a story.
When I deal with clubs facing those difficult decisions, I always ask the members what they are thinking about when their wife wants to have dinner at the club. Are they excited about it? Do they have reservations about going to dinner at the club? Because people are so into the casual lifestyle, the 19th hole has to be inviting, warm and relaxing. It has to be a place you thoroughly enjoy visiting and hanging out. That’s what I stress to those clubs wavering on updating their 19th holes.
One example of a club experiencing great success after a renovation is Marriott’s Desert Springs Resort and Spa’s Sand Trap & Wedge. Before our redesign work several years ago, the Sand Wedge & Trap was dated, inefficient and lacked character. Now it’s a place with a warm and inviting atmosphere and, as a result, it resonates emotionally with guests.
The great 19th hole designs, nothing is there to impress; it’s there to please. A lot of clubs get on the wrong path and try to get impressive. It’s not about that; it’s about great style and character.
Remember, the 19th hole is the top place at the club to hang out. It can’t have a feeling of newness to it; it has to look like it has evolved over the years, where each element from the bar or a scratch on the floor or weathered ceiling tile has a story to tell.