July 20, 2016

2016 Clubhouse of the Year

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

An island clubhouse and Harbour Town take top honors in a year dominated by clubhouses designed to appeal to families and resort-style living.

By Jack Crittenden

Talis Park is not your father’s country club. Syd Kitson bought the private community out of receivership in 2011 and immediately set out to reposition it in the highly competitive Naples, Fla., market.

But instead of competing with the same offering, Kitson chose to remake Talis Park into a more family-friendly club with a hilltop clubhouse that would act as the social gathering place for the community. As with many of this year’s Clubhouse of the Year honorees, that meant tearing down the old clubhouse and replacing it with a new one.

Kitson brought in Peacock + Lewis as the architects, and they did just that, winning this year’s best of show honors.

But while Talis Park may have done the best job, it is not the only honoree that created a more family-friendly, casual, resort-style clubhouse. Those trends dominate this year’s competition, illustrating how private clubs, and even public courses, are positioning themselves in today’s market.

Golf venues, especially country clubs, have evolved in recent years. And the golf industry’s top architects and interior designers are leading the way, helping clubs and resorts stay relevant in a new market.

Golf Inc. recognized nine clubhouses this year — six new clubhouses and three renovations. Our four judges — architects, interior designers and a general manager — rated each entry for efficiency, aesthetics, sustainability and overall design.

All clubhouses that opened or reopened in 2015 were eligible for the competition.

This year’s judges:

Frank Benzakour is general manager of Village Club of Sands Point in Sands Point, N.Y. He has 20 years of experience in hospitality.

Kenneth Hart, principal of Hart Design Group, is an architect and interior designer. He is a past clubhouse honoree for his work at Inverness Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.

Mark Melzer is a principal with Melzer, Deckert and Ruder Architects, which specializes in golf clubhouses, resorts and resort housing. His is a past honoree for Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Beth McGehee is principal at SB Design, an interior design firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. She is a past honoree for The Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale.


“ As the flagship for the surrounding residential development, the traditional clubhouse aesthetic provides an elegant Mediterranean-themed character, which will stand the test of time. Though a large building, massing is graceful, and the material detailing and color palette are well-crafted. Interior spaces have light, creative elements that integrate well with ceilings and fenestration. A grand and stately solution.” —Mark Melzer

1st Place/ Best of Show: Talis Park Golf Club, Naples, Fla.

Owner: Kitson & Partners     Clubhouse Architect: Peacock + Lewis    

Interior Design: Peacock + Lewis     Contractor: DeAngelis Diamond Construction

TALIS PARK took family-friendly to the next level and won the admiration of the judges in the process. This year’s Best of Show honoree features a clubhouse that is designed to be the focal point of the community, with lots of outdoor seating and courtyards, plazas and lawns.

“It’s almost like an urban setting and very European” said Brian Idle, president at Peacock + Lewis, architects of the project.

The $15 million clubhouse sits in the center of the private community on land that the contractor raised, so the building acts as a beacon. A lake surrounds the site, with three bridges providing access.

The main bridge leads to a village green, which is complete with an obelisk water feature at its center. Directly behind the village green is a building that houses shops. Just beyond is a motor court and then the main clubhouse.

“For the future of clubs, you really have to look at the younger members and what they are looking for and how they will use the club” Idle said.

At Talis Park, the village green is used for events that bring the community together, such as outdoor movies, performances and tented events. The shops provide a place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning or an ice-cream cone in the evening. The building also houses a spa and fitness center.

“ This spacious property is reminiscent of Old World Europe with a contemporary twist. Like an Italian villa with meandering loggias, creating almost secret alcoves with a wide range of functions. The design is clearly carried throughout the space and perfectly balances the familiar with the unexpected.”

—Beth McGehee

The clubhouse offers members covered loggias, large archways and other features reminiscent of a European village. Peacock + Lewis placed a premium on outdoor space, including a covered rotunda with an elevated panoramic view of the golf course.

The outdoor spaces allow places where kids can be kids, Idle said.

The kitchen is positioned so that it can serve the formal dining area, outdoor spaces and the pool deck.

“We are seeing a much stronger emphasis on the family” Idle said. “Florida was known as a place for retirees. But there has been a real shift because the state is business friendly. Now, younger people are moving here and making it their home”