Strategic Plan and Facilities Reinvention Spark Renaissance at Country Club of Detroit
In Good Company, the motto for the Country Club of Detroit (CCD) captures the graciousness and wonderful spirit of this wonderful club. The club has held true to these values throughout its long history, which helped sustain it through challenges an organization experiences in over a hundred years of existence. The club again relied on this strength of character as it embarked in the fall of 2012 on initiatives to assure its relevance and success in a changing world.
Despite its reputational advantages, the excellent course originally designed by Harry S. Colt and the classic clubhouse, the combination of an extremely challenging economy in Detroit and the aging of the membership were for several years negatively impacting membership demand and participation. In search of answers, the leadership authorized a member survey to understand their vision for the club as well as external research to identify potential member sources.
The data showed that there was opportunity for the club if it responded to the members’ needs and key trends in the community. This included demand for a more relaxed dining environment, restoration of the bowling center and responding to the demand for health and wellness facilities. These enhancements were necessary to attract the younger people in the community. The information pointed not only to the demand for these items, but the expectation that they be executed at a premier level, just as the club has always approached its prior capital investments.
The iconic country club is changing; even among many of the country’s most traditional clubs. The ones that get it right do a great job of holding onto their core character while making improvements that allow them to provide a modern experience. This combination of traditional elegance and modern amenities is a central element behind the success of our country’s greatest clubs. The latest improvement project at CCD is a great example of this.
The club recently completed a $10.8 million renovation. The first phase project transformed the outdoor pool and tennis complex into a Summer Village, a co-located activity center featuring an enhanced pool with expanded food and beverage options, a new pool house, and tennis and platform tennis facilities with a racquets building. The just completed second phase adds a modern fitness center in what was the bowling center. The new six-lane bowling center on the bottom level – the elegant look and feel should preclude anyone from ever calling it a “bowling alley” – has a beautiful bar and social space to promote viewing and gathering.
On the dining side, the club has re-sized its men’s locker grill to serve as a co-ed casual dining space for adults and families. The card playing area has been converted to a great lounge space with the latest in seating and television viewing for the gentlemen. This is another great example of how the clubhouse fills both a traditional and modern role at the same time.
These enhancements have attracted 200 new members to the club since the program was announced toward the end of 2013. The club no longer shuts down during the long Michigan winter, members can enjoy the Village during the warmth of summer and move inside for casual dining, bowling and fitness over the winter months.
Key takeaways from the CCD reinvention include: 1) be true to your values, but be sure to evolve your mission and vision as circumstances dictate; 2) communicate with the membership throughout the process 3) execute your plan so the resulting facilities are truly special.