Re-functioning Clubhouses For Covid Design Impact


As we begin the reopening process for our clubhouses, we need to start with a new set of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations will be different all over the country on aspects like dining seating capacity, table spacing and size, kitchen requirements, access and exit points, frequency of cleaning/disinfecting and so on. We will need to be looking at our facilities and layouts through the eyes of a health inspector, even through the eyes of how we control the spread of infection in hospitals where they live with viruses and bacteria every day.

It would seem wise for managers to develop a Covid re-functioning plan for their clubhouses and to be creative to adapt existing facilities quickly and inexpensively for our immediate reopening this summer and then more permanent this fall and winter.

The major approach in healthcare facilities for controlling contagion is separating clean from soiled. This includes people, supplies, food, utensils, etc.  This includes separate entrances and exits from controlled areas, persons enter a clean facility being properly tested and protected. Then upon leaving they leave through the soiled side, remove possible contaminate clothing, masks and gloves, and leave the facility.

A good facility use checklist for the Covid clubhouse re-functioning is as follows:

  1. Clubhouses will need controlled entrances and exits for members, staff and vendors. All other clubhouse access points will need alarms on them for violators, much like airports.
  2. Kitchens will need separate entries and exits to control soiled dish and flatware from infecting new food being served. Kitchen exhaust system in soiled plate washing area will need negative haul systems so the big, powerful cooking hoods don’t drag soiled food infection across freshly prepared food.
  3. Frequent cleaning of all clubhouse areas, especially restrooms and shower areas will be essential, as will be general cleaning and disinfecting of all touched areas.
  4. Indoor and outdoor dining areas will need to have wider table spacings, precautions on condiments areas, new serving techniques, special re-preparation of tables, maitre d’s controlling each dining room to maintain personal distancing, elimination of joint-use locker room amenities, etc. The list goes on and on.
  5. Employee locker rooms and dining areas will need re-programming and spacing with the same clean and soiled controls necessary to protect them.

How long this will last, we don’t know. But for now we have to err on the side of safety. We will certainly learn more over the summer on how this will work. Hopefully some new medicines will lessen the severity of the viruses, but until they do, we have to be prepared. We must provide our members and employees the safest clubs possible.

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About Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA

Bill is a strategic, financial and architectural planning consultant to clubs throughout North America. He established McMahon Group in 1983 as an affiliate of the family architectural firm his grandfather founded in 1906. Over the ensuing years, the firm has expanded its club consulting services beyond clubhouse improvement planning to a full range of services for all aspects of private club challenges. To date, the firm has assisted more than 2,000 private clubs across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. McMahon Group provides a unique approach to developing club facility projects first establishing design and financial feasibility so membership approval is achieved. Thereafter final design and construction firms are selected to build the member approved project.

Mr. McMahon is unique among club consultants in providing an integrated strategic, financial and architectural approach to solving club problems. His personal involvement with his own clubs in St. Louis (serving in the roles of president, board member and committee member) has allowed him to bring unparalleled experience to each client. Mr. McMahon’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Racquet Club Ladue (St. Louis), University Club of St. Louis, Spring Lake Yacht Club (Michigan) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Mr. McMahon is a graduate of Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis and holds architecture licenses in 44 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada. He is a featured author in industry publications and a featured speaker at the annual conferences of the Club Managers Association of America, the Canadian Society of Club Managers, the National Club Association and the Hospitality, Financial and Technology Professionals. He serves as a visiting lecturer at continuing education sessions offered by regional CMAA chapters and at Michigan State University. Bill is a co-author of McMahon Club Trends®, the comprehensive research reports on strategic issues facing private clubs published with the National Club Association. He is also founder of the Excellence in Club Management Award.

Mr. McMahon is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Club Association. He is a former president of the Missouri Council of Architects, AIA and has served on various charitable boards in the St. Louis area.

More articles by Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA
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