Ideal Clubhouse

By: Geoff Shackelford

The prototypical clubhouse should be comfortable, functional and convenient as only a well-planned residence can be, since the club is a home away from home for members.
Stanford White’s clubhouse at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club accomplishes this sense of comfort. Uncluttered by landscaped pathways and view-obstructing trees, the building sits above the course with commanding vistas, yet never feels detached from William Flynn’s relentless links.
While White’s epic structure serves that Southampton, Long Island, club well, the archetypal clubhouse is slightly more humble in scale and organic in construction. It is made out of materials excavated during the construction of the course, such as stone covering the exterior or logged wood used for furniture and other interior touches. 
Our ideal clubhouse quietly rises out of the ground, refusing to urgently announce itself to the world. It is not artificially propped up so high that the driveway requires an uphill climb to reach the front door. The two-story nature will make it plenty visible from the course. 
On the non-golf course side, the architect has created a simple turnaround for dropping off clubs near the locker room and pro shop, which will function better in a slightly detached structure of matching architecture. Facing the golf course is an ample terrace allowing diners to enjoy the outdoors while watching golfers finish on the 9th or 18th greens. A removable awning featuring the club logo displayed discreetly covers diners during warm days or when a surprise summer storm arrives. Umbrella-covered tables are fine too, although the collective cover of an awning makes the dining experience more of a community affair.
Next to the grill is the kitchen serving the terrace and on the other side, a formal dining room where a jacket (but not a tie) is required. Opposite is a smaller reading room that doubles as a meeting space, stocked liberally with golf volumes and other classics, accented by a fireplace for cool fall afternoons. While many clubs often find that these reading rooms go unused or the volumes are too often permanently borrowed by members, such a room is ideal for committee gatherings and the occasional Dickens-inspired siesta. 
This less golf-centric area of the clubhouse is entered from a more grand entrance featuring a formal but not overwhelming porte-cochere that is bold enough to impress, but doesn’t overshadow the architecture.
At this point it may occur that the floor plan and design touches of this ideal clubhouse sound familiar. Especially if you’ve been to Winged Foot Golf Club. Set amid those wonderful 36 holes of A.W. Tillinghast golf is Clifford Wendehack’s building, designed to near perfection by a man who devoted his life to studying, writing extensively about and designing the ideal country club building.

Next: Ideal Locker Room


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