A View With A Room

At 25 years old, the Bolingbrook Park District’s 10th Hole Pub at its Boughton Ridge Golf Course in southwest suburban Chicago was long in the tooth.

Outings were under a tent pavilion, subject to Mother Nature’s whims. The 2,000-square-foot pub was essentially a bar–with no separate dining area–and could seat only 48. Officials believed a clubhouse not only would draw in new business–including banquets and business meetings–but also would draw more golfers to the nine-hole executive course.

So far, the new Ashbury’s at Boughton Ridge, which opened in late March 2008, has done both.

The End Result

PHN Architects of Wheaton, Ill., with expertise in recreational facilities, designed the new 15,500-square-foot clubhouse to resemble a North Woods lodge. It includes a 45-seat lounge with a fireplace and four televisions, a pro shop, locker rooms and a 50-seat restaurant. The outdoor patio seats 64–many more than before–and offers views of the golf course.

The second floor houses dual banquet- and business-meeting rooms as well as an outdoor balcony with panoramic golf course views.

Technologically speaking, the district planned ahead. The entire facility is wireless, and the meeting/banquet facilities are ready for presentations of all kinds, with drop-down screens, an easy-to-use touch panel, remote-control room setup and automatic window shades to dim the rooms.

A virtual-golf simulator lets golfers “play” exotic courses around the world. And parking has increased dramatically, from 87 to 163 spots.

A New Revenue Stream

From the outset, revenue generation drove design choices. “Our facilities all pay their own ways,” says Ray Ochromowicz, district director of parks and recreation. “The flat golf market meant we weren’t deriving revenue from the golf course. Our aim was to expand the pub and generate more business.”

“Bolingbrook officials challenged the conventional thinking that food and beverage associated with golf cannot produce revenue,” adds PHN Principal Dan Nicholas, lead architect for the project. “Food service doesn’t have to be a loss leader, supplemented by golf revenues, which is what many industry people believe.”

PHN’s design forwards those revenue goals. Most golf course clubhouses allocate 30 percent of square-footage to golf and 70 percent to food and beverage needs. “Ashbury’s is more like 10 percent/90 percent,” Nicholas says. “It’s a restaurant on a golf course, drawing in the community, not a ‘golf-course restaurant.’”

“We promote this as a quick round and the best burger in town,” says Jim Sawyer, Ashbury’s food and beverage manager. “We have good service and a quality product.”

“This is an executive course, with an existing clientele,” Ochromowicz points out. “It’s not a destination facility, drawing people from 25 miles away. We’re community-based, with strong leagues that like what we offer here.”

Broadening Horizons

Seeing an unmet need in the area, Bolingbrook also wanted to tap into the banquet- and business-meeting market. Previously, banquets–90 percent of which were golf outings–were strictly outdoor affairs. At one point, the district’s own women’s golf league was holding its season-end banquet somewhere else. And obviously, space and technology to host business meetings didn’t exist.

Ashbury’s two rooms can accommodate approximately 20 and 60 people, the combined space up to 100. “We’re serving a niche,” says Jim Patula, Bolingbrook’s director of buildings, grounds and natural resources. “There’s really nothing of this size in the area.” The only other local options are either higher-priced or not as well-appointed.

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