WESTON, Fla. – Seated at a table inside the members’ Dining Room at The Club at Weston Hills, Eric von Hofen gazed through a large window at the club’s Tour Course.
A successful club, said Weston Hills’ general manger, can’t be just one thing.
“It has to be the whole package.’’
Creating the “whole package’’ at The Club at Weston Hills – here in the enclave of Weston, Fla., a few miles west of Fort Lauderdale – has been von Hofen’s mantra and mission since Arcis Golf acquired the club this August.
Arcis Golf is the second largest owner-operator of private, resort, and daily fee clubs in the United States, with a collection of 65 properties in 14 states. The Club at Weston Hills, which features two Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf courses (Tour and Players) is the company’s first property in Florida.
A revered country club community with a sweeping landscape near the edge of the Everglades, The Club at Weston Hills had grown a bit old and tired under previous ownerships. Enter Arcis, which in its first few months of ownership, re-grassed Tour Couse with Celebration Bermudgrass, added coquina to the bunkers on the Players Course, and installed better operations systems throughout the club. Arcis Golf even changed the club’s logo.
Throughout the club, extensive modernization has encompassed landscaping, clubhouse and event spaces, and new food and beverage offerings. Von Hofen is working on a summer master plan for the The Players Course.
“We’ve re-done the members’ bylaws, the menus, and the point of service to the members,’’ said von Hofen, whose more-than 30 years in the golf business include Director of Agronomy and Building Operations for fabled Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Fla; Director of Agronomy at Doral Resort and Spa in Miami; and Director of Agronomy at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples, Fla.
“Our food and beverage team came in and began assessing what people in the area like to eat. That and cost controls were things we immediately had to get a handle on. Also, electronics and marketing – how we communicate with members. There really wasn’t much of that done in the past, so we are bringing everybody up to the times in how we communicate and collect their information for events and how they make reservations. It’s the way of the world.’’
The way of the club world also these days is to look beyond golf for growth. In that regard, von Hofen and his team are creating a deeper social activities calendar (the club fed 6,000 people at various functions this past December), to go along with junior golf and programs, a fitness canter, aquatics center, and tennis courts.
The member’s Dining Room – in the 50,000 square-foot clubhouse – has an all-day menu that includes new dishes such as Brisket Sliders and Cilantro Pesto Pasta. Don’t pass on Executive Chef Alfonso Mendoza Nashville Chicken Sandwich – a delicious way to begin or end a round of golf – or simply spend the day in South Florida style.
“We want the experience at Weston Hills not to be the norm,’’ von Hofen said. “We’re not a stuffy country club that caters to old experiences. We live in a very diverse area of the country. It continues to change weekly with the mass migration of people moving into Florida from all parts of the world. Our membership reflects this diversity and we welcome it.’’
And it’s all part of the whole package.