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November 2020

Twin Challenges as Holidays Approach

By Sally J. Sportsman

The holiday spirit is in full swing at The Fountaingrove Club, in Santa Rosa, California, despite a duo of challenges. Like other clubs, Sonoma County’s only private member-owned facility has been busy modifying plans for golf, gatherings and celebrations to accommodate Covid-19 protocols. In addition, management is making holiday arrangements without a clubhouse again this year, as the former, 30-year-old structure was destroyed in October 2017 by the Tubbs Fire, which also destroyed 1,700 homes in the club’s community. Ground was broken in July on a new, $16.5 million replacement clubhouse, with an estimated completion date of October 2021.

“It’s neat to be part of a rebuild like this,” says Ricky Potts, CMAA, membership director at The Fountaingrove Club. “We have a great story to tell.”

Beyond the clubhouse, the wildfire damaged the tennis courts, pools, golf course trees and bunkers, golf carts and the golf maintenance facility. A separate, semi-permanent structure, constructed at a cost of $2.5 million, temporarily houses the athletic center and office space, and The Sunset Grill is located under a large tent. Club membership since the fire has remained steady as a result of member support and excitement over the new clubhouse; members look forward to next year’s holiday season.

“Last year our holiday activities were held both indoors and outdoors,” Potts says, “but plans are in flux this year due to the virus. The temperature gets cold overnight from late October through March, although golf is played all year long.”
The membership demographic at the club includes many families with young children, so the annual multi-day Breakfast with Santa event is always well attended. A giant decorated tree with presents, a big chair and the opportunity for children to have their photo taken with Santa have been the norm. This year the breakfast might be replaced with a lunch event, with the decision to be made four weeks in advance.

“If Santa is here, he will wear a mask,” Potts says. “As of now, all our food and beverage operations are required to be outside.

“If it gets cold, we have heaters we can move around.”

Last year the cost to attend Breakfast with Santa was $45 per adult and $10 per child. The annual Thanksgiving lunch, at $65 per adult, probably also will be postponed, altered or cancelled this year due to the virus.

“Our food and beverage program is not intended to produce revenue,” Potts says, “but rather as a member service.” 

The Sunset Grill and the athletic center will be decorated for the holidays, with a tree and gifts. A holiday fund, in which members voluntarily contribute to assist club staff financially, will be continued. Takeout and delivery food options are being considered; the club’s executive chef will make that decision.

“Next year, after everything is rebuilt, we will add to our holiday activities,” says Potts. “And we will learn from Covid.

“Things may look different, but the more we can get our members and guests to the club, the better.”



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