Nearly a century of local history was vaporized in an early morning fire last June that reduced to rubble the 93-year-old clubhouse at the famed Western Golf and Country Club in Redford Township.
Rather than cancel the golf season, club officials set up a dining room, a bar, and a kitchen in a rented 4,500-square-foot tent that had heat, carpeting, and windows.
At the same time, they hit the drafting board. This season, members will move into a new two-story stone, wood, and glass clubhouse dominated by a huge deck along the length of the second floor that overlooks the tee on the 10th hole and the finishing 18th green.
“We think the new clubhouse will bring growth within the membership, and a lot of opportunities to go along with our Donald Ross-designed course,” says Halley Roberts, membership director at Western Golf and Country Club. “It will be a state-of-the-art, brand-new facility.”
Roberts says when all the bills come in, the new clubhouse will cost in the range of $10 million to $12 million.
The new building includes workout facilities, a business center, a golf simulator, and a bridal suite aimed at generating wedding functions — a hefty financial stream for golf clubs. The tennis courts and swimming pool weren’t damaged by the fire.
Nudell Architects in Farmington Hills designed the new clubhouse. The firm’s design portfolio includes the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms, Orchard Lake Country Club in West Bloomfield, and more distant ones like Walloon Lake Country Club and Birchwood Farm Country Club in northern Michigan.
“It was very important to us that we build a clubhouse for the future with input from our members,” Roberts says. “Getting the members involved in the project gave everyone a sense of community, as well as making sure we’re building the club they want now, while thinking of the years to come.”
Despite having to operate out of a tent for a year, membership remains steady at 375. Looking to recoup the cost of the modern clubhouse, the club initiation fee for new equity members was raised to $6,000.
Roberts says the attic of the old clubhouse was packed with historic relics, losses that are heartbreaking.
“It was very sad, but the sense of community we gained with everyone pulling together to see it through has been very heart-warming,” Roberts says. “I loved our old clubhouse, but now everyone realizes that we can’t do anything about the loss except to move forward, and keep the charm and the people we’ve had in the past.”