Millennials Leading Transition From Country Clubs To Social Clubs


Given the size of their enormous cohort, Millennials wield incredible clout to change society. Since they became young adults, Millennials have been blamed for the decline of many social norms and habits, including the wearing of business suits, shopping in department stores, and using golf clubs. Millennials, on the other hand, are embracing a different trend. Instead of niche, sport-centric settings, they’re embracing a more inclusive, social setting. That is the emergence of members-only social clubs catering to varying, often active and outdoorsy, interests and demographics.

As one-time country clubs are repurposed into social clubs, several design trends are emerging. A wide range of food and drink offerings, as well as the right culinary experience is essential because members are more interested in experiences than anything else. The social club also offers members the opportunity to enjoy work-ready areas that allow them to play as hard as they work. Finally, social clubs take advantage of the natural world around them to serve up fitness activities ranging from trail running to skiing.

Retrofit hurdles

Officials of architectural firms tackling the conversion of country clubs to social clubs understand this is an undertaking with no shortage of headwinds.

“Any time you’re adapting a space once used for something else, you’re going to encounter challenges,” says Rebecca Stone, AIA, LEED BD+C with Denver, Colo.-based OZ Architecture, a firm involved in several such conversions.

“Layout updates are often needed to bring the flow of these spaces into current guest and operations expectations. The layout of these spaces is often needed to meet the expectations of guests and operations. We also find inspiration from adaptive reuse projects, despite the challenges. Outdated or historic properties can often be a source of some really fun, quirky ideas and inspiration for designers.”

Examples of today’s members-only social clubs include the following. Designed by OZ Architecture,

Gravity Haus in Aspen, Colo. is a social club designed for mountain-loving outdoor enthusiasts who like access to premium gear and expert-led fitness programs.Park House Dallas

is a private social club that provides curated experiences within a modern social setting designed by architecture and interior design study Droese Raney, which focuses upon commercial, hospitality and retail projects nationwide.HEIMAT

, in Los Angeles, is a pioneering social club concept that incorporates fitness, exercise, wellness, fine dining and socialization. The club is designed by INCO STUDIO, focused upon motion design, corporate design and interior architecture.Design process

It’s important for architectural firms to pinpoint the distinctive facets that make the property unique, whether they be part of the built environment or alternatively are qualities members believe intrinsic to the experience, Stone says. These elements become parts of the design story as expansion or renovation plans are outlined.

“The goal of each property is very different, and as designers, we look to ensure that a strong sense of place is achieved for every project we touch,” Stone says, adding OZ team members of differing generations are encouraged to deliver their thoughts about the properties and projects upon which the firm is focused.

“Gen Z and Millennials are changing the conversation around social clubs,” she concludes. The result has been an important trend towards creating active social spaces, where members can meet up with friends, relax, and work out. The clubs are now positioned to cater to a wider demographic than the golfers of old. This new generation also wants to be in a casual environment that encompasses all aspects of lifestyle.