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Rethinking the club house: Tom Hoch ’84

Tom Hoch ’84 is helping golf clubs and country clubs reinvent themselves into more homes away from home.

Rethinking the club house: Tom Hoch ’84

The Ridge at Back Brook in New Jersey is one of creations of golf clubhouse designer Tom Hoch '84.

Rethinking the club house: Tom Hoch ’84

Tom Hoch ’84 is helping golf clubs and country clubs reinvent themselves into more homes away from home.

Golf clubhouse designer Tom Hoch ’84 is a hard man to pin down.

So where is he? Getting a massage at The Members Club in Sarasota? Enjoying the view from the 19th hole at Lost Canyons? Escaping the rat-race at one of the many other clubhouses he’s designed throughout the world?

“Nah, I just build them,” Hoch says with a laugh.

Even if he were an honorary member of all the luxurious spaces his firm has designed and built over the last 25 years, there isn’t time to lounge. In one typical week he spoke at a dinner about a country club redesign in Orange County on Monday, did a presentation in Oklahoma the next day, drove to Des Moines, Iowa, then back to Oklahoma for a meeting on the renovation of Tulsa Country Club. On Friday he was off to Florida for yet another presentation.

The market may be saying no to new housing, but resorts determined to stay in business are saying yes to Hoch’s makeovers.

Photo“Golf clubs have had to reinvent themselves,” he says, acknowledging his firm’s reputation for transforming dated, inefficient spaces. “Design nowadays has to be about more than picking out colors and fabrics. At Tom Hoch Design, we think about the space in terms of keeping existing membership and attracting new members.”

As well as encouraging members and guests to spend along the way?

“Guests are buying a lifestyle, a place to meet like-minded people, to eat and drink and shop and socialize,” says Hoch. “The longer that guests hang out in your clubhouse, the more they’ll spend. So you make it a place that they’ll want to hang out. That brings us back to colors, fabrics, woodwork, lighting, and atmosphere.”

That’s true whether you’re designing for the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman or for the century-old Tulsa Country Club, says Hoch.