A Comfortable Fit at Boca Woods Country Club
The Boca Woods Country Club story begins from the ground up. Well, at least from the feet up.
Club Board President Dustin Whisenhunt puts it in these words:
“This community (founded in 1981) has undergone tremendous change in the past several years. Boca Woods has gone from being a sleepy little club that was like your favorite pair of shoes. Sure, they were a little worn and not the latest style, but they were comfortable as heck.’’
These are new times, however, and Boca Woods has emerged in the past five years with a modernized facility, rapid member turnover, higher dues structure, new personnel, and a soon-to-be-renovated Woods golf course.’
To be sure, Boca Woods’ hospitality and service still make it feel like a pair of comfortable shoes, but all shined up and with fresh laces.
“This change has been welcomed by many of us,’’ Whisenhunt said, “but we must acknowledge that it’s not easy for everyone.’’
Change rarely is easy, whether it’s a new pair of shoes (regardless of how comfortable) or a renovated golf course. And change at a storied South Florida private club community such as Boca Woods brings even more challenges. However, those challenges have been met head-on by General Manager/COO David Sweet and his team, including Director of Golf Jeff Gullett and Membership/Marketing Director Adria Worthington.
Sweet arrived at Boca Woods in 2016. Over those years, one overriding goal has developed for his team: Change Boca Woods’ volunteer leadership culture from operations-focused to more along the lines of planning and governance.
“Part of that was reinvestment and allowing managers to focus on the operation,’’ Sweet said. “We’ve spent a lot of time and energy rebuilding trust with the membership, developing a staff, and correcting some things.’’
Among the more significant initiatives, the Boca Woods team has pushed through a previously rejected (four times) enhancement plan that included everything from installing the Club’s signature Rolex clock to a full kitchen renovation and expanding the sports and fitness center to two stories.
“Last year, we spent $2.1 million in capital replacement without requiring any assessment from the members,’’ Sweet said.
A demographic study of the past five years at Boca Woods, Sweet said, shows that the average age of a club member has dropped by seven years. The average age of a person moving into the 645-home community now is 53 years.
“We’re getting people moving in who are in the late 30s and 40s,’’ Sweet said. “The family dynamic has changed over the past five years. Five years ago, we had seven or eight kids in the community. Today, we have more than 100 kids who are 15 years and under.’’
To help better serve (and attract) that younger demographic, Boca Woods, according to Sweet, is investing $200,000 into a racquet sports facility, expanding its pickleball courts, and adding two pavilions. Next year’s tentative enhancements will include a proposal for Toptracer range technology.
Rees Jones’ renovation of the Woods course (6,647 yards, par 72) has already received member approval. The course, originally designed by Joe Lee, is expected to begin renovation work in March 2024. The Lakes course (6,816, par 72), designed by Karl Litten, will remain open.
“Most of the greens we have now are elevated,’’ Gullett said of the Woods course. “Rees will build six medium-height greens and six higher greens. He’ll also pull back some tees to make the course play as long as 7,000 yards and put in some ‘family’ tees that basically will create a par-3 course inside the big course.
“He (Jones) almost had a blank canvas because the corridors within Boca Woods are pretty wide. So he can rearrange some holes, move them closer or farther to the water, and replant some trees. Just give it a different look.’’
The renovation, Sweet said, “Gives us a chance to shore up the course for the modern game and at the same time add some cool features, like adding tees for more equitable shot distribution.’’
Equitable distribution, by the way, goes beyond the fairways and greens.
“We are sort of a rare model of the club in that we have a small membership (approximately 530 golf members) and two golf courses. So that works to our benefit.’’
Sort of like that comfortable pair of shoes.
Photos Courtesy of Boca Woods Country Club