RSF Association takes step forward on RSF Golf Club restaurant, campus renovation

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club restaurant.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board unanimously voted to authorize staff to move forward with a comprehensive site plan for the rehabilitation of the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club clubhouse and campus.

At its Sept. 19 meeting, the board approved a recommendation that Ocio Design Group begin to prepare plans for a renovated clubhouse restaurant, an upgraded snack bar, an improved parking lot and conduct a feasibility study on a fitness center at the RSF Tennis Club.

The next steps to come before the board would be plans and cost estimates, an operational model for the restaurant, capital project financial analysis and funding models.

RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen said the Association is taking a collaborative approach with this project, making sure that the Association, golf and tennis club staff all have a seat at the table. RSF Assistant Manager Dominique Albrecht met individually with members of the Association board, the RSF Golf Club Board of Governors as well as RSF Tennis Club leadership to understand everyone’s opinions and vision for the restaurant and campus as a whole.

Albrecht said in those conversations she heard many areas of alignment on the need to rehabilitate the recreational campus to address existing deficiencies and enhance the member experience. Per the recent community-wide survey, of the 16 services and features in the Ranch, the clubhouse ranked toward the bottom in satisfaction at number 13.

“The first thing we heard across the board is that the Ranch Clubhouse Restaurant is a community asset that should be accessible, enjoyable and inviting to all community members,” Albrecht said. “It really was thought of as the place that should be the preferred gathering spot…Beyond just the capital investments that we make in the Ranch Clubhouse Restaurant it should also be marketed as a community asset, as the heartbeat of the community.”

While it is a beautiful building, Albrecht said there were improvements that could be made such as a renovation of the snack bar design and expanding the outdoor patio. Some of that design work on the restaurant has already begun but the thinking was the snack bar should be a number one priority as it would be a place to offload some business if the restaurant was out of commission during a re-do.

In the parking lot, there was talk of a need for increased landscaping and beautification as well as the need to address safety concerns such as lighting and surfacing.

As was also expressed in the community survey, views were mixed on the feasibility of a fitness center at the tennis club. Albrecht said they would need to consider the scale of the facility and what the community is looking for (such as group fitness, machines or weights) and come back with a variety of options.

In the conversations with both boards, Albrecht said the overall thinking was that the existing cost-sharing agreement for the restaurant should be replaced with an alternative capital and operational funding model. An agreement was made in 2019 that the Association would split the cost of running the restaurant with the golf club—that agreement is already reflected in the 2022-23 budget so any proposed changes would come in the next fiscal year.

With the green light from the board, Albrecht said they will begin working on a five-year plan of different funding models and true costs for the board to make a decision on how to phase potential projects on the campus.

“To a person, we heard that the staff should be empowered to move this project forward with the support and the overarching vision of the board of directors in collaboration with the board of governors,” Albrecht said. “The sense was we want to move forward, we know this is going to provide a benefit and an enhancement to the community so let’s put in place the process that’s going to achieve those outcomes and achieve what we’re trying to do.”