RSF Golf Club locker room changes approved

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club course renovation is underway in front of the Players Clubhouse.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved the proposed changes to the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club’s Players Clubhouse locker room configuration, creating two separate locker-room-adjacent lounge areas for men and women and a co-ed central lounge.

In April the RSF Association board continued its decision to May 6, to allow time for additional deliberation and to gather further legal advice on whether or not the proposed configuration would be discriminatory. RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen said she was not able to find another qualified attorney willing to give an opinion on the matter, however, their legal counsel was able to conduct additional research and consult with other attorneys involved in other cases that have come up in the area.

At the May 6 meeting, Vice President Sharon Ruhnau said she felt the board had sufficient legal opinions to go forward, making the motion to approve the changes. The vote was 6-1 with Director Laurel Lemarie opposed.

The change will restore the areas to the original layout when the Players Clubhouse opened in 2008. In addition to the pro shop, there will be a women’s locker room (previously known as the Bougainvillea Lounge), a men’s locker room (previously called the Vaquero Lounge) and a co-ed social gathering space called the Veranda Lounge.

Bar service for all areas will continue to be provided from the Veranda Lounge bar. The patio also remains a fully co-ed space.

The bar in the men’s locker room has not been set up for service since 2010, is not regularly staffed and it will stay decommissioned, per the board-approved motion.

Both the men’s and women’s lounge spaces will also be equivalently furnished.

With her vote in opposition, Lemarie said she does not believe the lounges are equal and stated that the rule change was not properly noticed per California civil code. She said that the Association must re-post it for an additional 28 days: “We’re not able to vote today,” Lemarie said.

Per the civil code, the board shall provide general notice of a proposed rule change at least 28 days before making a rule change. The code states that the notice shall include the text of the proposed rule change and a description of the purpose and effect of the proposed rule change.

In March after the rule changes were approved for posting, Whalen said it was posted for 28 days on the bulletin board at the RSF Association office, at the post office as well as posted on the website. It was also sent out in four weekly email newsletters in March with information about the rule change and links to additional information on the website. The proposed changes were also included on the RSF Golf Club newsletter and were on three RSF Association board meeting agendas.

The purpose and effect as stated by the RSF Association’s notice is for both locker rooms and lounge areas to serve as “an extension of the golf experience with a secondary purpose of an informal meeting and social space.”

Lemarie said the notice was not sufficient as members had to click through to the website to read the actual text and said the text did not say what she believes is the “true effect” which is to exclude women golfers from the men-only room.

The Bougainvillea Lounge had been a women-only space since 2008.

The RSF Golf Club’s plan of operation states that all property owners in the Covenant are social members if they have not yet joined the club— RSF Association members have access to the pro shop and the restaurant while only golf club members have access to golf facilities, including the locker rooms and Veranda Lounge in the Players Clubhouse. The $6.9 million cost of the clubhouse project was and is being paid for by golf club members, according to RSF Golf Club Interim Manager Shanon McCarthy. Since 1987, all capital improvements, maintenance and repair of golf-related facilities have been paid solely by golf club members.