Matthew Linderman’s vision of the future of the country club industry is simple and succinct:
“Exceeding expectations that members don’t expect.’’
Linderman, the COO and general manager of Boca West Country Club, supplied that vision as he sat in the dining room of the acclaimed club’s new Grand Central restaurant. With its New York street scenes theme – complete with The Corner Deli, Nathan’s Famous Dogs and Josie’s Pizzeria — Grand Central is a grand example of Linderman’s vision of exceeding members expectations and “helping members think about something before they think about it.’’
Boca West Country Club, which includes four golf courses, a 23-room spa, more than 3,400 homes and 6,000 members, has been at the cutting edge of member service for years with such things as health-related services, lecture series from local university professors and no minimum F&B charges. Boca West’s recently-completed $50 million clubhouse, which houses Grand Central as well as a retail jewelry store, men’s and women’s locker rooms, nine card rooms and the golf pro shop, shows off the club’s commitment to “now’’ and the future.
But for Linderman, who has been Boca West’s COO and GM since October 2016, the vision is more than just a clubhouse with all the trimmings.
“Those are just carrots,’’ said Linderman, who started at Boca West in 2005 as clubhouse manager. “What today’s members – and members of tomorrow – are looking for is more than just a dining room.
“Our philosophy always has been that we don’t want members going to the club just one day per week. To us, it’s all about destination.’’
That destination includes the four golf courses – two designed by Arnold Palmer and one each by Pete Dye and Jim Fazio – and the Restaurant Gallery that features Grand Central and Prime Cut steakhouse.
In addition to its New York street scenes and food offerings, Grand Central has 40 wall-mounted television screens and two video walls. The “street” is lined up with individual themed storefronts reminiscent of an old neighborhood street in New York. Old brick walls (real brick) set the décor, embellished with striped red and tan awnings, an authentic iron fire escape and an original iron green NYC street sign on the corner of Grand Street and Orchard.
“Our club needed that ‘hub’’ where golfers and tennis players and card ladies could come,” Linderman said.
Linderman looked around from his table.
“This is like a melting pot of the membership,’’ he said.
Prime Cut features a 70-foot long oval domed ceiling and opulent window treatments that offset with decorative hardware in acrylic and bronze. The adjacent lounge has a central bar, a baby grand piano, large wall-sized antique mirrors, custom carpeting and views of the emerald green Arnold Palmer golf course along with waterfalls.
The menu? Let’s just say that if Prime Cut were a stand-alone restaurant outside of Boca West, it would rival any steakhouse in South Florida.
“We’re always looking out for the members,’’ Linderman said. “We don’t believe in surveys. We don’t do written surveys. We believe in management by visibility. I’m always talking to members. You get more feedback from that from somebody who might have had a bad day and checks off a box because he had a bad day.
“We always asking, ‘How can we make things better?’ We are the ‘resort’ of the country club world. We don’t want people thinking we are a one-off club.’’