Letter #14

Wow, last week I got a sense of what it must have felt like for a 49’er after rummaging around the hills of California’s wilderness for months on end, lonely and forgotten, with nothing to show for his toils. And then one day after months of turning over tons of rock with a hand pick & shovel, blind from frustration, our man stumbles upon a vein of pure brilliance in the earth – Eureka! It felt a little like that last Wednesday morning. After 3 months and 13 letters of trying to communicate to the membership with little in the way of response and being met by a steady stream of questions whenever I was at the Club about items already addressed in the letters, we stumbled onto that rich vein of member readers. We put the letter in a separate email last week in the event logging into the website was the speed bump catching many readers. My Eureka – I was at a meeting on the East coast Wednesday morning and my iPhone began vibrating like an adult toy you read about. I assumed there was a natural disaster somewhere in the world and every news agency on the planet was reporting it directly to my pants pocket. Relieved (don’t go there), it was just the Wednesday letter being read with many members simply pinging back that they liked this new format and to please continue it. Very cool – almost 600 recipients opened the email (defined by a click – not just auto-readers). Last week’s letter received an almost overwhelmingly favorable response and my sincere thanks to all of you who sent back some feedback – yes, thank you’s even to the two angry responders. In any event, you’ll continue see the Monday note each week in the bulletin and in email form. I can see that it might be overkill but it worked, I’m sticking with it and apologizing to anyone who is angered by the duplication that amounts to digital clutter.

Last week’s letter covered the roots of a lower court project that’s been under consideration for years now. This week we get into the numbers. One email from a Wednesday reader was about demand; how necessary is it to build additional courts? “If we just want to pretty the place up, buy some landscaping”. Oops, my blonde showed, excellent question and I should have covered that last week – we’ll start there this week.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, tennis is the fastest growing sport in America among individual traditional sports. Participation is up 43% from ’00 to ’08. The growth curve looks like a hockey stick; participation is up 9.6% in the last year alone. Our TPC is right in the middle of it, not immune to the changes going on outside its gates. Our Tennis Committee began seeing increased demand for court time by members in 2010 and in response, changed the court sign-in procedure. They asked the Board what it would take to get more courts – show the necessity, demonstrate demand is what came back. The member service staff in conjunction with the tennis department began recording court usage trends at the club looking to answer the question of how often a member has to wait for a court. Turns out that our tennis usage patterns have a few hot spots – almost all weekday mornings, some weekend mornings and that white hot time from 5 pm to 7 pm, Mon-Thu during Pacific Standard Time (when the sun goes down early, the lower courts are abandoned and only 6 courts are available to meet member and program demand).

Data, the number on a sheet of paper, is somewhat worthless on a stand-alone basis. It’s all about who reads the number and how it’s interpreted. It’s that old Masters & Johnson study; the same number is way too much and, simultaneously, far too little, depending on which partner is responding. The idea of a member having to wait any amount of time to take a court is abhorrent to the tennis member but is perfectly reasonable to the non-tennis member. And so, here it is again, that silent constraint that defines our club – the equally distributed, multi-activity membership. For the theoretical two-thirds of you who think waiting for a court at your private club should be de rigueur, let me inform you that whatever the number is, it’s getting worse and it’s getting worse fast.

In 2012, the Club fielded a total of 37 teams with about 660 members on those team rosters; 23 Adult USTA teams (410 on rosters), 7 Ladies Marin League teams (145 on rosters), 2 Ladies Napa Sonoma teams (58 on rosters), 5 junior teams (50 on rosters). That’s up 35% from 2008 and is being fueled from the bottom up. In the past 2yrs alone, over 150 members (children and adult) have begun tennis as a new sport. Many are moving quickly up the ratings rankings filling into the more established teams. At last month’s Tennis Committee meeting in an effort to provide more court time for members free-play, a new policy was adopted allowing league play in the afternoons only on weekends – there will no longer be league play on weekend mornings. The tennis department estimates that there are about 600 tennis playing members: 350 adults playing leagues, 150 juniors in the clinics and privates, and about 100 children and adults who play socially.

The project plan with costs is pasted below – it is very preliminary and certainly nothing is set in stone. The Board hasn’t even been given a chance to vote on it yet. It is simply the result of work done by the Tennis Committee with Miles Berger. A rough picture of the lower court project has been presented to you in these last two letters. What you think is really what’s important here. There is another Committee Meeting this week (and you thought you might get through at least one letter without a committee invite?). The meeting is this month’s Board meeting – tomorrow (Tue) at 6:30 pm – come on down, remember, they’re all open to all members. I think that’s the only committee meeting this week and next.

That’s all for this week, next week – a review of tomorrow’s BOG meeting and a look at member responses – as always, it should be a blast. Oh, and don’t forget this Friday’s Meet & Greet with our new F&B Director, Mark Kohtz (5:30 pm start) – come on by and have a glass of wine on the house (it happens to be your house but that’s already been covered in a previous letter). In the meantime, I hope you all have a very nice week.

All the best,

Preliminary Cost Estimate

Phase One:

  • Add the two new full size tennis courts and the 2 Quick Start Courts (amounting to 2½ full courts in total) ($221,000)
  • Add the lights for winter early evening use. (Mon – Thu / 4 – 7pm) ($160,000)
  • Create additional overflow parking to replace the current overflow parking taken up by the new tennis courts.
  • Build the first phase of the tennis facilities to include: – Men’s and Women’s bath rooms with changing bench. – Tennis and center equipment storage room (300 SF) to hold tennis equipment, maint. equipment, and patio furniture – An entry terrace with card reader, gate and roof. – Attractive fencing to control court entry and screen the small patio – Small patio (1,200 SF) to relax, meet guests, watch tennis And stage any tournament activities. – Utilities, water electricity and sanitary. (~$100k)
  • Bio swale to treat any runoff from new courts.


Phase Two:

  • Addition of 700 SF of utility storage to replace the “Tuff Shed” storage and to house the dumpsters.
  • Expansion of the patio to 3,000 SF for relaxation, teaching area tournament bleacher location etc.
  • Awning covers to provide shade at patio.


Phase Three: (See Sht. A1.3)

  • Addition of enclosed Teen Lounge / Junior Tennis Rm. For meetings instruction etc.
  • Mini pro shop and mini kitchen for serving a function at the facility and for soft drinks and prepackaged food.
  • Backpack storage room.
  • Three Tennis Pro offices


Other costs for the design, approvals process for the project are estimated as follows:

  • Fee for amendment to the existing Conditional Use Permit $1,540.00
  • Deposit with Tiburon for CEQUA Review $1,600.00
  • Environmental review if the project requires an EIR $50,000 to $60,000.00

These costs include amending the EIR studies that were prepared for the last major Club expansion. Much of the work has already been done and will require only modification to account for the new work. They will include traffic, biological and noise generation.

The exception here is the new lighting that may require a lighting study. The cost of this is included in the figure above. (It is shocking that these fees are more than architectural and engineering fees).

  • Architectural Fees for the approval process, meetings drawings and coordination of the other consultants: $15,000.00
  • Phase 1, Architectural and structural engineering: $18,000.00
  • Phase 2, Architectural and structural engineering: $14,000.00
  • Phase 3, Architectural and structural engineering: $22,500.00
  • Civil Engineering for the drainage and utility design: $6,000.00
  • Soils testing and survey costs: $5,000.00

This cost estimate is very preliminary as it is based on designs without engineering or details but includes our best thoughts and discussions with consultants.

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