TAMPA PALMS The Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club opened in 1987 as the toast of New Tampa. It helped to serve notice that Tampa’s newest community had arrived.
Before then, rarely did anyone journey north of the University of South Florida on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, known in those days as the road to nowhere.
Today, more than 64,000 daily commuters travel that stretch of Bruce B. Downs, some of them to reach the golf and country club at 5811 Tampa Palms Blvd.
Now in its 26th year, the club’s owners are investing more than $2 million in physical improvements fitting an upscale golfing destination.
“We have always strived to be the centerpiece of the community,” said David Kupstas, general manager at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club. “When someone comes to look at Tampa Palms as a resident, the country club is usually one of the things that is a part of their decision-making.”
The club is spending more than $1 million to refresh landscaping, including adding trees and resurfacing the golf paths. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring on a $1 million remodel of the clubhouse’s interior space.
Upgrades will include renovating the club entrance and lobby. Inside, a space will be converted to accommodate a high-tech media lounge to watch televised sports and current events.
The Lakeview Grill, a members’ dining and socializing area, will get a facelift with the addition of a large, new bar and expanded dining cafe. When completed, the space, which now seats 60, is expected to double in capacity.
The club plans to add a new outdoor patio and dining area with fire pits, overlooking the lake and 17th hole behind the clubhouse.
Kupstas, who has managed the club since 2009, likened the improvements to a reinvention rather than a renovation.
“There is a difference between a reinvention and renovation,” Kupstas said. “A reinvention is all about changing the way we do business. It’s an upgrading of the experience not just the atmosphere.”
The interior updates are in the design stage, he said. Construction is estimated to last 16 weeks.
Tucked along a tranquil stretch of Tampa Palms Boulevard East, the club is a suburban-style oasis for ClubCorp members and guests.
The club is a part of a network of private golf and country clubs owned by ClubCorp. The Dallas-based company also runs three other nearby golf and country clubs – Hunter’s Green in New Tampa, Eastlake Woodlands in Oldsmar, and Countryside in Clearwater. ClubCorp members can play them all.
Club members have expressed excitement about the changes. About 80 members attended a recent meeting to discuss the upgrades and view the renderings.
“We know that we needed to upgrade the facility to attract new people coming to town,” said Bill Condrey, a member of the golf and country club’s board of governors.
The fact there will be no increase in membership dues is an added bonus, said Condrey, who has been a club member for 22 years.
Club officials thought it was time for additional renovations to keep up with its ever-changing clientele, a growing number of young families with diverse backgrounds.
The club has about 720 members. In addition to golf, the club features a full-service fitness center, a swimming pool, tennis and spa.
Though it is a featured attraction, many don’t know that the club offers accommodations for overnight guests. The club renovated its 25 luxury guest suites last year.
With white-washed walls, the country club resembles a stately summer manor for a wealthy executive.
Golf course architect Arthur Hills designed the challenging 18-hole golf course, which runs through some of the community’s most exclusive neighborhoods and is adjacent to a wooded area teeming with wildlife. Hills still drops by to play the course once a year, Condrey said.
Professional golfer Arnold Palmer helped cut the ribbon and christen the $11.5 million golf course, when it opened.
Landscapers recently planted 28 new young palm trees along each side of the drive leading to the clubhouse, a sight reminiscent to when the golf and country club opened.
“It used to be country clubs were where dads hung out,” Kupstas said. “It’s not that way anymore. We have to have a much broader appeal, with family events and all that goes with it.”