Checking Out: Tommy Trause

The Vice President of Innovation at Dallas-based ClubCorp sees the design and architecture of its clubs as a starting-off point for shared interests.
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Posted November 26, 2018

You’re VP of Innovation. How do you describe your job?

I’m primarily responsible for helping our teams find new ways to make our experiences relevant. My job is to tell the designer what we want and need. I’m not a designer, but I help write the DNA of their design vernacular, then let them put it together.

What is the nature of the clubs?

All of our clubs exist to bring people together through shared passions and community. From golf and country clubs to city clubs, our core mission is to build relationships and enrich lives.

How?

About 10 years ago, the private club industry was in decline. We invested heavily in reinventing our clubs, getting rid of the mahogany walls and leather-bound books for a more relevant backdrop. But the clubhouse itself is just a vehicle. It’s a launchpad for the programming we do.

What makes it a good space?

The magic comes when you can anticipate members’ needs, so my job is to program the space in an intuitively seamless way, starting in the morning with a table right at the entrance with coffee and things to eat. Then a couch, not too soft, so you can stand up easily when your client arrives. And it faces the front, so you don’t have to keep craning your neck. Work areas with charging stations, plenty of outlets, convenient hooks for jackets or coats.

Why do you think they’re so popular?

We bring people together through what we call “we are” categories – we are business executives; we are dynamic women; we are young executives; we are foodies. We want to foster a community of diverse individuals brought together through shared passions. Then we make sure we provide compelling programming for those groups: mentorship series, distinguished speaker breakfasts, classes, networking events, lunch-and-learns.  

How did you discover this industry?

I worked summers at a local country club in Olympia, Wash. I was sitting outside on a break, looking at the stunning views of Mt. Rainier, and I thought, ‘Why would I do anything else with my life?’ I joined ClubCorp 14 years ago. When the company started tweaking the concept, my club in San Diego was the first we worked on. I helped write the playbook on how to reinvent a club and became Director of Reinvention for all of the clubs across the country. 

 

Electric Ladyland

Can you share an example of a recent project?

The Collective in Seattle. We always shoot for local branding, so the whole feel is the juxtaposition of mountains and sea. We also provided an artist-in-residence studio and hired 11 local artists to create the space and use it as their own. In return, they participate in two events a month with the members. It could be a class, or salon or Q&A session.

We aimed at a community of different interests, backgrounds and perspectives and brought them together through shared passions – love of the outdoors, the environment, obviously music. Bungalows in the lounge are dedicated to different Seattle musicians, and each one has a Gibson guitar hanging on the walls that members can play. There’s a stage with live music, and a resident DJ once a month. It’s nirvana!