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March 2020

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Going Tiny Makes Big Impact at Medinah

By Scott Kauffman

When top private golf and country clubs add new amenities for members these days, the scale and cost of these projects are usually large in size and luxurious and pricey by nature.

At Medinah Country Club near Chicago, the historic club with three courses and Ryder Cup/championship golf tournament lineage, it was recently proven size doesn’t always matter when it comes to creative new modern-day amenities. At least that was the case during the PGA Tour’s 2019 BMW Championship, when the club debuted the unofficially dubbed, Tiny House.

Positioned just off the 14th tee, the 350-square-foot abode on wheels got just as much attention as eventual winner Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods every time they stepped up on the tee box. And rightfully so. In PGA Tour history, it was quite possibly the closest anyone has ever been to watching a professional golf event from the comforts of their “home.”

In this case, it was Medinah member Vaughn Moore who had the pleasure of renting the home for an undisclosed five-figure amount and watching the tournament action with 17 of his closest friends from the 37-foot by 8-foot wide hospitality amenity.

“It’s amazing the attention it has drawn,” Moore was quoted as saying at the time in a local Chicago Tribune news report.  Moore went on to say, “It’s hilarious and by far the best deal in hospitality.”

The company behind the unique home is builder Robert “Bob” Clarizio of Bantam Built Homes in South Elgin, Illinois. As Clarizio describes it, his “tiny houses are built with the integrity of a custom house... while incorporating the function of a RV travel trailer.”
According to Bantam Built, the company built its first tiny house on wheels in 2015 after entering into a television contract with ITV Creative, formerly Loud Television, to aid in the development and production of tiny houses on wheels for their show, “Tiny House Nation.”

Since the last episode wrapped up in November 2016, Bantam Built has built and sold dozens of its homes throughout the country. The Medinah model featured a full bathroom, high-end galley kitchen with a four-burner stove and microwave plus two lofts with queen-sized beds.

Innovative Medinah Country Club General Manager/COO Robert Sereci, who already has an on-site chicken coop with 40 hens producing U.S.D.A.-certified eggs, was the brainchild behind Medinah’s latest marketing twist. Sereci hoped to have permanent tiny homes staged on property for summer interns to use and future marketing events but he couldn’t convince his membership to buy into the homes that run an estimated $50,000-$100,000 per home.
Nonetheless, Sereci said the 2019 tournament was such a success, the club would certainly bring the tiny homes back into play for future professional events.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Sereci said. “This is something clubs can certainly incorporate into their own operations, especially daily-fee courses. For club owners, it’s an easy win for them.”

Olympia Fields Country Club seems to agree. When the private club plays host to this year’s BMW Championship south of Chicago, the elite venue will introduce several of the tiny house hospitality packages as part of the tournament festivities organized by the Western Golf Association.

Scott Kauffman is a golf business writer and the managing director of Aloha Media Group.

 

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