GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This spring, the Kent Country Club is unveiling a $2.35 million renovation to its casual dining and patio area.

Founded in 1896, the Kent County Club is the oldest country club in Michigan. The small family-centered atmosphere has about 400 members and features a number of amenities and dining options.

“Kent is a very historical, traditional club. We like to stay with those roots but at the same time we realize that we always have to adjust to society to stay relevant within the Grand Rapids community and also to give our membership the best member experience possible,” Craig Welch, president of Kent County Club, said.

A few years ago, the club realized there was a need for a more casual dining environment. After working with consultants, it identified a few changes.

“Our patio, which was expanded about eight years ago, is our most popular dining space in season. So we wanted to increase the ability to use that more often and so by covering it and using heaters, we could increase the amount of shoulder season time it could be used but also during the elements — not only with rain but often times in the summer with the sun so hot, it would provide some shade,” Welch said.

The patio is adjacent to two areas that weren’t being used as much as they had been in the past: a living room and covered porch. With the help of an architect, the club’s new hub redesign includes a new bar and a casual dining area that created a flow in and out of the patio.

“We’re trying to bring the membership together for a more casual, summer season vibe in the golf season but also (it) can be used as a central in the winter season so that the membership, when they come out to the club, they’re going to regularly see other members which promotes more community. Even unplanned visits with each other,” Welch said.

The new space, which sits at the back of the clubhouse, will include a casual dining area, a bar, a three-season porch and more. It also overlooks 16 of the 18 holes on the golf course.

“Golf is definitely the main attraction, being a Donald Ross course,” Welch said. “Every club calls the golf course its main asset, but it really is here.”

The renovations are expected to be complete by mid-May. Welch said the grand opening will happen around the all-member meeting and kickoff party.

These renovations are not the end up the upgrades at the country club. Welch said it is always looking at ways to improve.

“There’s kind of that old saying that you’re either getting better or worse, and we’re determined to continue to get better,” he said.