Woodward, Okla. —
Boiling Springs Golf Course will soon be closing down. But only temporarily and with the goal to have a grand reopening of an improved course by early summer.
Improvements to the course actually began this past fall as the city wanted to address the rapidly deteriorating greens at the course.
After a mutual agreement was made to dissolve the city's contract with the former golf course managers JCLA Enterprises in September, city leaders decided to bring in a new management firm Dunn Golf Group, LLC to help oversee the rebuilding of the course.
The decision was also made to bring in golf course architecture firm Jeffrey D. Blume, Limited to help with a redesign of the course and the construction firm Eagle View Golf to handle the major reconstruction work.
Representatives from all 3 firms attended a town hall meeting this past Thursday to update the public on the project goals and timeline.
As the project architect, Jeffrey Blume handled most of the presentation.
Blume shared the 5 main goals of the project:
• restore and enhance Boiling Spring Golf Course's (BSGC) reputation as one of the top public access facilities in the region;
• take advantage of the site's unique natural attributes to minimize construction costs while maximizing the course's appeal;
• renovate the course so that it is aesthetically attractive, while remaining playable for all levels of ability;
• create a quality course that can become a destination for players around the region and nation, while remaining an accessible amenity for local residents; and
• create a facility that is economically sustainable for the city.
CREATING A MORE NATURAL AND UNIQUE LOOK
In particular, Blume said his designs focused on the goal of using the site's natural attributes, which include significant topographic relief, native sand dunes, and desirable golf environment.
He said the natural hills and valleys that were incorporated into the course's design when it was first built are something "you can't recreate with construction." It is the topographic relief which helps to make Boiling Springs such an interesting and challenging course to play, he said.
But "perhaps the greatest part of your course is the native sand dunes," Blume said, noting that the natural sandiness of the soil means that extra work doesn't have to be done to make sure that the greens drain properly.
And it is this natural sandiness that Blume wants to take advantage in his designs for improving the course. Primarily he said he wants to see the "waste" areas between fairways return to their native sand look with native grasses growing.
If allowed to return to sand, he said the areas would still be playable, so that those who maybe hit a little far to the right or left can still hit their balls back out, but the city could save on costs by not having to irrigate those areas.
In the past, the focus has been trying to grow non-native bermuda grass in these areas, which has been unsuccessful. Blume said this has been doubly negative for the course, because it has meant the loss of money, plus "when you try to grow in grass and it fails, then it just looks unattractive."
On the flip side, by not trying to force non-native grass to grow and allowing the areas to return to their natural state, he said the city will save money on irrigation and the course will become more aesthetically pleasing with a unique, natural look.
Blume said he wants to take this natural look even further, by incorporating it into the course's bunkers.
Instead of using the traditional geometrically shaped bunkers, the architect said he would like to see the course use natural-edged bunkers. So instead of smooth rounded edges, the sand traps would feature rougher, more uneven edges so that the sand pit appears more like a natural element of the hole rather than a man-made feature.
Blume said he feels this more native look will not only boost the aesthetics of the course, but also help to give Boiling Springs more of a unique feel that will help make it more of a destination course.
In addition to changing the look of the bunkers, Blume's designs also call for the addition of more bunkers to several holes.
He discussed some of these hole redesigns during Thursday's meeting, showing photos of how the holes are laid out now and then overlaid with graphics of where he would like to place new, natural edged bunkers.
For example, on Boiling Springs Hole No. 4 and Hole No. 11, he said he would like to add a few bunkers along ridges that lie at the start of the holes. He said these bunkers wouldn't add to the challenge of the holes, unless you just had a really short tee off, but would do a lot to boost the aesthetics of the holes as they "add visual interest."
However, on Hole No. 8, which is already a "tough shot," Blume plans to add a bunker to the middle of the fairway that will "challenge good players." He said the new bunker wouldn't affect most players because "90 percent will hit to the right or left anyway."
Since the new bunkers cannot be placed without interrupting play, the golf course will be closed soon to allow for the renovations.
A specific closing date was not announced during Thursday's presentation, but Woodward City Manager Alan Riffel said "we will be closing it pretty quick within the next 30 days."
John Dunn, of Dunn Golf Group, said that the sooner the construction gets under way, the sooner the golf course can reopen.
"If we are able to close within the next couple weeks like Mr. Riffel said, we're hoping to be ready for reopening around mid-May to mid-June. It will just depend on how warm of a spring we have," Dunn said.
In addition to addressing bunker redesign and placement, Blume said that work this spring will also focus on implementing the "waste" areas around the perimeter so that irrigation efforts can be focused on the fairways and greens.
He said that work would also be done to address tee resurfacing as the budget allows, with the holes with the worst tees given priority. However, additional tee resurfacing may continue after the course is reopened and begins to generate revenue to cover the expense.
Having the course closed in the spring will also allow for some down time for new greens to continue to grow in. The putting surfaces were already re-seeded in the fall and several have been covered with tarps this winter in order to protect them from the colder temperatures in an effort to ensure the greens will become viable and vibrant again.
However, this spring, Blume said they will be looking at bringing in sod to redo the areas around the putting surfaces.
"If we can stretch our dollars far enough, we'll do sod on the tees as well," he said.
While using sod is more expensive, Blume said it will help to meet the goal of reopening by early summer because "sod shrinks the growing period required and protects against erosion."
However, he noted that some cost savings have already been realized as the city has utilized inmate crews from William S. Key Correctional Center throughout the fall to help clear out "non-desirable species of trees," meaning the invasive cedar trees. Tree clearing will continue along with the other renovations this spring in an effort to widen play corridors on the course and further restore the site to its "original character," Blume said.