REN­O­VATED FOR­EST CREEK GOLF CLUB TO RE­OPEN OCT. 1 B2

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Austin San­ders Round Rock Leader con­tribut­ing writer

Af­ter nearly a year of clo­sure for ren­o­va­tions, the city of Round Rock’s For­est Creek Golf Club is set to re­open Oct. 1.

The 18-hole public course was closed in De­cem­ber to al­low for con­struc­tion in­volv­ing $5.1 mil­lion in up­grades. Among changes were com­pletely re­work­ing the greens on all 18 holes, trans­form­ing the club­house to put more em­pha­sis on din­ing ser­vices, and clear­ing trees to make a more playable course.

The city con­tracted with Kem­perS­ports in Jan­uary 2017 to op­er­ate the course be­fore the planned ren­o­va­tions were to be­gin, partly be­cause Kem­per has a con­struc­tion arm that spe­cial­izes in golf course im­prove­ment plans.

Jer­rod Wittman, re­gional sales and mar­ket­ing direc­tor with Kem­perS­ports, said a key idea be­hind many of the course up­grades — such as trim­ming the tree canopies in ar­eas that were dif­fi­cult to hit from for most golfers — was to make the course more ac­ces­si­ble to ca­sual and ex­pert play­ers alike.

“Be­yond im­prov­ing the over­all play­ing con­di­tions of the course, we wanted to make it more playable for more peo­ple,” he said.

Wittman said that goal was achieved pri­mar­ily through trim­ming and clear­ing trees in the rough ar­eas of the course. By clear­ing out many of the ashe ju­niper trees through­out the course, play­ers will have a bet­ter chance of find­ing their ball — and play­ing it — if they hit into the woods.

He also pointed out some “un­seen” course im­prove­ments that were just as im­por­tant in the ren­o­va­tion ef­fort. By re­plac­ing the course’s ag­ing ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, he said, the course’s op­er­a­tors will be able to main­tain a lush lawn while more ef­fi­ciently us­ing wa­ter.

Wittman said im­prove­ments to course play — such as adding new tee boxes closer to the hole and plant­ing na­tive grass in the wooded ar­eas of the course to cre­ate more playable space — were ways in which For­est Creek could ap­peal to play­ers in­tim­i­dated by the game’s steep learn­ing curve.

The course’s driv­ing range was also a fo­cal point of the ren­o­va­tion plan, Wittman said. Along with re­plac­ing the sand traps, the tar­get greens and the tee area, Kem­perS­ports also in­stalled LED lights to make the range us­able at night.

“With the range open at night, more peo­ple will be able to come in dur­ing the sum­mer when it’s hot, or in the fall when the sun goes down ear­lier,” he said.

For­est Creek Golf Club Gen­eral Man­ager Jeff Day­ton said the evening hours are an­other as­pect of the club’s plan to bring play­ers out­side of the tra­di­tional golf de­mo­graphic. He said the driv­ing range — along with the re­designed club restau­rant, which will re­main open un­til the range closes — was key to that strat­egy.

But he also stressed that ren­o­va­tions aimed at spurring new mem­ber­ship were bal­anced by up­grades to the course that have long been needed.

“Our goal is to be a tra­di­tional golf course by day,” Day­ton said, “but some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent by night.”

Var­i­ous tour­na­ments and events, gen­er­ally closed to non-mem­bers, will be held the week pre­ced­ing the course’s grand re­open­ing in Oc­to­ber.

For in­for­ma­tion on rates to play at For­est Creek, visit forestcreek.com.

CON­TRIB­UTED

The 10 months of ren­o­va­tions at Round Rock’s For­est Creek Golf Club in­cluded new tee boxes close to the hole, trimmed tree canopies and the plant­ing of na­tive grass in the wooded ar­eas to cre­ate more playable space.

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