Golf Inc - Summer 2012 - (Page 26)
Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club could barely stay above water before the decision was made to do a major renovation. No longer is it known as a “flooder,” but a winner instead.
By CHRISTINA THOMAS
It was just two years ago that whenever the word “rain” was uttered in the Chicago area weather report, a dark cloud was cast over Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club. The course, which opened in 1976 and was built partially on a flood plain, became synonymous with the word “flooder.” It was forced to close as many as 10 days a year, with annual losses reaching up to $135,000 — about 10 percent of the annual revenue. “over time, [the course] went from one or two days of being flooded and eventually reached seven to 10 days,” said tony LaFrenere, director of recreation, Hoffman estates Park District. “It created a stigma, so people were hesitant to book outings for fear of being flooded out.” with the poor flood plains giving the course a bad image and significant revenue losses, the staff decided it was time for a major renovation. In addition to flooding, the bridges on holes seven and 11 were a problem, which were almost under water after a day of rain.
26 Golf Inc. Summer 2012
LaFrenere said a bulk of the project was dedicated to engineering and extending bridge length, which became the underlying theme for the project and inspiration for a new name. “we thought about a total name change, but instead just added Bridges to the name,” LaFrenere said. “It’s symbolic of solving the flood problem. we also wanted the theme to be carried out, so the bridges were named after amateurs Bobby jones, Chick evans, Babe Zaharias and samuel ryder.” one of the goals of the project was to eliminate all closure days due to rain. sure enough, a month and a half after reopening, the course received a record rainfall overnight equivalent to a 100-year storm, and the renovated golf course was open for play the next morning, unlike many courses in the area. “any other year, we would have been closed for days,” LaFrenere said. “It was the perfect realization that we achieved our goals.” The finished product gave this course a
new image, increased revenue and improved the quality of golf for players of all skill levels, earning the top honors for the annual Golf Inc. 2012 renovation of the year competition. “This entry would almost qualify as an adaptive reuse project,” said Michael Hurdzan, golf course architect and past winner of the competition. “They first addressed the most critical issue of flooding, then made the golf features functional, and finally incorporated some very nice aesthetic touches.” Hurdzan participated as one of this year’s judges for the competition, along with jim Bellington, senior vice president of development services for troon golf; and oscar rodriguez, President of Niebur golf. Golf Inc. recognized six golf courses this year: three public courses and three private courses. additionally, three courses were given honorable mention: one public course and two private courses. Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club took top honors in the public courses category. “If the proof is in the pudding, then the flood event that followed after the opening was proof that they did a great job,” Hurdzan said. The flood-free golf course is already reaping dividends. In the months after the renovation through the end of 2011, the course saw increases in play from previous years, resulting in a 5 percent overall increase in paid rounds. Both peak and non-peak play saw an average increase of $4 per round. Furthermore, the maintenance department, which previously averaged around $35,000 or more in annual storm cleanup costs, spent less than $3,000 in 2011 despite a rainy season. From now on, the staff at Bridges of Poplar Creek will be breathing easier on gloomy days and, in the words of arthur Freed made famous by gene Kelly, will be “singin’ in the rain.”
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Table of Contents
Hiring Right: The First Step Toward Great Customer Service
New EPA Regulations Will Increase Turf Equipment Costs
Britain’s Greenkeepers Association Makes Operational Improvements, CEO Says
What the Future of Golf Could Look Like
Textron Financial, Capmark Put Golf Portfolios Up for Sale
With Commercial Real Estate Confidences Up, Is Golf Close Behind?
The Evolution of Donald Trump
Tasmania’s Coming of Age
Largest Management Companies
Renovation of the Year
Bald Head’s Logistical Challenge
The State of Technology in the Golf Industry
Britney Spears as Golf Spokesperson?
Golf Inc - Summer 2012