MANATEE COUNTY — The sluggish economy may be hitting golf courses full force, but some are using the lull to spruce up their digs for better times.
Golf courses at Tara Golf & Country Club and Palm-Aire Country Club already have undergone renovations this summer, and Tara also is renovating its clubhouse.
“By doing these renovations now, we’re saving money on contracts and we’ll be (ready) to attract new (homebuyers),” Tara Golf & Country Club’s General Manager Tony Greising said. “We have all these (improvements) in place to really market this community well.”
Others golf course communities, such as The Concession and Rosedale, are moving forward with future plans.
Tara Golf & Country Club
Of changes happening at East County golf courses, the improvements at Tara Golf and Country Club are the most significant.
The private equity course and the clubhouse closed for business April 13 for a $7.2 million renovation that also includes a new pre-cast concrete fence around phase 1 of the golf community.
Greising said the golf course’s irrigation system, built in 1989, was failing because the drains were not emptying properly. Contractors installed a new irrigation system under the greens to prevent further complications. They also installed a larger pump station and a larger main line, which will allow more flexibility for watering times and be more efficient.
“We were very restricted with the amount of water we could put on the course because of the size of the pipes,” Greising said.
Several conservation areas filled with crushed sand also have been added to reduce water consumption, Greising said.
Contractors already have finished rebuilding the course, which is now recovering.
Construction crews also have gutted almost the entire clubhouse and are working to expand the facility’s kitchen so that it is nearly double in size.
Both the grillroom and pro shop are being reconfigured, which will create more storage space.
“It’s going to be a lot more efficient for the staff and membership,” Greising said. “We were limited on how much food we could prepare because of the size of the kitchen.”
The rooms also will be getting new ceiling tiles as well as new tables and chairs, fixtures and other equipment, Greising said.
“By doing these renovations now, we’re saving money on contracts and we’ll be (ready) to attract new (homebuyers),” Greising said.
Only the clubhouse’s lobby was remodeled a few years ago and is not getting any improvements.
The clubhouse is expected to open around Nov. 1, and both facilities are expected to celebrate their grand opening with a special event Dec. 1.
Palm-Aire Country Club
The Lakes course at Palm-Aire Golf and Country Club also has been given a facelift.
Work to strip the course’s greens began May 11. Construction crews took out three inches of organic matter, refilled the space and sprigged it with a new type of grass, Tif Eagle, the course’s superintendent Jeff Huelsman said.
“The greens that were in here were almost unplayable,” he said.
The new greens are eight weeks into the growing-in process and will be ready to play within the next month.
Improvements also were made to the golf course path, bringing total renovation costs up to about $165,000.
In conjunction with the greens renovations, Palm Aire has been increasing its marketing efforts and offering a larger variety of membership options, including an athletic center membership and seasonal and individual golf memberships that will start in the fall, among others.
“We feel like we have something for everybody,” Palm-Aire General Manager John Costello said. “We feel like now we have a full scope of offerings.
It also has begun offering members both shotgun starts and tee times, one at each of its courses daily.
The 18-hole golf course at Rosedale community hasn’t seen any renovations besides its normal course maintenance this summer, but Head Golf Pro Mike Clayton said Rosedale is gearing up to break ground on nine more holes of golf and 300 more homes.
“We want to have it ready as soon as the economy turns around,” Clayton said. “Right now, everything is on hold.”
Clayton said contractors may break ground for infrastructure for the section of the community as early as November. Work for additional holes of golf would not start until next spring. Course work would take six months to complete.
The Concession Golf Club and Residences recently finished the exterior of its 33,000-square-foot clubhouse.
The new exterior features a brick driveway with white columns lining the front entrance.
The clubhouse’s grand opening is slated for Jan. 23, 2010, on the club’s fourth anniversary.
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