Up for a few rounds of golf? After nearly two years of dirt piles and construction sounds, Reid Golf Course in Appleton is once again an 18-hole diversion from the daily grind of the office. A stormwater pond project and several other improvements are giving the course a new look, and a refreshed optimism for tourism and team building events.
“A lot of people have already called for this season and are curious about the improvements, so we think we will see the impact,” says Stacey Gassner, head golf pro and manager for Reid Golf Course. “Some companies have outings with a handful of players, while other companies will bring in several dozen for contests and lunch or dinner. It’s a great way to have fun and build relationships outside of the office.”
Gassner says many corporations, such as Secura Insurance, Appvion and Miller Electric, often plan their team building events around golf tournaments, bringing together seasoned players and those who have never picked up a club before.
“We organize an annual department outing for our Construction Products Group, for the past 10 years. We do a best-ball tournament with about 70 people, and always have lunch and prizes.
It’s a fun day,” says Terri Bohne, administrator for Miller Electric of Appleton. This year’s event organizers will be looking at Reid’s improvements as they decide a location for their 2014 outing.
A new era
For a course that first opened in 1928 as a locally-designed, nine-hole course, the property has kept its reputation as one of the Valley’s finest courses.
“As a city we are very excited to open again, and I think that when people get out on the course they’re going to be very happy and excited to play it,” says Bill Lecker, City of Appleton parks planner.
Lecker says the project got under way in fall 2012 with two storm water ponds on the south and east ends of the course. At the same time, several holes were renovated and tees were leveled.
The crews also expanded the practice range and used the extra fill to create land forms throughout the course.
Finally, crews dug the concrete out of the channel and created a more natural pond with wetland vegetation. This helped slow the flow of water into the channel, which enabled the natural filtering of the water that flows into the river.
Lecker, who is also the general manager of the course, says that the cost for the entire project was $4 million. “We saved a lot of money by re-using some of the dirt in other areas to build up the course, rather than paying to have it removed.”
The project was managed by the Department of Public Works, which contracted with AECOM for stormwater work and Lohman Design Group for the golf course landscape services.
An economic shift
By the numbers, Reid has averaged more than 33,000 rounds for each of the past five years.
Lecker acknowledges that competition in the New North for golf enthusiasts is strong, and yet overall course activity has waned for everyone.
“As a general trend, players aren’t able to get in 18 rounds of golf twice a week like they once did. Regionally as well as across the United States, golf has trended downward as family and financial commitments have shifted, and Reid has experienced this as well,” Lecker says. “We’re hoping that our new renovations will help us maintain our market share and draw new people to the course.”
The reopening of Reid adds an attractive option to a growing list of entertainment possibilities for tourism.
“We are thrilled that Reid has made these significant improvements,” says Mary Hirvela, marketing and communications manager, Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, which often helps convention meeting planners schedule tours and activities like golf.
“It’s difficult to tell our story in photos and on paper, but first-time visitors frequently tell us how delighted they are with our unique mix of eclectic big city amenities with small town charm, from the Performing Arts Center and the Fox River Mall to the boutiques, restaurants and of course, golf courses.”
Barring any last-minute blizzards, the course will open the first week of May. The Grand Re-opening Celebration will begin Saturday, June 7 and end on Sunday, June 15 with special rates, door prizes, food and beverage specials. The celebration culminates with a final round of the annual City Tournament.
A new smart phone app now allows visitors and players to navigate all 18 holes of the course, while an online digital renovation tour includes photos for each tee, green and fairway, along with an aerial map. A desktop tool allows viewers to pan and spin through each hole.
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