Golf Course to celebrate anniversary, promote new greens

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 5.45.34 PMIt has been almost 30 years since the Frances E. Miller Golf Course was listed by USA Today as one of the top 130 golf courses in the United States.

Will Snodgrass, director of the course, said it may not top the list anymore, but the course has still improved since then.

Today, the staff welcomes the public to the 30th anniversary of the course. It will also serve as the grand opening of the newly installed greens.

Snodgrass said both events are meaningful to the him and the crew, who perform countless hours of work each morning to provide the best course they can.

Out of the 175 acres on which the course is spread out, the staff has to maintain about 140 acres.

Snodgrass said of all that, the greens are the most important.

“To me it starts at the green,” he said. “You can have the most marvelous golf course on the planet, but if the greens are not good, the golfer is going to go away disappointed.”

It is important the grounds crew keeps the course in good shape, as between 17,000 and 20,000 rounds of golf are played each year.

Snodgrass said with a small staff and limited budget, it is not an easy thing to do, and most courses are not looking to make improvements.

“The golf industry nationwide is flat,” he said. “You’re in a time where you’re not seeing many courses make improvements. You’re in a maintain-only mode.”

However, they took on the project of installing new greens over the summer. The replacement greens, a MiniVerde grass, are only being used at three other courses in Kentucky.

Snodgrass said he has already received many compliments on the new grass.

“The greens are only 10 weeks old,” he said. “But we’ve already had so many compliments on the quality, the putting ability and the playability of the greens.”

The greens are not the only improvements he’s seen since he started at an entry-level position 17 years ago. There has been wall-to-wall improvement, all the way down to the irrigation system.

The constant improvements and work by the grounds crew to provide the best course possible are part of what Snodgrass said keeps golfers coming.

He said one of the big factors, though, is the uniqueness of the course.

“We have two distinct nines,” he said. “The front nine in today’s modern golf course is relatively short, tight and hilly. The back nine is more open and has more length, and it encourages you to take a nice, mighty whack at it.”

He said each hole is different from the tee box to the green.

“You never feel like you’re on the same hole twice,” Snodgrass said. “There are no two places on this golf course that look the same. No two shots in a round are played the same.”

The course also features 50 bunkers, and three ponds come into play on various holes.

Snodgrass said the course is essentially self-supporting, which is one reason he tries to make improvements and keep up membership.

“The new greens are a game changer for us,” he said. “It’s going to give us a head up on our competition. It’s important for us to provide the best golf course we can provide and the best service we can provide, so we can get our portion of the pie.”

He said the switch over to the MiniVerde grass could save them as much as $15,000-20,000 annually.

If it does prove successful and increases revenue, Snodgrass said he has other projects in mind to keep improving the course, such as removing all the weeds from tee boxes.

For now, though, Snodgrass said he is happy with where the course is now, and said he hopes more people realize how much work has been put into keeping up maintenance.

“I feel very proud of the facility,” he said. “I feel very proud of the product that we’re going to be providing from this point forward.”

 

Story by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor