Heritage Hills Golf Course is looking to update and expand its existing grounds and facilities aimed at increasing revenue gained from proposed improvements.
The 202-acre property of Heritage Hills Golf Course, owned by the Rogers County Public Facilities Authority, in which Rogers County is the beneficiary, is in need of bunker renovation, renovation of the greens and construction of a new clubhouse.
The two-year plan was presented by golf course officials to the Rogers County Board of County Commissioners during a regular meeting Monday.
Randy Highfill and Andy Forbes, general manager of Heritage Hills Golf Course, asked the BOCC if they could be considered for funding in the upcoming 2017-2018 budget.
Highfill told commissioners the bunkers need new sand, which the county has helped with in the past. They also need a better drainage system, he added.
The average life span of golf greens is 20 years, but the greens at Heritage Hills are more than 40 years old — the same age as when the golf course was established.
The cost to renovate the greens is approximately $174,000. Sprigs account for $74,000 of that cost, while chemicals, fertilizers and sand account for the rest.
Highfill said they have looked at going with the Bermuda greens, which has a 10 to 12 week grow period from the time sprigged. All of the current greens would have to be destroyed.
That means the greens would not be available for play causing an income loss of $250,000.
District 1 Commissioner Dan DeLozier asked if they looked at rotational growing by doing some this year and some next year to at least keep some of the greens opened.
Highfill said, “We have talked about this several ways. But, the only thing about doing it that way is if you did nine holes one year and nine holes the following year, you would not be able to play a full 18-hole game.”
He said, they concluded they would do all holes at one time during the time needed for prime grass growing.
That renovation project will reduce maintenance by 10 percent, he added.
Golf course officials said they would like to be up to par with other golf courses by also having a nice clubhouse where meals can be served, generating revenue throughout the year.
Construction of the new clubhouse would range anywhere form 5,500 square feet to 6,500 square feet. It would have a ProShop, grill and banquet room, men and women's locker room, offices, storage and an outside covered patio.
The trust has run the golf course since 1977 without any outside help, Highfill noted, and the facilities have suffered.
The annual rounds of golf played in 2016 were 24,000 and they aim to increase that by 10 percent for 2017.
Local citizens pay approximately 70 percent of the play and 30 percent of the play come from outside of Rogers County.
The average play is approximately $55 a golfer, including the purchase of merchandise.
All of the high schools that have golf, including Rogers State University, use the facility, in addition to different charitable organizations hosting events there.
Through an interlocal agreement with the county, equipment can be provided to help move dirt, District 2 Commissioner Steve Hendrix said. It was also suggested to use inmate labor to assist with any work needed.
Forbes said they are looking at a possible loan in the Trust’s name for $1,000,000.
The facility has 20 employees with a $400,641 obligation, plus a line of credit in good standing.
“We are looking to explore all options of funding starting with the county first then public and private methods,” Highfill added.
DeLozier said, “I think the big thing to this is we will have to look at our budget, which is coming up soon.”
“If we have better facilities, we will get more plays,” Highfill said.