TRAVIS PECK

Sports Sunday Writer



They’re teeing it up at Stonebridge Golf Club in Verdigris.

The much-anticipated championship course, playing to 6,510 yards, has been open since July 1.

Designed by Randy Heckenkemper, Stonebridge offers a little something for golfers of all abilities.

The front nine is open, with a linksy feel, while the back nine is dotted with trees, ponds and bunkers, creating a challenging path back to the clubhouse.

Contoured bunkers with a bright white sand give the course a unique look and help define the shape of Stonebridge’s holes.

“We are getting nothing but praise from players,” says Rob Overgard, Stonebridge general manager.

Overgard, a golf pro for 17 years, calls Stonebridge “a premier layout for golfers in the Tulsa area.”

Carved out of the lush countryside alongside historic Route 66, Stonebridge is in superior condition for such a new course.

Overgard credits the work of Scott Schurman, the dedicated and resourceful superintendent who has been overseeing maintainance and grow-in of the layout since late 2004.

The quick opening of Stonebridge has forced a temporary format to the clubhouse and pro shop, but plans are in the works to have both by the spring.

“We will have an official grand opening when our permanent clubhouse is finished, but for now we are just letting the course speak for itself,” Overgard said.

And what the course is saying is that it is a typical Heckenkemper design: an enjoyable test of golf, playing to par of 36-35 — 71 from the black tees.

Other notable courses on his resume are Forest Ridge in Broken Arrow, Chickasaw Pointe near Kingston and Lincoln Park West in Oklahoma City.

Each of these is listed among the top 10 public courses in Oklahoma on TulsaWeb.com.

Both nines at Stonebridge open with shorter par-4s, but that should not lull the golfer into a false sense of security.

Take the par-3 third hole, for example. It measures 180 yards and is all carry over a lake stretching the entire length of the hole.

Then there’s the 17th. It’s not a long hole, but the tee shot must avoid a gaping bunker on the right and a hazaard all the way down the left of the fairway. There also is a creek guarding the entrance to the green.

Rolling fairways, subtly undulating putting surfaces, strategically placed hazards, and a mix of holes varying in length and difficulty place a premium on accuracy and game management skills.

Unlike most courses adjacent to subdivisions, Stonebridge has only a couple of holes where homes are close by and visible.

“Sometimes it seems like there are out-of-bounds markers on every hole because of houses, but here you have to worry about shot placement, not homes,” Overgard said.

Overgard was hired quickly for the GM post.

“I first heard about it from a friend of mine in Kansas, and I put in my application, but nothing happened, until one day I got an e-mail,” he said. “I interviewed on a Sunday and went to work the following Wednesday.”

Nelson Abrams, a junior player from Claremore, has challenged the course three times, shooting in the low 90s each round.

“It is a fun course to play,” he said. “We plan on coming out here more, especially when it gets cooler.”

Along with senior and junior rates, Stonebridge offers corporate, individual and family membership plans.

A practice green and driving range have attracted a number of players.

Stonebridge is managed by Billy Casper Golf, a Virginia-based group co-founded in 1989 by the former Masters and U.S. Open champion.

For tee times, telephone, 266-5000.

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