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Louisville unveils ambitious golf course improvement plan

The plan for improving Louisville’s Coal Creek Golf Course is hot off the presses, and it’s an ambitious six-year strategy that addresses everything from degraded bunkers to a leaky irrigation system to an aging practice facility.

Now there’s just the problem of finding the money to make it a reality.

“That’s the $4.4 million to $5.7 million question,” said Louisville City Manager Malcolm Fleming, who will present to the City Council at a Tuesday study session a Golf Course Improvement Plan the city commissioned last year. “The study does a great job of identifying what needs to get done — the only thing missing is how to pay for it.”

Funds for the first phase, which is expected to be completed this year at a cost of $222,000 to $260,000, would come from the city’s capital improvement plan, though council first needs to give its approval.

Phase I would replace broken sprinkler heads, repair a busted booster pump, remove problem trees and plant 40 to 50 new ones. It would also create an irrigation coverage plan to identify areas with inadequate water.

Funding for the subsequent five phases of Coal Creek Golf Course’s revitalization — which are devoted to re-aligning cart paths, reconstructing bunkers, revamping practice areas, renovating the club house, and replacing pond liners — has not been identified. Phase 6 is scheduled for 2017.

Cary Tengler, vice chair of the Louisville Golf Course Advisory Board, said an effort is being made to tap into the city’s 3/8-cent open space tax fund, which will likely go to voters this fall for an extension. But he acknowledged that getting access to such funds may be a tall order.

“There are perhaps some open space advocates who might not look kindly on using the funds for the golf course,” Tengler said.

For now, he said, course operator Western Golf Properties will take a Band-Aid approach to some of the problems the course faces, like filling wind-whipped bunkers with more sand and replacing sprinkler heads in lieu of a full irrigation system overhaul.

“With that kind of remediation of the sand traps, we hope we can put off the more extensive and expensive rebuilding of the bunkers until we have the money to do it,” Tengler said. “It’s not what we want to be doing long term, but it would address the majority of golfers’ concerns.”

Tom Sevcik, who works in Broomfield and was taking some practice swings near the club house last week, said Coal Creek is fundamentally a great course even if it is a bit dated and doesn’t have the latest bells and whistles.

“It’s like a supermodel with a bad haircut and no make-up on,” he said. “I joined it because it makes you better — it’s a more difficult course. This is one of the few courses in Colorado with trees.”

Boulder resident Larry Bombard, hitting nearby, also likes the challenge of playing among stands of trees.

“Just because some golfers keep hitting a tree doesn’t mean it has to be cut down,” Bombard joked.

While he would like to see improvements made to the tee boxes and a better drainage and irrigation system installed, Bombard said Coal Creek Golf Course is well-maintained and generally in good shape.

And that’s important, he said, because golfers have plenty of other courses to choose from within an easy driving distance of Louisville.

“They have to be competitive,” he said.

Fleming, the city manager, agreed that it’s important to keep the city’s golf course at the top of its game.

He said it not only provides a green “open-space type” area where wildlife can thrive and public trails cut through, but it is an economic engine for the city, bringing out-of-town golfers to the commercial areas of Louisville for a post-round burger or beer. Western also pays Louisville an annual fee of $180,000 to run the course.

“I think it provides benefits beyond those who simply play the course,” Fleming said.

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Coal Creek Golf Course Improvement Plan highlights

Phase 1, 2012, $222,000 to $260,000

— Tree removal, new trees planted

— Replace broken sprinkler heads

— Repair broken booster pump

Phase 2, 2013, $224,166 to $285,631

— Cart path realignment

— Build new tees on five holes

— Drainage improvements on eight holes

— Re-grade some fairways

Phase 3, 2014, $690,562 to $1,017,225

— Renovate 49 bunkers

— Renovate club house

— Reconstruct practice facility and short game area

Phase 4, 2015, $1.8 million to $2.3 million

— Install new irrigation system

— Plant 40 to 50 new trees

Phase 5, 2016, $128,170 to $159,560

— Convert maintained turf to low-maintenance grass

— Install cart path curbing and plant new trees

Phase 6, 2017, $893,150 to $1.2 million

— Install bathroom facilities and storm shelter near No. 15 tee

— Re-grassing fairways with low-mow Kentucky bluegrass

— Replace pond liners on three holes

— Establish nursery green

Rounds played at Coal Creek Golf Course

2009 37,034

2010 33,165

2011 35,377

2012 36,000*

*projected

Source: City of Louisville

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