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Mentor overhauling part of golf course

Mentor city parks and recreation officials think they’ve found the missing link to help boost Black Brook Golf Course to a new level.

The 37-year-old driving range was scheduled for a renovation project this fall, but city staff decided to change their approach.

“As the time drew near to begin, it became evident we could do better than just rehab what we have,” said Bob Martin, director of parks, recreation and public facilities. “The Black Brook Golf Course is viewed by many as a premier public course with 40,000-plus rounds of golf played there each year. With that impetus, we felt it should have a premier driving range.”

To reach that goal, the city contacted

golf course designer Brian Huntley of Brian Huntley Golf Sense Inc., based in Uniontown. He was consulted when the city purchased the property in 2005.

As a result of the most recent consultation, a number of upgrades are proposed to bring the driving range up to par with the rest of the facility. They include:

— Shifting the driving range several degrees west to increase the distance between private property and the range

— Configuring the range to appear more like a fairway with 10 target greens built in

— Adding drainage and irrigation to improve usability throughout the year

— Installing a larger tee area with a practice bunker on one side and an uneven turf area on the other

— Increasing the shooting distance of the range to 340 yards, up from 300 yards

“We are confident , that this will provide a unique and challenging addition to Black Brook,” Martin said.

The majority of the site work will be completed by a Public Works Department crew. Costs are expected to come in under $150,000 and will be covered by bed taxes via the Community Recreation Facilities Fund.

“It will allow us to save a considerable amount of money on this project by doing the work in-house,” Martin said.

The golf course was opened in 1929 and the driving range in 1973.

The range now grosses $60,000 a year in revenue on average. The new design is expected to bring in at least $100,000 annually, Martin said. This figure doesn’t include the additional rounds and outings that are anticipated once new customers come to Black Brook because of the practice facility, he added.

“We are estimating our return on investment to be three years,” he said.

Tim Ausperk, the course manager and head golf professional, said the changes should help players improve their skills.

“People have difficulty taking their game from the driving range to the golf course, but when (they’re) hitting practice balls on an actual golf hole, it should better prepare them for taking their game to the course,” he said.

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