Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward Chamber of Commerce members received an update on the ongoing renovations at Boiling Springs golf course during the monthly Chamber luncheon on Monday.
The update came from John Dunn Jr., president and owner of the golf course development and management firm Dunn Golf Group, and Jeffrey Blume, golf course architect.
Dunn started off by explaining how he came to be involved with the Boiling Springs golf course project.
Having grown up in Woodward, graduating from Woodward High School and with family still in the area, Dunn was of course familiar with Boiling Springs Golf Course and with Woodward area golfers.
So when he began to hear about the problems at Boiling Springs from those local golfers, Dunn said he knew something had to be done.
"I said that's a world class course, it just needs investment," he said.
He then contacted local officials, finally speaking with Woodward City Manager Alan Riffel about his interest in helping to make the necessary investment into Boiling Springs to make it "a destination golf course."
Dunn told the Woodward Chamber members that his interest in renovating Boiling Springs was similar to his previous golf course development projects, which includes a 36-hole golf club in Amarillo; an 18-hole country club in San Angelo, Texas; and another 18-hole country club in Rockwall, Texas.
Ever since starting his golf course development firm in 1997, Dunn said there has been one thing in common between all of the projects he has taken on: each course had been through failure.
"The reason they failed is not because of where they were located, but because of a failure to invest," he said.
So that's where he came in, to put in the investment to help the courses become successful again.
At Boiling Springs, Dunn said the major investment has been in recapturing the natural elements and "wild features" that help to make the course unique and "lend some character to the place."
For example, he said one of the "interesting things" about Boiling Springs is that the soil is very sandy.
And by taking advantage of the naturally sandy nature of the course, Dunn said the golf course architect has been able to incorporate "a lot of uniquely-shaped bunkers and some sand ridges" into the redesign of the various holes.
Blume explained that these new bunkers are mainly intended to add to the aesthetics of the course and not to its difficulty. However, he admitted that some of the new bunkers could be challenging to get out of if someone had the misfortune to land in them.
"They are beautiful to look at, not beautiful to be in," he said.
He also offered a bit of advice to the golfers in attendance, saying "I will warn you that the new bunkers are deeper than they used to be, so you may want to work on your sand game a bit before you get back out there."
The architect showed before and after photos from several of the holes on the course, explaining the changes that had been made to each one, which mostly revolved around the new bunkers.
However, for the most part, other than changing the shape of the bunkers, there wasn't much change. Many of the bunkers were even placed in the same location as previous bunkers, but may have been made a little smaller or split up into several odd shaped bunkers instead of their former "big blobs," Blume said.
However, he said even these small changes will make a big difference.
"At Boiling Springs, we don't have to do a lot to make it good; it's already good. We just need to do some tweaking to make it better," he said.
Beyond giving the bunkers a new look, Blume and Dunn said another noticeable change to the look of the course is how brush and trees have been cleared out in several areas.
"We've tried to clear out around the whole course and make it wider," Dunn said, noting "around 500 to 600 cedar trees were taken out to give the deciduous trees more of a fighting chance."
Blume said this tree and brush removal is especially evident on the 9th hole where "we did a lot of clearing so that you can actually see the green (from the tee box) now."
Other changes to the holes, which may not be as visible, but are nonetheless important, include the leveling off of tee boxes and the moderation of the greens.
Dunn said that when Boiling Springs was originally built one of the design fads of the decade was to have undulating greens.
"Ours at Boiling Springs had a little too much flow, so you'll see that moderated," he said.
But it's not just the holes that are getting makeovers, the area around the clubhouse is also getting a new look.
Dunn explained that the mound to the west of the clubhouse is being excavated and leveled off in order to provide a new staging areas for the golf carts as well as a new putting green.
By making this change to what is essentially the entrance to the golf course, he said it will help "accentuate" the other renovations to the course to make Boiling Springs "feel like a brand new place."
As these renovations are still ongoing, having been delayed by weather issues this spring, Dunn said the public won't likely get to see this "brand new place" until July. However, no exact date for the grand reopening of the course has been set yet.
"I think we can all agree that we have something special here and we want to take the time to get it right," Dunn said.
In addition to the changes to the course itself, Dunn said his group has also made some changes to the course logo and even its name.
The course will now be known as the Boiling Springs Golf Club to help provide a "better connotation of ownership" by local golfers who buy into the venue through club memberships, he said.
This investment by local participants will help to generate the revenue needed to help the course be successful, continue to improve and become an attraction for Woodward once again.
"If the local golfers and the community do completely buy in, then Boiling Springs will grow to where it's a great destination," Dunn said.