‘Epicenter’ for golf instruction goal at Coon Rapids golf course

Tim Anderson’s goal is to make the city of Coon Rapids’ Bunker Hills Golf Course an “epicenter” for golf instruction.

The goal of Tim Anderson, Bunker Hills Golf Course pro/manager, is to make the course an "epicenter" for golf instruction.  Photo: Bunker Hills Golf Course Facebook page.

The goal of Tim Anderson, Bunker Hills Golf Course pro/manager, is to make the course an “epicenter” for golf instruction. Photo: Bunker Hills Golf Course Facebook page.

Anderson, Bunker Hills’ golf pro/manager, recommended to the Coon Rapids City Council Oct. 2 that a lease agreement be negotiated with golfTEC for the operation of a golf instruction learning center at the course as part of planning for proposed course upgrades that had previously given the green light by the council.

The council unanimously voted to accept the request for proposal (RFP) from golfTEC for the golf course learning center operation; the lease agreement once completed will come back to the council for approval.

Bunker Hills will be partnering with golfTEC to assess whether or not enough added revenue would be generated by leasing out the facility for golf instruction to cover the cost of construction, according to Anderson.

In addition, staff felt it was important to identify a tenant to help ensure that the new learning center is designed and built in a way that is consistent with its needs, Anderson wrote in his report to the council.

Having golfTEC on board will provide a “high quality, world class golf instructional facility,” he told the council.

And it will also enhance Bunker Hills’ efforts to become a 12-month operation, which received a boost when the new golf simulators were installed last year, Anderson said.

golfTEC has 165 instructional centers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan.

But Bunker Hills would be the only golfTEC location in Minnesota – it has four other sites – that would be located on a golf course, Anderson said.

That would mean that golfTEC would drive traffic from its other centers in the state to Bunker Hills for outings, he said.

In its RFP, golfTEC said it would create a wide range of instructional programming to address needs of a diverse Bunker Hills customer base.

According to its RFP, golfTEC would promote, advertise and market its learning center at Bunker Hills.

The financial pro forma that golfTEC presented to the city in its RFP was “vague” and it has been asked to provide more details as part of the lease agreement negotiations process, said City Manager Steve Gatlin.

The relationship the golf course is proposing with golfTEC is like the one the city had with the operators of the Harvest Grill restaurant in the construction of the new Bunker Hills Golf Course Clubhouse facility, according to Gatlin.

The golf instruction center is one of two projects for which the council earlier approved the hiring of Herfort Nordby Golf Course Architects, LLC, which will design develop plans for the expansion/renovation of the driving range/practice green at Bunker Hills as well as create the learning center.

The cost of the contract with Herfort Nordby, which includes preparation of preliminary and final plans and cost estimates, is $5,750 and will be taken from the golf fund balance.

Those plans have been on hold until the golf course learning center operator was in place and could be part of the process, according to Anderson.

While the council has not committed to the construction of the project at this time, merely for the hiring of an architect, Anderson said that a learning center without a tenant would not be in the best interest of the course.

If the project does not proceed to construction, then the lease agreement with golfTEC will be null and void.

The current driving range teeing ground and practice green were designed and built for an 18-hole course, but the course has now expanded to 27 championship holes plus a nine-hole executive course, Anderson wrote in his report to the council.

“The high level of activity on these practice areas created by a very busy 36-hole complex presents a substandard product that does not meet with the high standard expected for the facility,” he wrote.

Expansion and renovation of the general practice area will provide for more teeing ground and additional practice opportunities, Anderson said.

“The city of Coon Rapids will benefit from additional driving range revenues as well as a practice facility that matches the quality of the golf course and clubhouse,” he wrote.

While there are space limitations on expansion of the driving range/practice green because of the location of golf course holes and the parking lot, the plan would likely be to move some current blacktop areas to free up more green space, according to Anderson.

In Anderson’s view, the learning center “could place Bunker Hills Golf Club at the top of the list for quality instruction in the state of Minnesota,” he said.

As well, the city would benefit from expanded revenue with the instructional activities, Anderson said.

The learning center, which would include a building, would be located at the north end of the driving range in a wooded area that is part of the golf course property that is leased by the city from Anoka County, which operates Bunker Hills Regional Park, according to Anderson.

Construction would include some partial excavation for a short-game learning area, while the building would be large enough to accommodate two separate lessons at one time, Anderson wrote in his report.

Preliminary estimates to renovate and expand the driving range and practice green are between $204,000 and $262,000, while the learning center construction would cost between $165,000 and $225,000, he wrote.

Under Anderson’s proposal, both projects would be financed by internal city loans, which would be paid back from additional revenues generated by the new facilities.

As part of the learning center RFP, respondents were asked to provide base rent as well as paying the city a percentage of instructional sales, according to Anderson.

“In addition to this, Bunker Hills should benefit with added green fees, events and retail sales because of the traffic and marketing that the golf instruction with generate,” Anderson wrote in his report.

Anderson hopes the golf course improvements can be built in 2013, he said.

The Herfort Nordby plans and cost estimates are expected to be completed in six to eight weeks, Anderson said.

Bunker Hills Golf Course opened with 18 championship holes in 1968 with the executive nine added in 1974 and nine more championships in 1989.

David Gill was the architect for the original 18 holes and the executive nine, while Joel Goldstrand designed the additional nine championship holes.

Par for all three championship nine holes is 36, while par is 32 on the executive nine.

The course are 75 bunkers and seven water hazards, which come into play on 10 holes.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com


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