Bunker Hills golf course adds learning center

State-of-the-art technology is now available at the city of Coon Rapids’ Bunker Hills Golf Course for golfers wishing to take lessons.

Larry Noble (left), a 15-year member of Bunker Hills Men’s Club, is given some golf tips by Lance West (right), one of three PGA golf professionals staffing the GolfTEC Learning Center at Bunker Hills Golf Course. “I love it,” Noble said of the learning center. “The video equipment is high tech and it really looks like it will make a difference to my game.”

Larry Noble (left), a 15-year member of Bunker Hills Men’s Club, is given some golf tips by Lance West (right), one of three PGA golf professionals staffing the GolfTEC Learning Center at Bunker Hills Golf Course. “I love it,” Noble said of the learning center. “The video equipment is high tech and it really looks like it will make a difference to my game.”

A grand opening ceremony took place July 24 at GolfTEC’s year-round indoor/outdoor learning center, located adjacent to the driving range at the course.

The learning center is the result of a partnership between the city and GolfTEC Minnesota through a lease agreement that runs through Sept. 30, 2018, with an option for another five years.

The new 1,340 square-foot golf instruction learning center, featuring state-of-the-art teaching technology, has two instruction bays that open out onto the Bunker Hills driving range plus a welcome area.

It is staffed by three PGA golf professionals: Lance West, Tim Brovold and Gary Gillian.

GolfTEC has some 180 instructional centers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan.

But the Bunker Hills facility is only the second to be located at a golf course, according to Michael Clinton, co-founder and chief operating officer of GolfTEC, which is headquartered in Centennial, Colo., a suburb of Denver.

The other golf course learning center is in Las Vegas, Nev., Clinton said.

“This is a world-class golf teaching facility,” he said.

Tim Anderson, Bunker Hills golf director, is excited by the learning center and the partnership with GolfTEC.

“This is something you will find nowhere else in Minnesota,” he said.

It will increase the visibility of Bunker Hills as a golf course and as a center for golf instruction because instructors and those taking lessons at GolfTEC’s four other locations in the Twin Cities, all storefronts, will have the opportunity to take advantage of the Bunker Hills facility, according to Anderson.

Other courses only have one or two staff members available to give golf lessons, Anderson said.

Everything GolfTEC has in golf teaching technology is very new, he said.

Moreover, the facility will operate year-round, not just during the traditional golf season months, Anderson said.

“This a high-quality, world-class golf instructional facility,” he said.

According to Clinton, GolfTEC was founded in 1995 and now has 600 golf professionals on its staff, both PGA and LPGA members.

In the Twin Cities alone in the past 12 months, GolfTEC has given 20,000 golf lessons, Clinton said.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Bunker Hills on this project, which will be a flagship location for us,” he said.

“This is an outstanding place to give golf lessons, not only with the driving range, but with the practice putting green and the short-game area.”

Anderson and his staff at Bunker Hills have been “really outstanding” to work with and make the project a reality, Clinton said.

Coon Rapids City Councilmember Bruce Sanders handled ribbon cutting duties with Anderson and Clinton in the absence of Mayor Tim Howe, who was at work.

“Bunker Hills is the gem of the golf world in the Twin Cities, and we are so excited to have GolfTEC here,” Sanders said.

He hopes this new addition to the golf course will draw more people to Bunker Hills from the Twin Cities area, he said.

Anderson and his staff have done a “terrific job” in bringing the learning center to Bunker Hills, Sanders said.

The party July 24 was followed by two days of grand opening activities July 25 and 26, including a skills contest, complimentary lessons and short-game challenge.

The learning center is part of two sets of improvements approved by the Coon Rapids City Council earlier this year.

The learning center cost $282,260.44, while the second project, which includes expansion of the driving range, relocation of the practice green and creating a short-game practice area, has a price tag of $519,119.50 and will be under construction this fall.

To provide space for the learning center, four tee boxes on the championship course have been relocated: 1N, 1E, 1W and 4W. That work was completed by June 1.

Phase 2 construction is scheduled to start in September to minimize the impact on golfers, Anderson said.

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

The expanded driving range will accommodate more people and have a concrete tee line 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep, which will allow the turf to continue to grow.

The new short-game area will be in the northwest corner of the driving range for practicing bunker shots, chips and wedges to three target greens in the driving range, while the new practice green will be located south and east of the existing practice green by using open space south of the cart path and north of the snack shop.

This cost of this work was folded into a larger general obligation bond issue the council sold back in January to be paid back from golf course revenues.

But the learning center project, because it involves a private entity, GolfTEC, has been financed through an internal loan from the special assessment fund.

Revenues generated by the lease agreement the city signed with GolfTEC will pay off the loan.

Under the lease agreement, GolfTEC is paying an initial rent of $500 a month, which will increase incrementally to $1,500 a month during the initial term of the lease, while the city will receive 5 percent of the revenue from all golf lessons given by GolfTEC at Bunker Hills as well as revenue from golf club sales.

In addition, GolfTEC is contributing to the cost of the utilities serving the learning center and paying a portion of the property tax (up to $4,800 a year).

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

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