What happens when a course spends $2.4 million on course rerouting, (including tree removal, eliminating 39 bunkers, expanding greens), upgrades the clubhouse and lowers green fees? Hopefully, more tee times.
That's what a golf course outside of Chicago is optimistic about, having renovated and innovated in an effort to make golf more fun and less time-consuming.
Arlington Lakes Golf Club can now be played in 3-hole and 6-hole loops, in addition to a full 18 (the third and sixth holes loop back to the clubhouse). The program is called "Discover Your Drive" and is aimed at juniors, beginners and high handicappers, according to The Chicago Tribune. Tee boxes range from 5,432 yards at its longest to 2,905 yards, and some holes display a digital clock to encourage fast pace of play.
The best part? It will only cost you $14 to play six holes (cart not included), $9 if you are a junior or senior.
"As the golf industry faces more challenges for revenue, this could be a way to get more people to the golf course," Arlington Lakes Golf Club spokespeople said at a USGA-sponsored symposium back in January. "We've really seen nothing (nationally) to this extent. We're curious to see how it affects play, revenue and customer satisfaction."
Chicago Tribune reporter Teddy Greenstein had this to say about his experience playing the new-and-hopefully-improved Arlington Lakes:
"The first hole is just 333 yards from the tips, but a lake threatens slices off the tee. And the approach is uphill and protected by two bunkers. None of us hit it in regulation. The par-5 second hole (501 yards) has water on both sides. Neither offers an easy par. The greens are in spectacular shape, and the 37 bunkers were puddle-free the morning after getting 2 1/2 inches of rain. Superintendent Al Bevers said it would have taken his five-person crew two days to clear out the 106 bunkers before the renovation. Now it takes less than four hours. Lower maintenance costs lead to lower green fees. And shorter, easier courses lead to faster rounds, lower scores and happier customers."
While it's too soon to gauge whether or not Arlington Lakes' project paid off, (the course officially reopened June 23) golfers and governing bodies alike will surely keep an eye on this effort to improve upon and expand their beloved game.