St. Clair Country Club has completed a $1.6 million renovation as the first golf tournament of the season tees off Saturday.
Golfers will notice new landscaping at the century-old, 18-hole west Belleville course that includes new greens, fairways, sand traps and sprinkler system. Although the course opens for the season Saturday, a few golfers, including Belleville native and 1968 Masters Tournament Champion Bob Goalby got to play the revamped course Friday afternoon.
Course manager Thad Payne said the renovations and new landscaping have enhanced the atmosphere around the course.
"I think they'll notice most is the greens have changed as they were resurfaced and redesigned," Payne said. "It's just breathing new life in an existing course."
Course golf professional Tom Sipula said 007 bent grass was planted throughout the course and a new two-row watering system now lines either side of the fairways rather than the former one, which was located down the middle of the playing area. He also said sand traps were relocated, some were created and others eliminated from the course, and more than half of the cart paths have been replaced.
"It really looks much more open and much cleaner in general," Sipula said. "I don't think there is any question that they made a huge improvement to the overall look of the golf course. It's much more friendly for players."
"I think the members will be very happy."
The country club was established in 1909 and the golf course has been in operation since 1911.
The season officially begins with men's tournament at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.