Third Nine in Idaho Being Built on a Budget

With government budgets tight across the country, it is difficult to get a new course built in these lean economic times. But Phelps-Atkinson Golf Design is finding a way to still build a much-needed new nine holes in Rexburg, Idaho.

Teton Lakes Golf Course is co-owned by the city of Rexburg and Madison County, which operate another nine-hole layout near the airport. "But everything around here is so overplayed, it is almost impossible to get a tee time," said Jim Martin, a project manager with Edstrom Construction, which has teamed with Phelps-Atkinson to build a third nine at Teton Lakes overseen by course architect Kevin Atkinson.

The local governments brought Atkinson in to develop a master plan to include a new nine holes on 60 acres of unused land within the existing course. Martin estimated a new nine would typically cost $2 million to $2.5 million. The city and county estimated it could come up with about $850,000. Not the least bit flustered, Atkinson set about making it happen.

After developing conceptual plans, Atkinson and Carl Thuesen (the team's irrigation consultant) soon located a 1,200-head, automated irrigation system with a dozen controllers that a Billings, Mont., club was replacing with a new system. Teton Lakes purchased the perfectly good used system for cents on the dollar.

With construction documents and irrigation system in hand, the club put the project out to bid. Estimates came back a tad higher than the $850,000 limit the club had set. But that didn't stop Atkinson, who began value-engineering the project toward the lower figure. By reducing some projected earthwork, reducing anticipated sod quantities, and locating onsite sources of sand, Atkinson eventually found a contractor willing to give the project a go at $800,000. Edstrom Construction, a Rexburg firm with a commitment to the area, stepped forward. Martin, an Edstrom project manager who had built courses elsewhere, was placed at the helm.

"Money was a huge issue," Martin said. "Without the teamwork between Phelps-Atkinson, the local governments and Edstrom, we could not even have considered this."

Construction of the new nine started in late October and Martin projects what should be "a really fun nine," could be ready by 2009.

As for Atkinson, he is still prowling for additional savings. Among the potential measures being discussed are the use of volunteers from the local college and possibly even prison labor, which Phelps-Atkinson employed in building Devil's Thumb in Delta, Colo., an 18-hole layout ranked among the top new courses in the country when it opened in 2002. Builders may also use county-owned seeding equipment to further reduce costs. A retired local builder, who still owns some heavy construction equipment, has expressed interest in donating his time and equipment in exchange for a club membership.

"This is a great example of how to build golf holes on a tight budget," Atkinson concluded. "It is the right thing for golf and particularly for a golf-starved area. The course will provide a top quality new nine without having to hit residents with a stiff increase in greens fees."

Headquartered in Evergreen, Colo., with additional offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., Phelps-Atkinson Golf Design is one of the leading course architecture firms in the country. The firmís designs have received numerous honors, including multiple Golf Digest "Best New" award winners, many courses that appear on "places to play" lists and at least one "top ten" course in each of the following states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska and Texas. For more information, contact Phelps-Atkinson Golf Design, P.O. Box 3295, Evergreen, CO 80437-3295; telephone 303/670-0478; facsimile 303-670-3518; Email