Work Set to Start on Weeks Park Renovations

By: Mark Leslie

Landscapes Unlimited of Lincoln, Neb., will collaborate with golf course architect Jeff Brauer on a $3.67-million renovation of Weeks Park Golf Course in Wichita Falls, Texas.

When construction begins March 20, Brauer and Landscapes Unlimited will try to duplicate the success they had on 14 other projects, including the Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Canterberrry Golf Club in Parker, Colo., both of which were rated among Golf Digest's Best New Courses of the Year when they opened in 1991 and 1997, respectively.

Landscapes Unlimited this month received the Builder Excellence Award for Best Reconstruction project from Golf Course News for its work at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla.

Wichita Falls' officials also expect Brauer to repeat the success he had in the total reconstruction of the municipal Creek Course at Indian Creek in Carrollton, Texas. The renovations of Creek Course were so well done that it was named among the top Best New Courses in 2004 by Golf Digest.

Ty Arndt, regional project manager for Landscapes Unlimited, was construction supervisor for the Canterberry and Ridgeview Ranch projects, and is looking forward to working with Brauer again. Since Arndt is in charge of a crew building a new softball field complex for nearby Midwestern State University, he won't have far to go for this job, expecting only to add to his crew and equipment.

"Jeff [Brauer] has done conceptual layouts of all 18 holes and they are very nice," said Assistant City Manager Matt Benoit, a golfer and in charge of the project for the city. He has been everything we were told he would be - creative and diligent. He's been the full package."

Benoit also had high praise for Landscapes Unlimited. "Under state law, we have to accept the lowest bidder. But Landscapes Unlimited has a track record of being one of the best in the nation and we're lucky to have them as well," he said. "I wish we could fast-forward the process to see the results."

"We always limit our bid list to certified Golf Course Builders Association of America builders," said Brauer. "Landscapes Unlimited has built over a dozen of our projects, all with great success, and it will be fun to work with them again."

Arndt expects the five-month construction to finish on August 15, with turfgrass grow-in in time to allow the course reopen in November. "It's a fairly quick schedule - no walk in the park - but we'll get it done," he said.

The entire course will be closed until then. But Benoit foresees an exceptional product. "I think Weeks Park will be unlike what customers for 30 or 50 years are accustomed to in North Texas."

"We intend to make this course the best in the area," Brauer said, calling the project a "blow-up." He has rerouted the front nine to provide a driving range and short-game practice area and rerouted three holes on the back nine for better yardage and par distribution. A brand-new irrigation system is a major part of the project. Also, another $700,000 has been allocated to remodel the clubhouse and improve the cart barn and maintenance complex.

Brauer-designed golf courses have won a number of national accolades. The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn., and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay in Tower, Minn., were both named by Golf Digest as the Best New Upscale Public Course for 2004 and 2005, respectively. Meanwhile, Colbert Hills Golf Club is rated Kansas's No. 1 Daily Fee Facility and among the Top 10 university courses in the country. A former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and frequent contributor to Cybergolf, Brauer can be contacted at 2225 E. Randol Mill Rd. #210, Arlington, TX 76011; telephone 817-640-7275.