Golf course teed up for expansion bid

No dirt has been moved, no sod has been laid, but work on WSU’s new 18-hole golf course expansion project is under way. Now in the final stages of design, the $8.5 million project is slated to go to bid later this month, with a potential groundbreaking set for late spring when the weather is drier.

The most visible indication of the project’s progress is the $2.2 million construction of a new Vet medicine teaching barn at Carver Farm just south of the veterinary hospital, and an 8,000 sq. ft. research barn on the corner of Terre View and Airport Road. Relocating these activities will allow the vet school to vacate the existing teaching barn, located on the east side of the current golf course. The barn will then be renovated for use as the golf course maintenance facility.

The teaching barn will include paddocks, a support shed for hay and shavings, and a new breeding pen/multi-use building funded separately by the provost in the amount of $184,000. The current schedule calls for the new barns to be substantially complete by April 3. The animals will be moved shortly thereafter, so the golf course contractor can begin earth-moving operations by the first of May to convert the nine-hole course to an NCAA 18-hole course.

The land required for the expansion is owned by the university and was reassigned from both the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Sciences.

The golf course originally was built in the 1930s, with at least one major renovation in the 1970s. The expansion project is the result of more than 20 years of discussion between WSU and the community. Since the existing course is of neither tournament-size nor quality, both men’s and women’s golf teams often are required to travel to Clarkston for competitions and/or practice, which limits competition ability.

Located on and surrounding the current course, the expansion will:
• allow WSU teams to practice at home and host PAC-10 tournaments on home ground
• increase alumni, tourist and conference activities
• serve as an excellent tool in recruiting and retaining faculty, research scientists, students and staff
• enhance the community lifestyle.

A key factor in the course will be a new irrigation system that will include computerized moisture sensors and will replace the old, inefficient system. This will enhance WSU’s overall water-sustainability program — conserving water and limiting irrigation costs.

The course will include a double-ended practice facility — the west end for athletics/PE classes and the east end for public and recreation. There will be adjacent putting and chipping greens at both ends.

Actual construction of the course will span two years. Mass excavation, the practice facility, rough grading and partial finish grading, main irrigation lines, the irrigation pump house and some initial planting are expected to be completed during the first season, after which the project will be on hold over the winter months.

In the spring of 2007, the irrigation system will be completed, final finish grading will be done and the beginning of the “grow-in season” will commence. Other activities will include seeding and maintaining the field while the grass roots in.

The final piece of the golf course expansion project is the clubhouse, currently under a separate time line and budget. Temporary facilities are being considered initially with the objective of constructing a $4.1 million permanent facility as soon as possible after the course is completed.

A new undertaking for the university, the expanded course encompasses a broad mission that does not fall within any one department. For that reason, administration is working out the details of procuring the services of a management company to participate in the construction process and manage the course once it’s complete, a practice common with many university golf courses.

The golf course construction will not use any state funds or student fees. Similar to the construction of Bailey-Brayton Field and the Indoor Practice Facility, funding for the course will come through a combination of donor funds and nonrestricted local funds.

A proposed financing model was reviewed by the Board of Regents in January, with a refined proposal tentatively slated for its review in the near future.

Under the current proposal, the course could open in the spring of 2008.