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Makeover begins for Hobbit's Glen course

The Hobbit's Glen Golf Club in Columbia is in the midst of a major makeover. Most of the greens are big holes after being excavated in preparation for rebuilding them and repairing the damaged turf.

In the spring, when the golf club is scheduled to reopen, Columbia Association officials are hoping the course will again be plush.

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"This has been needed to be done forever," said Bill Neus, director of golf course maintenance for the Columbia Association. "To put new grass out here and to rebuild the greens is going to be terrific for our golfers."

The course closed Aug. 18 for the construction. The driving range, the Coho Grill and the pro shop remain open.

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After the course struggled with declining funds and damaged greens, which association officials attributed to poor original construction and turf disease at the 36-year-old course, the Columbia Association board approved $679,000 to rebuild 16 greens and replace the grass on four.

The project is expected to cost at least $65,000 less than was originally thought, said Rob Goldman, the association's vice president for sport and fitness.

The greens are being dug out 20 inches. Drainage will be installed, then the holes will be filled with sand and peat, and the greens will be seeded. The new greens will be built to U.S. Golf Association specifications.

Next month, the course is scheduled to allow golfers to play on temporary greens while the renovated greens begin to grow, Goldman said.

Weather permitting, the course is scheduled to fully reopen in May.

"It depends on how Mother Nature treats us in both the fall growing season and the spring growing season," said Dave Leonard, chairman of the Hobbit's Glen/Fairway Hills Golf Committee.

Also included in the project is a $265,000 renovation of the clubhouse. Goldman originally presented to the board a $375,000 project that included renovating the clubhouse's loft and improvements to the entryway. The board said the added projects weren't necessary.

After the board's decision, association President Maggie J. Brown sent a letter to board members asking them to reconsider updating the clubhouse entrance for $40,000.

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"CA has always enhanced its buildings' exteriors when renovations have been necessary, without regard to which members or residents are served by that facility," Brown wrote. "We have been and should continue to be the leader in the community with respect to the exterior appearance of our buildings as our community ages."

While the Hobbit's Glen golf course is closed, some golfers are playing at the Fairway Hills Golf Club, also managed by the Columbia Association.

The association has estimated that 7,500 extra rounds of golf will be played at Fairway Hills during the nine months that Hobbit's is closed. The golf course is opening 30 minutes earlier to accommodate the added players.

Though the association has not received the usage numbers at Fairway since Hobbit's closed, Goldman said it's clear that more players are using the course.

"It's competitive to get tee times on the weekday mornings, but people are working through it," Goldman said. "And we haven't had any problems at the course."


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