Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hillandale Golf Course Closes for Renovations

Golfers in Durham are fortunate to have great options to get out for a round.  The weather typically permits play all year long. While some of Durham's best known courses are private, seven are public.

Hillandale Golf Course is the oldest course in Durham and is built on land donated by John Sprunt Hill in 1911 - one of Durham's captains of industry and a notable philanthropist. Now, over 100 years later, the course is under new ownership by the City and management by Karl and Donna Kimball.

And it's getting renovated.  Big time.

The 18 hole course and putting green are being redone with new and improved putting surfaces, and updated features like new and improved signage on the course. There will be new carts for rent, too.  The pro shop has already undergone a makeover and is still open for those needing clubs, accessories and more, and it now has a golf library for those interested in learning more about technique or history.

According to Karl Kimball, clinics are still running through the summer, the driving range is still open for those needing to work on their swing, and now there's an improved dining option for those looking for a place to grab a bite while looking out over a little slice of natural beauty that is just  minutes from Downtown Durham.

The total cost of the work is right at $500,000.  It's a big gamble for the Kimball's and their company, Amerazil Golf.  They have a five year contract with the City to manage the course.

Kimball, a retired PGA Tour golfer with a long list of professional accomplishments said, "We had to make these changes.  The course needed them, and if we want to be competitive we have to understand that our golfers deserved so much more from the course.  From start to finish, this is going to be a transformation of the Hillandale experience."

The Kimball's are people people.  "A visit to a golf course is no different than anything else.  Customers deserve to have an experience that recognizes that they are valued and appreciated.  They will get that at Hillandale now, like they have never gotten it before," added Donna Kimball who is handling much of the administration at the course.

Despite all these expenses and enhancements, the maximum cost of a round with a cart will likely not exceed $42.  "We think we're making the course worth what people have been asked to pay all along.  A round of golf is entertainment, it shouldn't be limited to those with deep pockets," Karl added.

The Kimball's bring much more to Hillandale than traditional golf.  Recognizing that people in this world have different skills and abilities, they strive to bring the game to everyone through Adaptive golf which is a program that bridges the gaps between the existing ability of the player and the game in its traditional form.  Additionally, the course has the H.E.A.R.T.S. Club which is a partnership with the Duke Children's Hospital Pediatric and Bone Marrow Transplant unit.  According to Karl, the program exists to help families, children and parents alike, have an easier path through the struggles of fighting a monumental battle.  The program name is derived from: Hillandale Embracing A Really Tough Situation.  "We can't imagine not doing something like this," Donna added.

To help people, avid golfers and those in Durham who will be interested in what is happening to a landmark in their place, stay in touch with the renovation process, the Kimball's have taken to social media.  Using both Facebook and Twitter, fans will be able to get updates from the renovation mascot, Sprig.  "In essence, we've got a massive lawn that we're regrowing.  Grass grows in sprigs - it made sense to us," Karl said of the personification of the course.  Sprig will update social media accounts often and will mark milestones, show fans behind the scenes of the work being done, and share and build excitement about the end product of the work currently underway.

Hillandale is currently open at the pro shop, driving range and for clinics.  Learn more about golf in Durham here.


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