The Country Club of Winter Haven

The Country Club of Winter Haven

More than Just a Golf Course

BY MARIALICE QUINN

Born from a love of tradition and golf, The Country Club of Winter Haven has come to life beginning with a course redesign by world-class golf course architect Rees Jones and Bill Bergin, an Atlanta-based course architect.

When the economic downturn threatened to close the former Lake Region Country Club, a group of members turned it into an opportunity to rebuild, renew and improve the traditions of a private, member-owned club with all the amenities you would expect, including a championship golf course. The funding group reached out to Billy Casper Golf, the second largest management company in the world, to head the project. The purchase closed on June 15, and work started on the course June 16.

CC of WH Bill Bergin and Rees Jones l-r

“If we’re going to be competitive,” said new General Manager Randy Houseman, “we have to have a better product, better service, a better golf course and new amenity buildings. The first step is to get the golf course rebuilt. Next we will build a 25,000 square-foot clubhouse, and the third phase is to relocate and rebuild the Tennis, Fitness and Aquatics Center.”

Houseman has over 20 years of experience in the golf business with an extensive background in high-end private and resort golf facilities. He has helped build, open and manage five golf facilities from the ground up.

“We’re looking forward to presenting an all new club experience to our members and their guests,” said Houseman, “with a stunning new golf course and new clubhouse, away from homes and distractions. This is not a typical Florida golf course built inside a residential community. You don’t have to play golf where people are watching you from their backyard. You’re out in nature. Out here you’re going to see nature, not neighborhoods.”

Over the years, when revenues dropped, Lake Region opened up its club to the public; and now the new owners want their private club back. “Our members remember when they didn’t have to worry about fighting for a tee time,” said Houseman. “They want to buy into that private experience again. They want to enjoy the benefits their hard work has earned them. As a private club, we set the bar higher. The golf course is maintained at a higher level. You get exceptional service from the staff.” 

A new chef, tennis pro and golf pro are all helping to bring these new plans together. “Our chef has already elevated the food service,” said Houseman,” and we’ve begun training existing and new staff to provide a higher level of service. The tennis pro and golf pro are both working on new programs to include the members’ families in ongoing lessons and events.”

The complete renovation of the golf course has left no leaf unturned. Every piece of grass is new. Every bunker is new or has been renovated. And every green has been rebuilt to USGA standards using Champion Bermuda grass, one of the smoothest and fastest green surfaces available today. Many of the holes have been moved, reshaped, expanded or changed in some fashion. “One of the things we wanted to do was utilize the lakefront,” said Houseman, “so there’s more opportunity to play golf along the lake and experience that view.”

CC of Winter Haven5

The project will include the addition of a longer dock with covered docking spaces to better utilize the mile-long shore on Lake Hamilton. A boat launch and boat house with fishing supplies, canoes and kayaks will encourage members to enjoy the fishing. Two formal lawn areas will be installed between the clubhouse and lake – a perfect venue for enjoying lawn sports or outdoor weddings.

On December 1, the Club opened to members only, giving them the opportunity to enjoy their new golf course. On December 13-14, The Club will begin allowing members to bring guests by hosting an inaugural memberguest. The ceremonial Grand Opening hosted by golf course architects Rees Jones and Bill Bergin will be held on January 11.

 

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