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Clubhouse, expansion top Elbe's priority list at EPGC

Commentary

by Randy Hammericksen

His golf shops at San Leandro Golf Complex in California were ranked among the top 100 in the U.S. for 10 consecutive years.

He was named Northern California Golf Association Merchandiser of the Year in 1987 and Club Fitter of the Year for the organization in 1994.

Steve Elbe, 46, the new Director of Golf at Eagle Point Golf Course, knows his trade when it comes to working with and satisfying people, especially golfers, in the industry. Now, he's primed to bring his expertise to Rogue Valley golfers at Eagle Point Golf Course.

Sounds good. So far.

Less than two weeks into his new job, Elbe is already excited about what he sees at Eagle Point. The condition of this golf course is absolutely superb, says Elbe. Knowing it was designed and constructed by Robert Trent Jones, I expected that to be true. But this goes beyond even that.

The course is in nearperfect shape and the greens are incredible, says Elbe.

They are quick and smooth, and a real treat for good putters. But they may not be ideal for nervous putters.

What excites Elbe most about being at Eagle Point is that he has a chance to be in on the ground floor of the crowning final touches to the completion of perhaps the superior golf course between Eugene and Sacramento.

No. — on that list is helping to oversee the completion of the long-awaited clubhouse at Eagle Point.

That facility is expected to open by next May, depending on weather and building conditions, according to Chris Galpin, whose company (Eagle Point Development) will build it during the next seven to eight months.

To have the kind of facility we're going to have here is very unique for this valley, says Galpin. Some people don't realize how much more will be added to make this the first-class golf facility Mr. Jones insists on when he builds a course.

For Jones, every strand of grass needs to be in place and as perfect as possible. The new clubhouse, which will have approximately 6,700 square feet on its top level and 6,700 more on the bottom level, will feature a large, full-service pro shop for Elbe and Eagle Point head golf professional Brian Sackett to do their merchandising; men's and women's locker rooms; a restaurant to serve golfers lunch and dinner; and club and electric cart storage on the bottom level.

The clubhouse will be located just adjacent to the temporary tent that has served as a makeshift clubhouse and banquet and eating area for golfers. That tent, which certainly does nothing to complement the quality of this course and facility, will be gone by May. Thank goodness.

That's the best news of all for EP golfers.

Value of the clubhouse when completed will be between $1.2 million and $1.4 million, Galpin says. Galpin's company is currently clearing the land, where the clubhouse will stand, and very close to starting to build a foundation.

I can't ever predict what the weather will do, says Galpin. If we get a break, it will go up pretty fast.

Galpin, who owns 700 lots near the course, most of which have not been approved and completed for construction, is a hero of sorts among Rogue Valley golfers. He has worked in a cooperative venture, in some situations, with Jones to make the construction of the course and facilities easier.

You can do that when you own the land, as Galpin does.

I like working with Mr. Jones because his first priority is to the golfers, says Galpin. Nothing that I do can be a problem for golfers, or it won't happen. I think local golfers should appreciate what he does.

When this is all finished, golfers here will have a facility that probably doesn't belong in the Rogue Valley, says Galpin. It is a California kind of resort course. But we'd like this to be a resort destination for golfers. That was Mr. Jones' initial thought.

Galpin says talks with hotel chains are ongoing, and the possibility of bringing in a chain hotel, with chalets and cottages also available, could come within two years.

The future is pretty exciting, and I don't even consider myself much of a golfer, says Galpin. We've had some delays and frustrations, but it's all worth it now.

Jones, who is in South Africa building golf courses, according to Galpin, was not available for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Elbe, who replaces former Eagle Point Golf Course General Manager David Day with the new title of Director of Golf, says he wants to make the course an enjoyable, relaxing experience on the bestconditioned course within 400 miles.

Our goal is to attract more tourists, and also create a situation to get more local golfers here, says Elbe. I'm doing an evaluation of what that will take.

Elbe says he's considering expanding the Eagle Card program, which gives card members major reductions from the going rates.

Elbe hopes the new clubhouse will make the Eagle Point experience a better value for local golfers, who have struggled with high-end greens fees during the first two years the club has been in existence.

You can relax. Elbe says greens fees won't shoot up after the clubhouse does. At least, not for a while.

(Randy Hammericksen is the Mail Tribune's sports columnist. He can be reached at 776-4499.)