Birdie season starts in April at Gobbler Hollow

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Contruction workers at Gobbler Hollow Golf Course spent most of the week laying asphalt cart paths down the fairways as crews work feverishly to put the finishing touches on the course. Management says that despite delays and dry weather over the summer, the course should be open for limited play by April.

Photo by Derek Brown

Golfers anxiously awaiting the opening of Gobbler Hollow Golf Course on The Preserve in Greenville will have to wait until April before limited play begins.

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With tight fairways and small greens, however, the course is designed to be "player friendly," and stands to be worth the wait.

Gordon Wratchford is the course superintendent at Gobbler Hollow and has overseen the entire construction of the latest recreational addition to Greenville and Butler County. While the course was originally expected to open in October 1999, Wratchford said unforeseen delays caused the construction crews to modify the schedule.

"Our biggest problem was with the dry weather over the summer," he said. "Not having any type of significant rainfall prevented the sprigs from taking off. You can grow a golf course in using an irrigation system, but you still need Mother Nature's help."

Wratchford said that much of the course is in great shape and is progressing well, but that when play does begin in April it will only be for a limited number of rounds per day.

"The last thing we want is to tear it up during the first season," he said. "So we will give it a little more time to mature before we go into full operation."

Wratchford said a driving range facility is almost complete and will be open for business within two to three weeks. The range, located adjacent to T.G.'s Restaurant on Highway 263 has natural turf tee boxes and a well groomed fairway. Wratchford said that target banners with measurements will be put in right away and lights, target greens and situation bunkers will be added later.

"We're just waiting for all the equipment to arrive before we can open for business," he said.

Wratchford said when complete, Gobbler Hollow will be almost exclusively a rye grass course, which retains its green color year-round, and will present some very interesting challenges for golfers of all skill levels. He said the management of Gobbler Hollow will begin working with area schools to help promote high school and junior golf throughout the area.

Wratchford said marketing for the course has already begun, and will focus on attracting local golfers, corporate tournaments and tourist packages.

A round of golf at Gobbler Hollow is expected to cost between $25 and $30, including a cart. Wratchford said memberships have not been fully discussed, but that he did not expect memberships to be available right away.

"We want this course to remain accessible to everyone," he said. "We are not trying to build another country club."