Installation of what will be the showcase feature of the new-look Libertyville Golf Course has been delayed but a grand opening is proceeding in the interim.
Under better circumstances, the greens and tees at the 9-hole, Par 3 course on the west side of the Des Plaines River already would have been overhauled with a synthetic turf in support of a concept proposed by BCS Golf Group LLC.
"It's still a little wet to get the equipment out there," to install the artificial surface, said Blair Subry, president and CEO of the company that is in the first year of a 10-year lease with the village.
Libertyville has operated the course as a municipal facility since 1979, but it has averaged an annual deficit of about $83,500 the past several years. Part of the reason is because the course is in a flood plain and often is in unplayable condition.
That has been the case in recent weeks, although the turf was not damaged, according to Subry, whose golf industry career includes stints as a club and teaching pro. He operates Studio 59, which specializes in short game instruction at The Grove County Club in Long Grove.
"If you were going to have it flood, March and April was the best time because the temperatures stayed down," he said. Standing water in hot weather can lead to problems, he added.
BCS intends to use the Libertyville Golf Course as a learning center, with a short game academy and indoor putting studio focusing on kids and juniors programs. Part of the transformation involves the installation of synthetic turf, which once in place can simply be vacuumed dry.
"The days of AstroTurf are over. This is synthetic turf. It's not cheap," Subry said. "When people hit off it, they're not going to believe it."
Once the work gets under way, it should take about two to three weeks to make the conversion. In the interim, a May 18 grand opening event with special activities, including a $1 million hole-in-one contest, is planned.
Daily fee golf will continue to be offered at the same price as last year -- $10 for residents and $13 for nonresidents -- but there will be an emphasis on practice and training. At times, for example, golfers will be able to play five holes twice, with the other four reserved for short game play.
"We want a place where the kids can feel at home and get good instruction. Our motto will be, `Short games win championships,'" Subry said.
Terms of the lease call for BCS to pay the village $20,000 in annual rent for the first 10 years and $25,000 each year during an optional second 10-year term. The company also is responsible for maintenance of the grounds and ponds and must pay the village 10 percent of any gross earnings above $850,000.