(Photo by Kenny Kemp/Charleston Gazette-Mail)
The back nine at the Coonskin Park golf course in Charleston, W. Va. has been closed since mud and water from a flood in 2016 damaged its irrigation system. The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission is now anticipating funding from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority that would allow the front nine to be redesigned into “an upscale short course with iconic greens from golf-design history,” according to a county official, while redeveloping the remainder of the course for tennis and pickleball courts, a splash pad, putting green and picnic shelters.
A portion of a Charleston, W. Va. golf course that has had its back nine closed because of damage from a June 2016 flood might be redeveloped into space for picnic shelters, tennis and pickleball courts, and a splash pad, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking a $6 million to $7 million overhaul of the Coonskin Park golf course and clubhouse, the Gazette-Mail reported. Plans include redesigning the front nine holes of the course and redeveloping the back nine holes for other purposes.
The front nine holes of the golf course would be revamped into an “upscale short course with iconic greens from golf-design history,” Jeff Hutchinson, Director of Kanawha County Parks and Recreation, told the Gazette-Mail.
Mud and water from the historic June 2016 flood damaged the irrigation system for the golf course, leading to the closure of the back nine, Hutchinson explained to the Gazette-Mail.
The Parks Commission is waiting to hear from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority about whether the agency will help fund the project, the Gazette-Mail reported. If the project is funded, the Parks Commission would have to formally vote on the project as well, Hutchinson said.
“The board has pretty well agreed to it, in theory, but they’ll vote on it,” he said.
“This will be a par-3 [golf course] like no other par-3 anywhere,” Dave Pope, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, told the Gazette-Mail.
“Hopefully, [this is] going to expose golfers to different green complexes that have been prevalent since golf began,” Pope said. “These things are replicated throughout the world and, still to this day, when someone’s building a golf course, some of these green complexes would come into play.”
The new course would be a challenge for golfers, Pope added.
“Right now, this golf course is just flatter than a pancake,” he said. “There’s no challenge to a good golfer. So [after the improvements] better golfers are going to come out here [to the new course], which is going to increase traffic.”
The new course would have a more modern and casual feel than older golf courses, Hutchinson told the Gazette-Mail.
“There will be music playing on the golf course that people can hear,” he said. “They will be able to play in sandals or barefoot. It will be a relaxed atmosphere — not your typical stuffy golf atmosphere.
“The back nine will be reconfigured into picnic shelters, like the bigger shelters at Coonskin that are self-contained with restroom facilities, kitchens and things like that,” Hutchinson added. “The tennis courts will be rebuilt, and pickleball courts totally separate from the tennis courts will be added. There will also be a splash pad.”
The project would also add a putting green, Hutchinson said.
If a plan to extend the runway at Charleston’s Yeager Airport, which also serves Huntington, W.Va. and the rest of the southern part of the state, into Coonskin Park goes forward, the park would end where the tennis courts currently are for three to five years during the construction, Hutchinson told the Gazette-Mail. The construction would also close access to picnic shelters beyond the tennis courts, he said.
The project would put new picnic shelters in the portion of the park that would remain open regardless of the construction, he added.
The Coonskin Park clubhouse would get a “spruce up,” including new carpeting, paint and a sound system, Hutchinson said.
Pope said he sees the golf course redo as a way to “give back” to local golfers who have lost places to play, the Gazette-Mail reported. In recent years, the Sandy Brae Golf Course in Clendenin, W. Va., the Shawnee Park golf course in Institute, W. Va. have closed, in addition to the nine holes of the course at Coonskin.
The new golf course would “make this a first-class facility with a really different look,” Pope said.
Charleston station WOWK also aired a report about the proposed overhaul that can be viewed at https://www.wowktv.com/news/local/coonskin-park-golf-course-has-plans-for-renovations/