The 18-hole golf course in Simpsonville, Ky., has already seen $6 million in improvements since the university bought it in 2013, and future phases of development will include improvements to the Tom Musselman Golf Center, a training facility for players and coaches that includes offices, conference center space, and indoor facilities where players can train during cold months.
The University of Louisville has been aggressive about the improvement of its 18-hole golf course in Simpsonville, Ky., said Tom Jurich, vice president and director of athletics for U of L, which it bought it in December 2013, the Louisville Business First reported.
The purchase was made after U of L was accepted into the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Jurich said he knew the level of play inside the ACC would be exceptional, so the training and practice facilities for the men’s and women’s golf teams needed to stand out. They needed not only state-of-the-art facilities but a rigorous course that would provide a continual challenge for the school’s athletes, Business First reported.
“Going into men’s and women’s golf in the ACC is almost like going on the PGA tour and the LPGA tour,” Jurich said. “That’s the caliber of players they’re seeing.”
One of the best ways U of L’s golfers can scale the ladder in the ACC, he said, is by having a place they can call home. And Jurich has high standards for the club, saying his end goal is to put it on par with PGA-level courses, such as Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club, Business First reported.
“When we get finished with this, it will be second to none,” he said, hinting that more work is on the horizon.
The golf club sits on about 212 acres and has a $2.8 million annual operating budget. In addition to the course, it has a junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, event and restaurant space, a clubhouse and a 22-acre practice facility that is equipped with TaylorMade tour preferred balls, chipping greens, a putting green and a multi-tiered driving range, Business First reported.
Jurich describes the club and golf course as a “work in progress,” but the facility already has made about $6 million in new enhancements, the latest of which has just wrapped up, Business First reported.
The University of Louisvile Athletics and the University of Louisville Foundation together have invested $11.3 million into the facilities. That investment includes the $5.8 million worth of enhancements made by the athletics department and the $3.5 million paid by the University of Louisville Foundation to buy the property from an investors group made up of U of L boosters, including Tom and Chester Musselman. The boosters also donated $1.85 million worth of the golf course property to the foundation, Business First reported.
And the U of L athletics department has set aside $2 million to supplement the operating budget for nonrecurring capital expenses, Business First reported.
In 2014, the investors had taken over the complex from its original developer, Orlando, Fla.-based Arnold Palmer Golf Management LLC, years earlier but were unable to make it a profitable endeavor. The Cardinal Club opened in Simpsonville in 2001, offering a home course for the University of Louisville’s golf teams and an amenity for a residential community in Shelby County. Upon taking the helm in late 2013, U of L rebranded the Cardinal Club as the University of Louisville Golf Club and started renovating the facility, Business First reported.
The club and golf course itself are private, but it offers student, individual and business memberships. The business memberships include a $5,000 initiation fee with an annual $4,275 membership fee for unlimited golf access. Those who want to use only the pool can do so for an annual fee of $425. The club has nearly 400 members, counting pool members, and is marketed to families who want to golf together or to start their kids on the game early, Business First reported.
The improvements include upgrades to the clubhouse’s furniture and decor and a new outdoor patio and dining area with a grill, which already has been well-received, according to club officials. In one of the clubhouse dining rooms, a portion of the NCAA championship court that the 2013 University of Louisville men’s basketball team played on has been installed, Business First reported.
The clubhouse, which has multiple dining and lounge areas that can be rented by members, already had a covered outdoor patio, and that has been updated with a new staircase. Its on-site restaurant is open to the public. The club’s kitchen facilities and pool also have been updated, Business First reported.
Many of the improvements have been made to the course itself, as U of L has lengthened several of the course’s tees and replaced or enhanced its roughly 70 bunkers with a liner-less bunker drainage system, which eliminates washouts and contamination when rain hits a course. The club also has created new cart paths and realigned existing cart paths so they run along fairways instead of crossing them, Business First reported.
To be more environmentally friendly, the golf club has installed a new irrigation system that cleanses and recycles water from the Simpsonville water plant and added new water features on multiple holes that not only have improved the aesthetic appeal of the course but made it more visually challenging for golfers, said General Manager Jack Sauers.
U of L also has planted about 120 trees, purchased new grounds equipment, installed decorative fencing around the golf course and purchased new employee golf carts, including two “beverage carts” that have a large refrigerated cooler in the rear, Business First reported.
Jurich said that future phases of development for the club will include improvements to the Tom Musselman Golf Center, a training facility for players and coaches that includes offices, conference center space and indoor facilities where players can train during cold months, Business First reported.
Jurich said those facilities don’t need a complete renovation but rather tweaks to keep them modern. He said the scope, cost and timeline of the project are still being developed, Business First reported.
Jurich and head men’s golf coach Mark Crabtree also plan to establish the golf club as a learning center that could include a teaching institute open to members, though the details of what how the institute would operate are still being determined, Business First reported.
“We don’t know how permanent we want it to be,” Jurich said of the institute.
With the improvements, Crabtree, Sauers and Jurich said they believe they are establishing a facility that will allow the club to attract statewide and regional golf tournaments. The course has already attracted the men’s and women’s Kentucky Open and state amateur championship, Business First reported.
Jurich said the improvements will allow U of L to capitalize on the increase in foot traffic in Simpsonville these days, spurred by the opening of the nearby Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass. But the primary goal for the facility is to serve the men’s and women’s teams and to be a strong recruiting tool for new talent, Business First reported.
“If we can get them here (to the club), we can usually get them,” Crabtree said of recruits.