Old things have become new at Deer Trail Golf Course of Shelbyville. Under new management, the private course formerly known as the Shelby County Club has undergone a major facelift and will open as a public golf course this Saturday, July 1.

Shelby County Community Services acquired the course under their for-profit extension, SCCS Ventures, Inc. DBA as Deer Trail Golf Course of Shelbyville. Director of SCCS, Dick Gloede, dubbed Dan Laws of the Lake Keyesport area as Director of Golf and Grounds Operations. Gloede said, “We are very fortunate to have Dan come to us with his expertise and help present to the community a quality 9-hole public golf course that has the potential to be not only enjoyable but also very affordable.” Since Laws’ arrival in April, he and his crew have been hard at work restoring the course to pristine conditions.

Before getting started, Laws did his homework listening to local golfers. “When I came here in April one of the first things I did was talk with about 100 local people. I think I understand what they want and feel they have confidence that I have the background and qualifications to turn the operation around.”

Laws comes with a long list of professional credentials encompassing 14 other properties in the past 16 years including work with American Golf of California and Marriott Golf. Laws was also involved in the operation of a family golf course in Carlyle. “We owned and operated Twin Oaks Golf Course for 38 years and I gained a lot of experience there as well.” Laws experience covers areas of Southwest Illinois, St. Louis, Lake of the Ozarks and the Kansas City metro area. “He’s the man,” said Gloede.

Getting water to the brown areas was one of Laws’ primary concerns. “Our first project was irrigation,” said Laws. “We developed a comprehensive irrigation and maintenance program to keep things green. Then we came in came and re-seeded the greens. We had a 10-40 percent turf loss with some areas being bare. The worst holes were Nos. 4 and 9. We found every variety of grass represented here except Bermuda.” The putting green has been re-sodded with creeping bent grass and is on hold until Labor Day.

Laws and his crew then began contouring and reshaping the fairways and purchased a new ‘rough’ mower to use in the deep ravines. With respect to the abundance of nature, they established ‘no-mow’ areas in wildlife spots. They have also made major improvements to the drainage system and re-sodded approximately one acre in the areas of holes Nos.7, 4 and 5. Then Laws and his crew went to work restoring the cart paths, adding 200 tons of road pack.

Laws also said his job could have been harder. “We came into a good course that had unfortunately fallen into a state of disrepair. The former management did a good job with the resources they had available to them. They kept it going and kept it from going under, but the golfers who played here knew there was a lot of work needed.”

Gloede and Laws have thought about an 18-hole course but for now, that is a on the back burner. “We have a lot of 18 hole courses in the area,” said Laws, “but our focus is to present a top-notch 9-hole course that people can play in the morning before lunch or after work and still make it on time for dinner.” Laws added, “The ideal time for nine holes is 2 to to 2 1/2 hours. Of course, time will vary with playing skill and the course will be slower during scrambles and tournaments, but on the average, a player should be done in 2.5 hours or less. We are shooting for 2 hours.”

Dick Gloede says his vision for Deer Trail involves more than golf. “This presents an excellent opportunity for recipients of Shelby County Community Services to become more involved in the community. It will help increase job opportunities for them and also serve as an extension of our SCCS greenhouse operations. We have people from all around the county who use SCCS services who can participate in this. This will augment SCCS and improve the quality of the lives it touches.” Around the course even now, are new flowerbeds and attractive landscaping to add to the beauty of the course.

“Deer Trail is aptly named,” commented Laws. “In the morning and afternoon, golfers will be treated to a virtual plethora of wildlife including deer, rabbits, squirrels and turtles. Wildlife is everywhere here.”

But Laws is quick to credit his staff for their work on resurrecting the course. “I am just one man. Without all the people involved in this, there is no way we could open the doors on July 1.” Dana Daugherty has been appointed as Assistant Golf Course Manager. Laws and Daugherty will run the downstairs clubhouse featuring a small pro shop and food and beverages. “Right now we are offering light grill items like cheeseburgers, fries, chicken breast sandwiches, and onion rings. We have plans for a full-service restaurant in the works for 2007, but our primary concern was the golf course,” said Laws. Also working in the clubhouse will be Jennifer Brison and Rachel Cole.

The downstairs area can accommodate approximately 75-100 people including the inside dining area and scenic patio overlooking Lake Shelbyville. Six picnic tables have also been installed for dining under the trees.

Laws had high praise for grounds crew members Denny Harris, Josh Hubner, and Corey Horn who have worked under his direction in revamping the course. “They do a terrific job and are key in the ongoing maintenance program designed to keep Deer Trail attractive and enjoyable.”

“This is a lifetime dream for me,” added Laws. “This is my first director’s position over all operations. I am challenged to take my collective experience and make this course the best I can make it.”

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