"We've never been so excited to see dirt moved in our entire lives," said Gillette Golf Club board member Steve Crow on Wednesday afternoon.
The 9-hole course is set to become a (hopefully, lucky) 13-hole course, with construction beginning on an expansion of the local golf club that will include a new driving range, short game practice area, and 4 additional holes. The long-term plan is to have a full back nine, but the remaining five fairways will have to be added later down the line, as it will require going under Garner Lake Road and over Donkey Creek.
As it is, the first phase of the new expansion has been decades in the making. The new driving range will border the neighboring Energy Capital Sports Complex , and the grounds will become accessible both from the Golf Club and the softball fields.
"We're on our way to a first-class facility," Crow said during today's groundbreaking.
On-hand to help turn some dirt was Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King, and Council members Billy Montgomery and Shay Lundval. The Golf Club Board thanked many community members and local contractors, including Melgaard Construction, DRM, and Earth Work Solutions, who are helping with the expansion. The project has been in the works since around the time the original Golf Club was first constructed, in the early 70s.
"It's very exciting to see something finally happening," said Board President Keith Chrans. "I've been working on this for 15 years. It felt like every time we took a step forward, there were two steps back."
With the help of the City of Gillette, the club was able to sidestep their landlocked situation, acquiring space immediately adjacent to the current golf course, and also north of Garner Lake Road. Chrans said the reason the volunteer board has worked tirelessly to add to the current club is because the community will benefit from it.
"Do we need 18 holes of golf? For four months out of the year, we do," he said.
Head Golf Professional Josh Schlomer has added a kid's program to the club, which Chrans says has been instrumental in creating a place fit for the entire family, and giving Gillette kids more recreational opportunities.
The new back nine will be less of the "park like" atmosphere of the front nine, and instead will have a "prairie feel" to it. The style of play, however, will remain the same throughout the course when it's complete.