Panorama West Upgrades Moving Forward
By Susan Thompson
At its November 28 meeting, the Lake Panorama Association board of directors received a task force report on using the $473,000 James and Joyce McLuen estate gift to improve the Panorama West golf course. Jan Reinicke, president of the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors, presented the report.
Reinicke started by outlining the process taken to gather input. A meeting was held September 11 for those who wanted to offer suggestions in person. Representatives of each of the three Panorama West golf leagues made presentations, sharing ideas gathered from league meetings where members discussed options. More than 40 people submitted ideas by leaving cards or survey forms in a suggestion box.
On September 27, three Iowa State University turfgrass specialists toured the golf course, reviewed the list of suggestions made, and provided feedback. Later that day, a task force made up of three representatives each from the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors and the Lake Panorama National board of managers held its first meeting. A second meeting was held November 14.
Task force members representing the LPN were Dave Greiner, Mary Hills and Julie Wykoff. Members representing Friends were Dave Furbush, Kim Lubeck and Emily Spradling. Also participating in the process were Brandon Waddle, course superintendent; Maureen Lubeck, pro shop manager; John Dinnebier, LPN director of operations; and Susan Thompson, Friends executive director.
Reinicke told the LPA board recommendations by the task force were prioritized based on membership input. She reviewed the task force report, which LPA board members had received in advance.
The top six task force recommendations included plans for new irrigation, additional concrete cart paths, new signage and tee box amenities, landscaping around the clubhouse, improving turf condition on tee boxes and fairways, and replacing sand bunkers with grass bunkers.
Reinicke closed her presentation by saying these planned improvements at Panorama West will result in a better golf course, and should lead to more memberships, more green fees and more outings to help increase revenues for the operation.
After discussion, the LPA board voted to defer a decision on bunkers, and approved all other recommendations. Friends of Lake Panorama now is moving forward to plan and finance the five priority items approved by the LPA board.
Irrigation was suggested by the membership more than any other project. It also is the most expensive project considered by the task force. The current system, which is used to water only tees and greens, is 45 years old. A new pump, irrigation lines, heads and control system are needed.
An irrigation system plan now is being developed and bids will be sought after the plan is approved. It’s anticipated the planning and bidding process will be completed by mid-February, and construction will take place in 2018.
Cart paths are the second priority, and the second most expensive project. Paths to par-4 tee boxes currently are rock or dirt. Existing concrete paths are adjacent to the par-3 tee boxes on holes #1 and #4. The task force report stated additional concrete paths would improve the appearance and condition of the course, plus reduce maintenance costs. Once the irrigation cost is established, the task force and LPN staff will decide where cart paths will be added.
New signage and tee box amenities were next on the task force’s priority list. Current wooden signs on the par-3 tee boxes list only back tee yardages, not forward tee yardages. There are no signs on the par-4 tee boxes. Signs are needed in six locations to help players find desired tee boxes. In-ground yardage markers are lacking in some locations. Existing trash cans and ball washers are old and mismatched.
The task force report stated new signs and tee box amenities would have an immediate impact on the beautification of Panorama West. Following the LPA board’s approval, new signs, yardage markers, ball washers and trash receptacles were ordered. Installation of these items will be in 2018, and based on the timing of other projects.
The clubhouse needs to be an attractive and welcoming venue, with low maintenance landscaping. Current plantings were installed 20 years ago. Landscaping around the complete perimeter of the clubhouse now is scheduled for spring.
Junipers and other undesirable plants will be removed, and some existing shrubs trimmed. Then up to 40 new shrubs and 80 perennials will be added to the landscaping beds. To recognize the generous estate gift from the McLuens, a plaque will be incorporated into the landscaped bed near the clubhouse entrance.
The fifth priority project is to use McLuen funds over the next three years to improve turf conditions of fairways and tees. Currently greens are aerified annually, and the greens turf is in excellent condition. The turf on tees and fairways is of poor quality, with a significant amount of clover and crabgrass.
Fairways and tees will be aerified, seeded and fertilized in fall 2018. Money will be set aside for additional seed, fertilizer and weed control on fairways and tees in 2019 and 2020. This will be on top of the existing Panorama West annual operating budget. This project will result in turf conditions on fairways and tees that are more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant.
The task force recommendation included two other items. There are 60 ash trees on the course. Ten of those are being treated annually in an effort to save them, but it’s expected at least 50 will die in the coming years. In addition, other trees on the course are overgrown or in poor condition. Areas where new trees are desired have been identified.
If funds from the McLuen gift remain after the five high priority projects are complete, some trees could be purchased. This is an area where individuals and golf leagues also could donate either cash or trees through Friends of Lake Panorama to help beautify the golf course.
Finally, the Panorama West Golf Course has never been rated to determine distance and slope. This information is needed before rounds played on the course can be used to establish and maintain an official handicap through the GHIN (Golf Handicap and Information Network) program.
Once major course improvements are complete, a team from the Iowa Golf Association (IGA) can rate the course. There is no cost for this IGA service, since Panorama West operates under LPN management. This information would be incorporated when new scorecards are printed.
Since the LPA board asked the issue of sand traps be revisited, Friends of Lake Panorama has handed off this topic to the LPN. The LPN board of managers and staff reviews facility needs annually as part of its capital budget request to LPA.