What's New at Lake Panorama National?

By Susan Thompson

It’s been a tough spring for the two golf operations owned by the Lake Panorama Association — the 18-hole Lake Panorama National and the 9-hole Panorama West. John Dinnebier, Lake Panorama National director of operations, oversees both courses. In this month’s Q&A, we catch up on what members and guests have to look forward to whenever weather conditions allow.   

Q: Spring is here, but that certainly hasn’t meant much spring golf! What are conditions like at both Lake Panorama National and Panorama West? 

A. Conditions are great at both golf courses. We have had very few rounds played so far in 2018, but we’re ready whenever the weather improves. We look forward to having our members and guests enjoy both LPN and Panorama West.

Q. When golfers do get back onto the courses, what will they find new at Lake Panorama National?

A. A couple of tee boxes have been renovated. Last fall, the railroad ties were removed from the middle tee box on #10, and dirt added. This spring, the wall behind the forward tee box on #13 was rebuilt. Dan Wollner, LPN course superintendent, and his crew have done an outstanding job completing these projects in house. Many of our tee boxes need work, and this is the beginning of an ongoing project. 

Also for 2018, a new set of tees has been added. This set of tees was developed with the help of the LPN Board of Managers and its Greens and Grounds committee. These yellow tees are between the forward red tees and the white tees, which gives players another set of tees from which to choose. Golfers should choose tee boxes based either on their driving distance or their handicap, and this addition to the LPN course will help make that easier.

Q. At Panorama West, we know the McLuen estate gift will have an impact throughout 2018 and beyond. Tell us what’s planned.  

A. The McLuen estate gift of $473,000, given to Friends of Lake Panorama and designated for Panorama West, was very generous. It makes it possible for us to continue to improve the Panorama West golf course, which already is a gem for both members and guests.

Bids were sought in January for a new irrigation system that will cover all fairways, tees and greens. The low bid came from Landscapes Unlimited, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we’re in the process of finalizing a contract with them. Work is expected to get underway in June, and be completed by the end of July. The course will remain open during construction, although players can expect one hole at a time will be closed for up to a week as irrigation is installed.

Bids for some additional concrete cart paths are being sought, and a decision will be made in the next couple of months on this part of the course improvements. Work on the cart paths may be possible this fall, or held until 2019.

New signs, yardage markers, ball washers and trash receptacles have been ordered and will be installed this summer. Landscaping around the clubhouse will get underway as soon as weather permits, and will incorporate a plaque honoring the McLuens. Funds for improving turf conditions of fairways and tees will be used over the next three years.

Both Maureen Lubeck, clubhouse manager, and Brandon Waddle, course superintendent, have done a fantastic job with course conditions and excellent customer service the past few years. We’re all looking forward to another great season at Panorama West.   

Q. You’ve also recently received a gift to be used at the LPN conference center. Tell us about that.

The family of Dr. David Wang donated $10,000 to Friends of Lake Panorama. David drowned in Lake Panorama August 17, 2002, at the age of 40. He and his wife Grace, and children Tony and Cassie, had lived in the area since 1997, when he opened the Panora Family Dentistry.

David loved to play golf at the LPN, and enjoyed spending time in the Links. Tony got in touch with me last fall about a possible gift in his father’s memory. After discussion, we settled on a facelift for the LPN dining room. Our great volunteers put a fresh coat of paint on the dining room walls and ceilings earlier this year. Now we’re making plans are for new chairs, light fixtures and artwork, all possible because of the Wang donation to Friends of Lake Panorama.  

Q. What else is new at the LPN conference center for 2018?

A. We have had some personnel changes. Justin Smool, who was first assistant pro in our golf shop the past two years, has taken an assistant pro position at Hyperion Field Club in Des Moines. We are thankful for Justin’s time with us and are extremely supportive of his move. This is a great opportunity for him.

Mike Kleinwolterink, who has been the Links manager the past two years, has decided to move back to the LPN pro shop. He’ll provide support to Gary Babcock, head golf professional, and oversee our pool operations. 

This means we’re looking for a new Link’s manager who has a passion and background in the restaurant and event business. It is important we find the right person. We dabbled some the past few months with special events like the Dueling Pianos and movie nights for kids, and have had great reviews. Our goal is to continue to be creative and add new events, especially in the “shoulder” months. Our next Link’s manager will be very involved with these types of events.     

For many years, the Links has been closed on Mondays. But this year we are making plans to have the restaurant and bar open seven days a week beginning in June, and running through the end of August. Drew Labath, our executive chef, has surrounded himself with quality people, and he and his staff are ready for a busy summer season. 

Q. When can we expect to be back in the LPN swimming pool and spa?

A. The pool has been a great addition to the LPN campus, and is scheduled to open May 15. Guests of our LPN Inn and Suites and Clover Ridge Timeshares can swim at no charge. LPA members can purchase a family membership for $150 and an individual membership for $110. Memberships also are available to the general public, with family memberships at $165 and individual memberships at $120. Those who don’t have an annual membership pay a $3 daily fee at the pool counter.

Assorted drinks, snacks and ice cream will again be available for purchase at the pool counter. In addition, a separate pool menu has been created to offer great food and beverages from the Links. Orders placed at the pool counter are transmitted directly to the LPN kitchen, and delivered to the pool. This was tried for the first time last season, and was well received by our pool guests. 

Q. Anything else you’d like to share?

A. We know it’s extremely important for us to offer superb customer service in all aspects of the LPN operation. To that end, we’re in the final stages of developing a customer feedback program. This will help us gather information on what our members and guests like and dislike about the service they receive at the LPN conference center, pro shop, and lodging, as well as Panorama West. The more information we receive, the better we can serve. I encourage customers to participate in this feedback program, and look forward to hearing what our members and guests have to say.