New clubhouse approved for Tanglewood Park Golf

Published 12:10 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

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Legendary course hosted 1974 PGA Championship and Champions Senior Tour Vantage Championship from 1987 to 2002

CLEMMONS — After a significant renovation of the Tanglewood Park Championship Course several years ago, the next step in an upgrade for the historic layout came just before Christmas when the Forsyth County commissioners approved nearly $15 million to construct a new clubhouse.

The course was the host site of the 1974 PGA Championship and the Champions Senior Tour Vantage Championship from 1987 to 2002.

Major renovations were made to the layout in 2018 after it was closed much of that year. That included putting in new greens, removing and reconstructing bunkers and taking out many trees.

Next up is replacing an aging clubhouse, which will be torn down and replaced by Samet Corp. on the same site with a modern facility that will serve not only the golfers but other purposes as well.

Mike Wilcox, the longtime director of golf at Tanglewood, said that it will be a welcome addition.

“It’s going to be nice to have an appealing and attractive building to host events and for all kinds of outings, including wedding receptions and business meetings,” he said. “It will be a good thing for Tanglewood and the community. And the renovations to the Championship Course with all the improvements have been huge. It has better positioned us to allow golfers to have more fun out there on the course.”

County officials also hope these improvements will attract more tournaments and events down the road. Of course, that brings up those memories of the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four majors that came here 50 years ago, and then the Vantage Championship, which had a long run at Tanglewood.

Damon Sanders-Pratt, deputy county manager, said of the improvements: “We think this is something that will give us a better opportunity to have that type of event. However, the biggest impediment to those types of events coming is sponsorship dollars that have to be generated to provide for them to even come. However, with the sponsorship dollars without adequate facilities we felt like we were at a disadvantage and the board in their wisdom decided to mediate that disadvantage by having a new facility.

“And it’s not just that level tournament but with other tournaments and group outing play that we miss out on in Forsyth County because organizations choose a more up-to-date facility. Although we get a fair amount of tournaments and group outing play, we feel like those events that bypassed us due to the facility by having a new clubhouse will remedy that.”

Sanders-Pratt said that a temporary clubhouse will be set up in late February across from Shelter 4, and the current clubhouse will be then be fenced off for demolition to begin with construction on the new clubhouse projected to take about 18 months — depending on weather and other factors. So that would mean a completion of the new clubhouse in the later part of 2025.

“That’s the goal,” Sanders-Pratt said.

Increasing costs of building a new clubhouse, which had been in the works for years, almost caused the project to be scrapped before a $4 million windfall from the N.C. General Assembly became available in 2023.

“That project from the staff perspective, frankly a year ago we got a price quote about $11 million and at that point we said let’s go ahead and bid it, finish out design and bring it back to the board,” said Dudley Watts, county manager, in the Dec. 22 meeting. “Like a lot of construction, it came back in with a larger number and at the staff level we had pretty much walked away from it and said that project is dead.

“At the same time, it was listed as a project in the legislative priorities with the General Assembly, and so we bring it to you today, but we were so fortunate to get a $4 million appropriation. It was close in the budget, but I wanted to make it crystal clear that we would not have brought that project back were it not for that. The runup in it, we had to kind of shake our heads and kind of rethink that, but it is in front of you today frankly because we were successful…”

At that point, commissioner Dave Plyler interjected, “It needs to be done. I move for approval.”

Gloria Whisenhunt followed with a second and “Thank you General Assembly.”

Commissioner Dan Besse followed by making a substitute motion to moving the golf cart storage away from the clubhouse to save money instead of underneath that was part of the original proposal, but it was rejected with Whisenhunt saying the staff is already short-staffed now and “will add to their burden.”

The substitute vote failed 3-4 with Besse and commissioners Tonya McDaniel and Malishai Woodbury in favor of the substitute option, and Plyler, Whisenhunt, Richard Linville and Don Martin rejecting it. Ultimately, all seven commissioners voted in favor of the original proposal.

Sanders-Pratt said that “the course has been recognized fairly regularly in national golf magazines as a top level public golf course and now the commissioner have commissioned a clubhouse facility that will may not match that level of stature nationally but be closer to what one might expect with the golf course that we have.

“It has an amazing history with the PGA coming here, and with the local community and in Forsyth County our visitors love that place and constantly give it high marks after visits to Tanglewood.”