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Open house will note the upcoming golf season

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Five months after the Platte County Commission announced their decision to buy the ground on which the county-owned and operated golf course sits, county officials will hold an open house to celebrate the upcoming golf season.

Shiloh Springs Golf Club, which was opened one decade ago, is hosting the event to focus on changes that will take place at the course for the 2006 season, according to Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Nowotny.

During the open house, citizens will be able to give their input on new programs and course improvements they feel would be valuable at Shiloh Springs.

“We encourage not only golfers to come out but the general public as well,” said Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight. “We are working on some very important issues for Shiloh and hope to make some significant improvements in 2006.”

Nowotny stated that a strategic plan for the course is being developed to focus action on improving customer services, offering new golf programs and addressing priority deferred maintenance items.

Three specific projects have been identified as priorities under deferred maintenance.

First, Shiloh will address the drainage issues at the course that has plagued the site for years.

“We will spend some funds to address that, which will improve play at the course,” said Nowotny.

Nowotny also stated upgrades will be made to the irrigation system, which has become difficult to maintain and operate. Finally, the course will also see improvements made to the turf on the greens and tees.

Nowotny said that clubhouse manager Brian Silcott has tackled the pressing issues at Shiloh head on since being hired in September.

“Brian’s doing a great job. He’s addressing the key issues and the areas that we wanted him to,” said Nowotny.

“He’s currently revamping employee training policies, he’s taking a hard look at programs we’re going to be offering in 2006, and he’s already started offering individual and group lessons at the course. So far he’s off to a great start.”

In September, the commissioners announced their intent to buy the 122 acres of land at a price of $1.6 million from Gary Martin after months of deliberation. The purchase price combined with what is left on the original bond payment, the county is left owing a little more than $3.8 million on the golf course.

That decision to purchase the land from Martin has given Platte County complete ownership of the course, located east of Platte City near Hwy. 92 and Bethel Road.

Along with the commission’s decision to embrace the golf course that many had labeled a nuisance, an announcement was made that Shiloh Springs would also be placed under the parks and rec umbrella.

“It was a natural fit. Golf is a recreational activity,” said Nowotny.

“So far, (the transition) has been very smooth. We’ve really have not lost any ground. We’ve taken the down months, like November and December and have looked at how to improve the course in 2006.”

With one month already in the books for the now county-owned and operated course, Nowotny believes they are on the right path.

“January has been incredible. There’s really no other word for it,” he stated.

“We finished up the biggest January ever in the history of Shiloh. More golfers played this January than any other January on the books.”

Nowotny said he acknowledges that the weather played a major part in those numbers, but he also credits golfers giving Silcott a chance to see what improvements he made during his short time as manager.

“January shows we’re well on our way,” said Nowotny.

According to Nowotny, he still holds the same expectations for Shiloh as he did on the first day his department embraced the golf course under their umbrella.

He stated his expectations continue to be to improve services, programs, the course itself, and an increase in rounds by 10-15%.

“If we can offer a better experience, we think people will respond to that. If we can improve services and offer a better course, people will respond and there will be a better golfing experience for Platte County,” said Nowotny.
Along with making improvements to the course itself, management will also make improvements to the clubhouse.

Plans include replacing the carpet, a fresh coat of paint, a new overlay of pavement in the parking lot and replacement of the flooring in the kitchen.

“It’s going to be an amenity and an attraction. We want to make it a better attraction for our citizens,” stated Nowotny. “We want it managed well and we want it to be a good golfing experience for everyone to be able to come out and play.”


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