By Ken MacLeod
Renovation efforts are in full swing at Cushing Country Club, one of the state’s history-laden courses with nine holes designed by Perry Maxwell and nine added by PGA professional and former Oklahoma State golf coach LaBron Harris.
The club was recently purchased by David Hough, also owner of Hough Oilfield Service in Cushing.
“I wasn’t going broke fast enough in the oil business so I decided to double down,” Hough joked.
Hough hired Calumet Golf Group, a new golf management and services firm led by Peter Vitali, president of the PGA South Central Section, to oversee and coordinate restoration of both the course and crumbling clubhouse.
The club will be renamed Buffalo Rock Golf & Gun and rebranded as it converts from a private facility to one open to the public but still offering memberships. Hough hopes to capitalize on the large number of oil and gas industry workers who are often staying in the nation’s oil transport center but not there long enough to put down permanent roots.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who would love to play golf or have a place to go to get a great steak, but they are not going to join a country club,” Hough said. “This will be a great place for them, as well as families and regional golfers. We want it to be welcoming for everyone.”
Plans are to add an archery range and at some point skeet shooting.
Both the golf course and club house had fallen into disrepair and ill-conceived and temporary fixes limited by strapped budgets were not working. Vitali said seven greens are being regressed with Dominant bent grass and significant repairs and additions are underway for the aging irrigation system. Cracked cart paths are being fixed and chemical and fertilizer applications being made to address weed issues and turfgrass health.
“The course has great bones,” Vitali said. “It’s got a lot of doglegs with majestic trees, a lot of topographical change and vistas where you can look out for miles. There’s only one fairway where homes are visible. It’s got some of the characteristics of an Oakwood (CC in Enid) or a Dornick Hills (CC in Ardmore, both designed by Maxwell). But it is in very bad shape.”
The 13,000-square foot clubhouse is undergoing a massive renovation that will add vaulted ceilings, a new roof and all new kitchen fixtures. Hough hopes the restaurant becomes a focal point for the community.
Hough moved to the area in 1988 and remembers when golfers from Tulsa would routinely make the drive to play one of the state’s nicest small-town courses.
“If you’ve been out there lately, you won’t recognize the place when you come back after Memorial Day,” Hough said. “We started tearing it up the day we signed the papers to buy it.”
The original nine holes was designed by Maxwell in 1920 with an additional nine holes added by Harris in 1975. Those nines were switched at one point and they will be switched back so the Maxwell nine will again become the front nine.
The course and clubhouse are currently closed but hope to reopen by Memorial Day.
Cushing is the first big project for Calumet. Vitali, former director of golf and general manager at Gaillardia CC, said his firm has also signed to do some work with Perry Country Club and will be looking to add another client or two for 2015.
“We’re here to help out owners who need assistance with the right moves to be made to maintain their product and make the daily decisions regarding operations, marketing, human resources, growing the game, player development and growing rounds,” Vitali said. “We want to make it easy on the owners. Boards are inefficient. Our motto is if the owner is happy, we’re happy.”
For more information, go to calumetgolfgroup.com.