By Ken MacLeod
A major renovation of the existing golf course and the addition of a new resort hotel are among the improvements planned for Emerald Falls Golf Course in Broken Arrow. The course will close to the public on March 3 for an estimated 12 to 18 months.
Emerald Falls LLC, which owns the golf course and surrounding real estate development, has lined up financing to include the building of a resort hotel, renovation of the golf course and possible addition of a senior living facility. There will still be room for expansion of the current real estate development.
Developer David Oberle said negotiations with a world class golf architect are being finalized and specific plans for the course renovation will be announced soon, as well as more details on the resort hotel and other changes planned at the property. The course renovation will be the first step in the process.
Emerald Falls, designed by Jerry Slack, opened in 2007 on the site of a previous 36-hole course called Deer Run. Play has steadily climbed from 13,500 rounds in its first full year of operation to approximately 20,000 in 2013.
Several factors combined to limit its success as a course and real estate development. One, the U.S. housing market crashed about the same time the real-estate driven course opened due to the Great Recession. Also, the course has been plagued by cost overruns related to drainage and other ongoing maintenance issues, including frequent problems with certain ones of the bent grass greens, according to both Lucia Carballo representing the ownership group and superintendent Tim Schaffer.
Course members and regulars were stunned to learn this week that the financing for the long-discussed project was lined up and the course would be closing this quickly, according to head professional Jonathan Beaver.
"It’s been a good reaction as far as they are excited about what’s coming but a sad reaction that they won’t be playing it this year," Beaver said.
Carballo said golfers will be well rewarded when all the renovations are complete.
"It didn’t make monetary sense to continue as we were," Carballo said. "We’re going to make the place everything that it should be, bring it up to the level where it should be."
The course currently has five holes west of 305th E. Avenue and 13 holes east. Additional holes may move to the west side. Several holes on the east side will almost certainly be changed or eliminated, according to the ownership and developer, while trying to give the remainder more definition and wow factor.
"It will be a name architect and he’ll take the course to what would be a five-star resort course," Oberle said. "We’ll make some drastic improvements."