By Ken MacLeod
Local politicians, city officials, representative of various chambers of commerce and other dignitaries were on hand Thursday as The Canyons at Blackjack Ridge celebrated its grand reopening.
The event was really a confirmation for those involved in the huge restoration of the course and renovation of the clubhouse that the more than $2 million investment was money well spent.
That’s an easy answer for Director of Golf Brian Talley, who has watched his numbers jump tremendously to averaging between 150 and 200 players per day, resulting in a tremendous increase in apparel sales, food and beverage sales and cart revenue in addition to the greens fee increase.
The course may have missed out on some pandemic driven play while closed last summer to install the new Champion Bermuda greens, renovate bunkers with Premier white sand, select tree removal and tee and fairway improvements, but the course is booming now.
“It’s been amazing,” Talley said of the play since the course reopened last fall. “The numbers just keep going up. We’re getting play from Tulsa, Bartlesville, Skiatook, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, just all over. And the word of mouth has been great. A lot of people coming in saying their buddies played it last week and told them we had to come see it.”
The greens were redesigned by Conor Cummings of Heckenkemper Golf and rebuilt by course builders Wadsworth Golf, with superintendent Nick Neal and his crew doing yeoman work as well.
The new clubhouse features a banquet room ideal for gatherings like the one today. It also has a great patio for when the temperatures warm up slightly.
There is a Trackman simulator that individuals or groups can rent to play various courses. The pro shop itself is not huge, but sports hats, shirts and other apparel with the logo of a goat on a hill, a nod to the past when the course was pegged with the unflattering Goat Hills moniker. The goat logo and items just branded The Goat, have proven wildly popular.
Talley said the green complex improvements along with the Trackman and patio have made The Canyons appealing to a younger, lower handicap set of golfers at a place that once drew the vast majority of its play from seniors.
“The perception out here is definitely changing,” Talley said.
The improvements were part of a larger package of bonds issued for improvements to a variety of places and issues in Sand Springs City Manager Mike Carter, a former chief of police, said the city is working hard to improve its reputation and the golf course is a focal point.
“This really brings people in from outside and shows them out commitment to making changes and improvements to the quality of life here,” Carter said. “What’s happened here is very emblematic of that.”