Heavy rains over the last few days haven’t exactly made for great golfing weather, but greener pastures are just ahead as progress continues on the new Georgia Southern University Golf Course at University Park.
With the projected public opening date of Oct. 1, rapidly approaching, fairways and greens are beginning to pop up at the course site just south of town. When completed, the course will give GSU’s Campus Recreation and Intramurals department another sport to offer to students.
“We’re very excited about the progress we’ve made,” Director of Golf Marten Olsson said. “Getting this course going has been a long process. I kind of got here in the middle of things when I arrived in February, but Patrick Reinhardt, our superintendent, has been heading this up from the beginning and has been doing a great job.”
After months of landscaping and irrigation work, the course at University Park is starting to take its final shape. Sod has been laid on many holes, leaving only a few months of waiting for the grass to settle in before the course is ready for play.
Years of sitting dormant allowed nature to take its toll on the grounds that formerly housed Southern Links Golf Course. As a result, Olsson said that the work being done isn’t so much a renovation as it is a complete redesign with new holes and a par-72 course.
For the redesign, award-winning course architect Robert Walker was selected. Walker has designed courses throughout the country, including the home track for Florida State University and Georgia courses in Albany and Elberton.
“For those who have played the old course, this will be a completely new experience,” Olsson said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the ponds, we’ve removed some trees to alter the lines that holes will take, and we should have some nice rolling fairways throughout the course.”
Olsson also comes to Statesboro with plenty of accolades. Olsson began his career in golf at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon and helped to open Southern Hills golf course in Hawkinsville in 1997. Southern Hills won Golf Digest awards for service and golfing value. Olsson has also served as a general manager for Canongate Golf — an organization of 26 premier courses stretching from Macon to the Atlanta metro area.
“I’ve worked at country clubs and at courses that are public or semi-private,” Olsson said. “It’s going to be our goal to provide a great quality golf course and experience to the community at an affordable price.” While Georgia Southern will own and operate the course, Olsson stated that - in addition to two PGA professionals on staff - the rest of the workforce will be filled by GSU students. University Park aims to provide the entire community with a great option for golf.
In addition to the golf course, a full practice facility is also being constructed. University Park will also provide other recreational activities and support facilities for GSU.
“This should be a great course for people of all ages and skill levels,” Olsson said. “Golf really is a lifetime sport that you can enjoy for a long time. There will be opportunities for people who are curious to ease into the game and learn. We’re also aiming to make this an enjoyable — but challenging — course for more advanced golfers.”
Specific details of the course will become clearer as construction continues, but Olsson stated that five different sets of tees will make for different distances and challenges scaled to golfers’ skill levels.
For day-to-day updates, the Twitter account @GSGolfCourse provides pictures and construction specifics.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.