Eagle Valley West gets improvements

It's been four months since bulldozers and dump trucks roamed Eagle Valley West, digging up dirt hauling it away as part of an ongoing renovation.

But now, the West Course has the fresher and more appealing look Eagle Valley General Manger Mike McGehee was searching for when the repairs started last November. Although McGehee said that a new irrigation system is still needed, he's pleased with the repairs, which were completed in March.

"We put all the fairway and green-side bunkers back to their original architectural design," said McGehee, who mentioned that some bunker work was also done to the East Course. "It was for aesthetics more than anything."

McGehee hired Smith Brothers Construction, which is based out of Palm Desert, Calif., to work on the course. It may sound like nothing more than a bunch of dirt to some, but McGehee was to quick to point out that it's more involved than that.

He had the company re-shape the bunkers and change their depths to their original size. Five more fairway bunkers were added to the West Course. But according to Mark Sattler, who is the chairman on the board of directors, replacing the sand was an important aspect.

"We had to bring in 4,000 tons of sand to fill the bunkers. The wind just blew the previous sand away," said Sattler, who was referring to silica sand, which has a finer grain than plaster.

Besides sand trap work, several areas were reseeded where the grass had been damaged due to alkali deposits, which halts growth. The project cost $113,000 and came out of McGehee's reserve fund, which was higher than normal because of a successful 1999 season.

On both courses, some areas are still so damaged to the extent that McGehee will have to construct more bunkers, which is cheaper than fixing the area. In the meantime, tee boxes have been moved to avoid these areas.

"We just don't have the money to excavate the ground and plant new soil," McGehee said. But green fees will not increase to offset repair costs, according to McGehee.

"We will maintain affordable golf," McGehee said. "That's our vision statement and that's our commitment to the community."

Both McGehee and Sattler state that Eagle Valley must stay competitive with other area courses. But Sattler admits that it's tough when they don't have the funds like other courses do.

"When the city came in they were working with over a $2 million budget. Now we're working with $1.2 million," Sattler said. "But we're very proud of the job Mike and his staff have done with the smaller budget."

They both agree that the new irrigation system is the final step to revamping the West Course.

"We feel that we have the premier golf course in northern Nevada if we could just bring it to that next level," McGehee said.

Last year, the West Course nearly shut down after a malfunction in the irrigation system. Compounding the problems even more was that the water pumping station on the ninth hole went out for three days in mid-August.

"If you would've dropped a cigarette out there you would've started a major brush fire," McGehee said.

They both have been working with the city to come up with some creative funding ideas to install the new irrigation system. However, Sattler, who understands the city's concerns, thinks a deal is close to being finalized.

"If you have a property that the city still owes $2.5 million on, and you're looking at 1.5 to $2 million to bring it back to where it should be, is that a wise business decision?" Sattler asked. "It's a real crapshoot."

But the looming irrigation system issue doesn't in any way take away from the course's current condition and playability since the recent repairs.

"If you ask any of the local golfers, they'll tell you that both courses are in the best shape they've been in for years," Sattler said.

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