By Chris Jones
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Towering trees, lush fairways and scenic “Lowland River” landscaping offer an oasis for golfers and their families at The Trails Golf Club in Norman.
The 18-hole championship golf course designed by award-winning architect Leon Howard recently completed a major rebuilding of the front 9 greens, and club members tell PGA manager Jim Hess, they are pleased with the results.
“The new greens are terrific,” Hess said, “They are true contours.”
Golf course contractor Mike Chambers did the work, and he mobilized his workforce and completed the project in record time. He did the heavy work with smaller and lighter equipment. Workers were careful not to disrupt the turfgrass surrounding each green.
Hess, and his wife Kathy, and their partners Charlie and Darlene Bowline, bought the Trails Golf Club in 2003, and immediately set out to hire a superintendent to revive the course.
“I hired Chris Randolph from Oak Tree National,” Hess said. “In 60 days I knew I had hired a winner. He was excited to have the challenge, and he is still here.”
The new owners remodeled the 8,500 square foot clubhouse, and the men’s and women’s locker rooms. The clubhouse features a casual dining area with full-service restaurant and bar.
The scenic course measures 6,650 yards from the championship tees, but also offers alternative tee locations to test the skills of golfers of all abilities. Water hazards come into play on 12 of the 18 holes.
Extensive practice facilities, including a fully-equipped driving range with complimentary range balls, chipping area and large practice putting green are available to golfers.
The primary surface of the course is Bermuda combined with Bent Grass greens. Concrete cart paths run throughout the course.
“We are in the process of rebuilding membership now that the new greens are completed,” Hess said.
There are a variety of memberships ranging from family to seniors, and non-golfers.
The Trails was built in 1979 as the cornerstone of a real estate development, which included The Trails Golf Club, Rivermont Retirement Center and River Chase Homes.
Despite the more than 30-year presence just a stone’s throw off Highway 9 at Berry Road, Hess said it isn’t uncommon for people to tell him they had no idea the golf course was there.
The Trails has hosted three Oklahoma Men’s and two Women’s State Amateur Championships, the Oklahoma Senior Men’’ Championship and a number of collegiate events hosted by The University of Oklahoma.
Head professional and PGA member, Alan Hager and LPGA teaching professional and former LPGA tour Stephanie Brecht provide instruction for beginners as well as low-handicap players.
Hess, an OU graduate, studied architecture and planned a career in that field, but he couldn’t stay away from golf. The OU golf coach at the time Hess went to school was Jim Awtrey, the original Trails manager.
Long Hot Summer
The availability of water is constantly on the minds of golf course operators, Hess said. The summer of 2011 delivered record-breaking heat and drought to Oklahoma, and tested the skills of the best greens keepers.
“We had to manage our resources very carefully last summer,” Hess said.
The new greens were seeded with Tyee/007 blend, a current variety of heat tolerant bentgrass. The work to rebuild the front nine greens began in August, 2011 with the removal of old material, and the seeding took place in mid-September. From that point, Hess said Mother Nature took over, and delivered much needed rain.
The Trails has 14 wells, along with a large reservoir lake known as Potts Lake. The soil is sandy, and huge Cottonwood trees provide beauty and shade.
The course is close to the Canadian River, home to many critters such as wild turkeys and deer.
Last year we saw eagles,” Hess said.
And many golfers say the clubhouse is one of the best places in Norman to watch a sunset.
For information on membership or other questions, call 364-3790, or go online www.trailsgolf.com