golfTec @ Bunker Hills Now Offering Two Rooms For Improvement

With so many different facets to playing the game of golf, there’s always something to practice. If you’ve played for long enough, you know that it’s a rare occasion to have all aspects of your game working well at the same time. One day the driver doesn’t seem to be working; another day the short game isn’t there. You probably also know how much work it takes to improve. Learning a new skill or technique on the range or around the practice green doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to use it when the time comes during a round. In fact, one problem I’ve heard many times over from golfers is that they find it very hard to take things from the range to the course. Jamie, a friend of mine who took up the game a while back, once said to me, “I can do what I’m supposed to every once in a while, but I can’t seem to do it when the time comes on the course.” That’s where professional help, like GolfTEC, comes in.

A few months ago I wrote about GolfTEC and its new facility at Bunker Hills, but here’s a quick refresher: in the name, T stands for Technique, E for Equipment and C for Conditioning. GolfTEC is an 18 year old, Denver-based company that has 180 training facilities in the U.S., Canada, Korea and Japan. With the creation of the facility in Coon Rapids, GolfTEC has expanded its model to incorporate its training center with a real grass, full shot range. Jim McNaney, City Manager for GolfTEC, says one of the main problems they address is the common complaint of golfers who say they can’t take what they’ve learned and put it into practice. “We want our students to be able to transfer what he or she learns in one of our practice bays or on the driving range to the course.”

The new GolfTEC facility is located on the left side of the driving range and to the right of the first tee on the West nine. To accommodate the building, several tees were moved, but you’ll hardly notice; the new tees look great. The holes on either side of the range now have a little sharper bend to them, but only regular players of the course will be able to tell anything’s different. As for the building itself, it’s made from the same type of materials as the clubhouse and the halfway house. It matches very well and doesn’t look out of place at all. McNaney says, “It looks better that I could ever have imagined.” Inside the building is a check-in area, a room to do club fitting and two hitting bays that allow students to hit out to the range. In the winter (or during bad weather), the bay doors will be closed and players will hit into a screen. The bays are wide enough to accommodate left handed or right handed golfers and each bay has four cameras/launch monitors to assess your swing. McNaney is excited for the opening and says, “The reception from players at Bunker Hills has been great.” He also said that he anticipated there would be problems with the construction as something always seems to come up, but was pleasantly surprised with the Bunker Hills project. “There were no issues,” says McNaney, “Everything went very smoothly. The staff at Bunker Hills and the people we’ve worked with have been great.”

Now that the building is in place (finishing touches were being completed when I visited at the end of June), what’s next? There will be a grand opening during the week of July 22nd with a ribbon cutting on July 24th. Lance West, Director of Instruction for GolfTEC at Bunker Hills, has been with the company since 2009 and is looking forward to getting things up and running. “To me, Bunker Hills is the state capitol of Minnesota Golf,” says West who will be one of four GolfTEC instructors at Bunker Hills. “The PGA offices are here, the State Open is regularly played here and the high school state tournament is here. GolfTEC tries to be the leader in instruction and we’re looking forward to opportunities to partner with the players who come to Bunker Hills.” McNaney agrees. Brenna Lervick, who finished 5th in the State Tournament, works with GolfTEC. So does the Eden Prairie boys’ golf team who just won the State Championship last month. McNaney says, “It’s exciting for us to be able to see that at Bunker Hills.” The rest of Minnesota golfers will be able to see what GolfTEC is all about during that grand opening week. West says they’ll have open houses, tours, and contests that week. Details haven’t been finalized, so West wasn’t able to answer what the prizes will be for those contests. You’ll just have to visit for yourself and find out.

More than anything, though, West feels it’s a cool opportunity for GolfTEC and Bunker Hills. “It’s great to see the expansion of a golf course’s facility,” he says. “There are so many improvements going on here.” What West is referring to is more than just the new building. Starting this August, some work will be done on the back of the range. Trees will be removed, new bunkers will be dug, and some practice greens will be created. He expects the short game practice area to be ready in the spring of 2014. “There’s nothing really like it in the area,” he says. “Edinburgh has about the closest thing.” GolfTEC will use that area for its students who will be able to work on all aspects of their games. Nothing has been finalized yet, but West also says they are looking into creating and running golf schools at Bunker Hills.

It’s been a rough year for golf courses with the late spring and all the rain in the last few weeks. Golf courses realize they have to provide value for their customers. Besides discounting their prices, which isn’t a good way to make money, courses have to have something to draw customers to their locations. Bunker Hills, with 27 holes plus another 9 hole short course, has always been a great place to go play, but with the addition of the GolfTEC building on the range and next year’s completion of the short game practice area, Bunker Hills will be a place to practice and take lessons as well. West says he’s excited to see GolfTEC’s future. If you live in the northern suburbs, and with all that’s happening at Bunker Hills, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to be excited about your golf game too.

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