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Bettendorf making major investment in Palmer Hills Golf Course
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Bettendorf making major investment in Palmer Hills Golf Course

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Big changes are in store for the Palmer Hills Golf Course as the city of Bettendorf will infuse about $2 million into its municipal course over the next few years.

Last year, the National Golf Foundation consultant Richard Singer recommended the Bettendorf City Council invest in a 6-hole short course, a new 60,000-plus square-foot putting course and other improvements to continue to draw customers in what he called the "golf nut capital of the world."

On Monday, golf pro Jon Waddell and superintendent Brian Hickey presented a plan to the Bettendorf City Council to implement those recommendations over four phases through 2021 and create a "one-of-a-kind facility."

With golf surveys showing that factors like time and cost have become a barrier to drawing more customers, Parks Director Steve Grimes said it would open Palmer Hills up to a larger segment of the community.

"What this does is provide a whole different amenity that we don't have at Palmer Hills," Grimes said. "It opens up the door to a lot of people."

Phase I of the improvements would include improvements to the driving range, safety netting and new tee boxes to help make the course more playable.

The new putting course, named The Bluffs at Palmer Hills, would be constructed under phase II the following year.

Hickey said the overall size would be slightly larger than a football field.

Phase III, which is scheduled for 2020, includes the addition of 44 parking spots, split rail fencing and the construction of a new 1,500 square-foot service building to store range equipment and a place for staff to collect fees for the amenities.

The final phase in 2021 would be the construction of the new short course, or the Links at Palmer Hills.

Hickey said holes would range from 75 to as many as 130 yards, depending on skill level.

"This is a real golf course and has a real golf course feel, not a watered down version," Hickey said.

Funding for the project is expected to come from the issuance of general obligation bonds.

With the BettPlex regional sports complex under construction, Hickey said he hoped to capitalize on what he called "the BettPlex Effect," which included drawing in a segment of customers from outside the area.

Out of the families and customers BettPlex is expected to draw, Hickey said 40 percent would be from outside the area.

"We feel like these amenities are just a couple of miles down the road from BettPlex, a very short time commitment and a very low cost alternative for families to come out and enjoy this," Hickey said.

With the amenities planned, net revenue is expected to go from a $100,000 deficit to a $107,000 profit by 2021, but the revenue estimates do not take into account the $2 million capital investment.

"This is going to take a bit of time to retire that," City Administrator Decker Ploehn said. "The fact of the matter is that its a positive cash flow."

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