Quail Hollow Golf Course is coming off the busiest season in its history — and is well on its way to challenging that record in 2016.
Quail Hollow, given to the city of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department on Dec. 1, 2013, by longtime owner Dave Hendrickson, has been transformed into a more diverse destination under city ownership with a restaurant and banquet facility in the remodeled clubhouse.
The course in North Boise, one of the most scenic and demanding in the Treasure Valley, remains largely unchanged.
That combination led to a 17-percent spike in rounds played from 2014 to 2015, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said.
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“I couldn’t have hoped for a smoother transition,” said Matt Ennis, the Quail Hollow general manager who has worked at the course for nearly 20 years. “... People always loved it out here. The golf course is a unique place. Now, people say, ‘Hey, we can hang out.’ ”
Bruce Carrier of Boise, the vice president of the Quail Hollow Men’s Association, is pleased with the transition. Regular customers have taken note of the increased play.
“When it was privately owned, it was a public course but there was a perception that it was semi-private or private — and we didn’t do anything to deter that thinking,” Carrier said. “Now that it’s without question a public course, we’re getting a lot of people up there to play it.”
Quail’s donation by Hendrickson filled a long-standing gap in the city parks department. Warm Springs Golf Course in East Boise previously was the only municipal golf course in a city of more than 200,000 people.
“We have always had an interest in adding another golf course somewhere,” Holloway said. “We’ve looked at the airport as a possible location. We talked to the previous owners at Indian Lakes. We did have a thought about five years ago of approaching Quail and talking to them about if there was any possibility of a purchase. We never did make that connection and then, lo and behold, a few years later, Mr. Hendrickson was generous enough to donate it.”
The donation was valued at $2,117,430.14. It included the golf course, clubhouse and all equipment from the operation. Hendrickson stipulated that the land must remain a golf course or be converted to other open space and that profits be reinvested in the property. He was granted a lifetime membership to play the course.
The city dug deep into Quail Hollow’s operations before approving the donation, Holloway said.
“The first reaction you have is, ‘What’s wrong with the business?’ ” he said. “... All the things we needed to run the golf course were in great shape.”
But the clubhouse, long a hotdog-and-a-beer operation with an outdated kitchen, was under-utilized. The city moved the pro shop from the ground floor to the second floor, added a full restaurant to that floor (the Foothills Grill is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day right now) and created banquet and meeting space on the first floor. The second floor includes outside seating that can be covered during inclement weather.
Given the course’s beautiful location surrounded on three sides by the Boise Foothills, the new layout that capitalizes on the views and creates a hangout for golfers and neighbors is a natural. The renovations cost $500,000.
The city hopes the investment makes Quail Hollow a popular location for golf outings, banquets and weddings.
“We’re going after companies, we’re going after special events, we’re going after weddings,” Holloway said. “We really want to make the food-and-beverage piece at Quail a big part of our overall revenue.”
The green fees remained mostly the same at Quail Hollow through the changeover. It’s $29 for 18 holes Monday-Thursday and $33 Friday-Sunday. The $10 family nights Friday-Sunday were borrowed from Warm Springs. Warm Springs’ rates are $28 and $32.
Warm Springs is a profitable venture for Parks and Rec, generating $84,200 last year, Holloway said.
Quail Hollow should be, too. The course fell short of the break-even point last year because of equipment purchases, Holloway said. The banquet facility was busy in November and December with little marketing. Construction was completed late last summer.
Overall revenue at the course increased by 17 percent last year, Holloway said. Golfers played about 26,000 rounds.
“Now we’re going to start hitting our stride,” he said.