Golf course renovation. Bocce courts. And planned housing at Plantation Country Club.

The planned widening of State Street will force the Plantation Country Club to close its golf course for a year while reconfiguring the 18-hole course.

The road widening, scheduled to begin in January 2021, will cut 25 feet of grass in one section and up to 40 feet in another from the course’s northern border at State Street. The No. 9 and No. 10 fairways near the street will have to be reworked.

California developer Will Gustafson, whose Glass Creek LLC bought the Garden City course late last year, plans to develop the State Street frontage that remains, roughly 18 to 20 acres. Gustafson says it will include condominiums and towhhouses facing the course and a small number of retail businesses.

“We think a lot of our club members will want to move there, and we think it will attract a lot of younger professionals who work in Downtown Boise,” he said in a phone interview..

No concrete plans have been made for what that development will look like. Work won’t begin until the course improvements are made, Gustafson said.

When the sale of the course was announced last fall, neighbors feared the 102-year-old course on 116 acres — the oldest in Southern Idaho and second-oldest in the state — could be shut down and the land developed. Gustafson reiterated that’s not his intention.

“We have a vision for that property that is going to take Plantation to a new chapter,” Gustafson said. “We’re not doing this to just reconfigure and develop a portion of a golf course. We’re here to do something that is extraordinary, that is award-winning and elevates Garden City.”

Plantation CC_Remodel Exhibit Option F-Overall_071519-page-001.jpg
A conceptual drawing shows how the Plantation Country Club might get redesigned after a section of the golf course’s northern border is removed for the widening of State Street by the Ada County Highway District. The par-71 course will lose three strokes with the change. Provided by Plantation Country Club

He said he’s met with club members and neighbors to inform them of his plans and win their support. He said he believes his team has alleviated a lot of people’s fears.

Some neighbors are still upset. The Garden City Council on Monday, July 22, approved an update to the city’s comprehensive plan calling for existing parks to be preserved. Plantation neighbors had pushed for the council to call for all green spaces, including the golf course, to be preserved.

Gustafson’s company argued that the country club is located on private property and isn’t a public park. He said any development plans will be subject to numerous public hearings, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.

Glass Creek has hired golf course architect Brian Curley to alter the No. 9 and No. 10 fairways and redesign the rest of the course. Eleven of the 18 holes will be moved or rerouted, Gustafson said, but improvements will be made to all 18.

“It will be a new golf course when we’re finished,” Gustafson said.

Slide the circle to see how the clubhouse at Plantation Country Club looked before, left, and after renovations were made this year. Photos provided by the club.

Curley, co-owner of Schmidt-Curley Golf Design of Paradise Valley, Arizona, has designed more than 150 golf courses in the United States and other countries, including China and Vietnam. In 2011, Golf Magazine named Schmidt-Curley its Architects of the Year.

Three meetings with Gustafson and Curley attracted 80 to 100 club members each, said Jayson Petersen, the country club’s general manager.

“You could sense the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty going into the meetings, and after the meeting there was a lot of relief, and people were actually excited and enthusiastic about what they saw,” Petersen said.

While no golfing will be allowed while the course is closed, the clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis and pickleball courts will remain open. The club plans to to build two bocce courts and a sand volleyball court before road construction begins. A modern irrigation system is also scheduled to be installed, replacing an antiquated system that breaks down frequently and requires hand-watering in areas it misses, Gustafson said.

A cover over the pool patio seating area was removed to make it more airy and allow the pool to be seen from the Plantation parking lot. The covering, in photo at left, shielded the parking lot from view. Slide the circle to see each full image.

The country club has spent $600,000 on improvements since Gustafson’s company took over. The clubhouse exterior was modernized and repainted, while inside kitchen equipment and interior carpeting were replaced. The parking lot has been repaved and restriped for larger parking spaces. A covered seating area next to the pool was removed to make it more inviting. Workers are remodeling an outbuilding used for storage and turning it into a food and beverage shack.

“When I go there, I am bombarded with thank yous and gratitude for what we’ve done so far,” Gustafson said. “It’s touching. It makes us feel good, because we know it’s good for the members and that it’s good for business”

During the golf course closure, he said, Plantation will offer its 500 members an undetermined break in membership dues. Families pay $295 per month, while individuals pay $250 and junior executives pay $215. Dues have not changed since Gustafson’s group bought the course.

The Ada County Highway District is set to begin work in January 2021 to widen State Street from four to six lanes in front of the country club. Work is expected to be completed that fall.

Will Gustafson

“Assuming there is no change to ACHD’s schedule, the course would close at the end of the golf season in 2020, likely at the end of October,” said Bob Taunton, the country club’s project manager. “We would undertake the course reconfiguration through the late fall and winter and begin seeding in the spring of 2021.”

It will take a full growing season for the course to mature, Taunton said, “so it’s unlikely there would be any regular play in 2021.” He said they would reassess the situation in fall 2021.

The course will construct a new entry road aligned with the intersection of State Street and North Pierce Park Lane, about 1,000 feet east of the existing club entrance at Plantation Drive. Installation of a median there will prevent westbound vehicles from turning left.

The old entrance will close once the new one at Pierce Park, which will include a traffic signal, has opened.

“The traffic signal would allow for safe left turns onto State Street for those leaving the property, as well as providing convenient access for residents,” the club wrote in an update to members this month.

Because the creation of the entrance at Pierce Park was not part of ACHD’s project, the golf course will pay for that improvement itself. Taunton said costs have not been determined. An agreement with the highway district is expected to be reached before Oct. 1.

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Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.