Golf course at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler, Texas gets a makeover

TYLER, Texas - Members at the Hollytree Country Club in this town just east of Dallas wanted changes on the golf course, and they're getting what they asked for, according to Chris Cooper, general partner in the limited liability corporation that owns the club.

"Hollytree Country Club is a first-class club and it needs a first-class golf course," Cooper said. The golf course closed July 5 and will remain closed until Oct. 1, due to the major renovations.

According to Cooper, the 20-year-old greens will be replaced with Champion Bermuda grass, and some will be expanded by up to 10 feet in some areas. Approach shots and chipping will be less demanding, attributable to the rough areas around the greens that will be mowed to fairway height. Certain tee boxes will also be given a major makeover and the amenities at
the tee boxes will be replaced.

Landscaping projects throughout the course and around the club house will slightly modify the layout of the course. However, it will make the golfing experience more enjoyable for the Hollytree members, which is the primary goal for the course renovations, Cooper said.

"Hollytree has one of the best layouts in eastern Texas," he said, adding that the widening and lengthening of the fairways is to improve play and not take away from the original design of the course that Robert Von Haggee and Bruce Devlin designed and constructed from 1981-1983.

Steve Mills, chairman of the Hollytree advisory board, said the course renovations will not essentially change the complexity of the course.

"Hollytree is a difficult golf course from the standpoint that you must keep the ball in play, because most holes have water hazards, some being out of bounds," Mills said. "There is definitely a premium on hitting the fairways."

In addition to the cosmetic changes on the course, a new irrigation system will take the place of the old sprinkler system that was installed in 1983. The practice facilities, which include a practice range, chipping greens and putting greens, will be improved to better suit golfers at any skill level and to enhance the golfing atmosphere.

"The Hollytree members are thrilled about the course renovations," Cooper said.

"The vast majority of our golf members were in favor of making the proposed renovations," Mills said. "(However), a handful of the golf members preferred to keep things as they were, because they feared that their dues would increase."

Mills stressed the importance of the renovations and ensured that the Hollytree members would be pleasantly surprised with the improved golf course.

"The golf course improvements and new maintenance procedures will definitely enhance the golf experience for our members," Mills said. "I believe that once the renovations are completed, it will feel like a new golf course to many of our members."

Hollytree is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course with a slope rating of 135.

"I do not expect our slope rating to change as a result of the renovations," Mills said.

Among the course renovations, Hollytree Country Club has also hired Evergreen Alliance Golf Ltd., to handle the managerial facets of the operation, including the public relations and marketing responsibilities. In addition, the club's dining manager, Trent Schiek, has been promoted to assistant manager.

Other personnel changes include two fresh hires: Shawn Ygnatowiz as the new general manager and John Tarpley as course superintendent.

Hollytree Country Club has been voted "Best of Texas Golf" by the Dallas Morning News. It's also rated among the top golf courses in the Southwest, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

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