Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Tribe’s 18-hole course gets new greens, renovated facilities
CHECOTAH, Oklahoma — Golfers returning to Fountainhead Creek Golf Course, which has been closed for renovation since May, might not recognize the place.
There is a lot of new going around.
New championship Bermuda greens, golf carts as well as paint, flooring, ceilings and roofing for the clubhouse and pro shop.
Heck, they even have a new general manager.
“We’ve put a lot of time and money in to get this course back together,” Kyle Lee, Director of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tourism and Recreation, which oversees the facility, said.
Over $150,000 in funds from the TR budget and a National Council appropriation have went into renovation and equipment upgrades for the tribe’s 18-hole course inside Fountainhead State Park just outside of Eufaula.
New GM Jimmy Saenz, a Class A golf professional with 23 years experience in the business, said the priority was the new putting greens.
“This golf course is 51-years-old,” Saenz said. “This was probably 20 years too late, but bottom line, they needed to be redone.”
Saenz, whose main focus of expertise and experience is in instruction, has a goal of FCGC being one of the leading teaching facilities in Oklahoma.
He is also looking at changes economically when it comes to pricing.
“It’s making golf affordable for the everyday person,” Saenz said. “I’m looking more at volume than just a price.”
One of the programs Saenz has implemented is a ‘golf pass’ where golfers can pay as they play rather than being locked into a membership.
“With memberships, half the time they’re never utilized,” Saenz said. “It just makes more sense for us as a golf course. Public facilities don’t make money on memberships.”
While the course is fully functioning and open, there are still a lot of projects in the works.
They are renovating some of the holes, including changing the daunting No. 11 from a par-5 to a par-4.
Saenz said golfers have been ready and waiting to get back on the course and enjoy all the new the place has to offer.
“We have a unique opportunity here to make this as big as we want it,” he said. “I’m in a full parking lot talking to you, we opened only 13 days ago, and I probably have 60 plus players out there right now.”
A grand reopening and ribbon cutting is scheduled for Oct. 1, and a new website is in the works over the next few weeks. Saenz wants a majority of the business to run through the website such as booking tee times and scheduling.
He expects to run 25-30 events a year at the minimum and to offer weekly specials and promotional events.
Saenz, who was hired June 4, said he is excited to be GM and to have built such a great relationship with the tribe so far.
“I think what attracted me the most, was that it (the course) is something I can bring back to life,” he said. “It excites me.”