By Jack King
The facelift at Chaparral County Club has begun.
The groundskeeping crew has been busy repairing the course’s sprinkler system and reseeding the fairways at what was formerly Colonial Park County Club. Within two weeks, contractors will begin building concrete paths on the course for golf carts.
This winter sand traps and water hazards will be added to the course, according to Norman Kelley, the new co-owner of the club with his wife Dana.
“We’ve fertilized and watered it. People have told us it’s better than it’s ever been. We’ve changed the way it the grass is mowed, so that there’s better definition to the fairway, and we’ve fertilized the greens. It takes a while to get grass to the condition you want it,” he said.
Norman and Dana Kelly said Friday they will spend approximately $1 million over the next few years to renovate the country club’s 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, swimming pool and grounds.
The golf course was the first priority when they bought the club in May, Norman said. An avid golfer, he said he always liked the course, but what it lacked was a little tender loving care.
Built in 1964 by a group of Clovis men, the club and golf course reached a height of membership in the 1980s, with 550 members. By early 2002, when he and Dana began negotiating to buy the club, membership had sunk to 70, Norman said.
Membership has risen to 110 since they took over , he said.
Several longtime club members said they are excited about the changes.
State Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, a member of the club since 1965, said that with its improvements, the club will be an asset to Clovis’ economic development efforts.
“It will enhance our hopes and plans. I see nothing but positives,” she said.
Carol McKinney, whose husband, Richard, was one of the club’s first eight members, said she looks forward to playing tournaments on the revamped course.
Although she is not a golfer, Jody Skeen said she thinks the renovated club will be a great place to be a social member.
“I think it’s exciting, because we haven’t had a place like this in years. I’m looking forward to bringing the Christian Women’s Club here, to having bridge luncheons and to dining here myself in the evenings,” she said.
Dana Kelly grew up in Clovis. She said her family, the Rozzells, had belonged to the Colonial Park Country Club since she was 14. Although she and Norman have lived in Houston for a number of years, they would come to Clovis to visit her family and would play the club’s course on a regular basis.
“They had the same light fixtures in the ballroom they’d had there when I was fourteen!” she exclaimed.
Norman, a mechanical engineer who worked as a plant manager for an international supplier of bulk liquid chemical storage and distribution services, took early retirement to renovate the country club.
“I’ve been working with contractors and building things for years. I looked at the golf course and thought, ‘Well, I like to make things pretty and neat. This is something I can do for the rest of my working years, put this place back into shape,” he said.
The clubhouse will get a Southwestern look, with two 16-foot tall entrance ways accented by 6-foot wrought iron chandeliers, Norman said.
When completed, the building will have a remodeled ballroom, a new dining room and a restaurant.
It also will have new men’s and women’s locker rooms and a spacious pro shop on the building’s second story.
Norman said the club’s swimming pool will be rennovated, and tennis courts are expected to be added within two years.
The golf course will remain open to the public.
Norman said greens fees and membership fees at the club have increased, although existing members’ initiation fees will be honored.
“It’s a business and we’re in business to make money, but to do that you have to provide the facilities. And when you provide the facilities, the customers will come,” he said.
Norman said Friday the country club has 20 employees.