After nearly nine years, the city-owned Haymaker Golf Course finally has a clubhouse on par with the course itself.
The doublewide trailer that once housed the pro shop and 19th hole was not exactly a fixture that accurately portrayed the world-class amenities Steamboat has to offer.
"People would drive in and say 'what a dump,' turn around and drive out," said golf course superintendent Bill Whelihan.
The old clubhouse was a temporary solution, but something more permanent was always planned. Soon after the course opened on Aug. 8, 1997, those responsible for constructing the course began planning for the building. Construction began in April of last year, and the new building opened in May.
"Now we have a clubhouse that is equal to the quality of the course," said Haymaker head professional Hank Franks. "The package is now complete."
In order to build Haymaker the right way, resources were concentrated on the classic lynx-style course itself. The clubhouse could wait. The course and the new building were built using money collected from a 1 percent lodging tax. The tax money is directed toward projects that will benefit the tourism industry. While the public course offers another destination for tourists, it also provides an affordable source of recreation for locals, who play the majority of the rounds at Haymaker.
The reaction to the new building has been very positive so far. The overall golf experience is now similar to that of most country clubs, and locals feel it better reflects the community they are proud to call home.
"I think that Steamboat should have an image of a resort town, and I think the new clubhouse does that without being ostentatious," said Steamboat resident Rocco Laterzo.
While it is difficult to attribute it to Haymaker's new digs, the course has seen an increase in the number of resident season pass and punch card sales.
The $4 million clubhouse provides three times more room than the old modular facility. Golfers enter the building through two large wooden doors.
From there, golfers can check in with the pros and browse Haymaker's extensive selection of merchandise.
Some are coming to the clubhouse just to eat at Staxx New West Bar and Grill, operated by longtime local restaurateurs Karen and Dominick Riggio. The restaurant offers 16 different menu items for less than $10.
The Around the Bend pulled pork sandwich has been one of the more popular menu items so far. The signature ingredient for many of the menu items are thinly-sliced fried onions. Customers can sit indoors surrounded by windows offering views of the course. There also is plenty of seating on the outdoor patio.
Golfers making the turn onto the back nine can grab a quick bite and enjoy it while riding in one of Haymaker's 62 new electric golf carts. Before the carts were stored outdoors so only gas carts could be used. The quiet and environmentally friendly carts are stored in the bottom level of the new building. This is where the new bag storage also is located.
The new clubhouse can accommodate small groups but was not intended to host large banquets or wedding receptions, said John Vanderbloemen, chairman of the Haymaker Golf Committee. There are plenty of facilities to host large gatherings in Steamboat, and Haymaker did not want to compete with them. Instead, the focus was on amenities that would enhance the golf experience.
The golf industry is no longer just about the quality of the course. Franks said courses attract players who are looking for the best overall experience. Answering this need is especially important as Northwest Colorado becomes an increasingly popular golf destination.
When Golf Digest magazine ranks a course, it takes into account things like the clubhouse services, parking lot, cart paths and golf carts, Franks said.
"When you drive into the golf course until you exit the golf course, it's all encompassed in that," he said.