CHARLOTTE – The renovation of the picnic shelter at Sunset Hills Golf Course is aimed not only at modern aesthetics but also enhanced event management.
The shelter, built in the late 1990s prior to the public course’s adjacent clubhouse, will have its roof and concrete replaced, as well as the addition of stone columns and a steeple.
Del Radcliffe, president of the company that manages the public courses, says the upgrades on the Radio Road course align with the Park and Recreation department’s push to modernize its venues. And with the facility’s mundane, county-issued entrance sign, the shelter is the first amenity golfers see when they arrive for a round.
“In term of aesthetic upgrades, it’s much more of a modern design,” Radcliffe said. “The concrete has deterioration. When we first built that, people were wearing metal golf spikes, so it got chewed up over time.”
The $60,000 in county assistance will come from the Capital Reserve Fund supplied from the fees public courses like Sunset Hills pay to the Park and Recreation department, meaning no property taxes are being used.
The work will be performed by several subcontractors for each aspect of the project, working from the top of the structure down. The work is expected to begin during the second week of July and take three-to-four weeks, which course general manager and PGA Pro Jeff Peck said will not impact the course itself.
Peck said the upgrades will provide a better venue for charity events than the clubhouse.
“It helps to have a centralized area, to have registration, closing and scoring, lunch, meals, and that way the clubhouse is not overrun,” Peck said. “This clubhouse is not designed to have an 120-person outing. It’s a lot cheaper than keeping a large space like that cool. It makes it a lot easier. That’s the meeting place, that’s the whole hub. Having a nice, classy one just ads to the overall experience.”
Radcliffe calls the property a “breeder facility” because there is an 18-hole course and a 9-hole “learning course.”
“We’re where people come to learn to play golf,” Radcliff said. “It’s like bunny slopes in the skiing industry. It is an ideal thing for people to come to learn to play on. If you haven’t played, that’s the place where you need to start.”
The 9-hole course is a mix of par-3 and par-4 holes for a total of 31, five shots less than most traditional courses.
“On the card, it’s a par 3, but most beginners can’t reach all the greens on 1 shot,” Radcliffe said.
In addition to traditional golf, Sunset Hills also offers the only facility with “foot golf” in the county. Instead of hitting a ball with clubs, players kick a professional-size soccer ball into cups that are made proportional to the standard golf hole.
“I played kickball when I was a kid and thought, ‘there was nothing to this’ and tried it,” Radcliffe explained. “It’s amazing how far those soccer players can kick the ball.”
The other Mecklenburg County courses Radcliffe Golf Services manages are Charles T. Myers, Paradise Valley, Dr. Charles L. Sifford and Harry L. Jones Sr.