Fort Sill Golf Course
Golfers take advantage of the beautiful spring weather to get out on the greens for a round of golf. The golf course has recovered from much of the damage of winter storms and summer drought to offer lush greens and tree-lined fairways for golfers to play on.

FORT SILL, Okla.-- The Fort Sill golf program is in full swing and looking good. In addition to the beautiful 18-hole golf course with tree-lined fairways and the beauty of Mother Nature everywhere you look, the golf course staff have made improvements and some are in the works to ensure it is the premier course in southwest Oklahoma.

Course improvements

One of the improvements is the lighted practice green, including the driving range and putting greens. Golfers can beat the heat of the summer months at the golf course by practicing after dark with arena lights.

"It is lit up for late evening practice. It allows more time for golfers to play when it cools off later in the day," said Ernie Altic, Fort Sill Golf Course manager and golf pro. "We didn't open the lighted driving range until late last summer and even though it gets dark early -- like 5:30 or 6 p.m. in the winter, the cooler temperatures keep people from using it much. But now, with the nice temperatures, it will be beneficial and we are open until 9:30 p.m."

According to Altic, the golf course has the only driving range in the area so more people are using it.

"The tee boxes and fairways of holes 12 and 15 collars have been resodded and some are being resodded again," said Altic. "We will also seed all the tees and fairways every year with rye grass for playability."

Near hole number 14, there are 50-foot posts up with netting to protect drivers and ensure no errant golf balls make it to the housing area along King Road.

According to Altic, a new maintenance shop is also in the works.

"The current shop is a converted building more than a half mile away from the course. The staff has been working out of that shop for 11 years," he said. "We've demolished the old building and cleared the site for construction to begin on a new maintenance facility which will be completed in 2013."

Altic said repairs are in the works for Flipper's Ditch because the walls caved in several years ago. Although the walls of the ditch were not constructed by Flipper and are not historic, they do help funnel water to keep flooding down.

"Things are going well on the golf course and the Flipper's Ditch project should be completed in a couple of weeks," said Altic.

"The golf course has seen a rise in usage too because Mother Nature has been good to us. We had a rough couple of winters with the ice storm and blizzard and then last year's drought and we survived it and now we've had a beautiful spring," he said.

According to Altic, the course has seen the difference in rounds played.

"We were open 10 more days this year and we are ahead 600 rounds compared to last year. We're getting into that time of year where we will really see a big increase in rounds played. We will do well this year with the way the course looks and plays."

Course maintenance

The golf course staff is working hard to continue to improve and maintain the beauty of the course despite last year's drought and extreme temperatures.

"We have had a much milder winter this year and that is really helping us with the greens and fairways. We could still use more rain, but we have had much more rain than last year. We are in very good shape this year but it can take five to seven years to see the effects of drought, ice storms or other weather-related extremes," said Mark Jung, greens supervisor.

Jung said the maintenance crew is keeping on top of any deterioration to the turf or other vegetation as those effects become apparent.

"We have a good maintenance crew -- we have built a crew with a broad range of talents who come together to make a great crew," said Jung.

"Hole 5 has a hybrid turf that I think is excellent. The playability on it is good year-round," he said. "We are striving for playability 12 months and we are achieving it with this turf. The hybrid produces a good dormant turf and eventually we will convert more holes on the golf course because it does do so well. The common Bermuda, which is predominant on the golf course, isn't as playable because it doesn't do well during January through April because there is not enough turf left over whereas with the hybrid there is."

Jung said the cost of last year's water usage was high but the goal was to retain the plants, trees and grass. "It cost less to retain the plants because if they died and we had to re-establish them, we would have used as much if not more water and more time to take out the things that died and the loss of revenue for not having a playable golf course in the meantime," he said. "So I think it turned out good for us and it was worth the expenditure. We are better off."

Mark Veach, a visitor from Missouri who played a round, said: "The Fort Sill Golf Course is a beautiful course. I think it's one of the nicest courses I've ever played. I've played it once before a couple years ago and I think it's in much better shape this year."

Golf Learning Center

Fort Sill is the first to offer the Golf Learning Center, on the corner of Fort Sill Boulevard and Upton Road. The converted tennis course is now a simulated course to allow golfers of all ages the opportunity to practice golf or perfect their swing. The center is co-run by the golf course and Youth Services, allowing it to be a useful resource for junior golfers or those just learning the game.

According to Altic, the golf learning center isn't just for veteran golfers. "We anticipate programming for the Golf Learning Center including lesson packages, which incorporate instruction of the fundamentals for all ages and golf camps in conjunction with Youth Services."

The learning center is next to the future Youth Center and will be one of the programs offered to youth who might not have an opportunity to learn the sport of golf. This learning center is a great way to get them involved and enjoying it for a lifetime, said Altic. "Long-range plans are to continue developing programming to assist in providing family members an additional outlet to learn new life skills and values resulting in a more resilient individual and family member."

Individuals who don't have equipment are encouraged to visit the golf course and ask about rental clubs. The Golf Learning Center is a training center and a practice facility for golfers to enjoy their game and feel comfortable visiting the facility whether it is for practice or to learn the basics.

The Golf Learning Center is open for use by all patrons.

Youth golf camps

The Youth Sports program offers youths ages 7-14 two golf camps during the summer season. The first camp is June 25-26 from 8-11 a.m. at the golf course. The second golf camp is Aug. 6-7. The camp is limited to the first 30 registrants who are registered with CYSS and have a current sports physical on file. Cost is $25 and covers green fee, use of clubs, (campers may bring their own clubs), golf item and lunch on the second day. For more information, call Brian Cole at 442-5926.

Youths in grades 6-12 are invited to learn about golf with the EDGE program July 9-12 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Participants will learn golf etiquette, equipment and proper technique; they will also play a portion of the golf course. Participants will meet at the Youth Center for transportation. This is a free class, but participants must sign up by July 6 at noon.

"The last day of the class is open for parents to come out and see what their kids have learned. They may also play golf with their child for free," said Samantha Gregory, MWR partnership specialist.

Only 14 spaces are available so sign up now.

"SKIES Unlimited is also offering golf lessons starting July 11 and meeting Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. for youths ages 6-9, and 5-6 p.m. for ages 10 and older," said Gregory. The lessons are offered at the golf course and are paid monthly.

Cost for the lessons is $40 for four lessons per month. Register by the first of the month the child will attend.

Youths will learn the sport of golf, equipment, and proper technique in a fun, group setting. Only 12 spaces are available per session so sign up now. To register, visit in person at Parent Central Services 4700 Mow-Way Road, Suite 100 or call 442-3927.

Upcoming tournaments

The next quarterly CG's Golf Scramble is June 1. Golfers can choose from an 8 a.m. or a 1:30 p.m. tee time. The event is limited to the first 60 teams to sign up (30 for the morning session and 30 for the afternoon). Teams must consist of four players and price is $25 per person. The event is open to all Fort Sill personnel. Sign up at the pro shop.

The golf course is open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays for open play. Weekend play is still reserved for authorized users, family members and their guests. Hours of the course are from dawn to dusk. For more information, call 442-5441.

Page last updated Thu May 24th, 2012 at 15:03