As Montana golfers know, December isn’t exactly the most hospitable time of the year to be teeing off.
But if progress at Stodden Park continues as planned, fine-tuning your long game will be more than feasible by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around.
Ground was broken recently for a 4,500-square foot clubhouse at Highland View Golf Course, which will feature of a pair of virtual reality golf simulators, one year after a $4.5 million gift from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation was earmarked for the project.
The clubhouse is one of multiple improvements underway at Butte's flagship park.
“We’re still on track and only missed about two weeks,” said Parks Director J.P. Gallagher, who said there was some brief delays in communication regarding bids and meetings during the early phases of the coronavirus outbreak.
Gallagher said the current timeline calls for construction, which is being overseen by general contractor Langlas & Associates Inc., to wrap up by the end of November and for the building to be operational by the end of December. The structure was designed by Water & Environmental Technologies (WET).
“It’ll make the golf course a year-round facility,” Gallagher said. “It offers an opportunity to do more things in the winter.”
The clubhouse will also include a small restaurant and a bar.
In addition to the new clubhouse, a number of other projects are in the works at Stodden and Gallagher said plans call for them to be completed by September.
Highland's irrigation system is receiving a complete overhaul, something Gallagher said was a first in the 100-year history of the course. Some of the oldest parts of the network are 50 years old.
The new irrigation infrastructure, which will amount to a nearly $1 million renovation, will be a state-of-the-art automated system that's monitored by satellite and comes complete with sensors that can read precipitation and shut down if it's raining. The sensors will also have the ability to calculate moisture levels in the ground and turn the sprinklers on and off as needed.
"What we have works well, but this is definitely an improvement," Gallagher said.
Netting will also be installed along Hill Avenue — which runs the length of the east side of the course — to protect the homes along that street from runaway golf balls.
The Montana State Korean Veterans' Memorial, located at the entrance to Stodden, is also getting a facelift, with an 80-foot flagpole set to be erected and a rebuild planned for the pavilion roof. The missing plaque on the obelisk is also set to be replaced and a PA system will be installed.