By Harry Yadav
The process of renovating Sewanee’s golf complex, a project that was conceived in 2006 and launched in 2009, was completed on July 6 with the opening of the Golf Lodge. Located behind the ninth hole green complex, the building consists of an upgraded pro shop and a new bar and grill that offers indoor and outdoor seating. A plaque inside the lodge dedicates the pro shop to the Fallen Brothers of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, while another dedicates the pub area to former Sewanee golf coach and School of Theology graduate King Oehmig (T’ 77), who passed away in May of 2015.
The Lodge was opened to the public on the same day that play commenced for the 53rd annual Tennessee Girls Junior Amateur Championship, hosted at Sewanee for the first time in the event’s history. One of the University’s Senior Advancement Officers, Scott Anderson (C’ 80), says this date was targeted as part of a conscious effort to bring more exposure to the Course. The Girls Junior Amateur brings the best high school golfers from across the state, as well as college coaches and scouts.
Though the course itself was highly praised since being redesigned by world-renowned golf architect Gil Hanse in 2014, play and revenue have both been underwhelming. This is partly because Sewanee’s remote location makes the course difficult to access. Anderson hopes that now that renovation and construction are over, the high quality of the golfing experience at Sewanee will attract golfers and in turn the course will begin to see more financial success. “The Lodge creates a more complete golfing experience, which will hopefully bring more play to the course and create more revenue,” he said.
The new Golf Lodge renovations already appear to be paying off. Assistant Pro John Brewster (C’ 90), who designed the interior of the pro shop, says that retail sales thus far have improved since the renovations. “The course has seen a 60 percent increase in retail sales in the last month alone,” he says.
Brewster, Head Pro Matt Daniels, and Assistant Pro David Owens have a special appreciation for the new Lodge. For the past year, during its construction, they worked in a white trailer that served as their temporary office and pro shop. The high ceilings and spacious wooden interior of the Lodge make it a classy upgrade over the cramped nature of the trailer.
In other Course-related news, The Course at Sewanee cracked Golfweek Magazine’s annual ranking of the top thirty college golf courses in the country at number twenty two for the first time. It is the oldest course on the list, the only nine hole track, and the only new addition.