James River Nurseries recently completed a landscaping and hardscapes project at Independence Golf Club and we couldn’t help but notice something special going on over there. Not in terms of a “special offer” or “special occasion,” but rather “special” in a more abstract way.
First, a little back ground. On October 1, 2013, Pros Inc., a locally based company, acquired Independence Golf Club, a 260-acre daily-fee course and all the assets on the property. It would probably not come as a surprise the new owners wanted to make some changes, but what is a bit suprising and what is creating the feeling that something “special” is going on is the vision the new owners seemingly have for this gem of a property.
Spearheaded by Giff Breed, President of Pros Inc., they are not limiting their sights to the obvious…the golf assets of the facility. It appears they are going for a much more creative approach when it comes to maximizing the potential of this piece of property and applying a significantly broader stroke of the brush when it comes to amenities and events that could drive new sources of revenue from non-golf related activities thereby creating a much more dynamic and vibrant resort like complex.
Sticking to the obvious topic of golf for a moment, they believe that after extensive renovations to the golf course, which necessitated its closing from May thru mid-September, that they “have arguably the best public course in Richmond.” The fairways, bunkers and greens have all been re-done in a manner designed to create positive changes in the pace of play, playability and sustainability of the course. Lester George of George Golf Design, who has also done work at the Country Club of Virginia and Kinloch Golf Club as well as numerous other courses, oversaw the new design keeping both the individual golfer's experience while playing in mind as well as maintaining an eco-friendly focus by utilizing materials that are earth friendly. They are now even using two new Lexus CT Hybrids from Lexus of Richmond as official “Player Assistance Vehicles” (beverage carts).
As for the changes to the clubhouse, they represent just a few examples of that “broader stroke of the brush.” Many of the changes being made are in an effort to invite a much larger audience into the fold. For starters, they are nearing completion of a 3,200 square-foot banquet hall overlooking the course which will be an attractive venue for wedding receptions and other events. There is an additional 2,500 square feet available under the new banquet hall which may be converted into a spa at some point in the future. They are also adding a new restaurant that will offer people in the surrounding areas a great alternative for dining.
Additional new ancillary amenities and events are currently in the works and others are longer term ideas still in the conceptual/feasibility stages. The list includes a grass court that can be used for tennis or croquet, a newly reworked driving range where the bunkers were removed in order to create a venue where outdoor concerts could be held, as well as the possibility of zip lines, horse trails and even a boutique hotel on the property. Only time will tell what the eventual amenity package will look like at this facility, but as Mr. Giff expressed in an article published by Richmond BizSense, “we have to constantly be thinking what’s coming next.”
A non-profit organization called Fore Children, led by Eddie Swink, has been formed and will continue and even broaden the mission of the club’s rich history of focusing on the well-being of children in our community. Over the course of a year, they anticipate hosting approximately 3,000 children, including hundreds of inner-city, at-risk children for different events ranging from golf activities to art and cooking classes (and many things in between) all designed to have a positive impact on the lives of these children.
Also, look to see members of the men’s and women’s golf teams from the University of Richmond around the facility as they will soon be using Independence Golf Club as a base of operations. That certainly seems to be a good fit particularly given the fact that the University of Richmond is Mr. Breed's alma mater (where legend has it he was quite the baseball player for the Spiders back in the day). Mr. Breed also earned his M.B.A. from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
At James River Nurseries, we feel fortunate that our business brings us in contact with so many great members of this community and we especially enjoy seeing examples of exceptionally creative people and companies at work. When we heard of the vision and potential that Pros Inc. believes this facility has, we could tell we had run across that type of creativity. We wish them the best in their efforts as they strive to bring their vision to life.
To learn more about this club, please go to Independence Golf Club
Also, they have a “The Latest” page on their website which you might want to consider putting on your “go to” list of informative pages. We have a feeling there is going to be a lot of good stuff for them to write about!