After a slow start to its inaugural season, the new Prairie Club in the Nebraska sandhills finished the year so well that expansion is progressing ahead of schedule, according to Paul Schock, the senior partner of the three-course resort.
Prairie Club, which currently has two 18 hole courses, one by the team of Tom Lehman and Chris Brands, the other by Graham Marsh, and a ten hole Gil-Hanse designed short course, hosted 1,300 rounds in June and 1,500 in July, figures that Schock says left him “disappointed.” A record amount of rain fell on Nebraska in June.
His mood did a 180-degree turn, though, as the remainder of the year play increased significantly and the course garnered a bevy of accolades from the US and international golf press.
What brightened the outlook for everyone involved with the Prairie Club were the 2,400 rounds recorded in August and 2,900 in September. There were even 1,500 rounds played over the first two weeks of October before cold weather moved in and the courses closed. Memberships reached 250. According to Schock, he expects that to increase to at least 350 by the end of 2011, especially after he is able to announce reciprocal agreements between Prairie Club and a number of well-known courses around the US.
With 88-per cent room occupancy for the year and the Prairie Club having to turn away customers who were looking to stay on site in late summer, construction has started on three more cabins that will have a total of 24 beds and be completed in time for the 2011 season.
There are also plans for the creation of the Lehman Lodge, with at least 16 beds. Built on land owned by Schock and run by Lehman, the lodge will host groups for events such as short game clinics and retreats. It could be completed by the end of 2011.
If all goes well, Schock said, construction of the 18 hole Hanse-designed Old School course could also begin in 2011 and be open for play in 2012. Schock and his partners are talking with a group of potential strategic investors, including the golf development firm, Discovery Land Company, about a number of other projects and the investors’ participation will determine the timeframe for Old School, he said.