by Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Bernie Haney calls it a "showplace for all of Manhattan," and it is indeed.
A limestone accented 13,400 square foot clubhouse facility, plus 2,000 square feet of outdoor patio space, that will match the prestige of the Colbert Hills Golf Course, ranked No. 1 in Kansas.
"This clubhouse is just a magnificent addition for our student-athletes and our coaches," said K-State athletics director John Currie. "I believe it gives us as fine of an intercollegiate golf facility as there is in the county in terms of quality, proximity to campus and our airport. It's just as good of a setup as anyone in the country."
Dedication ceremonies open to the public will take place at 9 Saturday morning, which will include remarks from former K-Stater Jim Colbert, who is now on the PGA's Champions Tour, Currie, and Howard Sherwood, president of the K-State Golf Course Management and Research Foundation.
"We would like to thank Grand Mere Development, Inc., for providing the lead gift, plus the other 85 donors to the project," said Haney, executive director of the K-State Golf Course Management and Research Foundation. "This truly does make Colbert Hills one of the premier golf settings in the country."
Haney and Ernie Barrett led the charge in raising $5.5 million in cash for the facility, plus another $700,000 gift-in-kind monies. A portion of that is also being used to renovate the 106 bunkers with "white premier sand" that decorate the 7,600-yard facility that cover 315 acres in the Flint Hills of northwest Manhattan.
"The limestone look continues the trend that's been established on campus," said Barrett of the clubhouse. "It's a wonderful addition to K-State, but also the city of Manhattan. It should help in drawing some outstanding talent to our golf programs, and bring significant tournaments to the community."
The clubhouse includes a dining facility for 222 called "Colberts," plus a "Founders" room, which seats up to 40 for a more private dining setting.
The pro shop has doubled in size, plus offices house David Gourlay's administrative staff, plus the men's and women's golf coaches, and there are locker rooms for both programs.
In addition, trophy cases in the entrance proudly proclaim the successes for the Wildcat golf program, and Colbert's professional career, which includes 28 total titles earned on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.
"It completes the dream," said the 69-year-old Colbert of the clubhouse. "It's been 10 years in coming, but the wait is definitely worth it. It's just a beautiful facility."
The Colbert Hills Golf Course officially opened on May 1, 2000, and has played host to roughly 250,000 rounds and more than 800 golf outings.
The construction of the clubhouse started in October of 2008, with the doors opening this past March 18. "Colberts" is now open for lunch seven days a week, and starting May 12 evening dining will be available on Wednesday through Saturday.
In addition, an 1,800 square foot artificial putting green has been added between the clubhouse and the first tee of the Par 3 course.
"That is going to be a huge benefit for our programs," said men's coach Tim Norris. "It will be an area that we can use during the winter to help us get ready for the fast greens that we see early in the spring with some of the tournaments we attend in the south."
Overall, Norris added of the facility, "It's just a huge step for our program in attracting better golfers and being able to host not only collegiate tournaments, but also amateur and junior tournaments. It just completes our package here."
Women's coach Kristi Knight called it a "first-class facility ... just like the golf course. It's really a facility that the entire community will be able to use and take great pride in."
The clubhouse will also be open to parties celebrating weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and holiday parties.