The good news keeps flowing out of Ironbridge Golf Club in Glenwood Springs. The club’s PGA Director of Golf, Doug Rohrbaugh, earned conditionally exempt status on the PGA Champions Tour and in April qualified for his first tournament. Course Superintendent Eric Foerster reported the installation of subterranean sensors—which gauge soil moisture, salinity and soil temperature—reduced water usage by 20 million gallons in one year. And the course’s ownership group, which took over in late 2013, relates that in its first full year in charge rounds were up 39 percent, revenues jumped 25 percent and membership nearly doubled, from 57 to 110.
And to think, this club bobbed along in bankruptcy for nearly five years. The new owners—an investment group principally consisting of longtime Roaring Fork Valley residents Jim Light, John Schneider and John Young, as well as member Ken Kendrick—purchased it at auction and enlisted Tom Lehman to “soften” a course that was as brutally difficult as it was stunningly beautiful. Lehman removed 34 bunkers, reworked numerous holes and brought in Brian Horgan, a Ph.D. in turfgrass management, to work with Foerster on cultivating “playable native” in the form of different strains of fescue.
The changes resulted in faster, more enjoyable rounds for the average golfer, while still challenging the better ones. “We no longer have people saying, ‘This is the first and last time I’m playing here,’” Young says. “We’re attracting more groups from Denver, some of which have played six rounds in four days.” One of the country’s top resort towns, Glenwood Springs abounds with lodging options, and Ironbridge has arranged stay-and-play packages for this season. Unlike most mountain courses, Ironbridge rounds never exceed $100. Twilight rounds run $49, and kids play free after 2 p.m.
Opening last season, the Ironbridge Grill boasts indoor and outdoor dining areas—as well as a “Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail” appetizer with an optional shot of vodka. One of the more popular new features, the 10,000-square-foot putting area adjacent to the clubhouse, hosts putting contests, picnics and other social events. “It’s a great gathering place for the neighborhood,” Light says. “It brings everyone together. That was Tom Lehman’s idea. Thanks to him, Eric and the staff here, we’re balancing environmental issues, playability and the bottom line. We’re hitting on all cylinders.” ironbridgeclub.com