Local golf scene: A "country club" for the average Joe?

After observing—and carefully considering—the metamorphosis that has taken place at Briardale Greens Golf Course, it occurs to me that the city now can boast of having a “poor man’s country club.” On second thought, make that “an affordable country club for the average Joe.”

Sure, some might argue that Briardale can’t be considered a country club for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s too flat. And it lacks a swimming pool and tennis courts—elements that traditionally have distinguished country clubs from mere golf courses.

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a swimming pool right next door at the YMCA and another across the street in Memorial Park; and, rather than tennis courts, Briardale now has two bocce ball courts and a sand volleyball court—attractions that make it an appealing location for golf outings.

Yes, there are a few things that ritzy country clubs have that our city-owned course lacks—things like $20,000 initiation fees for new members and annual dues on the order of $2,000 and up.  (You know, to keep the riff-raff away.)

Another perk that country club members enjoy is unlimited use of well-groomed practice tees and free practice balls. Well, for serious golfers who wish to spend a lot of time working on their game, Briardale now offers a Twilight Play and Practice (TPP) package. Those who sign up get unlimited practice balls at any time of the day, plus a discount on greens fees after 4 o’clock in the afternoon—all for just $29 a month.  It works out to $174 for the six-month package, just a fraction of what you’d pay in yearly dues at most country clubs.

If you’re observant you may have noticed that, since the Billy Casper Golf people began managing the place last year, many enhancements have been introduced, including the $50,000 makeover of the Briardale Greens practice range. Plus, the overall maintenance of the course has improved considerably.

Among the less dramatic improvements have been things like the new bocce courts, the introduction of a junior golf program, and special players’ series events that offer a chance to compete for player of the year honors.

Moreover, Sticks Bar & Grille in the Briardale clubhouse seems a bit classier than the snack bars at most public courses. The Sticks menu now offers various specials, including $1.50 hot dogs during Indians games and rib dinners on Friday evenings. Also, the granite-like circular tables and benches on the outdoor patio near the entrance to Sticks add a touch of class. And the Briardale staff now provides the sort of courteous treatment and service you’d expect at a first-rate club.  

All in all, the ambiance and appeal have been elevated to a much higher level than in years past. At least, that’s been my impression.

ADAM’S GONE -- Having said all that, it should be noted that golf professional Adam Westendorf has departed, leaving Briardale without a golf instructor for the time being. As a result, the junior golf clinics had to be cancelled; but the Tuesday morning Junior Golf League is continuing. Approximately 40 youngsters in the 6-17 age range signed up for the program, notes General Manager Pat Kirn.

BEST BALL CHAMPS --The team of John Iosue and Steve Lewis carded a 7-under par score of 63 to win the June 19 Father’s Day two-man “best ball” event in the Briardale Players’ Series. Iosue is the coach of the Villa Angela-St. Joseph High golf team, which holds its practice sessions at the Babbit Road course.

Runners-up were Al Winton and R.J. Krukowski with a 66, followed by Dan Marinelli/ Bobby Butler at 68, and Rob Onacila/ Mike Coneglio at one-under 69.

A day earlier, nearly 100 golfers participated in the annual Paul Serra Scholarship Fund outing at the city-owned course.

AIM FOR BIRDIES --The next Players’ Series event at Briardale Greens is scheduled for July 17, starting at 2 p.m.  It will employ a modified Stableford scoring system, in which points are awarded for birdies and eagles, but deducted when players card bogeys, double bogeys, or worse.

Speaking of birdies, the course has been promoting a Birdie Pass program that includes one free round of golf, plus unlimited greens fees at a discounted rate, three range ball tokens, a discount on golf shop merchandise, and special events and clinics—all for a one-time fee of $49 (just $35 for seniors). For details, inquire at the pro shop.

COMING UP--Future outings on the Briardale calendar include:

The Lake Erie Classic, co-sponsored by the Euclid and Western Lake County Chambers of Commerce July 22. The entry fee is $95 per golfer or $380 for a foursome. The event will have a 10 a.m. shotgun start, with dinner and games at 3:30 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by radio station WELW and a hole-in-one contest is being sponsored by Sims Buick. For more information, call the Euclid Chamber of Commerce at (216) 731-9322.

The fourth annual Bev Lang Memorial fund-raiser on Aug. 27, is a four-person best-ball event with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. For $65, participants get 18 holes with a cart, a steak dinner, a hot dog at the turn, and the opportunity to participate in a skins game and a 50/50 raffle. The deadline to sign up is Aug. 16. For more information contact Kim Jaster at (4400 352-6422, or e-mail her at kajaster@auditor.state.oh.us.

John Sheridan

Retired journalist. From 1963 to 1972, wrote for and edited the Euclid News-Journal, predecessor to the Sun-Journal. From 1972 to 2000, I was a writer and editor for Industry Week magazine. Also have worked for the Plain Dealer as a part-time sportswriter, covering high school sports. And I was a contributor to the previous Euclid Observer. I have lived in Euclid for almost my entire life. I am a graduate of St. Joseph High School and John Carroll University.

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 7:08 PM, 07.09.2011