After more than 20 years of operation, Bentwater Golf Club is getting some major upgrades — and members are excited.
By Lindsay Field Penticuff
Known for its striking views of Red Top Mountain, as well as the ponds, creeks and wetlands that highlight each round of golf, Bentwater Golf Club in Acworth has been a recreational treasure for more than 20 years. The club’s new owners want to ensure its legacy as a picturesque place to play while also bringing Bentwater into a more modern aesthetic.
“Members are really excited to see the new ownership come in and do exactly what they say they are going to do. No more promises, but actually making the improvements. Members are getting to see change within the first month of the new ownership,” says Chris Connolly, General Manager at Bentwater Golf Club in Acworth.
Bentwater, which is one of the best golf courses northwest of Atlanta, includes more than 7,000 yards of back tees, as well as a practice green bunker, practice range, clubhouse, golf pro shop and dining area.
The club opened in 2000 but transitioned to a new management firm — Club Specialists International (CSI) — on May 1 of this year. CSI, which has consulted with more than 500 private clubs, golf courses, resorts, and real estate developments, brings more than a century of collective operating experience in private club operations and development, marketing, membership development, and management. This operational proficiency portends great things for the course.
Details of the renovation
The major overhaul started shortly after CSI took over management in May. Designed to enhance the member experience, improvements at Bentwater include:
- Removing tree roots that are causing ongoing cart path damage, and repairing the cart paths on the entire course.
- Renovating all course bunkers and the practice green bunker, using the state-of-the-art Capillary Bunker system with new tour-angle sand.
- Rebuilding and upgrading the members’ practice experience on the practice range by leveling, regrading, and resodding landing areas for better drainage and range ball management, as well as adding new targets, hitting stations and a seating area.
- Reorganizing and conducting capital repairs to the clubhouse, including the lobby, bathrooms, dining area, kitchen, golf pro shop, and administrative areas.
- Increasing the course management budget to include new golf course maintenance equipment with the goal to become the best condition golf course in the market.
- Purchasing a new fleet of golf carts in early 2022.
“Members are ecstatic,” Connolly says. “We have already renovated our practice bunker in the practice facility to show members what the bunkers will look like and it’s just amazing. It looks like you’re on the beach in the Panhandle with the white sand beaches.”
And anyone visiting the club or living near it is already seeing these major renovations in action. They are bulldozing the range to level it off and grate it to help improve the drainage so that the range will be in a better condition moving forward. They also have cut down a mountain of trees to get ready to repair the cart path.
“Our new group and ownership are really coming in and making a statement by putting the money in right away to make sure our members have the quality course that they deserve,” says Connolly.
Outside the physical changes, the atmosphere of the club itself also has taken a positive turn with the staff and members’ attitudes, service levels, and expectations. “It’s becoming a really enjoyable experience for everybody,” adds Connolly.
New membership opportunities
Bentwater is also offering a range of membership opportunities, such as Annual, Player’s Club, and Social Plus, in addition to memberships tailored to young executives, seniors, and Bentwater residents. “One of our more unique memberships is for the golfer who is working daily, or maybe only has a few days each month that he or she can get out to the course,” Connolly says. “Our Player’s Club Membership really fits into anyone’s lifestyle.”
This specific membership, which costs $139 per month, includes unlimited range privileges, weekday golf after 2 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, participation in instructional clinics, and two anytime rounds of golf each month. “It’s a sweet spot for the budget and it’s a membership type and class that continues to grow in the area for us,” Connolly says, “and if you’ve never been a member at a private club, it’s a nice fit to get you started playing.”
And keep in mind that the club isn’t just for adults. Bentwater offers summer camps and lessons for kids. “Lisa Rogers, our head pro and a Class A PGA professional, handles all of the teaching and runs half-day summer camps through July,” Connolly says. “Her experience is in teaching and playing golf in college. She really relates well to the kids and adults she’s teaching.”
The staff is buying into it
In addition to Connolly, Cody Aaron is golf course superintendent and Heidi Reed is office manager at Bentwater. The restaurant’s culinary team is being led by Chef Jason Walls, who is already working on redefining the club’s dining and social offerings.
“The staff and I are looking forward to creating an exciting new golf atmosphere for our members and serving the surrounding community,” Connolly says. “With the support and leadership of the CSI management team, we are all taking steps to improve the quality of service and atmosphere that our members deserve.”
This includes Chef Walls preparing themed dinners for members and their families, such as steakhouse dinner night, pasta night, and street taco night. “Every Friday night, we are going to put together a nice dinner experience, and into July, we are hoping to also maybe have some live entertainment outside on the patio,” Connolly says. “Chef is very creative, and he runs a great kitchen, because he really cares about the food and the experience. Members should really be excited about it when they are here dining.”
Connolly says he’s enjoyed sharing all of these new opportunities and experiences at the club with members, too. “It’s awesome seeing the smiles on our members who have been here all along and have been asking for these improvements. You can see that pride come back into their faces for their club,” concludes Connolly.