SIOUX CITY – The driving range at Green Valley – one of Sioux City’s most popular municipal golf courses – has undergone a facelift.
Not just your ordinary upgrade, but a new look that is truly unique for this area. Scott Harmelink, Green Valley director of golf, hopes the changes make this a destination spot for golfers of all ages.
While visiting Arizona last winter, Harmelink and his family made a stop at the Top Golf facility in Scottsdale. The facility is designed somewhat like a stadium, with two stories of individual hitting bays. The first level is approximately 20 feet and the second 30 feet above the driving range, providing a nice view overlooking dark green artificial turf with several target greens.
Flash forward to earlier this spring when Bob Walker, PGA head professional at Sioux City’s Floyd Park Golf Course, came up with an idea to put eight target flags staggered on the range at Green Valley to replace the four straight line flags that have always been there.
“When Bob was finished with the project, I remembered Top Golf in Scottsdale,” Harmelink said. “They have elevated tees. So does Green Valley, which frankly, I’ve always disliked. Then I got the idea to make it fun to hit balls.”
Harmelink rented a sod cutter and cut out eight 20-foot circles. Walker, Josh Kohn and Harmelink removed the sod, put down a liner and edged them all. They then brought in six dump truck loads of Pink Sioux Quartzite Sand and filled the circles four inches deep.
“Number one, it really looks awesome from the elevated tee,” Harmelink said. “You can see all eight targets from that vantage point. The light pink color pops against the dark green grass.
“Number two, it is fun to hit balls. When the ball hits one of those target greens, it plugs. When the ball misses the target, the golfer can see the ball bounce away. I personally have never really enjoyed hitting range balls. But I really enjoy hitting balls at these target greens and everyone I’ve talked to is enjoying it also.”
A new single piece 100-foot driving range mat has been added and Green Valley also plans to utilize lights on the range, which have been dormant for at least the last two decades.
“We will be using the lights after sunset on some Friday and Saturday nights,” Harmelink said. “We are also going to consider purchasing glow balls to have competition on some summer weekends, with music, a beverage cart on the range and more.
“There really isn’t anything like this in the area. Instead of going out on the town, or to a movie, people could come out here for a good time and a unique experience.”
As everyone knows, the pace of play can make a round of golf too long for some people to play. Those things are driving people away from the golf course. It is more challenging than ever to be successful in the golf business, Harmelink said.
“I feel the biggest reason golf has been declining nationally and locally is parents --- and I’m one of them – have gone overboard with our kids’ athletic clubs,” said Harmelink. “Two winters ago my wife and I were in Omaha or Lincoln eight straight weekends for volleyball games. So much of the family’s time and money are spent on this and it doesn’t leave much for anything else. You have to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t.”
Sun Valley Golf Course owner Jeff Donaldson added a Foot Golf Course a couple of summers ago and it has proven to be very popular.
“I do something new and different every year at Green Valley,” Harmelink said. “Some things work and some don’t. I hope this one proves to be very successful.”