The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, is building a new $16 million,14,000 sq. ft. Golf Course Clubhouse at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The project, 20 percent complete as of April 1, replaces the previous clubhouse in the same location. Excavation began last fall and completion is expected in summer 2022. The project will provide a larger, more modern building with more amenities than the previous building. (A nearby ski lodge serves as a temporary clubhouse during construction.)
When complete, the clubhouse will feature a lobby, administrative offices, patio seating for 75, banquet room seating for 150, snack bar with seating area and pro-shop retail area. There will also be storage space, a receiving/loading area, and 100+ parking spaces, including accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
Building and site infrastructure include:
● Transformer and secondary electrical service
● Water, sewer and gas lines
● Landscaping, walks, curbing, security and lighting system
● Communications (phones and computers)
● Alarm and public address system
● Heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC)
New York District Commander Col. Matthew Luzzatto said: “Providing first-rate facilities for West Point Cadets, staff and the public is a priority for the Army Corps of Engineers. Beyond the clubhouse, the West Point Golf Course is an important community asset serving the larger community and U.S. Veterans. This modern building will enhance patrons’ experience.”
Site-based engineers and the contractor faced a challenge connecting water and sewer utilities to the clubhouse. It was found that long-term cost savings could be realized by connecting to the main installation system on the grounds of West Point due to lack of local municipality hookups in the area supporting the Town of Highlands. To that end, over several months, a narrow trench was excavated ─ 8.5 feet deep and a mile long ─ from the ski lodge to the construction site. This work requires careful planning and execution to avoid potential underground hazards such as large rocks, unmarked utility lines and other obstacles. (Large rocks in this mountainous area of New York State are common and have been found at other construction projects in the area.)
The clubhouse will be served with a new, higher-capacity electrical service from the commercial grid on nearby Route 218. This will help with increased power demands from a larger facility with more amenities than the previous structure. This will support a facility accommodating more patrons and larger events (post-COVID-19 when occupancy restrictions are lifted.)
A second challenge is keeping the course open during construction. That’s the goal of West Point’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Service, an entity that works to provide Cadets, their families, staff and alumni with a good quality of life and supporting U.S. Military personnel. To that end, MWR will brief golfers on the hazards of construction and have them sign waivers stating they understand the hazards and will stay clear of construction zones. The main concern is a fenced-in utility line under construction that crosses several cart paths. As areas are completed and the lawn becomes established, fencing will be removed and those areas put back in play.
West Point Partnership
In addition, the MWR has provided substantial funding and administrative support for the project.
Raymond Pifer, Army Corps project manager, said: “The project has been a partnership from day one. Since the start of construction both the Department of Public Works (DPW) and MWR who are funding the project, along with the entire Project Delivery Team, have been actively involved ensuring the project remains on track and within budget.”
The course is also home to Army Golf, the Academy's Division I golf team that practices and holds tournaments there. This years’ team, comprised of 13 Cadets, has already begun their season. The Army-Navy Star Match was held April 17-18 ─ a much-anticipated annual rivalry ─ where West Point prevailed, 7-4. (This season, COVID-19 precautions limit attendance at competitions to Cadets, faculty and staff.)
Chad Bagley, a 1995 West Point graduate and three-year golf letter-winner as a Cadet, is head coach. Bagley has previously served as director of football operations at West Point.
West Point Golf Course
The course opened April 1. Owned and operated by the Academy, West Point Golf Course is an 18-hole challenge course on a mountain layout. Constructed in 1948, the course is rated in the top 20 in New York by Golf Advisor, an entity evaluating golf courses. Its well-maintained terrain is a feature normally seen only at private clubs or high-end courses. High-profile alumna often come back to play the course. (For safety reasons the driving range is closed during construction.)
History on the Greens
Like most of the West Point campus, the course is steeped in history. It opened in 1948 after German prisoners of war assisted in its construction. Each tee marker commemorates a milestone in U.S. military history ─ from the American Revolution (1775-1783) to the war in Afghanistan.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones (1906-2000) an English-American golf course architect who designed or re-designed more than 500 golf courses in 45 U.S. states and 35 countries. In reference to this, Jones took pride in saying, “The sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones golf course.”
Jones’ expertise earned him the Old Tom Morris Award ─ the most prestigious honor given by the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America, an association of professionals that manage and maintain golf courses. Each year it is presented to an individual who “through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris.” (Morris, in conjunction with his son, is credited with ushering in the professional era of golf in the 1800’s.) In 1987 Jones was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, FL.
The course is also part of the Professional Golfer’s of America’s Helping Our Patriots Everywhere (HOPE) program that introduces veterans ─ especially those with disabilities ─ to the game. In the New York area, HOPE provides a six-week adaptive golf program free of charge to veterans helping them assimilate back into the community. Veterans who demonstrate a commitment to golf as a form of therapy by attending at least four weeks of the program are eligible for a set of golf clubs to aid their recovery.
Collaboration for the new clubhouse is a staple for many projects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertakes in the U.S. and around the world. With a dedicated global workforce of 34,000+, it’s a practice contributing to many successful Army Corps projects dating back to its beginning in 1777.