golfers who haven't played a round at The University of Southern
Mississippi's Van Hook Golf Course recently, it's not too
soon to begin getting reacquainted.
you had someone who played here before, and you took them
out there right now, they would think they were someplace
else," said Van Hook Golf Pro Larry Lee.
process of reintroducing an improved Van Hook to Pine Belt
golfers began about a year ago. Since then, a number of upgrades
have made the course more playable and attractive, and there
are more improvements in the works.
the changes already visible at the course are those to the
tee boxes, which serve as starting points for every hole played.
Previously, some of the boxes weren't level, making for an
uneven journey from tee to green. "You start each and
every hole from the tee box," Lee said, "and if
you don't start well, it's a disaster from there on. We had
some tee boxes out there that were pretty silly."
number one was to reconstruct the tee boxes that were uneven.
With that done, the Van Hook staff has been able to grow and
maintain a higher quality turf than before, doubly improving
also made them easier to get to by putting in steps,"
the improved tee boxes, golfers will notice that there have
been a number of landscaping improvements at the course. Flowering
plants have been added in several places, including around
some of the tee boxes and greens. The new landscaping helps
accentuate some of the course's more classically designed
and challenging holes, Lee said.
are some great golf holes out here," Lee said. "They
are already, from a playing standpoint, well-designed holes.
We wanted to frame them."
visible at Van Hook is new and improved signage throughout,
as well as improvement to the course's system of cart paths.
in the works are improvements to two of Van Hook's greens,
were some greens that had a hard time growing quality grass,
for a number of reasons," Lee said. "It demanded
that they be reconstructed."
greens are on the 11th and 16th holes. The greens have been
reshaped and are now growing new grass. Temporary greens have
been constructed near them for use until they are ready.
project Lee is working on has to do with the course's sprinkler
system. The current system requires manual placement and movement
of sprinkler heads, making watering the course a laborious
process. But Lee hopes to begin phasing in some hydraulic
components soon, which should make caring for the turf more
efficient and less labor intensive.
to the changes made to the course itself, the pro shop has
been updated. Lee has moved away from some of the more expensive
merchandise once sold there, in favor of equipment and apparel
targeted toward students and the course's other regular players,
many of whom favor Van Hook because of the great golfing bargain
are able to purchase a semester pass for $95, which allows
them unlimited play. Nonstudents can buy monthly passes for
$50, which also allow them to play as often as they like.
Prices for individual rounds vary from day to day, ranging
from $10 to $30. Overall, the prices Van Hook charges equate
to $4.42 per round played, Lee said.
is on pace to see approximately 38,000 rounds of golf played
there this year, he added.
most of the players involved in those rounds will have called
and made tee times. Encouraging the setting and keeping of
tee times is one of the administrative changes Lee has put
in place at Van Hook. This and other efforts to streamline
and modernize the course's operation have made for improvements
that aren't as visible as those on and around the fairways,
but are just as important, Lee said.
there is work remaining at Van Hook, but what has been done
so far has created a new look and atmosphere at the course.
you walk into this clubhouse, you're going to feel like you're
at a golf course," Lee said. "We're going to call
you by name, and we're going to treat you well."