A portion of a Kanawha County golf course that’s been closed because of damage from the June 2016 flood might be redeveloped into space for picnic shelters, tennis and pickleball courts, and a splash pad.
The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking a $6 million to $7 million overhaul of the Coonskin Park golf course and clubhouse. Plans include redesigning the front nine holes of the course, and redeveloping the back nine holes into something else altogether.
The front nine holes of the golf course would be revamped into an “upscale short course with iconic greens from golf design history,” said Jeff Hutchinson, director of Kanawha County Parks and Recreation.
“This will be a par-3 [golf course] like no other par-3 anywhere,” said Dave Pope, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“Hopefully, [this is] going to expose golfers to different green complexes that have been prevalent ... since golf began,” Pope said. “These things are replicated throughout the world and, still to this day, when someone’s building a golf course, some of these green complexes would come into play.”
Pope said the new course would be a challenge for golfers.
“Right now, this golf course is just flatter than a pancake,” he said. “There’s no challenge to a good golfer ... so better golfers are going to come out here [to the new course], which is going to increase traffic.”
Hutchinson said the new course would have a more modern and casual feel than older golf courses.
“There will be music playing on the golf course that people can hear,” he said. “They will be able to play in sandals or barefoot. It will be a relaxed atmosphere — not your typical stuffy golf atmosphere.”
Mud and water from the historic June 2016 flood damaged the irrigation system for the golf course, leading to the closure of the back nine, Hutchinson said.
“The back nine will be reconfigured into ... picnic shelters like the bigger shelters at Coonskin that are self-contained with restroom facilities, kitchens and things like that,” Hutchinson said. “The tennis courts will be rebuilt, and pickleball courts totally separate from the tennis courts will be added. There will also be a splash pad.”
The project also would add a putting green, Hutchinson said.
If a plan to extend the runway at Yeager Airport into Coonskin goes forward, the park would end where the tennis courts currently are for three to five years during the construction, Hutchinson said. The construction would close access to picnic shelters beyond the tennis courts, he said.
The project would put new picnic shelters in the portion of the park that would remain open regardless of the construction, he said.
The park’s clubhouse would get a “spruce up,” including new carpeting, paint and a sound system, Hutchinson said.
The Parks Commission is waiting to hear from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority about whether the agency will help fund the project. If the project is funded, the Parks Commission would have to formally vote on the project, as well, Hutchinson said.
“The board has pretty well agreed to it, in theory, but they’ll vote on it,” he said.
Pope said he sees the golf course redo as a way to “give back” to local golfers who have lost places to play. In recent years, the Sandy Brae Golf Course in Clendenin, Shawnee Park golf course in Institute and nine holes of the park at Coonskin have all closed.
The new golf course would “make this a first-class facility with a really different look,” Pope said.