Mississippi club selects Nathan Crace for a master plan

Mississippi club selects Nathan Crace for a master plan

Starkville Country Club plotting for the future to match regional economic growth.

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July 3, 2018
GCI Staff
Construction Course News
Located in the northeast region of the Magnolia State, the City of Starkville is not only the home of Mississippi State University, but it has also been recently named the “Best Place to Live in Mississippi” by Mississippi Magazine. While this honor is no surprise to either Starkville residents or students and alumni of the university, the city’s economic growth over the past decade has also created a welcome increase in the membership base at Starkville Country Club. As a result, the club has hired Nathan Crace, ASGCA, of Watermark Golf/Nathan Crace Design to develop a long-range master plan for improvements to the club’s 18-hole golf course.

“I’ve been working with the club off and on for a few years now,” Crace said. “And earlier this year we began a small renovation on the fifth hole to address some drainage issues, replace a dilapidated bridge with a new lake and levee and relocate the tee complex for safety. While working on that project, the committee made the decision to go ahead and start planning for the future.” 
That planning includes hiring Crace to develop a long-range master plan for improvements to the golf course over the next 10 years.

According to Greater Starkville Development Partnership interim CEO, Jennifer Prather, the country club is not alone in realizing the financial upside of recent growth in the area. “Over the last five to 10 years, Starkville has seen unparalleled momentum that has driven economic growth vitality within our city,” Prather said. “Projects like the renovation of Starkville Country Club provide quality recreational and leisure assets that contribute to the quality of life that residents are seeking in their search for the most desirable place to live and work.”

In part due to the growth of the area and the club—and at the urging of members—the club recently completed a substantial investment in a new larger swimming pool with cabanas and other improvements to the clubhouse. When a golf course renovation committee was empaneled to look into the growth of the club, they knew they needed to reach out to a professional golf course architect.

“We’ve been talking with Nathan for years about steps to take to make improvements to the course,” said golf renovation committee co-chairman Sterling Dahl. “It’s nice to be able to work with a golf course architect who not only has a long list of successful projects, but also graduated from MSU and still has connections to the community.” The renovation committee is co-chaired by Dahl and fellow Starkville CC member Ross Graham.

Crace said the plan will study improvements to all areas of the course including greens, tees, bunkers, water hazards, trees, irrigation, cart paths, possible re-alignment of some holes, native areas, and sustainability. The next step after the current project on the 5th hole may be the re-design of the par-3 13th hole—including a completely new green complex. Regardless of the next step, Crace will be working closely with the committee to determine which segments of the master plan will be phased-in and the timing of those projects.

“Nathan has always told us that a master plan is a ‘road map to the future’ of the club,” Dahl said. “That’s what a club needs. Committees and Boards change out and new people are in charge every year. With Nathan’s master plan, we’ll be able to plot our course and budget for it accordingly. It will also help us communicate to current and prospective members the direction the club is headed in the future.”

The only member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) based in Mississippi or Alabama, Crace says he has multiple reasons for wanting to be involved with the project at Starkville CC. “First and foremost, it’s a great club with great people. Secondly, not only did my wife and I both graduate from [Mississippi] State, but our daughter is a student here now and we have two sons who will be here in the coming years. Plus we come back for ballgames every year and we plan to retire to Starkville at some point in the future.” Crace laughs, “I guess I’ll be involved with the club for the next thirty years or so.”

Crace, Dahl, and Graham agree that due diligence plays a vital role in developing the master plan and the club does not want to rush it—giving Crace the necessary time to deliver the finished plan to the Committee. According to Dahl, “We’ve asked Nathan to get the finished master plan to us by the end of the year.”

“Something I learned from my Dad when I was young—and it applies to this business too—is that it’s better and less expensive to do something right the first time than it is to do it twice,” Crace explains. “I’ve had the good fortune of working with clients for 25 years who believe in that same philosophy and I think it shows in the finished product. Starkville Country Club is no different and we’re looking forward to getting started on planning for the future for the members and their families.”