FORT WAYNE – The Hotel Fitness Championship is halfway through its inaugural running – Trevor Immelman, Michael Putnam and Patrick Cantlay lead at 11 under – and Sycamore Hills Golf Club could be a more difficult course by the time the 2014 tournament arrives.
The Journal Gazette has learned that ownership at Sycamore Hills has been consolidated. Bruce Dye, Marty Rifkin, Rick Rifkin and Larry Festa are in the process of becoming the sole owners and part of their plan for the future includes changes to the course.
Its a wonderful thing for the club and for the investors, who have been involved. It will allow the club to evolve into bigger and better things, said general manager Eric Schneider, who confirmed the ongoing consolidation from 17 to four owners.
The course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened for play in 1989 and has hosted to five national championships for the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America, and now has the Hotel Fitness Championship, which is the first of four legs within the Web.com Tours new finals.
The pros this week have assaulted Sycamore Hills with low numbers.
Scott McCarron matched the course record with a 64 on Thursday, the PGA Tour doesnt recognize Robby Sheltons 64 from the Junior PGA in 2012, and on Friday, Putnam posted a 63. When the course opened, the pros were still playing with persimmon drivers, Schneider said. So the average driving distance for a pro was 265 yards. The hazards here are at 260 or 280. Right now, those arent in play, even though weve added some back tees.
The average driving distance this week has been about 308 yards.
Nicklaus Designs has already been contacted for updates, which could begin this fall and should take two years to complete. The updates will toughen the course and could improve amenities like the practice facilities.
Schneider said the ownership shift began July 29. Sycamore Hills has 465 members, including almost 300 golfing members.
Sycamore Hills was almost sold to a California firm in 2006, but 20 local investors prevented that from happening in the wake of the death of Jim Kelley, the original owner, who co-developed the course with his son Tom.
Were blessed to have some investors who feel strongly about continuing to make capital improvements and they offered to fund those improvements and, if any of the other investors wanted to get out, they offered to buy their shares out, Schneider said, adding that payments to former investors will be made by the end of September.