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Ashton Hills Golf to reopen Friday

COVINGTON -- Ashton Hills Golf Course will be totally different from the formerly named Indian Creek Golf Club in every way.

"We wanted a new identity," Director of Golf Bryan Raines said. "When the group got together, they were looking to bring in a new name and a new face, not (that) the Indian Creek name was tarnished. But they wanted a new face and a new attitude just to give it a fresh start."

Members will get a chance to play on the new course for four days starting Friday with the grand opening for the public scheduled for Aug. 21.

The new club was named by the son of one of the investors, Eddie Miller, who named the club after himself.

"It's a clean name and it sounds a bit more prestigious than, say, Indian Creek or Covington Plantation did. That was the goal, to bring a nicer facility, nicer organization as a whole," Raines said.

Players will see the change as soon as they drive into the parking lot. The clubhouse was remodeled on the outside with new windows, shutters and coppers accents. A new cabana was added to give golfers a place to get fast food on the turn or after spending some time on the driving range.

"What we've done is build a cabana," Raines said. "It will be a place to get quick stuff, generally more targeted for the golfer. You can get quick food and a place with covered tables and chairs. It give us the ability to have much faster service."

However, the main changes will be seen on the course, where the old No. 10 hole will now be the new starting hole. But it, too, will seem different. A new tee box will be added, lengthening the par-five from a reachable green in two shots to a risk/reward second shot.

"What happens is that about two-thirds of the people could reach the green or at least have a good look at it," Raines said. "My goal is that when you hit a tee shot, to be up on top (of the hill) and not be on the bottom. With us bringing it back, about 20 percent to a third will actually say. 'I'm going for it.'"

It's not just the back tees that have changed. All the tees have been pushed back, with the elimination of the ladies tees (now being played at the senior tees) and the blue tees now located where the old black tees sat.

Changing the order to nine holes had more to do with the ending hole rather than the starting hole.

"The old nine is a much better finishing hole than the old 18. The old 18 was a straight, relatively easy finishing hole. Not that nine is that hard; it's just has a better look and you have the opportunity to make bogey or birdie. A tournament can be won on the new 18 whereas a tournament could never be won on the old 18," Raines said.

Work was also done to all 37 bunkers. The biggest change was done to the bunker on the old No. 6 hole, which was totally redesigned from an 80-yard narrow bunker to a shorter, more traditional and manageable fairway bunker. Some of the bunkers were slightly altered in shape while some had all the sand taken out and drains fixed. Either way, they all have new liners and new bunker sand.

Changes were also made to the eight on the 18 greens. Some were made larger, with some having the severe slope removed, making it easier to hold the green.

"This course is difficult enough," Raines said. "Our goal wasn't to take the bite out of it but to make it player-friendly for the average guy. We didn't want to make it easy for the better player; we wanted to give it a better feel for the 18 handicap.

"During the process of doing the greens, we had to remove 240 trees. Removing the trees was playability on a small scale but it was more about sunlight for the Bermuda."

While Bermuda is still the primary grass on the fairway, those old Bermuda-grass greens are a thing of the past as they were replaced with a more durable MiniVerde grass which requires less chemicals, water, general maintenance and those big fans are no longer needed during the summer.

While a lot of money was spent to make the course a better place, the green fees remain the same at $37 during the week and $47 on the weekends. The only thing that will be different is that range balls will no longer be included with the price of the green fees. There will be a separate cost to hit range balls.

Before the club closed down, the one aspect which everyone was thrilled about was the restaurant. Hopefully, that will stay the same as they were able to retain the services of their former Director of Food and Beverage, Brett Ricardi, to take over The Village Grille.

With golfer food being provided at the cabana, the plan for The Village Grille is to be an upscale restaurant with a long-range goal to eventually provide a Sunday brunch.

"We want to market to a large array of people because the restaurant is one of the biggest amenities we have. Unless you want to go to Longhorn's or Applebee's, we have a lot of fast food and barbecue places but we don't have anywhere else to get a decent steak without waiting a half hour before you're seated. That was our goal," Raines said. "We had a lot of success with Brett."

For information on the various plans, call Ashton Hills at 770-385-0064.