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New PGA West clubhouse gives golf fans new Hope

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
PGA West Clubhouse Under Construction
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Crews worked around the clock to get the new clubhouse ready at Club at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. (Mike Bailey/WorldGolf.com)

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Just in time for the 50th Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the Club at PGA West is unveiling a vastly improved Stadium Clubhouse, which means golf fans and players might want to spend a little more time there than they did in previous years.

Construction on the project, which was part of an overall $7.5 million renovation, began in August, but for the past couple of months crews have worked feverishly to complete the project in time for the start of the Hope. The new clubhouse is scheduled to open Jan. 16, just five days before the tournament.

The renovation is the first since the clubhouse opened 21 years ago, bringing it into the new millennium, so to speak.

The most noticeable difference for Hope spectators and golfers is the new outdoor seating areas. While the 25,000-square-foot clubhouse isn't any larger, it now features a large deck around the clubhouse that can seat some 150 guests, thanks to the installation of large glass doors where there used to be walls and windows. From there, golf fans will be able to see players finish on both the Nicklaus Tournament Course and Stadium Course.

The new open-air design is a lot more inviting, said La Quinta Resort Director of Golf Sales Jeff Harrison. It brings the golf courses to the clubhouse.

"It used to be all walled-in with no view," Harrison said. "Now it's all glass."

The deck, and a subsequent 2,000-square-foot patio added on the east end of the building, are just the beginning of the improvements.

The outdoor seating also increases the capacity of the new Ernie's Restaurant to about to about 300. There's also a new sports bar as part of the inside, with at least 15 big-screen, high-definition LCD televisions. The resort is even planning to host tailgate parties during the latter part of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. Fans are invited to come out and decorate their cars or themselves with their favorite team's colors.

In addition, the new clubhouse layout will feature a hall of fame of sorts, highlighting the history of the tournaments played at PGA West. The Hall will include displays about players, celebrities and golf course designers such as Pete Dye, the architect behind the Stadium Course, Tom Weiskopf, Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman.

The new clubhouse will also feature a "Grab & Go" market, to be used not only by players and visitors but by nearby residents who have to drive at least five miles if they wanted to pick up a few grocery items. Designers reduced the space of the men's locker room to make room for the market, which will offer groceries, sandwiches, coffee and even milkshakes. It will not only be a timesaver for local residents but also provide visitors with a lot more options for snacks on the golf course.

In addition, the resort also spent $8 million refreshing all nine golf courses at the La Quinta Resort & Spa, which has four courses in addition to the five at PGA West. Improvements included bunker renovations, new irrigation and new turf, in some instances. A few of the courses are also getting GPS systems this year.

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Nicklaus Tournament Course - No. 18

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

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