Bigger, better clubhouse coming to Laurel Golf Club

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Photos And Story By Jaci Webb
Thursday, October 28, 2021
A rendering showing the new Laurel Golf Club clubhouse was completed by A & E Design. The existing clubhouse, which opened in 1967, will be replaced by a new larger facility with a completion date of 2023.

A rendering showing the new Laurel Golf Club clubhouse was completed by A & E Design. The existing clubhouse, which opened in 1967, will be replaced by a new larger facility with a completion date of 2023.

Clubhouse manager Jennifer Nelson has worked at the Laurel Golf Club since she was in high school.

Clubhouse manager Jennifer Nelson has worked at the Laurel Golf Club since she was in high school.

Course superintendent Bob Popp prides himself in keeping a well-maintained course.

Course superintendent Bob Popp prides himself in keeping a well-maintained course.

For more than five decades the Laurel Golf Club has been one of Laurel’s shining stars, providing lush greens, serving great food, and helping golfers hone their skills.

None of that is going to change, but it’s only getting bigger and better. The Laurel Golf Club members got onboard with the idea of reconstructing the club house, almost doubling its size and making upgrades in the process. Construction will begin in January with a completion date in 2023. In the meantime, the 18-hole golf course will be open and the restaurant will be set up as a food truck with a large heated tent for patrons. Bingo nights will continue as long as the public supports them.

The Laurel Golf Club is only open to members for golf, but the restaurant is open to all, and over the years, the Club Restaurant has gained a reputation for hosting elegant New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day dinners, and serving good food all year long.

A quote on the golf course website perfectly defines this well-respected course: “Our members don’t come to Laurel Golf Club to play tennis or take a swim – they come to sharpen their skills, they come to be challenged, they come to golf.”

Clubhouse manager Jennifer Nelson said while she watched some businesses struggle during the pandemic, the Laurel Golf Club got through the challenges because of its dedicated staff and strong membership.

Nelson complimented the staff for coming together to make things run smoothly during COVID, and she is confident they will make this transition smooth as well.

“We are successful because we have a great team at the Laurel Golf Club from the grounds to the dining room and kitchen to the pro shop,” Nelson said.

A & E Design and Langlas & Associates, both of Billings, are working together on the reconstruction. The original 18- hole course and 8,000 squarefoot clubhouse were designed and built in the 1960s, with the course designed by Theodore Wirth of Billings. The Laurel Golf Club opened in 1967. Since that time, only one renovation to the clubhouse has been completed, and that was necessary because of a fire.

Building Committee Chair Drake Webinger said building a new clubhouse is overdue.

“It’s a 50-year-old facility,” he pointed out. “It’s going to be nice to have an update. It’s going to be a comfortable facility, not over the top. It’s going to be done right,” Webinger said.

Many of the Laurel Golf Club employees have been there for decades. Nelson has been working at the Laurel Golf Club for 20 years, since she was in high school. Nelson finished her degree from Montana State University Billings and worked her way up to the top spot at the club. Course superintendent Bob Popp has worked at the Laurel Golf Club for 33 years.

Popp prides himself in keeping a well-maintained course, coming to work before dawn most days to make sure it is perfect for the members.

“Early morning is the best; It’s so pretty in the summertime,” Popp said, noting that he sees quite a few critters on the course in the morning, including moose, elk, and a few weeks ago, a black bear.

Tom Anderson, the head golf professional, has also worked at Laurel Golf Club for more than 30 years and plans to retire in late 2022. Mark Hahn has just been hired as a golf professional and brings great experience to the role. Kitchen manager RJ Polesky has been with the Club Restaurant for 19 years and Baylee Dolman, dining room manager, has worked there for 2 1/2 years.

“We have so many wonderful dedicated employees. Without them, as well as the support of our members and guests, we wouldn’t have the success that we do,” Nelson said.

Webinger said everybody has pulled together to move forward with construction.

“There have been a lot of people involved with this project including, current and past board members, a past survey committee, Langlas, A&E Design, Laurel staff, Laurel members and our building committee. It has been a group effort for sure.”

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