The first phase of construction began this week on Olympia Country and Golf Club, the venerable, private club in west Olympia that was acquired last year by local philanthropist and physician Angela Bowen.
By December 2014, the work is expected to be complete, including a new, three-story clubhouse. Olympia Country and Golf Club is north of town on Cooper Point Road, where it slopes down to the waterline, providing views of Budd Inlet, and, on a sunny day, Mount Rainier.
But first things first: Crews demolished the pro shop opposite the clubhouse this week and then will begin work on a parking area for 160 vehicles, plus golf carts. A smaller clubhouse, including pro shop, a practice putting green, part of the driving range and the first tee box, will be placed on top of the parking area.
The parking area, plus the 4,500-square-foot clubhouse — which will have food service, a lounge and lockers — is expected to be finished this summer before work begins on the larger clubhouse.
Expanded parking was key, Bowen said, because when the club and course get busy, the club quickly runs out of parking, and then members park on both sides of Country Club Drive.
Once the first two phases are complete, then the real project begins: to transform the larger clubhouse into a three-story meeting area, measuring 10,000 to 12,000 square feet.
Two key changes are in store for the larger clubhouse: It has to be moved away from the shoreline to meet new shoreline requirements — the club opened in 1926 — and it will be raised so that the front entrance is level with Country Club Drive, providing better access for all members, Bowen said.
Members currently have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the main entrance, she said.
Bowen, who told The Olympian last year that the upgrades to the club were in the $8 million to $10 million range, is a longtime member who agreed to purchase and invest in the club after membership fell during the worst of the recession, resulting in financial challenges for the club.
Bowen joined the club after moving to Olympia in the late 1960s. The club helped establish her in the community as a doctor, so she decided to help when she learned about its troubles.
Tim Boyd, a longtime member and board of governors chairman for the club, said Bowen’s involvement has created a surge of interest.
Some members have upgraded their memberships — from social member to golf member — and new members have joined and former members have rejoined, he said.
The upgrades make the club more marketable, Boyd said.
“We have something to sell and that people want,” he said.
General manager Tyler Jones said that membership has stabilized as a result. Membership totals were not immediately available.
“The excitement of all the members is pretty significant,” added Rich Fulton, another longtime member and chairman of the club management committee.
Bowen, an endocrinologist, practiced medicine until about 1991. She’s also the founder of the Western Institutional Review Board, a research organization that she sold to a Boston-based private equity group in 2007. WIRB reviews hospital, individual and university medical and scientific research projects.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 email@example.com theolympian.com/bizblog