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Improvements keep Indian Mound moving forward

Ossipee club strives for great customer service and a comfortable atmosphere

LOOKING BACK AT THE CLUBHOUSE from the newly renovated first green at Indian Mound Golf Club. Approximately 200 trees were removed and 67 loads of roots hauled away to clean up the fairway and the green. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
August 16, 2010
OSSIPEE — Five years after purchasing Indian Mound Golf Club, Jonathan Rivers hasn't stopped making improvements to help make the golfing experience a pleasurable one for everyone who tees up at the Ossipee course.

The biggest project that the club has tackled is the recently completed renovation of the first hole, which tees off directly behind the clubhouse.

More than 200 trees were taken out from both sides of the fairway and around the green, opening up the hole and giving golfers a better chance to keep the ball out of the trees and brush. The club installed a new two-tier green and placed a new cart path to the left side of the green.

"We were losing that green this time of year," Rivers said, noting that the improved air flow and sunlight from the removal of some of the trees helped to keep the grass green.

In addition, 67 truck loads of stumps and roots were removed from the area around the first green, making the area much smoother and more open. The trees were all raised up (bottom branches removed) to allow for better air flow and allow for a better view for golfers as they move from hole to hole.

"We replanted and reseeded," Rivers said, noting that the seed was put in last November and the green was covered and opened three weeks ago for the season.

"Rebuilding a golf hole in the North Country and having it ready for the season is pretty phenomenal," Rivers said.

Another project that has recently been completed at Indian Mound is on hole 14. About 25 trees were removed and a new cart path was installed. The removal of the trees let in more sunlight, which helped keep the green the color it's meant to be.

Rivers praised the work of Brian and Karen Haroules ("The Treeman") for their work in helping to remove the trees and clean up the area. Bruce Robinson and Adam Robinson of Bruce Robinson Company of Chocorua was instrumental in the project on the first hole, as was Marshall Logging.

Another improvement was the addition of a new tee box on the 18th hole. The old tee box (which can still be used) was 195 yards from the green, over water.

"It was getting more and more difficult for the average player to get over that," Rivers said. The new tee box is 140 to 160 yards from the green.

"It's a little more player-friendly," he states.

For Rivers, making the course more player-friendly has been a goal from day one and every improvement that has been made over the course of the last five years has been with that in mind.

"I was looking 20 years down the road," Rivers said about purchasing the club five years ago. "What can I do to make this better?

"A lot of people in this business always worry about what everyone else is doing," he continued. "I want people to come out and enjoy themselves, playing in good conditions and be treated fairly."

A couple in a golf cart on the 18th hole helped reaffirm Rivers' goal, as they praised the course and the conditions, saying they had been at the course the previous day and came back because they enjoyed their experience.

"I think our guests and members have appreciated the work we've done," Rivers said. "We continue to make improvements, not only with the golf course, but with the customer service end, the food and beverage end and just making people feel comfortable when they get here."

Another improvement in the Indian Mound family is a new fleet of golf carts, all outfitted with GPS devices that help a golfer keep track of the distance to the green, the length of the previous drive and more.

"It really eliminates looking for markers and saves on time," Rivers said of the GPS systems, which used to be illegal on courses, but have recently become quite handy to tech-savvy golfers.

All around the course, the trees have been 'lifted,' meaning the lower branches have been removed. This gives golfers a better view of the course, allows the groundskeepers to easily maneuver mowers around the trees and also saves on countless strokes that were lost when a ball landed in the branches at the base of a tree. Now a golfer can find a ball under a tree without even looking hard.

Business is good

A full parking lot is always a good thing, and Rivers notes that on most days, Indian Mound's lot is pretty full and that business has been steady, despite the downward turn in the economy that has taken its toll on many courses.

Rivers notes that when he purchased the club five years ago, membership stood at just over 200 and the number has been steady at around 300 for the last few years. Corporate outings have also been steady.

The club has a junior program and runs men's leagues and ladies' leagues throughout the week and there is a night league that meets Wednesdays through Fridays.

"I definitely encourage people to call," Rivers said. "They don't have to play every week."

The club runs specials throughout the day as well.

"Whether you want to play at 6 in the morning or six at night, we have something that fits your need," Rivers said. He also pointed out, that although Indian Mound is an 18-hole course, golfers are allowed to play just nine holes if they so desire.

"Ten years ago, it was so busy that the industry forgot what people needed," Rivers said. "Our philosophy has always been to give people what they need and they'll come back."

On staff

Freddy Torres is the club's teaching pro and has been instrumental in running the junior program and giving lessons.

Reid Garvin is the superintendent of grounds and has taken care of the many projects that Rivers has instituted over the years and the course has earned the praise of the previous owners, who Rivers said noted it was in the "best condition he's ever seen."

"That has to do with our maintenance program and our fertilizing programs," Rivers said.

Last year the club was open until Dec. 1 and this year it opened on April 7, the earliest opening in club history, which dates back to 1968.

Wayne Grenier, who ran Province Lake Golf in Parsonsfield, Maine for the past eight years, has recently come on board as Rivers' 'right hand man' in the day-to-day operations of the club and the customer service side of things.

"He's well-known to the area for his hard work and dedication to golf," Rivers said.

The club employees upwards of 30 people.

The course

The Indian Mound Golf Course has an even split of six "easy" holes, six "medium" holes and six "tough" holes, offering a little of everything for all kinds of golfers.

The original nine holes are one through three, seven through 10 and 17 and 18, while holes four through six and 11 through 16 are the newer holes.

"We tried to blend the old nine with the new nine so it flows well," Rivers said. "It's something we've worked hard at."

The course is 5,600 yards and includes five par three holes. Most golf courses run about 6,000 yards and have four par three holes.

About 20,000 people flow through the course each year and Rivers notes that he really feels like the golf course is part of the community.

The club hosts numerous charity and fundraising events each year, with the Greater Ossipee Area Chamber of Commerce tournament coming up on Aug. 27, glow-in-the-dark golf coming on Sept. 4 to benefit Kingswood sports and the Kennett High School hockey team's annual tournament set for Sept. 26.

The pro shop now features some top line companies offering demos and a good selection of golf products.

The club's restaurant, which Rivers renamed Rivers' Edge Tavern when he and his wife bought the club, is open seven days a week and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is open 12 months a year. There is also entertainment offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

With continuing improvements and a strong dedication to customer service, Rivers intends on keeping Indian Mound ticking along nicely as he enters the latter part of his first decade as owner.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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