Writer / Lynda Hedberg Thies
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Thanks to a milder than normal fall and winter, golfers have had an unusually short off-season. This was especially great news for the Harbour Trees Golf & Beach Club since they recently completed a major renovation to the club and the course as a result of new ownership.
While the structure remains the same, the exterior and interior upgrades enhance the environment of the club, offering the ultimate lake and golf-resort lifestyle, while making a positive impact on membership and the surrounding community.
In the spring of 2016, the unique member-owned club, unanimously agreed to sell to Andy Gigante. Gigante, a board member for the past six years, already had a vested interest in the success of the golf and beach club after partnering with members to build the Harbour Trees Beach Club in 2011. The Beach Club features a bar and grill, tennis court, a pool and a fitness center. Members could add to this to have a full membership with both a golf and social club. It also gave this dual golf and lake community the opportunity to provide just a social membership. The Beach Club was a huge success. Gigante’s purchase includes both the Golf Club and the Beach Club.
Gigante, a local businessman, had a vision for how he wanted to improve the Golf Club. So, as soon as the ink dried on the sale, Gigante wasted no time and put into a motion a series of upgrades to both the exterior and the interior of the Golf Club.
The first priority was to work on the exterior of the club to take advantage of the warmer weather and to avoid as little disruption to the golf season. The first updates to the exterior of the building included a new roof and landscaping around the clubhouse. Taking advantage of the warmer weather for this phase of exterior renovations, Gigante gave members something to be proud of right away.
Among the first indoor renovations were to the men and women’s locker rooms, which are structurally the same but the look and feel have changed. There is new carpet, new furniture, new granite countertops, new trim, paint and decor. Both renovated with homey touches while offering the ultimate privacy and comfort for members. Exiting out the back of the locker rooms offers easy access to the Pro Shop, and at the other end of the hall is an improved member service area providing snacks and beverages.
The next priority for the renovation plan was the course itself. Renovating the 18-hole, Pete Dye-designed golf course, which was built in 1973, involved converting the fairways to bent grass. The bent grass is a better surface to play on and easier for the club to maintain.
“Our superintendent Ed Devlin is as good as it gets as far as superintendents, and they only had to close the course for five weeks,” said Head Pro Justin Werkley. “The grass has already grown in quite well.”
Prior to the renovation, the staff continually improved the course, which over the 44 years of operations the club regularly hosted PGA and Senior tours, along with the Noblesville High School Boys and Girls’ golf teams on a regular basis.
In addition to upgrades to existing spaces, there were a couple of projects that repurposed unused space in the building.
The former Champions Room has now been converted into a golf lounge. The space expanded into the former bag storage room now offers a golf simulator complete with a floor-to-ceiling screen. The screen will also be used as a TV to display televised PGA tournaments.
In the Champions Room, there is a putting green with chairs and tables for guests to relax and watch the Golf Channel. Members that came in throughout the renovation were also able to use these amenities during the winter months. Eventually, the room will include a wall to showcase their Hall of Fame champions and tournament winners in order to better document the history of the club.
The second room that utilized existing space was the former boardroom which was converted into a billiard room. The dramatic changes included raising the ceiling, putting in new tiles, paint and the pool table is a 9-foot custom-made table created specifically for the club. This room offers members a different way to relax after a long day or meet other members before or after a round of golf.
Two additional renovation projects center on club dining and events in existing spaces.
The bar and grill renovations included is a new stone wall that gives the room a decided pub feel. There are also new ceiling tiles and new carpet, which complement the granite bar top. The bar and chairs were upgraded two years ago, so the new changes actually complement the design of the room. Members can access the bar and grill from the front entryway or right off the course.
Chef Steve Masch has been with Harbour Trees now for two years, and he is well loved by staff and members alike. They offer a full menu that changes seasonally. The Beach Club members also have access to the bar and grill.
The banquet hall has also been upgraded and is available for member events, fundraisers, meetings, banquets and weddings for groups up to 275. The space is also available to non-members as well. The club offers events year-round such as live music in the bar and grill or by the pool.
Werkley, Head Pro for the past six years, started playing golf at Harbour Trees in the Junior Golf Program. He describes Harbour Trees as a “fun, energetic club that is family-friendly and is thrilled with the renovations.”
“Members are overwhelmingly in awe of the changes,” Werkley says. “The first time they walk through and see what has actually been changed, it is just jaw-dropping. The members feel great about their club, and they are proud of all these accomplishments.”
There are many golf clubs in the area, and there are several lake communities to live in, but Harbour Trees offers the opportunity to have both a golf and lake community. Werkley proudly adds that the club is very close to capacity, which means they are close to closing memberships. The unique club has a diverse membership, attracting younger families, and membership has continued to grow.
The club renovations have had a positive impact on the neighborhood as well as the area. Since renovations began, they have seen home values increase, along with an increased demand for the lots on Morse. It is a goal of Gigante’s to increase the value of the community. He is very proud of the community and wants both the club and the neighborhood to grow together.
“It is a great atmosphere here,” Werkley adds. “It is very welcoming, laid back, and members really enjoy their time when they are out here.”