Taking a swing at new business venture

Dennis Langreck stands at the new granite bar he installed at Root River Country Club.

By Marcie Klomp

It’s a new season of golfing at Root River Country Club, just four miles south of Spring Valley with a new owner. With the unseasonably warm weather, the course opened March 15 with the restaurant to open in April.

Dennis and Beth Langreck of Lime Springs added 69 acres to their farming operation, but don’t expect them to plow this under! They took possession of the golf course Jan. 1, and the family has been remodeling and sprucing up the place ever since. Week one, they cleaned. Week two, demolition started and continued for the next seven weeks.

“Beth and I saw an opportunity and talked about it. We were kinda interested [in purchasing the country club] but we couldn’t get together [with the member-owned business]. We walked away for awhile and then decided it’s something we wanted to do. Besides, it’s not every day you can own a golf course.”

It didn’t hurt that Dennis likes golfing. “I enjoy the game. I’m not very good at it. Good thing it’s not a prerequisite to buy a golf course!”

Most of the changes took place in the club house, which was constructed in 1960. “Our goal was to organize the flow of the building. We wanted to utilize the space better,” said Dennis. The bar was moved from the southeast corner to the southwest corner and given a granite bar. Behind the bar is a liquor display designed by Dennis and built by finishing carpenter Dave Munkel. It allows for easier access to the bottles.

A laminate floor was laid near the bar and under the old bar, which can be used as a dance floor.

The kitchen was enlarged by one-third in anticipation of a first-rate year-round restaurant with quality people.

Curtains in the dining area were all removed, leaving the windows untouched. Dennis explained, “We got rid of the curtains because the view is the building’s biggest asset.” The windows overlook the deck and golf course beyond. “We had to give it a face lift.”

Both the upstairs and downstairs party/meeting rooms are still available for special events.

Langrecks will also tackle some outside improvements this spring. They have already ground nearly 70 stumps around the nine-hole golf course.

Although it is a little more maintenance, the new owners are returning the grass traps back to sand traps. Currently, the course’s biggest water hazard is the Root River, which runs down the middle.

They are planning to update the irrigation system, which will be a blessing to 11-year veteran groundskeeper Gary Kohn. Now the sprinklers will be on a timer.

Langrecks will try something new with cart rentals. They will have a lease available where golfers will be guaranteed a cart for regular and tournament play.

Other than those changes, Dennis said, “The course is in fantastic shape. It isn’t congested. It is spread out, and there are a lot of mature trees.”

Very little will change in the day-to-day operation. Dennis predicts the number of members won’t drop from the previously member-owned club and is hoping for a larger membership at the newly updated club. He is keeping the same prices as last year and will host the same tournaments as have been held in the past.

The number of reciprocity agreements Langrecks will have with other golf courses has increased from last year. In other words, members of Root River Country Club will have access to any number of area golf courses where they can golf for free by renting a golf cart. Talk about a deal!

Hole-in-one players will be recognized. Look for winners in upcoming articles!

Dennis joked, “I bought a job!” The course will be open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until dark during the golf season.

Langrecks plan to get help from their sons in the summer. Cory will be in clubhouse behind the bar. He is in the pharmacy program at Drake. Dennis said he and Chad will learn the outside ropes from Kohn.

Chad is studying engineering science and chemistry at Wartburg. He is also the golfer in the family. Dennis figures Chad will golf every day. Father and son may also slip away to those reciprocity courses.

The Langrecks’ enthusiasm is their new business venture will hopefully spread and bring new members or just day-golfers to the area. For membership information or to see the new menu, check out rootrivercountryclub.com. It, like part of the course, is still under construction, but will soon be up and ready for business.

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