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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Fox Hollow golf balls hail the new clubhouse at the revamped golf course in American Fork, formerly known as Tri City.

AMERICAN FORK — Imagine having three bosses. Three employers who have their own mindset and, when they send out memos or call you on the phone, you have to listen and respond and try not to get whiplash.

Crazy.

Add to the fact your bosses are politicians and money is involved. Mayhem.

Try being the head golf professional at Fox Hollow, formerly Tri City Golf Course, a property owned by Pleasant Grove, American Fork and Lehi.

That's the life of Rick Roberts: "Hey, it's Pleasant Grove Mayor Mike Daniels on the line. Oh, Rick ... can you take a call from American Fork Mayor Heber Thompson? And when you're through, could you answer this cell phone call from Lehi's Mayor Howard Johnson?"

But one night these community leaders all got in the same room and knocked out a plan to pour $4.5 million into Tri City and rename it Fox Hollow. They splurged a little by approving the Taj Mahal of Utah clubhouses.

Outside of The Ledges in St. George, you won't find a more beautiful golf clubhouse anywhere in Utah — even at private country clubs. Thanksgiving Point may have just come in third.

And that is the idea, said Roberts.

A beautiful stone-and-woodwork structure, complete with tile-and-rock walkways and nearly one-half-acre of a waterfall and pool landscaping, this building has a custom metal roof and giant banquet room fit for hosting weddings and corporate events. The pro shop is spacious, and the snack bar deals out a mean cheeseburger.

Fox Hollow just threw out the gauntlet for munis in Utah. Sleepy Ridge has designs for a giant clubhouse with combination office suites and a reception area, and who knows when Cedar Hills will shake off financial challenges and lay some brick. But so far, both are working out of trailers.

"We're barely into the clubhouse 10 days ago," said Roberts, "and play has been through the roof and people are loving it, it's been amazing. All you have to do is walk through it and, short of The Ledges, nobody can touch us."

The most pleasing aspect for Roberts, however, even more impressive than three cities getting on the same page, is the response he got from builders on the project because many of them donated time and labor and are going beyond the contract to apply spit and polish to the clubhouse.

For instance, the stone-walkway pavers around the clubhouse were done at cost — the same amount of money it would have taken to just lay down plain old driveway concrete.

The roof contractor traded out $100,000 of work for a dozen years of a corporate golf pass — saving a significant chunk of coin.

The beautiful water fountain landscaping worth $60,000 got put in for $35,000 because a landscaper took pride in donating some time and labor to do it right.

The Fox Hollow clubhouse is only days old, and it's likely got a million bucks in equity.

The course is still recovering from a major sprinkling system job. Some areas are torn up, and there are some scars. But Fox Hollow's actual course is riding high on the work of greenskeeper John Hansgen, an artist with a mower.

It is obviously clear on the greens where the most delicate part of golf is executed: Putting.

"We really lucked out, getting him from Arizona," said Roberts. "He's a local guy who grew up in Pleasant Grove. He's the best in the state."

Fox Hollow does not have all the wish-list equipment Hansgen needs so far, but it's coming, said the head pro.

"When we do, this will be the best golf course in Utah because of the layout," Roberts said.

"He uses a hand mower for every green and tee box. He does all the extra things that make a difference to us players. He sharpens all the blades on the mowers every week, something a lot of people just don't want to do. We get him what he needs, he'll be more efficient."

In addition to his work on the putting surface, which is superb, Hansgen's work is easily visible in how he's carved out sight lines off tee boxes and aprons around greens, adding definition and aesthetics to the hole. It's extra work that many city crews simply don't bother to mess with, but it makes a big difference in play.

Fox Hollow/Tri City came onboard in 1972 with the late Jimmy Thompson as head professional. Gary Naylor took his place, and Roberts is the third head man since its inception by the three northern Utah cities.

So Roberts knows the gamble, the price and the effort, a near $5 million bond put up by the three city councils to stave off competition and get a clubhouse for community events.

"We pulled it off," said Roberts. "This will be the bomb — a country club feel for a municipal audience."

Somewhere in the deal, Roberts managed to slip in a fleet of new electric golf carts, which, with gas prices approaching $4 a gallon, it's already made a major dent in the budget.

"The cities were unbelievable. They let us take the ball and run with it," he said. "I'm proud that our local builders kind of used this for a Parade of Homes and really took pride in stepping up and helping get this done in a first-class manner."

After inspecting it on site Wednesday, there's only three words to say.

Wow. Fore. And, amen.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com