|Harbor Shores' director of golf sees great course nearing completion|
By DARREN PHILLIPS H-P Sports Writer
Ross Smith has been a golf professional for close to 30 years.
All of his previous experience has been at private country clubs — the past three years at the Sagamore Club in Noblesville, Ind., with prior stints at South Bend Country Club and at Maysville Country Club, Maysville, Ky.
The new director of golf at Harbor Shores, Smith hopes to bring country club style service to the upscale resort public course.
Smith and his wife, Valerie, have been married nearly 29 years and have two daughters, Caycee, 26, in Chicago, and Cidney, 23, completing her education at IUPUI in Indianapolis.
Smith and his wife are in transit as they try to sell their residence in the Indianapolis area and moving to the Twin Cities area.
Harbor Shores recently opened for a preview season with nine holes available for $75, with a $25 replay fee for those who want to play twice for an 18-hole round. Community days offering $40 rounds for area residents have proved popular.
The full 18-hole course is expected to open next year.
How has the reception for the golf course been with the preview rounds?
I think the reception has been great. The first thing that comes to people’s minds is they can’t believe this transformation of a somewhat contaminated area and how it’s been transformed into a beautiful green space. The people that have played the golf course have been very complimentary, but they’ve only seen nine holes, or 10. They’re great, but the other eight or nine holes are just as good or better.
What do you view as the competition for Harbor Shores?
I don’t think we want to be viewed as competition for anyone in the area. We are a resort that’s open for public play. I just hope we grow public golf in the area.
Probably within a three-hour radius we’re going to be a destination course. If anything we might help other courses when people want to play another course when they come here.
How helpful has it been to have someone in the local golf community like Ebon Sanders on staff as the assistant pro?
It’s been unbelievable. Ebon Sanders is a guy I’ve known for two months, but not only is he a co-worker, but I think Ebon and I are going to be friends for a long time.
Some of the things he’s accomplished with the Boys and Girls Club and with the First Tee program are tremendous.
What drew you to Harbor Shores?
Living in South Bend for 17 years, this area became home. To be involved with something golf-related, and with the First Tee and the Boys and Girls Club, and to be involved with something from the very beginning was appealing to me.
Even though we are a, quote, public golf course, we want to give the service you’d get at a country club.
What are people going to find here when it’s an 18-hole course?
The golf course as you go through it will change through different styles. The first few holes, one, two, three, four and five, are nice golf holes, but they’re flat with some wetlands.
At six the elevation changes and then seven, eight and nine you’re in the dunes like at Pebble Beach or Spanish Bay.
Then you climb up to 10 and feel like you’re in Northern Michigan, like at Treetops. That’s 10, 11, 12 and 13. Then 14, 15 and 18 will have the Paw Paw River, and 16 and 17 will have the wetlands. Most golf courses have just one style.
Here you’re going to go through a whole variation of holes which makes it interesting.