CAMP CASEY, South Korea — A three-month renovation program has added bunkers, sculpted fairways and improved tees to the Camp Casey Golf Club, due to reopen this month.

Club manager Ray Cragun said the renovations, which started in mid-March, will repair damage that occurred during 1998 rains. “The floods washed away much of the top soil on the course and did a lot of damage that was never repaired,” he said.

The course work includes 25 new sand bunkers and improvements to tees, the manager said.

“Each tee will have three surfaces. The middle tees on each hole will be synthetic, which allows us to grow in grass on the other two tees,” Cragun said.

Camp Casey is a nine-hole course that includes a small enclosed driving range, pro shop, restaurant and bar. The par-32 course has five par-4s and four par-3s, making it one shot longer than its sister course at Camp Red Cloud. However, four holes circumnavigate the Camp Casey parade ground, meaning the course is very flat.

The renovations will increase the difficulty of the course, which was much easier than the CRC links, Cragun said.

“For the mission the soldiers have up here, we are fortunate to have what we have and be improving it,” he said.

The new bunkers at Camp Casey are not just holes in the ground, he said: “They are being put in with mounding and they are sculpting the fairways.”

Workers have renovated four holes so far. The other five are under construction and should be open in two to three weeks, Cragun said. While the work proceeds, players are restricted to the four completed holes, which they may play three times in a row for a nine-hole green fee.

A driving range at the golf course also is being renovated.

Cragun said the renovations are on track to finish by mid-month. To celebrate the changes, the club plans a tournament early next month, he said.

The PGA professional, who entered the U.S. Open in 1977, 1978 and 1986 and played five years on the Asian professional tour, said the number of 2nd ID golfers has shown strong growth in the past few years.

Golf clinics given by Cragun from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays have helped to double the number of active duty golfers at Camp Casey in the past two years, he said. Some excellent golfers are serving in South Korea, Cragun said, but added, “It is not about how good they are. It is about introducing them to a game they can play for a lifetime.”

Soldiers pick up golf etiquette quickly and there are few incidents of bad behavior by military golfers, said Cragun, who recalls one civilian golfer who got so upset he threw his bag of clubs in a lake, then pulled them out, retrieved his car keys from his bag, and threw them back in.

Camp Casey Golf Club has about 65 military members; soldiers played about half of the 46,000 rounds played there last year. The rest of the players are South Koreans given honorary memberships as thanks for helping the division, Cragun said.

Two South Korean courses — Dynasty Country Club and Royal Country Club — are within 30 minutes’ drive of Camp Casey. But playing there is expensive, Cragun said. Most South Korean courses charge more than $100 per round.

“It is a small country with a large population so the cost of land is outrageous,” he added.

Once golfers develop their skills at Camp Casey, they might wish to travel south to Sungnam Golf Course, south east of Yongsan, a full-length 18-hole course with low green fees for the U.S. military, Cragun said.

Sungnam also was renovated recently; this weekend, senior officers and command sergeant majors played golf with soldiers to celebrate the revamped course.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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