New Ramstein clubhouse is par for course
Stars and Stripes June 26, 2003
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The golf has been good for years at Woodlawn Golf Course.
The clubhouse, though, was lacking.
“The old building was run down and dark,” said Debbie Mellway, who lives in Ramstein village and whose husband works for NATO.
“I’m glad they totally got rid of it and put in something brand-new.”
The new Woodlawn clubhouse will open at 1:30 p.m. Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Tournaments, entertainment, breakfast and lunch specials and drawings are planned for the weekend to help break in the new digs.
Mellway, one of 54 members of the Woodlawn Women’s Golf Association, said that after tournaments the players used to shower at nearby gyms and eat at restaurants away from the course.
There was not room for a proper post-tournament event, she said.
The new 26,400-square-foot facility includes:
• A tournament-function room — a place to eat, drink and hand out awards.
• New pro shop. At 2,600 square feet, it’s twice as big as the old one.
• An expanded Symphony Steakhouse that used to seat 64 but now seats 80.
• The Turn, a drive-up snack bar just off the 10th tee for players who want a quick snack or drink before heading out to the back nine.
• Larger locker rooms and shower areas.
• Forty percent more parking. Players before were sometimes using the adjacent “lemon lot” and fitness center for parking.
The project — demolition of the former club, planning, construction, parking — cost about $3.4 million, according to John Beckett, flight chief for the 86th Services Squadron, which operates the golf course.
The funds used were nonapproriated funds generated by the golf course and by Air Force personnel using Army and Air Force Exchange Service businesses, Beckett said.
Thekla Barilaro, another member of the women’s association, said Woodlawn is a good deal.
“We’d have to pay a lot more money to enjoy these privileges in the States,” Barilaro said.
Greens fees range from $8 to $20 for Department of Defense ID-card holders, more for non-ID guests.
Package deals and season passes are also available.
The work at Woodlawn is not finished.
A round practice green that looks like a pedestrian traffic circle is being built between the first tee and clubhouse. Seed has been planted. The green might be ready for putting by fall, said Steve Ritz-Woller, the club’s general manager.
Col. Lynn Haines of the 86th Dental Squadron at Ramstein said the clubhouse will be “gorgeous” once the landscaping is finished.
“I’m glad they’re using the money we’re paying and putting it back into the course,” Haines said.
“You always like to have a nice place to wash up and have a cold beverage when you get done with your round.”
Ritz-Woller said about 40,000 rounds are played each year at Woodlawn, making it busier than most military courses in Europe. The weather in southwestern Germany sometimes allows golfers to tee it up in December, January and February.
The golf course, which was built in 1995, has matured over the years.
It plays at 6,044 yards from the back tees — short compared to a lot of layouts. The fairways are narrow and greens are small. The trees have grown tall and surround almost every fairway and green, making accuracy more important than distance.
The Woodlawn clubhouse had also matured, but not in a good way.
The old building was torn down starting in October 2001. New construction began in February 2002. For the past 16 months, the Woodlawn staff has been working out of three trailers — answering phones, renting carts and selling greens fees.
“Now it feels like we’re moving into the Taj Mahal,” Ritz-Woller said.