New owners revitalize golf club

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, July 7, 2018

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Fresh Start

FRESH START – New owners replaced the greens immediately after buying The Club at Runaway Bay. They changed the name to RB Golf Club and Resort. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Club at Runaway Bay, now RB Golf Club and Resort, is getting a face-lift.

New owners are working to restore the course and facilities to its previous premier status, and they hope to not only grow club memberships, but also the community of Runaway Bay.

“I grew up around it, knowing about it and all about Runaway Bay, and since it began, it’s always been a little out-of-the-way resort community that struggled,” said Daniel Coconaugher. “It was still struggling when I was looking at the golf course, and I decided it might be time for Runaway Bay to stop struggling.”

Coconaugher; his family including Jen Cooper; and Parker Properties realtor Sean Williams teamed up to buy the golf club in April.

“Sean and I both remember coming here, and it was painful to see it falling apart,” Coconaugher said. “None of us have real credentials running a club. We’re just feeling our way along, but it’s not rocket science. We should be able to emulate successful clubs.”

The group agrees the hardest part to this point was restoring the greens.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Ray Rogers, who’s overseeing the project.

Within two weeks of buying the course, all the greens were killed and then replaced with Champion Bermuda. Rogers said it was a painstaking process, but the greens are in good shape now.

“By the end of the season, they’ll be great,” he said. “We have good people working for us that got us to this point.”

The group is also in the midst of putting together a fitness room with large windows that overlook the course, and they’ve updated the clubhouse, bringing in new merchandise and offering grab-and-go food and drink. They also added dressing rooms.

Coconaugher said they plan to remodel the restaurant, making it light and vibrant, and update the menu as well. They’ve already added specials every night, which are often paired with an entertainment event.

Another large undertaking has been redoing the driving range.

“It was a mess, and we need to put grass out there,” Coconaugher said.

In addition to restoring the actual range, they plan to build a pavilion, so golfers can hit balls day or night and in all weather conditions.

“It’ll be kind of like Top Golf,” Coconaugher said. “We hope to have people enjoy it at night.”

The club’s first public event, formally kicking off the new ownership, was the Firecracker Open last weekend.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” said Williams. “They’ve been really understanding and have been patient, which is good.”

“The town’s been supportive, too,” Coconaugher chimed in.

The group has bought several lots on the golf course and plans to build townhomes. They will also offer play-and-stay packages and make an effort to create a true resort atmosphere, encouraging people to stay for a few days instead of just coming for an afternoon of golf.

“This is very long-term,” Coconaugher said. “We’re not trying to improve it and get rid of it. We plan to keep it forever.”

“We’re excited about bringing the golf course ownership back to Wise County,” Williams added.

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