Cuba City golf course restaurant, clubhouse reopens nearly 2 years after fire
In May 2021, a fire destroyed the clubhouse at Cole Acres Golf & Grill in Cuba City. This spring, the golf course mainstay is back in full swing.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The telltale sign of spring for many begins on the links. Where golfers and admirers of the sport begin to flock to the greens in search of fresh air and shaving a shot or two off their game.
For community members in Cuba City, this spring and first swings, carries an extra weight, as golfers and diners of the beloved clubhouse have waited now two years to return. The golf industry was one of the few sectors that flourished during the pandemic as it provided plenty of space for social distancing and an outdoor escape, but for Cole Acres Golf & Grill, the community was without a gathering space.
Mothers Day weekend in 2021, an overnight fire destroyed their two-story clubhouse containing a supper club and pro shop. The swimming pool also permanently shut down after the pool’s pumps were removed from the clubhouse following the fire.
The location and course, founded in 1969 by a group of passionate community members, was devastated, but vowed to rebuild. The golf course remained open the past two summers while the new clubhouse was being constructed.
General Manager Dan Bowden says the total budget for the rebuild was set at $1.5 million for the building and $400,000 on equipment, with insurance covering roughly half of the project.
Looking toward fundraising in order to close the gap, the community went to work fielding donations from course members, local businesses and area organizations who wanted to see the location and mainstay that is Cole Acres, revived.
Longtime member Todd Bastian grew up spending ‘sun up to sun down’ at Cole Acres. His family ran the course and grill for a number of years when he was young. “It’s a pretty special place to our family,” Bastian started. He goes on to say the old clubhouse had history and character, but now it’s time to usher in a new era. “That place had a lot of character, this new place—they did it right but its going to have to develop its own character over the next 20, 30, 40 years.”
The new 5,600-square-foot building is one story, and the previous pool facility now is primarily a grassy area. Cole Acres will be open seven days a week once golf season begins. Bowden said he hopes the date will be April 1, but the season start will be weather-dependent, given the late-March snow totals.
With the inclusion of the new golf simulators in the clubhouse, Bowden says they intend to be a year-round destination, hosting both men’s and ladies’ leagues, including event space rentals.
Course member and volunteer Scott Derby said he’s more than ready for the first swing on the links of the season. “I usually come out every morning around sunrise and play a round...I’m excited for it to start opening up.”
The new environment of the clubhouse, Derby adds couldn’t have been made possible without the ongoing support of the community.
“We couldn’t have built a beautiful building like this without the donations that came in and on top of that there was a ton of volunteer work out here to put the finishing touches on. And even the days after the fire the community came together to get the course open within a few weeks,” recalled Derby.
Bowden said it was a community that started the club more than 50 years ago and its a community that rebuilt the clubhouse. “It’s a Cuba City address, but we’re the center of Cuba City, Benton and Hazel Green. It’s really been a community support.”
“Now we’re back and you know, it feels like home,” said a smiling regular, Donna Rogers.
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