For more than a century, the Fort Dodge Country Club, 370 Country Club Drive, has been a recreational and social focal point for the community.
A golf course is at the core of any country club. On that dimension, the Fort Dodge Country Club has few peers. The 156-acre, 18-hole course is a favorite of amateur and more serious golfers from across the state and beyond.
"It's one of the best golf courses in north central Iowa," said Steven Hendricks, club president. "That's proven by the fact that we have two signature golf tournaments: the Fort Dodge Amateur, which attracts some of the best players in Iowa, and the Senior Match Play Championship. ... It's a course that has been considered one of the premier courses in Iowa virtually from the time that it opened in the early 1900s."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Richard L. Jones, of Fort Dodge, putts on the fifth hole at the Fort Dodge Country Club recently. The hole is being rebuilt with a new putting green where the dirt piles are. Steve Hendricks, club president, says there are big changes ahead that will help the club keep in sync with the evolving needs of the community.
That's a sentiment that's strongly seconded by Steve Fuller, club golf pro.
"It's a very challenging layout," Fuller said. "Our greens have a great reputation with tournament players throughout the state. ... No 18 has won an award in the past for being one of the toughest holes in the state of Iowa. The golf course has received recognition (by the Iowa Golf Association in the 1990s) as the best 18-hole golf course in the state of Iowa."
A remarkable golf course is a part of the club's appeal, but there is a good deal more to the story.
Hendricks said keeping the club in sync with the evolving needs of the community and in harmony with the changing lifestyles of potential members are critical to the club's future. With that in mind, major changes have been implemented to make the club more attractive to present and potential members.
"One thing that we did is revamp our dues structure," Hendricks said. "Dues are down more than 30 percent from where they were a year ago. So, we've tried to make ourselves more competitive price-wise."
He said there is no initiation fee and dues can be paid annually or on a monthly payment plan. Members also are only being asked to pay for services and features they elect to use.
"We've gone to an a-la-carte concept," Hendricks explained. "You don't have to pay for services that you don't want. So, if you want to be able to hit range balls, that's available, but you don't have to pay for it if you don't want. Club storage is available, but you don't have to pay for it if you don't want. Golf carts are available, but again you don't have to pay for the use of a golf cart if you don't want. New for this year is the ability to pay a trail fee and use your own cart."
Superb practice facilities are a big selling point for the club for some members, Hendricks said.
"We've got one of the best practice facilities that you can find," he explained. "We've got a driving range. We've got two pitching and chipping greens, a practice putting green that is second to none. So, our practice facilities are competitive with any course in Iowa or any resort quite honestly that I've ever been to."
The club continues to offer dining options, but changes are also taking place in that area.
Hendricks said the most significant change is the elimination of a minimum monthly food charge.
"Starting May 1, we have eliminated the minimum requirement," he said. "You have the ability to use the dining room as much or as little as you wish and you aren't required to pay a minimum, which people saw as something that was off-putting."
Fuller said the menu is also shifting to what he characterized as a "sports bar" concept.
"People want a facility that is more casual, more user-friendly," he said.
A welcoming ambiance is central to the experience the Fort Dodge Country Club offers, Hendricks said.
"Something that has always been true of the Fort Dodge Country Club is that we are a relaxed, casual golf course," he said. "In some groups, the term country club carries with it a certain vision of what it is like. We have always been very casual. We have a very relaxed dress code for example."
Hendricks said club members are anxious for the word to spread that the Fort Dodge Country Club has a great deal to offer people with varied interests. It aims to be attractive to a wide spectrum of the community.
"We really, really want to encourage young people to look at the Fort Dodge Country Club as a viable entertainment option," he said. "We think we're a great place for young families."
About the Fort Dodge Country Club
In addition to the golf course, the club features a pro shop, snack shop, dining room and lounge. The clubhouse has rooms with a combined capacity of 300 that can be booked for private functions.
"People can bring in their own caterers," Fuller said, noting that the club also offers catering.
There is a swimming pool with lifeguards on duty that is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
"It's a zero access swimming pool, so it's fully handicapped accessible," Hendricks said. "Great for small children and young mothers. ... The pool goes from zero depth to 10 feet and so there is a diving board available. It's a very attractive, usable facility. We are by no means trying to compete with the aquatic center. The beauty ... is that from a family perspective, it's a little more user-friendly, especially for small children."
The club also has an active social calendar. Hendricks said it typically includes wine tastings, beer tastings, tailgating for football and bowl games, and much, much more.
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org