Frankfort Commons Golf Course has been going through changes since Jesse Cacy took over as general manager on January 1. Cacy works for his family at Shoup’s Country Foods, Inc., which owns Arborwood by Shoup’s, an event venue nestled inside the course. Early in November, Arborwood LLC was contracted to operate the city’s public golf course, which was established in 1926.

“We thought it was a natural fit, since we started in 2014 when we purchased Arborwood,” Cacy said. “Of course, we want the golf course to be a success, knowing that we have the property there for public and private events. We had seen more than one management company manage the course, and we wanted to take the golf course to the next level. We thought, with our experience in events and in food and beverage, that we would provide a quality experience for the Frankfort Golf Course.”

Cacy says that they started the remodel right away at the start of the year and spent the first few months getting the course ready for golf season.

“We opened up the pro shop for a floor plan that created a little better flow within the building,” he said. “Half of our staff and I had to go to the Super Bowl for two weeks in February, which provided a couple hurdles because we really wanted to have everything finished before the start in March to get our golfers out as early as possible this year.”

Just when the course became ready for golfers, the pandemic reached Indiana.

“Having that curveball thrown at us – we were prepared to be open and didn’t know the pandemic was going to hit,” Cacy said. “So, in cooperation with the city and the board of works, we worked to provide a good plan to be able to have the community still able to get outside and golf.

“Our family has been sanitizing for many years,” he added. “I grew up with sanitation. We have people on staff sanitize everything all the time.”

Cacy says that the course restricts golfers to one per cart, with the exception of those under 16 years of age, and those carts are sanitized between rounds.

“I supplied the board of works with a picture guide of how we sanitize each golf cart,” he said. “Each is brought in and washed in between play, and we hit all the hot spots on the golf cart with sanitizer. Our employees wear gloves and bring the cart back around to the front and wipe them down with a sanitation spray.”

Cacy says they have attempted to eliminate as many common touch points as possible on the course.

“We have also eliminated the bunker rakes,” he said. “We tell the patrons not to use the ball washer or anything they would be touching. We tell them not to touch the flags, and we installed in our cups a ball retriever which allows patrons to use their own putter to get the ball out of the hole without having to touch the hole or the flag sticks. It is kind of a new technology, but it keeps the players safe and allows them to only have to touch their ball.

“Golf is a sport where you can be in the open and 6 feet away from each other,” he continued. “We are able to eliminate the social contact. We are doing everything we can to keep our community safe.”

Though the pro shop opened at 25 percent capacity this month, golfers are still encouraged to utilize the course’s “Park and Play” app, which allows them to check in and pay from their device.

“We have access to an online app for online tee times which allows people to purchase through our golf app and at golffrankfort.com to eliminate money handling,” Cacy said. “It is called ‘Park and Play’. It allows the consumer to park their car and go directly to a golf cart or tee box. You can have everything prepaid online or over the phone, go right to the tee box and tee off. You don’t have to touch anything on the course because you have the ball retriever. You can use your own putter and pull the ball right out.”

Cacy is looking forward to being able to fully open the new FoxDen Bar and Grill, which is not fully opened to the public quite yet.

“We have always wanted to dip our toe into having a restaurant,” Cacy said. “We thought this would be a good fit to have a grill with our food available and provide a place for the community to come get some Shoup’s home-cooked food.

“We have updated the floor plan to have a banquet area that the high schools can use and outings can use,” he added. “Then, on the other side, the pro shop where you check in for golf is also a side where you can at the grill here. It will be a multi-purpose pro shop with restaurant seating.”

Cacy said that they have retained the course superintendent, Ryan Tunmer, and his grounds crew.

“Ryan Tunmer has done an excellent job the last three years getting the course back into condition,” he said. “We were thrilled that we were able to keep our superintendent and keep the course moving forward in a positive direction.

“The greens are really rolling true and nice,” he continued. “The fairways and tee boxes are in excellent spring shape. They look like they are in mid-season form already and are looking excellent.”

Cacy says that the response to the changes has been positive.

“So far, we have been able to attract play from not only inside our community but outside from our closer counties,” he said. “We have heard nothing by positive responses so far, and it is those positive responses that keep us going daily because the course has long hours, and we work hard to give a good, cautious experience to our patrons.”