Cheekwood Golf Club, which on Tuesday was chosen to lease 54 acres City of Franklin-owned land to expand across Mack Hatcher Parkway, issued a statement from one of the owners and a video of their plans for the expansion.
Todd Jester, co-owner of Cheekwood Golf Club, said the plan for the 22-year-old public course includes a lighted driving range, a new clubhouse, and connection to Franklin’s public trail system.
“My partners and I are very excited and honored by BOMA’s decision to entrust this property to us, and we look forward to creating a much needed recreational and community-gathering venue that mirrors the city’s history of character and charm, while also preserving and protecting the environmental integrity of the land, wildlife and the surrounding residential neighborhoods,” Jester said in the prepared statement.
The lease enables Cheekwood to expand across the street from the existing course and upgrade from an executive 9-hole course to a regulation 9-hole course in a phased process. Cheekwood also will strive to build a new multi-purpose clubhouse, a lighted driving range and a public trailhead.
Formerly known as Fairways on Spencer Creek, the course is now at the corner of Spencer Creek Road and Mack Hatcher where a traffic light and an entrance to the Franklin First United Methodist Church will provide access to the property. In addition, a golf cart trail could connect both sides of the property through a tunnel under Mack Hatcher along the Harpeth River.
Jester, a Franklin resident and golf course architect, and Nashville entrepreneurs Tom Pierce and Jo Dee Pritchard purchased the property in 2015.
The City of Franklin had three entities vying for the land: Cheekwood Golf, the Discovery Center children’s museum, and the Franklin Housing Authority. Aldermen in support of the golf course said the other two entities could locate elsewhere, but the land was the only option to expand the golf course. Aldermen voted 6-1 to make the land available to the golf club.
“Cheekwood initiated the request for this lease because the 54 acres are a natural extension of our course and are ideally suited for our growing needs,” Jester’s statement said. “We knew that in order to continue to be a sustainable, financially viable business in the future, we must find a way to expand to be able to meet the needs of our citizens of all demographic groups. We also recognized that to be successful in meeting more community needs, we must have a broader base of activities in addition to golf.
“To help meet these needs, we committed to incorporating and building a public trailhead, trails and greenways through the property that connect to the Franklin trail system; adding a venue space/clubhouse; providing classroom and training spaces for golf; and offering other recreational and educational opportunities for the community.
“Cheekwood Golf Club is currently addressing needs for youth mentoring, as well as providing for the needs that the junior and high schools have for practice facilities and a tournament venue. The expansion will take community youth sporting activities to a new level, and give more students opportunities for college golf scholarships, many of which go unclaimed each year.
“The expansion also allows land-use improvements that will maintain the integrity and beauty of the open space, which is especially important since the area is very visible from Mack Hatcher, one of the city’s busiest roadways. We intend to create quality open space that is noted as an environmental treasure for Franklin.
“The new clubhouse will provide additional space for weddings, graduation receptions, civic gathering space, workshops, etc. Area residents, businesses and organizations will have opportunities to plan and host special events and meetings in a beautiful setting, with space for companies that want to combine business gatherings with recreation.
“Our expansion will reflect the high standards and character for which Franklin is nationally known, and we can’t wait to begin turning our vision into reality.”