Changes are finally coming at Boise’s Warm Springs Golf Course. Can you still play 18?

More than two decades after it was first discussed, the city of Boise broke ground Thursday on big changes at Warm Springs Golf Course, with golfers, city leaders and area residents gathering to celebrate.

The goal, according to city officials, is to have a new state-of-the-art clubhouse facility attract diners and events the way the city-owned course has attracted golfers for decades.

There are a few changes on the way as well for those who play golf, but the course will remain open during construction. A man-made water hazard will be installed behind the new clubhouse beside what is now the 18th green. The front and back nines were recently switched.

“We didn’t lose hope that someday we would be here doing what we’re doing,” said Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Recreation. “I’ve been here for 21-22 years, and we’ve been talking about this clubhouse for almost 22 years.”

Among those in attendance for the groundbreaking were Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, City Council members Colin Nash, Jordan Morales and Meredith Stead, and Holloway.

Warm Springs’ current clubhouse has been in use for 50 years, and city officials first started thinking about a new facility in the early 2000s. But nothing ever got rolling. Holloway said the city was able to make headway when a donor gave $3.5 million to help fund the project.

There was one caveat, though: The new clubhouse had to be designed as a community gathering spot for both golfers and nongolfers to utilize. And that’s the plan the city has, to offer a scenic site to eat, drink or have a party.

“I’m so excited to be here next year opening this place,” McLean said. “And even more than that, to be here a couple weeks later and just experience it, because I can envision the energy and joy that coming to this spot will create in this part of our city.”

The new clubhouse will feature a pro shop, event area, full-service grill and patio. The dining area will be open to the general public, Holloway said.

The facility will be about 8,400 square feet inside and the patio will be roughly 3,400 square feet.

The clubhouse is expected to be completed and open to the public in the summer of 2025, but the city doesn’t have a more specific timeline right now. The old clubhouse will stay open until the new one is ready, and then will be knocked down to make way for extra parking for the course and facilities.

”We believe that this is more than just a clubhouse that golfers will utilize, it’s actually a city facility,” Holloway said when Boise first announced the major donation in February 2022.

Holloway noted to the Idaho Statesman after the groundbreaking that one of the most important considerations was not to interfere with what is a popular spot in East Boise for area golfers. There were plenty out on the course during Thursday’s event.

“It’s purposeful,” Holloway said of the construction. “We wanted to make sure we could stay in business the entire time and that there is absolutely no disruption to the golf.”

After the $3.5 million donation, the city still needed $8.5 million more for what became roughly a $12 million project. Holloway met with McLean about it all and said she was immediately on board.

The funding is coming from the city of Boise’s budget and golf course revenue that went to a reserve account.

“When we have somebody in our community that steps up and says, ‘I want to help,’ we’re gonna figure out how to partner to get that done,” McLean said. “And ultimately when we are cutting the ribbon next year, it will be another example of how Boise does things the Boise way.”

Former City Council president Elaine Clegg, who started serving on the council in 2004, was at Thursday’s event and recalled that one of her first meetings as a council member was with then-Parks and Rec Director Jim Hall about a new clubhouse at Warm Springs.

“There was a promise made to the golfers that proceeds, or the profits, from the golf course would eventually go into building a new clubhouse,” Clegg said. “(Hall) said, ‘I just don’t think we can do it this year,’ and I was like, ‘Is this a real promise or not a promise? What is going on here?’ ”

It took a long time, but the project finally gained steam. Holloway credited McLean and other officials with not giving up on it, and he closed the event by passing around a flag for everyone in attendance to sign. McLean, Clegg, Nash, Morales, Stead and others then donned hard hats, grabbed shovels and did the ceremonial “groundbreaking” at the new clubhouse site.