SentryWorld has always prided itself on providing golfers with top-notch customer service, superb course conditions and a memorable experience.
Now, the upscale public course in Stevens Point, which is owned and managed by Sentry Insurance, is doubling down on those hallmarks. When SentryWorld reopens in 2022, tee times will be spaced at 20-minute intervals – a rarity in the industry – to ensure that there are no pace-of-play issues.
“Slow play is something that will kill an experience immediately,” said Mike James, general manager at SentryWorld. “Everybody has been in those situations where they’re either being pushed from behind or you have a group that is slow ahead of you and you play a 5½-hour round. It’s not any fun. We’re going to spread out the tee times so the pace of play (problem) should be eliminated from the equation.”
Not only that, but two new on-course refreshment stations will offer locally curated food and beverage options, all of which are included in the green fee. One station will be located near the tees on Nos. 1 and 10 and a second will be located between Nos. 3 and 13.
Golfers can choose from among grab-and-go items, hot sandwiches and snacks. There will be a chef at each station, daily sandwich specials, and fully stocked bars with bartenders.
“Every person is going to have four passes through these food and beverage stations,” James said. “You should never be wanting for anything food- or beverage-wise. This is all-inclusive, so tips are included. This is a situation where you can check in, pay your fee, put your wallet away and you never have to reach for it again.”
The rate for the general public will be $275, which is an increase of $100 over the fee in 2019, when the course was last open. But SentryWorld is competing with other upscale courses in Wisconsin, including the burgeoning Sand Valley Resort just 45 minutes to the south, and the 20-minute tee times and food-and-beverage stations are a way to differentiate it from the others.
“These are things we’re really thinking through,” James said. “What does a golfer really want, and what could be a really cool and unique experience? And we think that this is it.”
SentryWorld was closed for all of 2020 because of COVID-19. The course then underwent a renovation in 2021 in which a sub-air system was installed under all 18 greens and even the practice green. Notably used by Augusta National, the sub-air system allows the maintenance staff to control moisture levels in the greens and ensures optimal playing conditions.
Other modifications included the narrowing of fairways on most of the par-4 and par-5 holes, moving some fairway bunkers, modifying three greens (on Nos. 4, 5 and 18) and adding some new back tees.
Those changes were made in response to SentryWorld being awarded the 2023 U.S. Senior Open. It’s the second major renovation to the course over the past 10 years.
“The U.S. Senior Open is SentryWorld’s first major and it’s obviously a highlight of what’s to come,” James said. “And in the process of that we had to modify the golf course a bit. So since last fall through mid- to late July, we renovated the golf course and modified it for the championship, but also wanted to make sure that it’s playable for the everyday player. We renewed and refreshed it.”
In addition to all of that, a luxury boutique hotel, the Inn at SentryWorld, is being built adjacent to the 18th fairway. The course was scheduled to reopen in August, concurrent with the opening of the hotel, but supply-chain issues slowed construction and the course remained closed to the public.
“That hotel – and obviously I’m biased a bit because I’m involved in it – but it’s going to be a very special place,” James said. “It’s upscale, the design and décor, but it’s also very comfortable, very welcoming, very central Wisconsin. I just can’t wait to show it off to everybody who comes.”
SentryWorld now is scheduled to reopen on June 1, 2022, but no sooner, James said.
“June 1 is our target date,” he said. “The reason for that is we’re going through the design and construction of the food and beverage stations now. Some of it will start this winter, but the majority will be done in spring.
“We cannot wait to have our loyal guests come back, along with those who have never been here. We love taking care of our customers and we look forward to the golf course opening again in 2022.”