Expansion plans mapped out for Sultan’s RunMay 26, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — Steve Braun has big plans for Sultan’s Run Golf Course.
Sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed things down a bit. But it won’t halt a vision that Braun has been working toward for more than a decade. Braun believed Sultan’s Run could serve as the foundation for resort expansion plans since buying the course in 2009.
“Sultan’s had a great reputation back in the ’90s,” he said. “It was at one point voted one of the Top 10 public courses in the state at the time. It was one of the top attractors of out-of-town people who came to Dubois County. I felt it had an opportunity to be a cornerstone, not only for the community, but as a viable business.”
Since buying the course, Braun made steady investments in its maintenance and infrastructure to bring it up to par. Some of the fixes included repairing bunkers and nursing the grass back to health. This approach served two purposes. It provided a better product that justified increased usage rates, and demonstrated continuous efforts to move forward in a time when the golf business was at a low point.
“When I took it over, I knew it required significant investment,” he said. “Cart paths were breaking up. I had to repave the road coming in. We completely redid the clubhouse from scratch. I made that decision that I’ll invest in the level to get it back to a Top 10 course.”
The investment process has been deliberate, but Braun has spent the past three years ramping up the next pieces to the puzzle. He envisions three major additions to the facilities at Sultan’s Run that will elevate it to a top resort destination in the state.
The first bit that Braun wants to enhance is the current dining facilities. He’s shooting for increased dining and banquet capabilities that would allow for the clubhouse to be rented for events separate and apart from golf. Braun is shooting to start work this summer with plans to enclose and extend the outside patio and build a deck near the 19th hole.
“When we looked at what we considered our strengths in this area, it was really at the clubhouse and that overlook at [hole] 18,” said Braun, who’s targeting a maximum capacity of 250 for the banquet hall. “I don’t believe there’s any banquet facility in the area that can match that.”
Braun is also looking into adding on-site lodging options for the resort. He’s bought some of the surrounding land around Sultan’s that will be used for building 10 luxury suite-style lodges. The lodges would have separate outside entrances for guests, and shared common areas that include kitchen space.
“It will be much like a hotel room, except greatly enhanced,” Braun said. “Ten lodges will be able to accommodate, in most of them, two queen beds and some single king beds. You’re looking at the ability to accommodate 32 golfers or people who come in just for hoteling purposes.”
The final piece centers around adding other entertainment options. This includes six to eight indoor simulator golf bays, a sports bar/restaurant and a boutique hotel with about 70 to 80 rooms. The simulator bays offer something not only to casual golfers, but also for those who want to keep their stroke sharp year-round no matter the weather conditions.
“It gives us a tremendous opportunity to market on a lot of different angles,” Braun said. “We could co-market our golf with our stay-and-play packages.”
Braun also hopes the simulator bays could serve a role in turning Sultan’s Run into a training ground for local youth golfers.
“The youth piece of that is the other cornerstone,” he said. “We’ll do everything we can to make sure Dubois County youth have access to one of the best quality facilities in the state, and the training that goes along with it.”
It’s been exciting for Braun to watch the seeds he planted take root and grow through the years. He brought on Forest Park boys golf coach Chris Tretter as a part-owner and general manager in the past year, and is confident the two of them have what it takes to see the project reach its full potential. Braun is grateful for the community support he’s received throughout the process, and looks forward to making Sultan’s Run a shining jewel and travel destination for Dubois County.
“The commitment had to be there,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with the community. I’ve always been proud of Dubois County’s ability to be a uniquely strong economic engine. We’re uniquely positioned to see that final vision come true.”
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