Hoffmanns unveil vision for golf course

Washington natives Jerri and David Hoffmann share a quick word prior to their announcement that they plan to build a 12-hole championship golf course at Balducci Vineyards. 

The Hoffmann Family of Companies gave details for its 12-hole championship golf course to be constructed at its Balducci Vineyards in Augusta.

Washington native David Hoffmann also gave updates on his company’s other planned projects, including a 500-seat amphitheater and 250-person riverboat.

Permits for the 12-hole championship golf course still have to be obtained from St. Charles County, but Hoffmann said he hopes to build the course on 105 wooded acres behind the vineyards in the spring. He said the golf course already has been discussed “at length” with St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann. The course and other developments are part of the Hoffmann’s planned $125 million investment in Augusta and surrounding areas, which he plans to transform into a national tourism destination.

To date, Hoffmann  and his wife, Jerri, have purchased more than two dozen properties in and around Augusta, including four wineries: Montelle Winery, Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant Estates and Balducci Vineyards. The couple also has purchased a number of storefronts in Augusta and have opened the Augusta Emporium and the Kickstand Augusta bicycle shop. They also have announced plans to build a 60-room hotel and conference center, which is going to be called Hoffmann Lodge, and to open a boutique hotel on the campus of the former Emmaus Homes in Marthasville. David Hoffmann said he wasn’t sure exactly how many people have gone to his businesses this summer, but that his trolley had driven between 500 and 1,000 people on a given weekend.

Regarding the golf course, Hoffmann said he hopes to one day host a national 12-hole invitational tournament at the course. The name of the course, which will be open to the public, was not disclosed at the conference. 

The course will be designed by Rees Jones, who has been the architect of several major courses, including the redesigned Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country a decade ago. Jones and Hoffmann said the course in Augusta is being designed with accessibility in mind. Jones is planning to include many tee boxes for those of all ages and skill levels as well as greens that will be “a bit larger than normal” to allow for different hole locations, he said. Jones added that the profile of the greens also will vary, even leaving the door open for a couple elevated greens.

“We have holes that are going to be hard to par, we’re going to have holes that are swing holes, and then we’re going to have birdie holes,” Jones said. “So you can catch up, lose ground, catch up, and it may not even be the same hole every time.”

The idea behind a 12-hole course, Hoffmann said, is to make playing a round less of a time commitment. He said golfers can always add play of one of the six-hole loops if they want to play 18 holes, but that he’s expecting many to spend that extra time enjoying the winery.

“I like 12 holes, because I love golf, but you get off the course just a little quicker to drink our great, great wine at Augusta,” Hoffmann said.

A clubhouse also will be built on the property, according to Hoffmann, but plans for the clubhouse were not released. 

Hoffmann said many sites at his recently purchased area properties were considered for a golf course, but the plot behind Balducci was selected because of the terrain, which will make for a natural and wooded course that fits the land. Jones called it an old-style project, where the site was picked for a golf course rather than the opposite. 

The terrain also is well-suited for a planned 500-seat amphitheater, which will be situated in a hollow behind Balducci, adjacent to the golf course. As owners of the Hertz Arena, an 8,284-seat multipurpose venue in Estero, Florida, the Hoffmanns plan to use their musical connections to bring artists to the amphitheater. Construction of the new venue is expected to start in the spring.

Hoffmann said “great” progress has been made on his other projects in the last few months. Hoffmann’s gas station and accompanying Historic Augusta General Store opened Wednesday. He also said he is in the early stages of planning a dairy farm in the area to provide cheeses to his wineries and for a potential cheese shop. The Miss Augusta, which Hoffmann named his four-decked boat, has arrived in St Louis from Louisiana and is being retrofitted for the Missouri River. He said weddings already have been booked on the boat, and it will begin cruising the Missouri River within 30 days.