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College bringing course up to par

With a five-year agreement to run the golf course in hand, Saint Leo College is teeing off a host of changes, improvements and upgrades.

The Saint Leo Abbey golf course will see a major upgrade, from golf carts to the kitchen, in the next few months as Saint Leo College begins operating the course, college officials told town commissioners Monday.

Ben Donatello, college vice president of finance, told commissioners that the renewable five-year agreement for the college to run the course is nearly complete, and the college has already assumed some duties.

Aside from benefitting local golfers, Donatello said, the college's involvement will help students. The school is adding courses in golf-course management _ both the agricultural and business sides _ and the restaurant will provide experience for students in hospitality management courses, he said.

"We plan on investing fairly heavily in the improvement of the golf course," Donatello said.

Commissioners said they would not object to the college adding full liquor service to the course restaurant, clearing a hurdle for the school.

Donatello said the college plans to improve all aspects of the course, including working on the irrigation system, fairways and greens, planting trees along the course's border with State Road 52 and upgrading the golf carts.

The college is planning to allow golf coach Tom Shea to offer lessons and use the course for team practices and youth golf programs.

At the restaurant, the college is replacing the kitchen and renovating the dining room.

Donatello said he expects much of the planned work to be completed by October.