Cuba City golf club sets sights on next chapter after fire

CUBA CITY, Wis. — Three days after a fire ravaged a Cuba City golf and supper club, the damaged remnants still rest in a scorched pile where the clubhouse once stood.

The leaders at Cole Acres, 7617 County Road J, are wasting little time planning their next steps, however.

Pro shop Manager Dan Bowden said the building will be demolished within a week, and plans to construct a replacement already are underway.

“This is the center of three communities,” Bowden said. “We have had generations of people in Cuba City, Benton and Hazel Green who grew up here, who raised their kids here. We want to get back to normal as quickly as we can. We want to do that for them.”

Benton fire crews were called to the scene of the blaze around 1 a.m. Sunday. They were joined by firefighters from five other departments, with emergency responders spending roughly five hours on the scene.

Extensive fire damage destroyed the upper level of the building, while heat and smoke damage affected the lower one. Bowden said insurance crews visited the site Tuesday and deemed the building a hazard.

“They want it to come down as soon as possible, and it is scheduled to come down on Monday,” he said.

Bowden said Cole Acres already has begun working with engineering firms to design a new building, adding that officials hope to have the new structure ready for spring 2022.

The golf course already has reopened to members, Bowden said. Shortly after the building is demolished, Cole Acres will begin using a portable pro shop that will allow staff to take tee times, process greens fees and allow non-members to use the course.

Plans for the swimming pool on the property are less clear, however.

Bowden said the pumps for the pool were built into the foundation of the clubhouse, and that system will be removed when the rest of the building comes down. He said a new pumping system is not part of the plan for the soon-to-be-constructed clubhouse.

But that doesn’t rule out the possibility that the pool could have a new chapter.

“We are looking at rebuilding the clubhouse first,” he said. “Next, we will look at the feasibility of building a new pump house if the funds and the support are there to do that.”

Benton Village President Gary McCrea called the fire a “terrible accident” and said it will impact multiple communities until Cole Acres is fully up and running.

He noted that many Benton residents used the pool for lessons or open swimming. Benton makes an annual financial contribution to support the pool, he said.

“The fact that it isn’t open will have a pretty big impact on us, especially with kids’ swimming lessons,” he said.

He said he is resigned to the fact that the pool cannot reopen this year but expressed hope that the pool services will return in the future.

“If it doesn’t reopen, people would have to go to Shullsburg or Galena or Platteville,” he said. “It is going to be a big loss for the community until they get it back up and running.”

Cole Acres employs about 20 workers, including full and part-time staff, Bowden said.

He said the majority of those jobs, including those related to the pro shop and golf course maintenance, would be unaffected by the fire.

Staff members employed in the Cole Acres supper club will be affected but will have the option to get hours in other roles, he said.

Bowden noted that there has been a high level of interest and “an outpouring of support” from community members in the days since the fire took place.

“I cannot even guess how many cars have driven past to take a look at what happened,” he said. “And so many people have called and offered to help in whatever way that they can.”

Calls to Cuba City officials were not returned Wednesday.