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River Falls Golf Course in first season as public course

RIVER FALLS - The River Falls Golf Course on County Road M opens the season for the first time as a public golf course, having shed its semi-private club status plus made other improvements during the long winter.

General Manager Doug Hanson, along with several staff members, explained recent changes.

"We are completely public," Hanson said last week.

The golf course added a golf simulator in its pro shop, which enables golfers to practice their swing inside and get some insight about how they're hitting.

People entering the pro shop or bar area may not realize the wall between them is gone but will probably notice that the pro shop and bar areas feel bigger now. Guests will sense more openness in the dining/banquet room, too, after changes removed big columns and odd room angles.

Hanson and River Valley Catering's Sales Manager, Betty Brueske say that the local food business is now the exclusive catering company of the River Falls Golf Course.

That means people planning a wedding, reunion, party or other big event will do so with Brueske. She is excited about the changes at the golf course and in the banquet room, which from any point yields tree-filled views of the rolling greens.

Brueske said the fully finished patio with umbrella tables adds a great outdoor dimension to any party; she worked recently with a bride who wants to exchange vows on the patio.

The catering and sales manager confirms that the owner of West Wind Supper Club, Kevin Pechacek, owns River Valley Catering. Menu options include the creations of chef Anthony Leone, and, says Brueske, they can be customized to each guest's tastes.

She said, "We work with people to come up with an individualized menu."

A catering and food service veteran, she's handled lots of specific requests -- for special diets, kid-pleasing dishes and more. People can peruse RVC's menu at the business' website:

The big changes also add capacity to the venue. It previously sat about 250 people comfortably but now can accommodate up to 300 people.

Hanson Bros Golf Holdings bought the River Falls Golf Course in 2010, remodeled all winter and sported a dramatically changed look afterward.

The Hanson family added a pro shop with official Badger and Gopher merchandise, refurbished locker and powder rooms, built a new maintenance building, installed a decorative patio with an outdoor grill and pergola, closed off the downstairs access from the front door and added an elevator, remodeled the main-entry area and bar, opened the ballroom by reworking the walls and columns, and upgraded the bathrooms.

Other touches include a reconditioned dance floor, as well as new chandeliers and audio-visual system. A popular feature that hasn't changed is the view from the room's floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Hansons add a chapter to the course's physical history, which includes the original clubhouse in the 1960s, followed by an addition in the 1970s and 1980s. They continue a story that started with a stock certificate, numbered "1" and signed in 1929 when the course started by Warren Knowles, II, father of former Wisconsin governor, Warren Knowles, III.

General Manager Doug Hanson said last year that the family has a sincere love of the game and wants to offer a place that is "very nice but not presumptuous or pretentious."

Golf prices run $33 for 18 holes and a cart; $19 for nine holes and a cart. Juniors accompanied by an adult may play 18 holes for $19.

People can get more information about the RFGC on the website: They can also visit the club or call 715-425-7253.