See inside Finkbine's new clubhouse, where staff hopes Bump’s Restaurant becomes 'a hangout'
Those who've lived near to or driven by the new Bump's Restaurant at the University of Iowa's Finkbine Golf Course these past eight months may not have realized it's been accessible to them or that it's even been open.
"We haven't done a grand opening or anything like that yet," the course's general manager and restaurant's head chef, Jennifer Madsen, explained this week. "We'll do one later this year."
Though the restaurant, at 1380 Melrose Ave., opened in July and is part of a new $10 million clubhouse that was nearly five years in the making, it was only in recent weeks that Madsen began to make more of a push to get the word out to the general public.
"Definitely a large portion of our business during the (golf season) is golfers ... but it's really trying to make sure that we can support everyone who comes in," she said, adding she plans to have the restaurant open all year long. "We're here to be a public restaurant — to support and serve the community."
Madsen came on in April last year, back when a grand opening in 2020 still seemed possible. While this past weekend didn't represent a grand opening for the building or the restaurant, Madsen said it does represent the new facility and staff continuing to find their footing.
The approximately 20,000-foot facility boasts a bar, meeting room, pavilion, locker rooms, expanded golf shop and the restaurant, which is named after Chalmers “Bump” Elliott, the University of Iowa's men's athletics director from 1970-1991 and a football star in his own right at the University of Michigan in the 40s.
He died in Iowa City on Dec. 7, 2019.
Bump's Restaurant represents the first time the golf course has had a full-service restaurant. Though the venue is managed by a division of the management firm Troon Golf, Green Golf Partners, which allows the venue to serve alcohol, much of the service staff is made up of UI students, who can now take better advantage of the facility with a recently added CAMBUS stop in front of the golf course, too.
The restaurant has four different seating sections — two outdoors and two indoors — which, not accounting for social distancing, can accommodate slightly over 200 guests at a time.
The clubhouse itself is called the Nagle Family Clubhouse, named for the family which donated heavily to the project. With the arrival of the clubhouse has come the implementation and expansion of new and revised amenities outside of just Bump's Restaurant.
“(It's) more customer service-friendly on the golf side," said Dain Coppock, the head golf professional at Finkbine. "One thing that we got last year was our new golf cart fleet — before this, we had carts that were pushing seven years old.”
Where the old carts would sometimes stop running on the field, the new fleet boasts fresh models that even feature GPS guidance.
Coppock said the new clubhouse features a larger focus on accommodating golfers overall, too — not only does the staff plan to have a staff member positioned at the front of the clubhouse to make it possible for guests to drop off their clubs before parking, but staff will have more of a presence on the course, too.
Prior to the renovations, there would only be rangers on the golf course during peak hours. Now, the team plans to have them out regularly — six days a week — to ensure things run smoothly.
"(As the community recovers from COVID-19,) we’d love to show off the facility," Coppock said. "Not only do we love to see that improvement, from the golf standpoint, but (we hope) that Bump's … can become a hang-out."
Want to go?
To golf: The course is tentatively planning to open for the season on Wednesday, March 24
To eat: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
Find their menu online, at Finkbine.com.