The Bonita Springs, Fla., club plans to restore all greens, bunkers and fairways close to their original Arthur Hills plan, while injecting some newer approaches into the design.
The Bonita Bay Club Board recently approved a $6.6 million renovation of its Bay Island course, one of three Arthur Hills-designed Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary courses within the 2,400-acre Bonita Bay Community in Bonita Springs, Fla.
In addition to the Bay Island, Marsh and Creekside courses, Bonita Bay Club also offers Cypress and Sabal, two Tom Fazio-designed courses spanning more than 1,000 acres of preserved cypress wetlands and pine flats with no residential development, at the nearby Bonita Bay Club Naples.
“Bay Island is considered one of our most challenging courses that continues to offer a beautiful and demanding round of golf, but the time has come to address the changes its 25 years has seen,” said Dan Miles, Bonita Bay Club general manager and chief operating officer.
Miles said that the Club will restore all greens, bunkers and fairways close to their original Arthur Hills plan, while injecting some newer approaches to the design.
“A vital consideration is to improve its playability for the new and average golfer while retaining its challenges for the better golfers and long hitters,” he said.
Golf course architects Hills-Forrest-Smith are responsible for the redesign of Bay Island, ensuring continuity of vision with its original design. The renovation work is slated to begin in April, with an anticipated November completion.
“One of the many advantages of having five courses is the alternate options our members have throughout all playing seasons,” said Miles.
The project was recently approved by the Bonita Bay Club Board after five years of review and consultation with Hills-Forrest-Smith, the Golf Committee, the Greens & Grounds Committee, and a Bay Island Ad Hoc Committee.
Bonita Bay Club President Peter Jones recently announced the project to the club membership with presentations on the details of the proposed layout. The renovation also includes a new irrigation system and extensive improvements to the bridges and lake banks throughout the course.
“Communicating with our members on significant initiatives within the club has proven to be integral to our success as we develop future plans and implement projects,” said Jones. “Given that this is part of a larger Golf Master Plan that reinforces that ‘Golf is King’ at Bonita Bay Club, we want to ensure that the membership has the opportunity to participate in the planning and fully embraces the end result. Golfers here are very proud of their facilities, and they expect a high-caliber experience.”
Working closely with the Bay Island team will be Director of Golf Operations Hal Akins, who has provided top quality playing conditions at Bonita Bay Club for more than 18 years.
The Bay Island course renovation is the first step in a planned strategy to be developed and implemented in stages across all five Bonita Bay Club courses.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bonita Bay Club courses now – and especially following the implementation of our Golf Master Plan – will continue to draw attention from the entire country,” said Miles.
“We compare favorably with our national peer group in every metric for club operations. The expectation is that the golfing experience that emerges from our plans will have this club noted not just in Southwest Florida, but among the most desirable golf clubs in the United States. Together with an impressive array of fitness, racquet sports, aquatics, lawn sports, dining, and social programming, the Golf Master Plan will take the whole package to a compelling new level for the new member seeking a healthy and enriched lifestyle – a lifestyle that is quite evolved from the traditional private club,” he added.
Jones noted that Bonita Bay Club is one of the few major private clubs in the U.S. with a golf member waiting list, although projected membership turnover will ensure that no new members have to wait very long. Jones added that the recently increased initiation fee of $95,000 represents a remarkable value when one considers all the variety the club offers.
Bonita Bay Club has also recently opened up a limited number of full golf memberships for candidates residing outside of Bonita Bay.
C&RB reported on Bonita Bay Club’s $11.5 million renovation project in 2014.