The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped strong activity for enhancement projects across the U.S., with clubs in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma and California all recently reporting on renovation work being planned, in progress or completed. Here’s a rundown of some of the latest projects.
From Florida to California, golf courses are in every phase of renovation—from initial plans to completion.
The Coral Creek Club in Placida, Fla. has completed a significant renovation of its golf course and has reopened for member play. Tom Fazio returned to renovate his original 2000 design.
The specific goals of the Fazio renovation were to improve the overall golf experience while protecting the legacy of the club and the integrity of the original design, and to advance the golf course into the future.
The project included updating the playing surfaces with new modern Bermuda grasses to allow for faster greens speeds and more consistency, the updating of bunker positions and sand, improved tee locations, the expansion of the practice facilities, as well as the addition of new drainage where it was needed to provide firmer and faster playability conditions.
“We are excited to showcase the outstanding course improvements made by Fazio’s team to our many members who are returning to Florida for the winter months,” said Tom Noyes, Coral Creek Club’s General Manager. “The renovation project has greatly enhanced the superb design and will elevate recognition of the Coral Creek Club as one of the finest courses in the state. Importantly, the course can be enjoyed by golfers of all levels but also will present a challenging test for the very best players.”
The entire property also was cleared from overgrown vegetation and native areas were restored.
Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club in Ardmore, Okla. will get a $3.2 million restoration starting next spring to restore the course to the original design by Perry Maxwell, The Daily Ardmoreite reported.
Joe Ward, Vice President of the Dornick Hills Board of Directors, said because the Maxwell added to and changed his design over the years, there is not one official “original” design, The Daily Ardmoreite reported. However, aerial photographs taken in the 1930s and 1950s will be used to help capture the spirit of Maxwell’s plans.
“Dornick Hills was originally built in 1914,” Ward said. “On top of being a golf course architect, Maxwell was a banker in Ardmore, and Dornick Hills was one of the first courses he built. He had a farm out by Dornick, and he tinkered with Dornick for most of his career. So even as we went off to build other things, he kept returning to Dornick.”
Golf course architect Tom Doak will be spearheading the redesign efforts, The Daily Ardmoreite reported. Ward said that Doak had written about Dornick hills in one of his books and had referred to renovations carried out in the 1980s as one of the “biggest tragedies in golf course architecture in his lifetime.” He went on to write that he would gladly help to restore Dornick Hills completely pro bono.
Once talks about restoring the course began in earnest, Ward contacted Doak to see if he was still interested in working on the course, The Daily Ardmoreite reported.
“When I contacted him, he lived up to what he said in his book, and he’s not charging us for any of his work,” Ward said. “He has a great deal of respect for Perry Maxwell and his legacy, and he wants to see that legacy restored.”
Because Doak will be working at no cost, the money being spent will all go towards restoration and the new irrigation system, The Daily Ardmoreite reported.
“It’s mostly going to be on the green surround and trying to bring the greens back to what they were originally,” Ward said. “It also entails redoing about half the tee boxes and doing some fairway work. Some of the bunkers will stay where they are, but most of the bunkering will change around the greens to what they originally were.”
The restoration project will also involve clearing hundreds on non-native trees from the course, The Daily Ardmoreite reported.
“Over time a lot of trees have been planted, and a lot of those are sycamores and trees that aren’t native to Oklahoma,” Ward said. “So, we’re going to remove probably 300 to 500 trees that have encroached over time to the fairways.”
Ward told The Daily Ardmoreite the majority of funding for the project has come from the Westheimer Foundation, which has pledged $2.5 million for the project. He said some other foundations have also gotten involved in the project. They have raised some funds through their membership, so they are close to having all the funds they will need.
The project will begin in earnest next spring and Ward said the project will likely take around six months, The Daily Ardmoreite reported. Though the course will be shut down, he is hopeful that some temporary greens will be available.
“The course is going to be shut down for about six months, but the actual restoration is going to be around four-months-long over the summer and early fall,” he said. “Then we’ll have to reseed the greens which will take around two months to grow in. So, you’ll have a four-month process where you have the reshaping of the greens and the renovation of the bunkers and all that. Then you’ll plant your seed and the course will be ready to play probably around the middle of November.”
The city of Gainesville, Ga. is planning some improvements at Chattahoochee Golf Course and wants to sell some surplus land to help pay for the upgrades, The Gainesville Times reported. The Gainesville Redevelopment Authority, which owns the golf course, will work with a realtor to sell the property. If the land has not sold by December 31, 2021, it will go back to the city of Gainesville. The redevelopment authority approved the agreement at a November 18 meeting.
The land that will be sold is about 8 acres, The Times reported. The $2.9-million project includes relocating three holes at the course, renovating the greens, adding a sewer line and purchasing one property along East Lake Drive. The budget also accounts for $500,000 in lost revenue while the course is closed for construction, which is expected to be in summer 2021. The course is set to reopen in late August or early September of next year.
However, the city projects that the budget will break even, with the sale of 13 lots for $200,000 each and the sale of another lot, which the city estimates could sell for $250,000, The Times reported. Water and sewer tap fees would bring in an additional $80,000, with the revenues of $2.9 million set to equal the project expenses.
In San Francisco, TPC Harding Park, the only city-owned public course managed by the PGA TOUR, announced the relaunch of its Fleming 9 Golf Course on November 16, following a complete regrow project after hosting the 2020 PGA Championship, as well as a complete renovation to its driving range, which began on November 4 and is slated for completion in January 2021.
The 60-day Fleming 9 regrow project included the reseeding of rye grass. Named after former San Francisco city golf caretaker, Jack Fleming, the Fleming 9 was added to the interior of the Harding Park Course in 1961 and serves as a challenging, par-30 golf course featuring six par-threes and three par-four holes. A beloved course of locals and visitors alike, the enhanced Fleming 9 will continue to be a prominent sister course to the famed 18 neighboring holes.
Open to the public, the all-new driving range, slated for completion in January 2021, will feature top-of-the-line artificial turf, an expansive fairway, full grass putting green and short game area, new range balls, 20 hitting stalls, nine targets, professional instruction and club fittings, as well as adding Toptracer Range technology—providing a data-driven app experience geared toward golfers of all abilities. Keeping player interests and game improvement at the core of this project, the range will provide a hospitable and welcoming environment for players of all ages. As one of the only two public driving ranges in the City of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park will continue to establish its presence as a premier location for practice.
“We’re excited to introduce these enhancements to TPC Harding Park, which support our top priority of providing an enjoyable experience for the public golfer,” said General Manager Tom Smith. “It’s not too often a public course has the opportunity to enhance infrastructure, so when we planned the practice area renovation, we worked through every last detail – ensuring it would be state-of-the-art, yet still inviting and fun. We’re incredibly proud of the final design and can’t wait to share it with the community.”
Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. retained Rees Jones to renovate the 18-hole championship course originally built in 1954 by his father and famed golf course architect and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The course reopens this December with new greens, updated irrigation and improved drainage. However, the same design, playability and challenge will remain as a tribute to the man whose vision was carved into the community.
Aiming to be as authentic as possible in the restoration, changes were not made to the original design, staying true to the design of the course while solving course issues.
“My goal was to enhance and restore, not replace the masterful green contours and approach shot challenges, Rees said. “Today’s construction techniques allowed me to improve irrigation and ‘lift up’ fairways and green complexes to improve drainage.”
Bunkers were updated, retention areas were added, and all updates followed modern standards and technologies for irrigation, drainage and greens construction methods.
“This is not a typical Florida course,” said JJ Sehlke, Coral Ridge Country Club General Manager and a partner in the club’s ownership group. “Mr. Jones called it an ‘easy bogey and hard par.’ It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s fun. We have members who play 250 or 300 times per year and we think having a higher quality course will make a difference in attracting new members.”
The renovation work includes the addition of 35,659 feet of underground drainage pipe to efficiently move water to catch basins that will empty into retention areas creating dryer fairways more quickly.
Design concept of aircraft carrier tee boxes were restored to Jones’ signature runway style. Building additional tees and tee boxes allows more opportunities for different levels of players and lengthens some holes to play longer. Tees on the par-3 holes were enlarged due to wear and tear during the high season.
Given the athletic ability of golfers today and the advanced technology of golf equipment, it was essential to update and change the position of some of the bunkers. Many greens had shrunk from the encroachment of collar grasses and bunkers had lost their original shape, size and impact on play. The improvements restore the classic shapes intended by creating more manicured and sculpted edges; help to keep the sand white and clean; and, results in 94 bunkers on the course.
The course has Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass on its greens; Celebration Bermudagrass on its fairways; and TifGrand Bermudagrass on the tee boxes and collars. In totality, there are three or four shades of green.
Sitting on only 120 acres, the renovated course will play from 4,700 yards to more than 7,300 yards. Wall-to-wall concrete cart paths, mirroring those on the Club’s Rees 9 Par-3 course, enhance travel to and from holes, eliminate damage to the turf edges, and reduce maintenance allowing players to get on the course quicker after a rain event.
The new irrigation system incorporates 1,287 heads with approximately 29 miles of irrigation pipe. Benefits of new sprinkler technology include precise control of the coverage and amount of water and also allow the club to conserve water and become better environmental stewards. Ultimately, the new course delivers 102,610 sq. ft. of consistent, high-quality playing conditions that will regain normal playability quickly after rainfall.
The city of Dayton, Ohio is looking for a golf course architect to design and oversee renovations of the bunkers at Community Golf Club, the Dayton Daily News reported. The city has not updated the 102-year-old golf facility’s bunkers in about two decades, and the course has issues with drainage and sand, according to city documents.
Community Golf Club has a pair of 18-hole courses: The Hills course and the Dales course, the Daily News reported. Dales, the shorter and easier course, has about 27 bunkers spanning about 20,940 sq. ft., the city said. Hills, which is longer and more challenging, has about 35 bunkers (42,140 sq. ft.).
The most common complaint from golfers about the Community facility is that its bunkers are subpar, the Daily News reported.
“Additionally, our maintenance staff is limited and our current bunkers demand many resources,” the city said in its request for proposals.
The city earlier this year announced it was permanently closing Kittyhawk Golf Center in northeast Dayton and Madden Golf Course in the southwestern part of the city, the Daily News reported. City officials said a small share of Dayton residents used its golf facilities, which were losing money and needed major repairs and upgrades.
Golf has been a popular recreation activity during the pandemic, and Community Golf Club has seen increased demand since Kittyhawk and Madden closed, the Daily News reported. The city expects to choose an architect later this year and wants the bunker renovations completed by the end of next year.
Renovation work at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. is nearing completion, Golf Course Architecture reported. Chris Wilczynski was hired in 2017 to develop a long-term master plan for the club that would respect the course’s history as a 1929 design by William Langford and Theodore Moreau, and prepare it for the modern game.
“We have been working to renew the course to what Langford and Moreau designed, with a modern approach,” said Wilczynski. “That includes bolder bunkers that are positioned at strategic angles to the intended line of play and wider playing corridors to provide options for golfers of all abilities.”
MacCurrach Golf Course Construction began renovation work in July 2020, Golf Course Architecture reported.
“We choose MacCurrach for their talented workmanship and their ability and experience in completing large-scale renovation projects in a short period of time,” said Golf Course Superintendent Collin Romanick. “They have exceeded all expectations.”
All bunkers have been rebuilt with Better Billy Bunker, Golf Course Architecture reported. Fairways have been widened and realigned, and Wilczynski has added tees to every hole to increase the range of total course yardage.
Work has also seen greens expanded to their original shapes and sizes, with new internal drainage systems installed on every green, Golf Course Architecture reported.
“Improving the bunkers and better drainage of the greens will make for an improved experience for our members and better conditions and quality of play for the LPGA tournament,” said General Manager Bob Crissman. “We needed this plan so that we can remain one of the premier golf courses in the Midwest.”
The renovation has also included the removal of several trees which, according to Wilczynski, has “opened the site panoramas, restored a cleaner look and created the width for each hole that Langford and Moreau intended.”
A new two-acre short game practice facility has also been built, along with a 12,000-sq.-ft. putting green/course, Golf Course Architecture reported.
“We are thrilled with the transformation of the course,” said Club President Jack Skoog. “Our relationship with Meijer has helped us put together a first-class project. This will be a great facility for our members, the LPGA, and the Meijer Classic. We took an aggressive approach to revitalizing our golf course and have finally given this wonderful course its due.”
The Members Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has reopened its golf course following renovation work by Craig Schreiner, the architect responsible for the original design, which opened in 2005.
The course is one of several within the Grande Dunes master-planned community, with the club managed by McConnell Golf. C+RB reported in January that the club opened for public play.
The club’s goal for the renovation was to provide a better golfing experience. Work started in December 2019 and included renovations to all bunkers as well as new drainage to reduce flooding and water retention in high-traffic areas. In a 90-day second phase, the course was re-grassed, transitioning from bentgrass to ultradwarf bermuda.
“It’s always great to return to Grande Dunes Members Club,” said Schreiner. “I was glad to work with the golf team once again to rejuvenate the course and even incorporate new ideas and solutions. Golfers will enjoy a whole new level of play.”
“The course has never looked better,” said Brian Vest, Head Golf Professional at the club. “We are thrilled that these renovations have taken place and we’re excited for our golfers to see all our hard work in person.”