LarsenGolf is overseeing a renovation of the Elkton, Fla. club that includes the course, clubhouse and cart barn. “Golf is all about social interaction,” Erik Larsen says. “And when you bring golf close to the clubhouse, people interact even more.”
The St. Johns Golf Club in Elkton, Fla. is beginning a major renovation project, led in part by course designer Erik Larsen of LarsenGolf, the Jacksonville Business Journal reported. Work on the project has already begun, with the course shut down until at least October.
Larsen participated in a groundbreaking ceremony January 5 for the project that includes renovation and reconstruction of the course, clubhouse and cart barn, the Jacksonville Business Journal reported. After the ceremony, Larsen spoke with the Business Journal about what he wants to do with the St. Johns Golf Club and what trends he’s seeing in course design right now.
Jacksonville Business Journal: Tell me the importance of each course having its own identity.
Erik Larsen: So it has attraction, so it draws. You got to see it.
There’s a lot of ways to do that. You have to really work on what are the features, primarily in this case, water edges and bunkering and vegetation, how does that contribute to its character.
There are a lot of great golf courses around here, some with great notoriety. So competition is fierce.
We don’t want to completely reveal the identity of [this project], but it will be unlike anything around.
Larsen told the Business Journal that the course, which is going from 27 holes to 18, will be par 71 at about 6,900 yards.
JBJ: Tell me about the golf business right now. It seems there’s been a nice resurgence recently.
Larsen: Across the country and across the industry, golf is very robust and probably more so than it has been in even decades. [It’s] partially attributable to the virus and people being able to get out and play safely.
Also, there’s an inherent fun to the game, and if people haven’t found that, they might be like, ‘Hey, this is cool.’
JBJ: What are the trends in the industry?
Larsen: In golf facility development, there is kind of a new product that I call fun golf or little golf. It can be something as little as a putting green. It can be a chipping area. It can be a short course that’s kind of an interim use between not playing at all and a regulation golf course.
People get intimidated by that if they haven’t played before. So this fun golf is an interim step. Across the industry, that’s a growth product.
We’re doing that here [at the St. Johns Golf Club]. We bring the tee in close to the clubhouse, so the practice area is going to be fun and very accessible. Golf is all about social interaction. And when you bring golf close to the clubhouse, people interact even more.
JBJ: Do you feel that trend has re-energized the industry?
Larsen: Yeah. In a way it’s the snowboarding of golf. It added a new product [to the skiing industry], particularly for kids. This does that as well. The phenomenon of Topgolf and those products … are real. They certainly go there to have fun. Golf courses could offer the same thing only a more real golf experience than hitting off the carpet.
JBJ: Have you found that a lot of traditional courses asking for some element of that ‘fun golf?’
Larsen: Absolutely. I would say of the work that myself and my colleagues [in the golf design industry] … nearly 50% of the work we’re doing is in that small golf arena—with the other 50% being renovations. There’s very few new golf courses being built.