A master planning firm will now be hired to begin the process of undertaking $3.5 million renovations of each of the club’s 18-hole golf courses, the first of which was designed by Donald Ross in 1925 and then dedicated by Jones. The property, described as “the largest land asset that the city owns,” will also get a new $3.5 million clubhouse and $1.5 million player development center if the plan is fully implemented.
The city of Sarasota, Fla. will proceed with plans to renovate the Bobby Jones Golf Club, as recommended by a citizen-led committee that had studied the municipal complex for nearly a year, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
On February 16, the Herald-Tribune reported, city commissioners unanimously adopted the committee’s full recommendations, which they had first received in a report submitted last November (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/12/15/committee-suggests-14-5m-renovation-at-bobby-jones-gc/).
City commissioners formed the group in late 2014 amid concerns about the facility’s tired infrastructure and waning popularity (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2014/09/16/despite-1-million-rounds-25m-revenues-past-10-years-sarasota-fla-still-struggles-bobby-jones-gc/). They directed members to study the current status and operation of the club and to devise a master plan for its long-term future.
Bobby Jones Golf Club is a 45-hole municipal course that was named for the legendary golfer who personally dedicated the facility in 1927. The club’s original 18 holes were designed in 1925 by Donald Ross. Nine additional holes were constructed in 1952 and another nine were added in 1967. An Executive Course was completed in 1977.
The committee’s recommendations, the Herald-Tribune reported, include hiring a master planning firm with experience in professional golf course architecture to consult on the improvements that will include the renovation of the club’s British and American courses, the creation of a player-development center, and construction of a new clubhouse.
The commission also voted to start the process of hiring the master planning firm, the Herald-Tribune reported.
In all, the report calls for $14.5 million in capital improvements. The renovation of both golf courses represents the biggest cost, estimated at $3.75 million each, or $7.5 million combined.
It will cost an additional $3.5 million to construct a new clubhouse, the Herald-Tribune reported, which the committee recommends be relocated from the footprint of the original course and placed somewhere else on the property. And a new player development center is estimated at $1.5 million, with contingency costs coming in at $1.75 million.
“Bobby Jones needs attention after years of neglect,” committee member Norman Dumaine told commissioners during the public comment period.
Dumaine was joined by other study committee members, many of whom hinted at rumors that the city might sell the golf course by reminding commissioners what a jewel they believe the property to be, the Herald-Tribune reported
“It is the largest land asset that the city owns,” said Rich Kyllonen, the committee’s Vice Chairman.
City Manager Tom Barwin acknowledged the uniqueness of the grounds, which occupies more than 300 acres near the city’s northeastern boundaries, and said he wants to make sure the municipality retains ownership of the land in perpetuity, the Herald-Tribune reported.
Because the current commission can’t prevent future commissions from selling the property, Barwin said, the city must find an alternative way to keep the golf course public for years to come.
Commissioners directed staff to look into the matter, the Herald-Tribune reported.