Plans at the Hilton Head, S.C., Akron, Ohio and Whitehall, Mich. clubs include expanded practice facilities, regrassing efforts, bunker enhancements and a long-range master plan. The West Course at Firestone also will be renamed the Fazio Course in honor of architect Tom Fazio.
Sea Pines Country Club in Hilton Head, S.C. has approved a two-phase enhancement plan for its Arnold Palmer, Clyde Johnston golf course including a greatly expanded practice facility, new designated short-game area and complete re-grassing of all tees, greens and fairways.
Golf course architect Phil Smith, who recently completed a full master plan for the 6,383-yard layout, is leading the project alongside Sea Pines Country Club General Manager/Chief Operating Officer Robbie Ames and Golf Course Superintendent Tom Metzger. Jacksonville, Fla.-based MacCurrach Golf will oversee shaping and construction.
Work on Phase I, comprising the practice facility, short-game area and re-grassing, will start May 1, 2021 and is scheduled for completion by October 31, 2021. Phase II, slated for development and construction between 2028 and 2030, entails a full-scale renovation of the golf course coinciding with the installation of a new irrigation system.
“This is a significant period in the club’s history that will help create one of the best golf playing surfaces in the region and state-of-the-art practice facilities allowing our members to focus on game improvement.” says Ames. “The Phase II renovation will create a world-class golf experience for the next generation of Sea Pines Country Club members.”
The practice facility expansion will lengthen the range floor by 50 yards, expand the depth and width of the tee area for additional hitting stations and double the size of the practice putting green. New target greens will be placed at various angles with yardage intervals ranging from 70 to 250 yards. The designated short-game area will feature a multi-tiered chipping green and two bunkers for honing sand shots.
Fairways and tees will be fully re-sprigged with Celebration Bermuda grass, the PGA Tour-caliber turf used at neighboring Sea Pines Resort on RBC Heritage host course Harbour Town Golf Links. Greens will be sprigged with TifEagle Bermuda grass and putting surfaces restored to their original size, allowing for additional pin placements and improved approach shot receptivity.
“The leadership team at Sea Pines Country Club is fully committed to providing its members a world-class golf experience,” says Smith. “The 2021 upgrades will enhance the course agronomically while further elevating shot values and strategy. I’m honored to work with this amazing club to help them create a golf course and practice facility that will be maintained at the highest level.”
Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio is embarking on a project to enhance its West Course and renaming the layout the Fazio Course.
Spearheaded by Fazio Golf Design, the project will include the removal of 18 bunkers and renovating the remaining 51. Several bunkers will be reshaped, and the Better Billy Bunker system will be employed in all for optimal drainage and reduction of washouts during inclement weather.
Highlights of the Better Billy Bunker Method include: removal of the existing sand and liners in each bunker to subgrade; installation of a two-inch gravel layer placed over the subgrade; spraying the layer with a polymer to bind the gravel together; and creation of an extremely durable liner that swiftly drains and minimizes washouts during heavy rains.
Once treated, the bunkers will be filled Best Signature 720, a white sand used on the most exclusive clubs in the U.S. The angular sand adheres to steep bunker faces and promotes more favorable lies in the hazards.
The bunker-enhancement project started earlier this month, and completion is slated for spring 2021.
The West Course will also be renamed the Fazio Course in honor of famed architect Tom Fazio, who redesigned the layout in 2001. A links-style design, the Fazio Course is built around the perimeter of Firestone’s famed South Course and is the home of the Ohio Senior Open.
“The bunker renovation is a major investment back into the Fazio Course and emphasizes our initiative to maintain our world-class golf courses and facilities,” says Jay Walkinshaw, General Manager. “This project will greatly enhance the golf experience at Firestone, both aesthetically and from a playability standpoint.”
White Lake Golf Club in Whitehall, Mich., which was founded in 1916, has enlisted architect Raymond Hearn, ASGCA, to develop a new long-range master plan for the club. Hearn will be working closely with the club’s board, key staff and committee members.
“We are fortunate to have found such a well-qualified golf architect, located close to home, who brings incredible enthusiasm, golf architectural skills and an appreciation of the historical value that the White Lake Golf Club possesses for our community,” said Frank Lundell, Jr., President of White Lake Golf Club. “We look forward to the course enhancement of the Tom Bendelow stamp as we take Ray Hearn’s lead in developing a plan with which will make WLGC the finest Bendelow course in West Michigan.”
Tom Bendelow designed the original nine holes in 1916. In 1926, the course was expanded to 18 holes. Club President E. E. Roberts completed most of the planning on the expansion.
“I am fortunate to be working on yet another incredible pre-1920 historic golf club,” Hearn said. “Mr. Bendelow’s features are still present on 7 of the 18 holes. The original Tom Bendelow greens, bunkers and landforms are very dramatic. They are a treat to study and analyze.
“In addition to researching the course’s great history, I am carefully listening to the club’s goals and objectives,” he continued. “I am working closely with the club in order to provide a ‘roadmap’ into their future that they can implement in a phased manner over time and per their discretion.”
Don Nellis, Director of White Lake Golf Club, said Hearn was hired for his knowledge of Bendelow architecture and his ability to bring the features back to life.
“A master plan by golf course architect Ray Hearn will give us a strategic blueprint to follow for many years,” he said. “We expect the Bendelow enhancements will make White Lake Golf Club a shot maker’s paradise.”
Hearn has already the early research stages—studying course features, researching the history, measuring, photographing and talking to members.
“As with all my renovation and restoration projects, my ultimate goal is to increase strategy, shot value, playability and enjoyment for all levels of golfing ability,” Hearn said. “We also want to help make the course easier to maintain for the golf course superintendent.
“Rediscovering or embellishing historical features that have been lost over time will surely create very exciting discussions with the club,” he continued. “Implementing Bendelow features on the Roberts-designed golf holes will also be discussed. To be entrusted to prepare a long-term Master Plan for any historic club is a great honor and privilege. With Tom Bendelow’s early involvement and the club’s pre-1920 founding, makes this great project even more exciting for me and my company.”