The new Shea Homes community in Ocala, Fla. unveiled its unique Tom Lehman/Tripp Davis-designed “loop” courses to members and the media and is now ready to incorporate public play on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.
Tom Lehman, the 1996 British Open winner and 2006 Ryder Cup captain, led guests on an unveiling tour of the new Trilogy at Ocala Preserve golf course in Ocala, Fla. on February 2, the Ocala StarBanner reported. The unique facility, the StarBanner noted, is one that industry-watchers say could serve as a more cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable model for golf communities around the world.
Lehman and his co-designer Tripp Davis, a course architect noted for his attention to environmental impacts, each played holes with guests at the 50-acre course they co-designed in the midst of the new Shea Homes community, the StarBanner reported.
“I think when it’s all said and done, when people finally understand what is available out here, it’s going to be a really, really popular thing,” said Lehman after hitting his tee shot onto the green of the 149-yard, par-3 first hole.
The course is set to open to the public on Sunday and makes use of multiple routings around a six-hole loop, the StarBanner reported. The five configurations range from a six-hole, par-18 “Gallery Loop” that can be played in less than an hour, to a “Players’ Course” with an 18-hole, par-72 routing that covers more than 6,700 yards, to a “Horse Course” for a shot-matching contest modeled on the playground basketball game.
Play will be open to all residents and non-resident members of the club daily for an access fee of $7; to guests of members for $15 daily; and to members of the public on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays for an access fee of $35 from February to May and $20 from June to September, the StarBanner reported. Play is limited to a maximum of 28 players daily.
In a VIP meet-and-greet event on February 1 at Trilogy of Ocala’s Tack House that included club members and media, Davis and Lehman explained their approach to designing the course, which sits on a fraction of the area of an 18-hole championship facility typically spanning 200 acres.
(C&RB attended the event and course opening and will report on all that is planned for the Trilogy at Ocala Preserve club and property in an upcoming issue of the monthly magazine. Robert Parody, CCM, previously Director of Food & Beverage at Sea Pines Country Club on Hilton Head Island, S.C., is Trilogy at Ocala Preserve’s Club Manager.)
“The thing we both talked about [when designing the new golf course] was we didn’t want to dumb down the game,” said Davis, whose portfolio includes Cherokee Hills Golf Club in Catoosa, Okla., Belmar Golf Club in Norman, Okla., and redesigns of Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, Texas and Wichita (Kan.) Country Club.
“We didn’t want to make a golf course that was not full of good shot values, that wasn’t fun to play, that wasn’t a challenge to play,” Davis added.
Players can earn a United States Golf Association handicap while playing the six-hole loop, Davis noted.
Lehman said he and Davis designed the course as a place for players to “sharpen the sword,” the StarBanner reported.
“The game is played at the competitive level, really, from 100 yards in,” he said. “You can drive great, but from 100 yards in is where you really get the job done. So the whole idea was to develop something to help the members and the folks who play really develop these amazing games from 100 yards on in, without sacrificing traditional golf.”
Lehman and Davis told guests at the event that they see the course as having the potential to increase public participation in golf, especially among young people, the StarBanner reported. Trilogy at Ocala Preserve is an all-ages community, with some 55-and-older-only neighborhoods.
Lehman described playing regularly on nine-hole courses as a young boy growing up in Minnesota. “You invented stuff,” he said, recalling a game from his boyhood days that involved an eight-foot pine tree near one putting green.
“We’d get as close to the pine tree as we could and take a big swing and flop it over the pine tree to the pin,” he said. “Whoever got it the closest would win.
“Who can do that?” Lehman said. “Kids can do that. They find ways to do that. And I think adults are just big kids.
“If you provide a fun enough situation, something that’s enjoyable and has variety and it doesn’t take up your whole day to do it, for sure there’s a place for something like this,” he added.
Donna Lynn Hewitt, 57, a community resident, was honored at the event and congratulated by Lehman and Davis for scoring an ace on hole No. 2 of the Skills Course with a pitching wedge, the StarBanner reported.
“It’s a tough course for a par-3,” said Hewitt, a recent retiree from Charlotte, N.C. who moved to Trilogy at Ocala Preserve in September. “The bunkers, the layout, the roll of the greens make it a very challenging [par-54] course.”