The 27-hole, Hailey, Idaho property is renovating its South and North courses, two nine-hole layouts, in two phases, so 18 holes will always remain open. The project, which will address water conservation, playability and aesthetics, is set to begin in the fall with work scheduled to be complete in spring 2020.
The Valley Club in Hailey, Idaho is scheduled in the fall to begin a $7.5 million renovation of its South Course and North Course, two nine-hole layouts first opened in July 1996 and designed by three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, the Ketchum-based Idaho Mountain Express reported.
The full project is scheduled for completion in spring 2020, and will take place in two phases, so that 18 holes will always remain open during the 2018 and 2019 seasons for the club’s member golfers and guests, the Mountain Express reported.
“We hope to make the original Irwin 18 more memorable by offering more consistent visuals,” said Barry Bevers, in his 15th season as General Manager. “We’re trying to make it more player-friendly and fun for high handicap golfers, and more challenging for low handicap golfers. There will be more variety in shots, strategy and how to play the holes.”
The number of bunkers will be reduced. Landing areas will be widened and more generous, he said. Every green complex on the existing South and North courses will be rebuilt. Most importantly, the irrigation system will be replaced, the Mountain Express reported.
“We were dealing with aging infrastructure on the Irwin 18, so we anticipated the replacement of the irrigation system and felt it was the only logical time to make any design changes to the South and North courses,” Bevers said. “We felt the renovation would give us an opportunity to improve water conservation. We determined that replacing the watering system would reduce our irrigation footprint by over 30 acres and maybe more.”
Having received input from staff, The Valley Club Board conducted a survey to evaluate member satisfaction and also held a series of meetings that included comprehensive digital presentations and project details on the club’s website. “We had to convince the membership that we needed to do renovation,” said Bevers.
Proponents of the renovation were encouraged that many respondents said the original Irwin 18 holes could be made more memorable and aesthetically pleasing. The nine-hole West Course, designed by Tom Fazio and opened full-time to members in July 2007, has become known for its wide, generous fairways and pleasing visual appearance using native vegetation, the Mountain Express reported.
In 2008, the West Course became an Audubon-certified course recognized as trout friendly by the Wood River Land Trust, Bevers said. “Right now, the Fazio and Irwin courses are clearly different. We want the renovated courses to be more consistent with the Fazio course in their visuals,” said Bevers.
In August 2016, a vote was taken on the $7.5 million renovation proposal, which includes a $500,000 contingency fund. There was 83% participation, 71% voting in favor, the Mountain Express reported.
“We saw it as a mandate,” said Bevers. “Whenever a club moves forward like this, you worry about members thinking about leaving because of what you’re doing. You always walk a fine line making such a decision. But we did financial forecasts, and we’re happy to be seeing an acceleration of sales.”
By mid- to late-September, plans call for a head start on South Course renovation with installation of the main water line and pond construction. Nine greens will be replaced, to be seeded by next July, along with two practice greens. The South Course will be closed all next year. Golfers will use the North Course and the 10-year-old Fazio-designed West Course to play their 18 holes. Next fall, work will begin on the North Course, which will be closed for all of 2019, the Mountain Express reported.
Architects are Davis Love Golf Design operated by 32-year PGA golf professional Davis Love III and his brother Mark, and, in an advisory role, Beau Welling Design of Asheville, N.C. and Greenville, S.C.
In its rationale for the golf course renovation, The Valley Club said it (1) wanted to improve water conservation; (2) maintain the playability of the course without making it more difficult; (3) better address the needs of the club’s youth, senior and beginner players; and (4) improve aesthetics, the Mountain Express reported.
Distances for nine holes on the South and North are projected to be shorter by anywhere from a barely noticeable 65 yards to 93 yards for five of the six new tee boxes, from the longest, Gold, down through the Black, Blue, White and Red. Projected 18-hole distances for the South and North come to 7,034 yards from Golds, compared to 7,117 right now, the Mountain Express reported.
The age of the 21-year-old irrigation system was a major driving force in the renovation. “A lot of the impetus for this project came from our staff,” said Bevers. “Director of Agronomy Gerald Flaherty and his staff has done a good job with what they have. We’ve been having breaks every year and fracturing in the middle of lines as the pipes have become more brittle.
“Now, our water window to irrigate takes all night. They always say it rains every day at The Valley Club. Instead we want to water the course in four or five hours and only feed the plant what it needs. We don’t want to flood irrigate.
“We’ll replace the main line with a continuous pipe with welded seams. We’ll re-pressurize the system. The dry and wet spots on the course are a function of spacing. We’ll have shorter spaces between heads, so we can surgically apply heads for more even distribution of water.”