Jim Urbina plans to restore Alister MacKenzie’s original intent for the highly rated public-access layout.
Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California, announced Wednesday that it will undertake a renovation of the greens and bunkers on its course designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1929.
The club has hired architect Jim Urbina to restore the original style of push-up greens as intended by MacKenzie and to restore the bunkers with modern construction methods. The project will take part in two phases, and the club will keep one nine open during the nearly two-year restoration. Work on the front nine is scheduled to begin in April 2023 and wrap up in December that year, then the back nine will be closed April through December in 2024.
“The future of the golf course, in terms of sustainability, requires a full restoration of the greens with modern infrastructure and drainage,” Pasatiempo superintendent Justin Mandon said in a media release announcing the restoration. “Over its nearly 100 years of play, and particularly the more recent increase in the volume of rounds, coupled with the addition of alternative water sources and lack of infrastructure, has led to the rapid evolution of the greens.
“The club’s restoration committee has been working on this project for several years, visiting and consulting numerous golf courses with recent histories of successful restoration work. That information, along with our unique variables, allowed us to develop a scope of work, timeline and process we believe will give us the highest degree of success.”
The club announced that opening-day photos from 1929, combined with onsite evaluation of the original sub grades, will be used to guide restoration efforts that will incorporate lasers to reconstruct the greens to exacting tolerances and to USGA specifications. The new greens will be seeded with bentgrass. The green surrounds will be resurfaced and sodded to assure proper sloping and contours, with modern infrastructure installed to improve drainage.
The layout has undergone several smaller restorations since 1999. The club was founded by World Golf Hall of Fame member Marion Hollins and was built by Robert Hunter. MacKenzie would go on to live aside the layout’s sixth fairway.
BOWLING GREEN, Fla. – What’s my favorite course at Streamsong? Red, Blue or Black?
Golfers at the popular resort, which turns 10 this year, are constantly reviewing that very question about the three courses that all rank among the top 20 resort courses in the United States. My stock answer: The next one. And I’ll defend that simplified response on the basis that I’ll gladly take a day at any of the three courses built by Gil Hanse, Tom Doak or the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
There are noticeable differences between the layouts, but they are so tightly packed in the Golfweek’s Best rankings as to inevitably invite debate – that’s a big part of the fun. Ask me which you should play, and I’ll tell you to sample all three and get back to me.
Until you get that chance to visit the first time, or whether you’re a Streamsong veteran wanting to return, check out this video for a taste of golf that is different than anything else in the Sunshine State.
Little Sandy, a 10-hole par-three course near Jacksonville, brings another alternative golf facility to the area.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Golf at its best is a peaceful, sublime merging of nature and sport.
Indeed, entering the phrase “healing power of golf” on Google returns more than 19 million hits.
A small piece of land between A1A and the Atlantic Ocean on Amelia Island is one example of how golf can heal — especially old wounds.
The opening of Little Sandy this week, a 10-hole par-three course at the Omni Amelia Island Resort, not only brings another alternative golf facility to the First Coast but it has put to rest an acrimonious dispute between the resort and the Amelia Island Equity Club, more than four years after the abrupt closing of one of the two 18-hole courses on the property.
Both sides have moved forward and the gorgeous little jewel surrounding Red Maple Lake is the peacemaker.
“The membership is very happy with the layout by [designer] Beau Welling, the construction to MacCurrach Golf and the Omni’s efforts to put it all together,” said Mike Warfield, president of the Amelia Island Club. “For us, as members, we have access to a short course, really well-designed, that a lot of private clubs don’t get access to. I think it’s just spectacular.”
The course, named for its size (less than 30 acres) and being near the vast Amelia Island dunes, had its grand opening Tuesday, becoming the second alternative to an 18-hole golf course to open on the First Coast in two years.
The Yards, which evolved from the former Oak Bridge Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, opened in the fall of 2020 and has a nine-hole track and six par-3 holes.
The oldest par-3 course in the area is the Palm Valley Golf Club.
The opening of The Yards and now Little Sandy is part of a nationwide trend of golf clubs, resorts and municipalities seeking alternatives to the 18-hole, four-to-six hour golf experience that many players say is simply too much a drain on their leisure time.
About a third of the new golf courses that opened last year in the U.S. were par-3 facilities between six and 14 holes, according to the National Golf Foundation.
A golf experience in 60 minutes
Omni Amelia director of golf Jonathan Bridges said two players can tour Little Sandy’s 928 yards in an hour, and groups of six have done it in less than 90 minutes since the soft opening.
“They’re really enjoying it,” Bridges said. “It’s something very different.”
The holes range from the 42-yard ninth hole to the 115-yard first and 10th holes. The course is laid over the remnants of Nos. 7, 8, 17 and 18 of the old Ocean Links course, which was closed in November of 2017 by the resort without giving the equity club sufficient notice, a Nassau County judge later ruled.
The 10th green, which is one of three holes with water in play, is more or less in the same position as the par-3 18th green of Ocean Links.
The course cost Omni $3.5 million. There was no assessment of the Amelia Island Club members, who have playing privileges at Oak Marsh and the Amelia Island Club at Long Point — the latter of which closed this week for renovation and will re-open in the fall.
Little Sandy has relatively large greens with dramatic contours, which allow for numerous pin positions. Players have the option on seven of the holes to run the ball up onto the green.
Rental sets are available, with a putter, three wedges and a 9-iron, but players may bring their own bag. Walking is required unless a player has a disability.
There is an 18-hole putting course that Warfield called “a real treat.”
Golfers want more options
Welling, based in Greenville, South Carolina, said like almost everything else involving leisure time, golfers want options that don’t involve a door-to-door experience that eats away a good part of the day.
“You look at society in general, we have so many options of how to use our time and our lives,” he said. “I grew up at a time when there were only three channels on TV. Now we don’t even watch TV on a TV. We don’t read a newspaper on paper. What we’re seeing is a desire of the golfer to have options in how they orient to golf.”
Welling said the increase of par-3 courses will help players get better at the key shots in golf — from 100 yards to the green.
“These kinds of facilities are stripping out a lot of shots people have a hard time playing and focus on the shots they have a chance of being successful with,” he said.
Little Sandy also has a number of amenities that range from charming to functional to amusing.
Each tee marker has four cup holders, so players can carry their beverages from hole to hole. There is also a beach umbrella and two lounge chairs at each tee.
The putting green has a half-dozen Adirondack chairs.
Small speakers strategically located near the tees and greens play music. A small pro shop carries the rental sets, balls, tees, divot tools and ball markers, as well as a selection of apparel. The course is an easy walk from Bob’s Steak and Chop House and other dining and beverage options within the Resort Shopping Village, so it will be easy to arrange 10 holes of golf at Little Sandy around breakfast, lunch or dinner.
And if players run out of ammo, there is a large gum ball machine behind the ninth tee that dispenses pink golf balls.
Little Sandy is a natural fit within the family-oriented vibe of the resort. Welling said he walked onto the course last week and saw a resort guest teaching his young daughter how to putt, with her two toddler brothers doing somersaults on the putting green.
“I thought, ‘that’s what we’re trying to do here,'” Welling said. “It’s all about family.”
Little Sandy mends hard feelings
Little Sandy seems to be an adequate compromise to the closing of Ocean Links, the first design on the First Coast by World Golf Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye, in collaboration with Bobby Weed. Dye also designed Oak Marsh.
The resort closed Ocean Links on Nov. 12, 2017, a day after it was still taking tee times, and began bulldozing the three holes along the ocean — hours after an email was sent to equity club members informing them of the closing.
At the time, the resort claimed the members had not lived up to an agreement that called for it to provide 10,000 rounds annually at Ocean Links and Oak Marsh, with a minimum of 3,000 at Ocean Links, in addition to the resort rounds generated by vacationers.
The Equity Club’s suit claimed Omni Amelia Island LLC broke a long-standing agreement to operate two golf courses with a private membership as well as resort play, dating back to 2010 when Omni bought the property as part of a bankruptcy case involving the original owners.
The bulldozers began work under police protection. Work halted two days later under an injunction granted by Judge Steven Fahlgren — who blasted the resort in his ruling.
“The Agreement does not permit Omni to unilaterally close the Ocean Links golf course, but rather requires the Club’s written consent to do so,” Fahlgren wrote. “Omni destroyed the Ocean Links golf course without notice, and in a manner to accomplish the destruction before the Club had an opportunity to obtain judicial relief. Florida law will not permit Omni to benefit from this misconduct.”
Equity club attorney Steven Busey told the Florida Times-Union at the time, “The Omni’s sudden closure of the Ocean Links course was the product of Omni’s arrogance, greed and disdain for contractual obligations.”
Fahlgren ordered the resort to re-open Ocean Links but too much of the seaside holes had been bulldozed by then (it’s now open green space for resort guests and residents) and Little Sandy became the compromise.
The harsh language surrounding the Ocean Links closing is now conciliatory on both sides.
“I’m not going to contrast and compare the situation,” Warfield said. “I can only say this: we’re very happy with this course. I can’t speak for all the residents but I think they’re looking out on it and saying, ‘Wow, this is attractive.’ It’s going to help home values. It’s been a real positive experience.”
Theo Schofield, the Omni managing director, has only been at the Amelia Island Resort for just about a year and believes there is real harmony over the opening of Little Sandy. The resort hosted an opening for the equity club members last week and he’s pleased with their reaction.
“They’re very excited about it,” he said. “I think they’re really excited about having another option to play.”
Modern designers are restoring and often rethinking Great Hazards, those giant cross bunkers with oversized impact on strategy.
One of early American golf architecture’s most dramatic design features is being reinvigorated for the modern game.
Inner-circle Hall of Fame architect A.W. Tillinghast pioneered the “Great Hazard,” a massive expanse of wasteland usually set in the middle of a par 5. He often coupled this with a smaller but still gnarly bunker complex at the front of the green. In combination, this system demands a series of great shots, whether the player is going for the green in two, three or even four strokes.
The smallest imprecision off the tee forces the player to recalculate the odds all along the way. Four shots, including a punch-out and back-to-back layups, may be required to hopscotch up to the green. The overconfident player who mismanages the percentages could be in for a huge number.
But over the past century, players and equipment have evolved to the point that many of the original Great Hazards no longer threaten the tactical headlocks their creator intended. Longer hitters simply blast over the wasteland to set up an approach with a lofted club over the greenside bunker complex.
That’s why architect Gil Hanse, who has restored about a half-dozen Tillinghast designs in New York and New Jersey, made major changes to No. 17 on Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course. Hanse moved the network of fairway-interrupting bunkers and tall-grass islands downrange some 40 yards, with the leftmost portion potentially gobbling drives and the rightmost path offering the most aggressive line to the green. Either way, it’s a big carry out of or over the hazard.
“When you have big hazards, they ask big questions,” Hanse said. “They ask you to make big decisions. In this day and age, accomplished golfers were able to drive it into the (Great Hazard). That’s why the shift occurred. If you get out of position, now the positioning of the hazard is you have to hit a monumentally good shot to get over.”
Indeed, be anywhere but perfect and you’re blocked out and hitting sideways, setting up a third shot with a long iron or wood, uphill to a raised, multi-tiered green with intimidating bunkers in front and left. Throw in three bunkers that protect the second layup area, and it makes a hole the pros might not often birdie when the PGA Championship returns to Baltusrol in 2029.
Hanse said the original hazard at Baltusrol had become smaller over time. He used Tillinghast’s plans and photos from the early years to reestablish the scale and dimensions of the original work, but he moved it to the new, more strategically demanding position.
“Moving the Great Hazard exemplified Gil Hanse’s statement of a ‘sympathetic restoration,’ ” said Baltusrol club president Matt Wirths, who worked closely with Hanse on the exacting details of the project. “It restored a signature design element of a Tillinghast course, but in a way that recognizes the changes that have taken place since the original hole was built.”
And it’s not just Baltusrol. Great Hazard holes are being rediscovered, reinvented and stiffened at courses around the country.
Copperhead will play to 7,340 yards with a par of 71 for the Valspar Championship.
Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.
Calling all National Champions, State Champions, club champions and elite senior amateurs age 65 and over! Join us July 5-7 at one of the nations premier private golf clubs, The Golf Club of Georgia, in the 2022 Golfweek U.S. Super Senior, Legends & …
Calling all National Champions, State Champions, club champions and elite senior amateurs age 65 and over! Join us July 5-7 at one of the nations premier private golf clubs, The Golf Club of Georgia, in the 2022 Golfweek U.S. Super Senior, Legends & Super Legends National Championship.
This is the first national ranking championship exclusively for elite senior amateurs age 65 and over. The Golfweek U.S. Super Senior, Legends & Super Legends National Championship, sponsored by USA Today Sports, is now in its sixth year. The tournament fills a US Golf Association void by providing a national championship for players age 65 and over. After 54 holes of intense competition, only one player in each division will earn the right to hoist the trophy and be called a “National Champion.”
How long is the famed No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass? See that and all the rest of the holes for the Players Championship.
The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, site of this week’s Players Championship on the PGA Tour, was designed by Pete Dye – with help from his wife, Alice, most noticeably on the famed island-green, par-3 17th. It opened in 1980 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and has been home to the Tour’s flagship tournament since 1982.
The course will play to 7,256 yards with a par of 72 for the Players Championship.
Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.
Check out these videos shot by Golfweek videographer Gabe Gudgel, who flew a drone over all 18 holes.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, site of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour, was designed by Dick Wilson and opened in 1961. Arnold Palmer took over a lease on the property in 1970, bought it in 1975 and tweaked the course multiple times over the years.
Leadbetter Academy’s new location near Orlando will feature technology to help players of any level.
The Leadbetter Golf Academy’s world headquarters is planning a move across Interstate 4 south of Orlando, having announced Thursday it is leaving ChampionsGate Golf Club to set up new residence at Reunion Resort this year.
Leadbetter Golf Academy was acquired in 2018 by Golfzon, a South Korean company best known for its indoor golf simulators. The company is now officially known as Golfzon Leadbetter and operates 38 academies in 15 countries. Leadbetter Academies was founded in 1983 by instructor David Leadbetter, who has worked with numerous tour professionals and 26 major championship winners, with perhaps his most famous student being Nick Faldo.
Reunion Resort is home to three golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. It is the former home of the ANNIKA Academy, which closed in 2016. Kingwood International Resorts bought Reunion in 2019.
“I have taught golf all over the world and there are few places as well suited for golfers to learn and play as the Reunion Resort and Golf Club,” Leadbetter said in a media release announcing the move. “We share Kingwood International Resorts’ vision for offering the very best golf experience at Reunion. Reunion already has three great golf courses; now they’ll have a golf academy to match. I can’t wait to give the first lesson from the new facility.”
The new academy at Reunion will feature plenty of technology, including lesson studios with launch monitors, 3D swing analysis, radar-based tracking of shots on the range, club fitting, fitness and biomechanics. The facility also will include a Golfzon TwoVision simulator studio to host virtual tournaments, the release said. The coaching staff plans to host a wide range of players from beginners to tour stars.
“Reunion Resort and Golf Club gives us the perfect location to expand the Golfzon Leadbetter business as well as offering golfers a unique facility to work on every aspect of their game, whatever their level of play,” Benedict Riches, CEO of Golfzon Leadbetter, said in the release.
“This new partnership is a natural fit, bringing yet another legend to our resort with the Golfzon Leadbetter World Headquarters,” said Anthony Carll, general manager of Reunion Resort. “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to offer this experience this fall with such a respected legend in the golf community.”
Younger designers have chance to shine on their own at Cabot Citrus Farms in Florida.
Cabot, the developer and operator of several golf resorts around the world, has selected the golf architects who will tackle the Canadian company’s latest venture in Florida – and several younger designers have a chance to shine.
Kyle Franz and the team of Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns will renovate the two 18-hole courses at Cabot Citrus Farms, the former World Woods, an hour’s drive north of Tampa. Cabot also tagged Mike Nuzzo to build a short course, a new nine-hole course and the practice facilities.
There had been much speculation among golf architecture fans of who might land the jobs to redesign the two 18-hole layouts originally built by Tom Fazio nearly 30 years ago. Cabot announced in January that it had purchased the 1,200-acre property with plans to reimagine the entire experience. Those initiatives include real estate development, retail operations, restaurants, fitness and spa amenities, communal gathering points and a farmer’s market.
“Cabot Citrus Farms is going to be an extraordinary destination, and we are thrilled to be a part of this effort,” Franz said in a statement announcing the news. “Our goal for Pine Barrens is to take its dramatic, sandy land and maximize it into one of the most spectacular golf courses in the region and country.
“In our view, the perfect formula for Pine Barrens combines rugged sandscapes and vegetation that meld with the natural topography, classical contouring and creative short-grass recovery shots around the greens, wider corridors of play and multiple strategic routes to the pin, fascinating grassing patterns and varied tee box placements so that players get a fresh look at the different options every time they tee it up.”
Franz worked for years for famous designers such as Tom Doak, Gil Hanse and the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. His solo efforts in recent years include such highly acclaimed courses as Mid Pines, Pine Needles and Southern Pines – all near Pinehurst, North Carolina – and the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.
Rhebb and Johns will renovate the Rolling Oaks 18, which ranked No. 22 among Florida’s public-access layouts in 2021. The pair has worked for years on projects with Coore and Crenshaw, and their independent efforts include the much-heralded Winter Park Country Club near Orlando, Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver and the new Bootlegger par-3 course at Forest Dunes in Michigan. Rhebb, in particular, has spent much of the past two years working for Coore and Crenshaw at the new Cabot Saint Lucia.
Nuzzo’s largest success has been Wolf Point Ranch, which Golfweek’s Best ranks as No. 7 among private courses in Texas. As with all the architects selected to rework the former World Woods, he expressed his excitement to work in such a sandy site that allows for extreme creativity.
“Both the site and the client are essential to creating a special golf course,” he said in the media release announcing the designers. “With Cabot Citrus Farms, we have the best of both worlds, a natural sandy site and an innovative, forward-thinking client. Having fewer traditional golf constraints for our portion of the project presents an extra layer of opportunity for creativity. We’re looking forward to seeing the whole project come together!”