GOLF COURSE CONSTRUCTION STILL WEAK IN FLORIDA

Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #14 bunkers

Looking at the numbers of projects going on in the state paints an interesting picture.
There are only three new course construction projects under way in Florida: Streamsong Resort, Bonifay at The Villages and Ocala Meadows.

Streamsong Resort under construction
Streamsong, a 36-hole resort project in Polk County owned by Mosaic, is a 16,000 acre site formerly mined for phosphate. Streamsong is located between Tampa and Orlando. Three big time architects got the tap for this job. Tom Doak is designing 18 holes, and Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are designing the other 18 holes. With this powerful design team at the helm, I can’t wait to see how the project turns out.

The resort is slated to have 140 guest rooms and a spa with enough land to build more rooms if needed.

Bonifay at The Villages, also in Central Florida, is adding 27 holes to their portfolio. This project will be part of their “Play for Life” membership program.

Not too far down the street is an 18-hole project called Ocala Meadows. This course is scheduled to open in the fall.

Renovation’s are picking up however, are still down from last year. 25 to 30 courses are doing touch ups to their tracks this summer.

Tom Fazio has been busy redesigning Emerald Dunes and The Floridian. Jim Fazio is doing work at Boca Grove and Trump International. Bobby Weed has blown up Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa and, from what I hear, has put a new face on the course. Many courses are re-grassing fairways, greens or tees. The trend continues with courses changing greens to a new ultra dwarf bermudagrass such as mini-verde and tif-eagle. A few courses are installing tif-grand on their tees and I must say, after having this grass for the last two years, I understand why…It performs. Fairways are being converted at a record pace to celebration bermudagrass, with many clubs using the no till method with great success.

New palms on the golf course
Bunker projects are still going on and a few new irrigation systems will be wrapping up by September. I just finished the first phase of my master planned landscape project this week. We did our bunkers last summer and added a few new tees the summer before. Just enough work to keep the members excited about the course that they play every day.

Let’s see what happens in the summer of 2012. If I missed one, please let me know.

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Blue Monster Gets Some Of It’s Trees Back

Doral Blue Monster Hurricane Tree Damage and Eric von Hofen

Doral opened in 1961 and has been thru it’s ups and downs ever since. Over the years, Doral has hosted a PGA TOUR event every spring on the world famous Blue Monster. This tournament is played just months before the kick off of the hurricane season. In 2005, while I was the Director of Agronomy, Doral was hit with two massive hurricanes. Katrina hit on August 23, 2005 with winds of 130 mph. The hurricane left Miami and as we all know headed for New Orleans. Doral’s five courses suffered major damage with over 2,000 trees affected. The entire months of September and part of October were dedicated to clean up and opening of the courses. On October 24, 2005 hurricane Wilma paid a visit to the Blue Monster. This time the damage was more extensive because many of the trees that where stood back up blew over again and the tap roots were broken killing many of the trees.
Doral Blue Monster Tree by Eric von Hofen
Over 4,200 trees located around the resort property were damaged from both hurricanes. It will take years for the Blue Monster to grow it’s teeth back. In the fall of 2010, Doral embarked on a massive tree replanting program.
Live oak tree planted at Doral by Eric von Hofen
There were 500 trees planted on the Blue course and smaller landscape beds were added around the tee boxes.
New trees at Doral by Eric von hofenThese new coconuts on the right side of #18 will provide a different look at the green for the players for sure. This new plant material will continue to grow in over the years and restore the look of a true PGA TOUR landmark in Miami. Take a look and this never seen before video of the Blue Monster hours after the course was hit by a hurricane.

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