Even the most carefully manicured golf courses exist in a state of constant change. Thanks to growing plants, variable winds and shifting sands, no one course plays exactly the same way twice. This quality is accepted, even celebrated, as part of the allure of the mannerly game.
But sometimes, subtlety just won’t do. That’s when it’s time for a golf course to plan a renovation, or even a complete overhaul. A carefully conceived, creatively executed redesign provides players with new challenges, boosts aesthetic appeal and brings an aspect of originality or novelty to the course layout. Recent redesign projects at these three golf resorts demonstrate how a newly reimagined course can change the game.
A complete golf renaissance is underway at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, one of the nation’s premier golf destinations. The resort turned the region’s catastrophic flood of 2016 into an opportunity to completely restore its Old White TPC course, first opened in 1914. Part of the work involved thinning trees to reintroduce sight lines that had been obscured for decades. July’s Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour event provided a grand stage for the reveal. In August, the Meadows course debuted its own post-flood improvements, an updated routing plan chief among them. The currently closed Greenbrier course will reopen in 2019 with eight new holes designed by Phil Mickelson, the resort’s PGA Tour ambassador.
In the realm of golf course design, name dropping is par for the course. Hammock Beach, a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort (pictured above) located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, is no slouch in that department. Guided by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, the restoration of its much-lauded Ocean Course has left no tee box, bunker, fairway or green untouched. October’s grand reopening gave golfers their first chance to test drive the results, which were met with a level of enthusiasm that registers louder than a restrained golf clap.
October also saw the North Course at Innisbrook, a Salamander Resort near Tampa, emerge from a renovation that aimed to honor the original design of course architect Larry Packard. Enhancements include a firmer, more consistent playing surface and new greens planted with TifEagle Bermuda Grass. While the updates may help players shave a stroke or two off their scorecards, the course’s plentiful water hazards, tight fairways and daunting par 3s still present plenty of challenges.