“Golf Inc.” magazine named Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, Tampa, Fla., its 2012 Renovation of the Year in the private club category. The project was headed up by Bobby Weed, ASGCA and Bobby Weed Golf Design. The award is the firm’s thiird in eight years.

The comprehensive, fast-track project took place in 2011. The course reopened only 5½ months after closing, and offers a traditional parkland aesthetic consistent with its 1925 vintage. 

The award for Weed follows White Manor Country Club, Malvern, Pa., and Linville Ridge Golf Club, Linville, N.C., which were also named Renovation of the Year in 2004 and 2010, respectively. The Deltona Club, in Deltona, Fla, was a first runner-up in 2008.

The core of the project at Palma Ceia was the alleviation of crippling drainage issues. Fairways were ‘flipped’ to a six-foot depth. The top foot of heavy organic material was broken up and buried, while 5 feet of sand was harvested and brought to the surface. The result was a well-drained column of clean sand into which the new fairways were sodded. An existing outfall into the City of Tampa’s stormwater system was located and a new 42” main line drain pipe was connected to it. A comprehensive system of over 300 new surface inlets and sub-mains now drain the entire property.

The greens were expanded, rebuilt to USGA recommendations, and planted with TifEagle bermudagrass. The subtly recontoured surrounds were grassed in shade-tolerant TifGrand, which enhanced short game play while allowing live-oak trees proximal to the green complexes to remain. The irrigation system was completely rebuilt, with a new Rainbird IC system and jointless HDPE piping, which eliminated above-ground components and visual clutter.

Bunkers were built with new sand, liners and drainage. A thick, bullnose edge was used, creating a vintage look. A variety of sizes and shapes were introduced to add character and strategy. Fairway bunkers were built at a more relevant 285-300 yards off the championship tee, while greenside bunkers were repositioned to widen the approaches onto the putting surfaces, reintroducing the run-up shot as an option.

Trees were removed to highlight a simpler palette of more appropriate live oak and cypress trees. Extensive pine straw areas were delineated along the flanks of the holes, removing 14 acres of weak roughs that had struggled in the shadier perimeter areas (a 15% reduction in total maintained area). Fairways were widened to the limits of the pine straw, with a one-pass step-cut perimeter, creating stragtegic angles of play while streamlining heights of cut.

The project was completed on budget, and has produced a clear and beneficial financial impact for the Club:

* Total rounds played increased 19%,
* Guest rounds and revenue increased 50%,
* F&B revenue increased 11% in the casual dining areas and 26% in the Men’s Grill,
* Pro shop sales increased 17%.
* Over 28 new members have joined the Club. The Club maintains a full membership and waiting list.