John Sanford, ASGCA, and Sanford Golf Design, has begun an eight-month restoration project at The Naples (Florida) Beach Hotel & Golf Club’s golf course. Naples Daily News reports the course’s original layout was opened in 1929. “We’ve basically got four months to finish construction and the last piece of grass is in the ground,” Sanford said. “Then it’s a three-month grow-in process. We also allow for some rain days.”
The newspapers article includes:
“We’ve obviously known it’s been coming for nine months, but now it’s finally upon us, and the enormity and the reality of this situation is right in front of us,” said Jason Parsons, the club’s general manager, as he sat on a golf cart watching the equipment do its work.
The new course will have TifEagle greens and Celebration grass on tees, fairways and roughs. The old St. Augustine grass that was known to swallow up many a golf ball in the rough and delay plenty of rounds while golfers looked for their balls in it will be gone.
“It’s going to be a totally new golf course,” said Henry Watkins III, who shares ownership with his brother Michael. “Every inch of the course is going to be dug up. There’s not going to be a single green or single tee that’s going to be exactly the way it is.”
The $9 million project was announced late last year, but had been in the works for a while. A total of $4.5 million will go toward rebuilding the golf course itself, with the other half going for such items as new golf carts with GPS, new maintenance equipment, and a maintenance facility.
The new course will have a par of 71 with five sets of tees, ranging from 4,900 yards to over 6,900. The new driving range will be 300 yards — the current one, when it’s not used for overflow parking, is only long enough for iron shots and has netting and poles.
Sanford will get an assist from legendary major champion Jack Nicklaus, who has quite a connection to the property. As an 11-year-old in 1951, Nicklaus played the Beach Club’s front nine with his father, Charlie. He broke 40 for the first time, shooting a 37.
Sanford and Nicklaus were involved in the design of Trump Links at Ferry Point in New York, and Watkins just happened to be with his wife up in the Hamptons during the new course’s grand opening a year ago, so Sanford invited the Watkinses to come. Nicklaus then agreed to become a consultant, and visited the club in September. He’s expected back sometime next month.
“I love to work with Jack,” said Sanford, who made the first of what will become weekly site visits last Wednesday. “He’s such a great guy, and really astute architect. Got great ideas. We already basically pretty much laid the golf course out with its new routing and new location for the driving range. Pretty much had the strategy for each hole.
“When Jack got involved, you’re excited, but at the same time, it’s ‘Oh, no he’s going to change everything.’ He liked what we had done for the most part. Naturally he had some of his own ideas. And he actually took what we had done and made it better. I’m really excited about having him involved, and what he adds, not only to the cachet of the project, but he thinks of golf course design from a strategy standpoint. ‘How do we want this person to play this golf hole?’ To me that’s what it’s all about.”
The Beach Club is a core golf course with no housing, but is bordered by the two-story building that houses the pro shop and spa to the west, U.S. 41 to the east, Golf Boulevard to the south, and some housing along Crayton, Yucca roads and Banyan Boulevard to the north.
With a finite amount of space, the new layout will include a pair of “double greens.” No. 2, a drivable par 4, and No. 8, a par 3, will share a green. So will No. 15 and No. 3 (the old No. 14).
“It’s something I talked to Jack about,” Sanford said. “He was good with it. I think it’s interesting and fun. You can do a lot with shape and composition. The bottom line, it helps us gain more yards.”
The end result, everyone hopes, is a course that every golfer can play and enjoy. With a much-needed upgrade.
“We’re not redesigning it because we just want to change it,” Sanford said. “It needs to be done, and we can still maintain the charm.”