ASGCA Past President John LaFoy has completed a renovation of the East course and the practice facilities at the Country Club of Birmingham in Mountain Brook, Alabama. “It was important that every caliber of player got something from this project.”
Golf Course Architecture reports:
“It was important to re-frame this venue to accommodate every group that played the course, utilising one scorecard with every hole the same par for both men and women,” said LaFoy. “This included paying attention to forced carries and ensuring that the shots required from each sets of tees did not exceed the capabilities of the players. It was also important that the tee markers could be moved so turf wear could be spread around, as well as providing flexibility in length from the same set of tees.”
A six-tee system was put into place using most of the existing tees and adding 28 more. Most were forward tees, although several were back tees, stretching the course out for the better players. “Because of the traditional course design, many greens were close to the tee for the next hole, allowing for placement of some ‘walk-on’ tees adjacent to the greens.
“The multiple tee system is much more than just an attempt at a ‘Tee It Forward’ program, but an initiative to make every member, regardless of age or skill level, to feel like the course is playable for them. We wanted every member to feel like they were playing from a set of tees that were not just an afterthought.”
All bunkers have been rebuilt to Better Billy Bunker specifications. “No bunkers were drastically changed, but some sand lines were adjusted for increased visibility,” said LaFoy. “The putting surfaces were virtually untouched except around the edges where some of the ‘dams’ – created by topdressing build-up, which was restricting flow of surface water from escaping – were lowered and re-sodded.”
LaFoy’s work on the practice facility has seen the top deck of two-tiered tees lowered to make the practice all on one level. “In addition to the area we gained from eliminating the transition slope, we also enlarged the tee to the front and to the right side,” said LaFoy. The tees on the course have also been squared off for a ‘traditional’ appearance.
“’Wedge’ greens and other target greens, some with sand bunkers, were built in the range fairway, as well and mounding at the end of the fairway to contain shots. The final solution will also include some netting due to some limitations in the range acreage. We totally renovated the short game area, combining two smaller greens into one 8,000 square foot ultradwarf bermuda green and greatly expanded the chipping areas around it. We placed two sand bunkers around the green, one of which can be used for fairway bunker practice.”
A new 2,000 square foot teaching building equipped with the latest instructional technology has also been built. “Director of golf Eric Eshleman has an excellent teaching staff and wanted to provide the ultimate learning experience for his members. Eric’s input on the building and practice facility was invaluable.