ASGCA Secretary John Sanford and his Jupiter, Florida-based firm, Sanford Golf Design, began construction in Bonita Springs, on Florida’s west side, in April. They are rebuilding the Spring Run Golf Club from the bottom up.
The Sanford team including Wadsworth Construction will replace worn out infrastructure with a new irrigation systems, establish new drainage for the entire course, rebuild the deteriorated 15-year old cart paths, and redo and reposition tee boxes, greens and bunkers.
“The golf course was built 15-to-20 years ago so it’s not that old but it badly needs upgrading,” Sanford said. “It’s what I call a developer’s golf course. They skimped on the irrigation system and infrastructure, so the guts are falling apart.”
Spring Run’s general manager Mike Zigler said that while the course on the surface looks to be in wonderful condition, below ground its faltering irrigation system was only 57 per cent efficient. The depth of the greens did not meet the industry standards. In the winter months, the course normally does more than 300 rounds daily, exacting a severe toll on greens and fairways.
“This project has been three years in the making,” Zigler said. “We were looking for a different way to go. We wanted some fresh ideas.
“We were thinking more in the way of graphic design to show our members what the course would look like and we’re very happy with John’s ideas, design, landscaping, and graphics,” he said.
The Spring Run club is a residential community anchored by the 18-hole 6,989-yard golf course.
Sanford said because Zigler and club officials had done extensive homework it was easy to reach agreement on his assessment of what needed to be done.
“When we started the master plan, I said as long as we are putting in a new irrigation system, new drainage, we are going to build all new greens and bunkers, it doesn’t cost more money to give you a golf course with good strategic quality,” he said. “If you build a green and you put it here or over there it is the same cost. The same goes with tees and bunkers. We were able to persuade them that we could not only improve the infrastructure and conditioning, but the aesthetics and the strategic quality of the golf course.”
Sanford said because the club initiated the master planning process a year in advance, he was able to get the master plan approved, completed his detailed design and document stages, and put the job out to bid months ago.
“We were able to negotiate with some of the best contractors and get the client very good value, for a comprehensive reconstruction of the golf course,” he said. The club will only lose its spring-summer-fall off-season as the course will be reopened in November.
With the existing real estate, the routing will be unchanged. Each hole, however, will be different and each will have a distinct character and strategy to present a challenge for the better players,” Sanford said.
He said his group will work with dirt already on site. The existing lakes and ponds, which handle all the storm water retention and drainage, will be unchanged. Those factors will keep costs down. The fairways will be sloped inward to discourage lost balls and speeding up play.
“One of the things that I’m proud of we are to completely rebuilding this golf course including all infrastructure – drainage, cart paths, irrigation, drainage of bunkers tees, all the new grass and a landscape package for about $3 million,” Sanford said. “Five or six years ago and job like this was $5 or $6 million.”