Andew Green navigates the East Lake restoration process
Just hours after Viktor Hovland collected an $18 million check for winning the PGA Tour Championship at Atlanta’s Eastlake Golf Club, the legendary venue was closed for a makeover.
Under the direction of architect Andrew Green, the course will be closed for approximately a year to restore playability and Golden Age aesthetics to once again resemble the layout in which Bobby Jones learned the game.
For such a heralded club, Eastlake Golf Course has a very complicated history. The course, then known as the Atlanta Athletic Club, opened with an 18-hole layout in 1908 designed by pioneering American architect Tom Bendelow. This version was almost completely discarded when it was redesigned by Donald Ross in 1913.
Since that time, the tees, fairways and green complexes have retained their locations, but have lost their similarity. George Cobb remodeled the stadium before hosting the 1963 Ryder Cup, and Rhys Jones undertook a substantial refurbishment (and partial restoration) in 1994. Although Green has yet to reveal detailed plans, he undoubtedly won the bid due to his ingenuity in recreating Ross – Instilling magic at courses like Oak Hill (East), Wannamoisett, Inverness and Scioto.
Chad Parker, East Lake’s general manager, explained that the new work was driven by the necessity of repairing the infrastructure — greens, bunkers and irrigation, as it had been 29 years since that work had last been done. As long as the course was open, the club felt it had to explore what was out there, and what other ideas were out there. The club chose Green and his vision of what could be possible.
The green takes many of its cues from a recently discovered aerial photograph of East Lake in 1949. As with many southern clubs of that era, the green complexes at East Lake featured two greens on each hole, one with a warm-weather (Bermuda) grass. For summer play and cool season grass (curved) for winter play. Cobb incorporated them into his early 1960s renovation.
Green will seek to cultivate Ross’ noteworthy features and expand her dimensions. It would also likely reduce many greens and improve bunker patterns, not only in their shape and placement, but also in their size, in many cases removing portions of bunkers that block green entrances. This will allow more run/ground game options to reach the playing surfaces.
Adding length where possible, removing trees and replacing rough green areas with shortened areas are other changes in store. After touring other successful green efforts with Ross Courses, Eastlake officials decided the new greens would try to emulate what they saw at Wanamoisett in Rhode Island, and the bunkers would embrace the styles of Inverness in Ohio.
Among the major changes, the green at the par-3 ninth will be lowered and moved to the left, not only to bring more water into play, but also to improve the amount of sunlight and air circulation it receives. Many small changes will be made in this area.
“Eastlake Golf Club is at the heart of golf,” Green said. “Her legacy includes all that is great about the game and its history. From nurturing Bobby Jones and Alexa Sterling to shaping its Atlanta neighbors with Mr. Cousins’ vision to hosting the best in the world at the Tour Championship, Eastlake’s mission has always portrayed excellence and purpose. As we strive to connect the golf experience to the foundation laid by Donald Ross and protect the course for decades to come, I look forward to working with the club members and leaders.” “It’s a huge honor and I can’t wait to unveil the next ride.”
Bonita Bay is moving forward
Now that the Bonita Bay Club has completed the renovation of the Cypress Course, the private residential club in Naples, Florida, continues to move forward with its next project, the renovation of the Sabal Course. Originally designed by Tom Fazio in 1998, Sabal Stadium will benefit from the handiwork of Tom Marzolf of Fazio Design, who also handled modifications to the Cypress layout in 2022.
The $16.5 million renovation of Sabal Stadium will be comprehensive in nature, touching all features of the stadium from drainage to greens. It will take about 16 months to complete. Bordering a wildlife refuge, Sabal is a member-friendly golf course with five par 5s and five par 3s. Although a solid test from the tips, it is slightly less demanding than its sibling Cypress.
And on the same campus in Naples (Bonita Bay also has a three-field complex in Bonita Springs, about 10 miles to the north), the 14-acre practice facility will undergo a $2 million renovation. Improvements will include improved fairway cuts to mimic the tee shots found on the courses, a special wedge practice area with multiple short-game greens, an expanded short-game practice area, and a new putting green at Sabal Golf Course. Approximately 47,000 cubic yards of infill from the site will be used to raise the landing area and create target Bermuda turf, creating an exciting new training area.
A masterplan is underway for the historic golf club at Kew
Kruse Golf, led by Harley Kruse, a former design partner of Peter Thomson and Greg Norman, collaborated with Mike Clayton and Lucas Michel of Clayton, DeVries and Pont (CDP) to produce a masterplan for Kew Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia.
The Kew Club is Melbourne’s third oldest golf club, dating back to 1894 and considered one of the best golf courses in Victoria. The route has changed radically over the years on multiple occasions, mostly due to encroaching housing and highway expansions. The hope of engaging two of Australia’s largest golf engineering companies is to create lasting solutions for decades to come.
“Kew is one of several Melbourne courses located along the Yarra River,” Clayton told www.golfcoursearchitecture.net. “Our plan aims to correct some of the problems caused by the expressway that was built across the edge of the original track in the early 1970s. It is a beautiful place to play and follows similar architectural principles to those so wonderfully embodied throughout the city at Royal Melbourne.
Kruse and CDP already have similar working arrangements at Royal Perth and Wembley Golf Course, so the coexistence appears seamless.
“It has become increasingly clear that the skills of our two teams are highly complementary,” Cross said. “At Kew, it will be the sum of continued incremental improvements in course geometry, vegetation and drainage that will make the golf course that much better for future generations of members.”
At 6,179 meters (6,757 yards), with a par of 72, The Kew offers a challenging and playable layout for members to enjoy. With many dogs, precision is preferred over strength. Natural lakes, billabong, Glass Creek and the Yarra River come into play during the tour.
“Working with Harley Kruse and Mike Clayton has truly been an exciting journey,” said Matt Loughnane, CEO of The Kew. “Their experience, passion and vision in creating exceptional golf experiences is truly unparalleled. What impressed us most was their ability to quickly identify small but fundamental design flaws in a course and, through a comprehensive process, deliver innovative design solutions. The club looks forward to the course improvement journey ahead.” .