Jerry Pate knows golf. He's got eight wins on the PGA Tour, including the 1976 U.S. Open, and he's an accomplished course designer. Throughout the season, he'll be stopping by Devil Ball to offer an inside-the-ropes look at the week's upcoming course. Today: Innisbrook's Copperhead course.
Bay Hill completed another renovation last summer after the 2009 event. Green contours were flattened to increase the number of possible hole locations, tees were reconstructed to lengthen several holes, and bunker features were enhanced and brought closer to the greens.
The lesson golf facilities and, more importantly, their patrons across the nation can learn from the study of this Bay Hill renovation is patience. Although our industry has a multitude of extremely talented professionals who can thoughtfully design, quickly construct, and knowledgeably grow-in any size renovation project, we are still at the mercy of many factors we cannot control.
Historically, a late summer completion would have provided sufficient time remaining in the growing season for the grow-in. However, the southeast has seen an unusually cold, wet fall and winter. As a result, despite all the extraordinary efforts of everyone on the project team and the abundant resources available for the project, the new Emerald bermudagrass greens have struggled to become established.
Now, with only hints of warmer weather, the agronomy staffs at Bay Hill and the PGA Tour have been working feverishly to encourage the greens to cover for Arnie's tournament. The greens will be good, although, you will likely be able to notice a few areas around the edges that may still need more time.
For all the clubs and patrons of clubs that have recently completed a renovation or are planning one, remember that even the best clubs in the country with superior resources to prepare for one of the game's greatest tournaments are set back by an uncooperative Mother Nature. Have patience and have faith knowing you have qualified professionals working on your team!
Jerry Pate has been designing golf courses for over 30 years. His portfolio of work includes Old Waverly Golf Club in Mississippi, site of the 1999 United States Women's Open; Trump National Colt's Neck (formerly known as Shadow Isle) in New Jersey; Kiva Dunes on the Alabama Gulf Coast; and Rancho La Quinta Country Club in California. See more of his work at www.jerrypategolfdesign.com.)