2016 Golf Course Renovations Round-Up

Island Resort & Casino
Harris, Michigan
Architect Paul Albanese is returning to the Island Resort and Casino, where he built the Sweetgrass course a few years ago for the Hannahville Indian Community. His new 18 will be on a hilly, tree-lined site about six miles from the resort featuring a drumlin ridge, climbing up to 120 feet, that Albanese plans to incorporate as often as possible. “The goal is to allow golfers to experience the drumlin throughout the entire course,” he says. “It comes into play several times, in different directions, up, down, over, and through.” The architect also wants to include a drivable par four on each nine.

Gull Lake View
Augusta, Michigan
The sixth golf course at Gull Lake View resort will open this summer. Called Stoatin Brae, it is being designed and constructed by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design, but Doak himself is not involved in the project. Instead, longtime associates Eric Iverson, Brian Schneider, Brian Slawnik, and Don Placek are leading the build on what was once an apple orchard. Trees have been removed and prairie grasses planted in their place. Schneider said fairways will be wide while the greens—with slightly more contour than the resort’s other courses—will put up most of the course’s defense. Resort president Jon Scott is leading the creation of a set of short tees, around 4,000 yards, aimed at beginners, ladies, and seniors.

Le Touquet
Le Touquet, France
Dutch architect Frank Pont and his French partner Patrice Boissonnas have reached a crucial stage in their restoration of Harry Colt’s La Mer course at Le Touquet in northern France. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of trees have invaded the formerly open links property, while the routing has also been noticeably changed since 1931. A massive program of tree and scrub clearance is returning a more authentic links feel. The 15th hole—which had been broken into a par three and short par four—has been restored to something more closely resembling Colt’s original gambling par five. A new par-three 16th recently opened, and the uphill 17th will soon be returned to its original location in a dune valley to the left of the present fairway. A large new clubhouse is also being built.

Swansea, Wales
Pennard Golf Club, Wales’s famous “links in the sky,” has signed Tom Doak to advise on a multi-year renovation program of its revetted bunkers along with other parts of the course. Doak associate Clyde Johnson is already working with club manager Huw Morgan on a new green for the par-three 2nd, behind and above the existing surface and featuring a steep five-foot rise at the front. Among other possible changes is a new green for the famous 16th hole, pushing it back to the cliff edge and enhancing the view over Three Cliffs Bay.

Playa Grande
Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic
Rees Jones and associate Bryce Swanson have completed the reconstruction of Playa Grande, a course originally designed by Rees’s father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The course—with six sets of tees, playing between 5,230 and 7,259 yards—now includes 10 holes running along the cliff edge and overlooking the beach and Caribbean Sea. The back nine has been significantly altered, with the 15th to final holes along the coastline and calling for heroic shots over the sea on multiple occasions. An all-new resort is being built around the revamped course, including an upmarket Aman hotel. Jones said the work was close to his heart, as Playa Grande was among the last courses his father had worked on; he was particularly pleased to create the more dramatic finish along the ocean.