Raymond Hearn renovates Midlothian; Jack Nicklaus and Justin Thomas team up in Florida; Significant changes to Augusta National
The latest news and notes in golf course architecture.
> Tripp Davis broke ground in January on an overhaul of Atlanta Athletic Club’s Riverside course. While not as renowned as its sibling Highlands course that has played host to multiple majors, Riverside did host the 1990 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Betsy King. It is part renovation of the older infrastructure (irrigation, grasses, subsurface drainage) and part redesign, notably on the stretches of 3-5 and 12-14 that will bring the Chattahoochee River more into play. To work on Bobby Jones’ old home club is a “dream come true” for Davis, an Atlanta native. Expect a late 2022 re-opening.
> Following a restoration/renovation hybrid from Raymond Hearn, Midlothian Country Club will likely reopen in spring 2022. Venue for the 1914 U.S. Open, won by Walter Hagen, the Chicago-area layout dates to 1898. Hearn endeavored to preserve the original routing, while bringing back strategies, angles and green complexes from the original design. He also added tees, removed trees, renovated and restored bunkers and improved drainage.
> Justin Thomas’ first foray in architecture is a collaboration with the Jack Nicklaus design team on the creation of Panther National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The centerpiece of a new upscale community, Panther National will include a championship layout, a nine-hole, par-3 course and expansive practice facilities. “I started drawing golf holes on napkins as a kid, so this is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” Thomas said. The championship course is expected to open in late 2023.
> Revealed officially on Feb. 16, Augusta National Golf Club has made two significant hole changes ahead of the 2022 Masters. Of the par-4 11th, “Masters tees moved back 15 yards and to the golfer’s left. Fairway recontoured and several trees removed on right side.” The hole will now play 520 yards. At the par-5 15th, “Masters tees moved back 20 yards and fairway recontoured.” The 15th will now play 550 yards, bringing overall course yardage to 7,510 yards. In addition, 13 yards have been added to the back of the 18th tee box, but it will not change the yardage of the hole. For nearly 25 years, Tom Fazio has assisted the club with design changes, though neither the club nor Fazio will comment on the present work.
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