David McLay Kidd to design GrayBull in Nebraska; King-Collins re-opens Overton Park; Boca West selects Fry/Straka for improvements; England’s Perranporth tabs Tim Lobb to touch up James Braid design
The latest news and notes in golf course architecture.
> Cabot has acquired Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland. Ranked among the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, and a four-time Scottish Open venue, Castle Stuart opened in 2009, and features a design collaboration between Gil Hanse and its American developer, Mark Parsinen.
Cabot, the Toronto, Canada-based developer and operator of master-planned golf resort communities, expands its portfolio and is best known for Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, with its award-winning Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links courses. Ongoing Cabot projects include Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Cabot Revelstoke in British Columbia and Cabot Citrus Farms in Florida. The plan at Castle Stuart is to preserve, enhance and expand, with a development that will be known as Cabot Highlands.
"Castle Stuart has been considered a benchmark of exceptional Scottish golf since it first opened thirteen years ago," says Ben Cowan-Dewar, CEO and co-founder of Cabot. "We are honored to be a steward of the land and carry the original vision for the property forward. Our goal is to create unforgettable memories in magical places, and there are few places in the world more awe-inspiring than the Scottish Highlands."
> Officials at Dormie Network, a national network of private destination golf clubs, announced this past week that David McLay Kidd will design GrayBull, an 18-hole private course in the Nebraska Sandhills town of Maxwell. In the spring of 2021, Dormie Network enlisted Kidd to help them find and select the appropriate piece of land in west-central Nebraska, roughly 30 minutes east of North Platte. Together they looked at plots south of the Platte River in Western Nebraska, but found the soil was too heavy with clay. As McLay Kidd looked across the river, he pointed and said, “That’s where we need to be.
“Being a direct influence on land selection is rare in the industry, which makes it even more exciting to build,” said McLay Kidd. “Golfers want to go to a place and actually experience the place, and golf is the excuse for doing so. This land is special—There’s nothing but you and mother nature in its rawest, simplest, most beautiful form.”
Amenities will include a full-service clubhouse, a practice facility, lit putting green, brand-agnostic custom fittings, and 60 beds onsite across 15 cottages for members to make the most of evening entertainment available at network tournaments and private events. GrayBull will be Dormie Network’s seventh course and first facility built from the ground up, with a planned opening date of 2024.
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> After an 18-month renovation by King-Collins Golf Course Design & Construction, the City of Memphis (Tennessee) and Overton Park Conservancy announced the June 23 re-opening of Overton Park 9 Golf Course, a 116-year-old municipal layout in the heart of Midtown. Tad King and Rob Collins are best known for their design of nine-hole Sweetens Cove in the Volunteer State, and they’ve produced a similarly remarkable re-do at Overton.
As put forth by King-Collins in their Vision Statement, “The revitalized Overton Park Golf Course will be a playground for juniors and golfers of all skill levels. With improved drainage, shaping and newfound strategic interest, these holes, which wind through the old growth forest, will introduce a new legion of players to the fundamentals of golf architecture that can be traced on a common thread through the world’s best courses. With the addition of over ten acres of native grasses, the course will seamlessly blend into the forest and provide habitat for a diverse range of bird species. A Children’s Putting Course will set the tone for the new layout that will seek to reclaim its rightful and historic place as the home to one of America’s largest junior tournaments.”
With the early returns filtering in, mission accomplished for Memphis’ Overton Park 9.
> Boca West Country Club in southeast Florida has commissioned Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design to assist with a master plan for course enhancements. One of the highest ranked residential country clubs in America, Boca West boasts 72 holes, designed by Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer and Jim Fazio. Together, Dana Fry and Jason Straka have teamed up to design or redesign some of golf’s most impressive layouts, several in tandem with Dr. Michael Hurdzan, including Erin Hills, the 2017 U.S. Open venue.
“Dana and I are honored to be selected by Boca West to lead the club through the upcoming golf course renovation process,” said Straka, who is the current president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. “Boca West is known as one of the top residential country clubs in America and we look forward to renovating and updating the golf courses to complement the club’s world-class facilities.”
Boca West is also the first country club in the nation to upgrade its driving range with Inrange, a precision radar ball tracking and range gamification system.
> Southwest England’s Perranporth Golf Club in Cornwall has selected London-based Lobb + Partners, headed by Tim Lobb, as its consulting architect. Opened in 1927 and designed by the most prolific architect of the Great Triumvirate, James Braid, Perranporth is largely untouched since that time.
“The course is a glorious blast from the past; I love it and love its setting,” said Lobb. “There are lots of blind shots, which add to the thrill of the golfing journey, and which makes the course stand out from the norm, given that most old links have been extensively reworked to remove a lot of the blindness and other quirk. It’s such a raw experience—and we don’t want to lose that. Rather, we want to enhance it. Today’s golf is becoming sterile. We want to retain the course’s unique feel.”
Lobb hopes to enhance both the course and the landscape. “We have done a lot of work on landscape improvements in our heathland work and the same priorities apply on a links,” he said. “Course manager Rob Cook and his team have already done some great work in this respect, encouraging marram and other coastal species in the roughs, as well as the appropriate fine grasses in the playing areas, and it is my hope that we can help them go even further. As far as course work goes, we will explore the entire property—which is pretty vast—to look for opportunities to improve the experience for all golfers. But I am not going to sterilize it—The rawness is an essential part of what makes Perranporth such a fabulous place to play.”
Club chairman Graham Parkyn said that this partnership is a big step for Perranporth. “Our course is basically still as Braid designed it back in the Twenties, and we don’t want to lose that feel, so it was crucial that Tim understood that,” he explained. “To have someone of Tim’s standing partnering with us is very exciting for the future well-being of the club and course. Tim has spent quite a bit of time over the past few years getting to know the course and people, and his passionate desire to work here was very attractive from our perspective. We look forward to a productive partnership for years to come.”