Greg Norman’s Avalon Links opens at Aurora Anguilla Resort in the Caribbean; Georgia’s venerable Valdosta transformed by Bill Bergin
Virginia-based architect Tom Clark is looking at a spring opening for The Battlefield, an 18-hole par-3 layout at Shangri-La Resort on Monkey Island in the northeast Oklahoma town of Afton.
Clark, a partner in Ault Clark & Associates and a past ASGCA President, is best known for his designs of TPC Avenel in Potomac, Maryland, and the Woods course at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. He previously worked at Shangri-La a decade ago, when he remodeled the resort’s 27-hole championship layout.
Located on land north of the resort behind the Monkey Island Fire Station, the layout is draped across 80 wildly undulating acres. More than 100 feet of elevation change defines this rugged property as it ventures from a hilltop to the bank of Grand Lake.
Architect Kevin Atkinson of Atkinson Design and Dale Forrest of Tulsa-based construction firm United Golf assisted in the design and construction. The name and motif of the course was suggested by the setting’s resemblance to a World War II battlefield, in a wooded area with dramatic elevation changes, according to Shangri-La Resort executive chairman Jason Sheffield.
"I conceived a three-tier design, a course to serve low handicappers with yardages from 130 to 230; the average member and resort guests with yardages from 100 to 210; and a chip and putt, where you can utilize just three clubs, for members and guests with families or just for sharpening your short game skills," Clark told golfcoursearchitecture.net.
Although most modern Par-3 courses are designed to be walked, Clark recognized that he was dealing with an unusual site, and made allowances. "Due to the topography that was rather severe in many areas, it became a necessity to install golf cart paths to accommodate the players, help direct drainage and prevent erosion," he said.
At historic Sunkist CC on the Gulf Coast, the members wanted to bring back the “classic feel” with our bunker renovation. I’m not big on template holes, but this shallower/tamer version of the “coffin bunker” fits nicely into the site. Project should be wrapped in a week or so. pic.twitter.com/9KXRmmkMje— Nathan Crace, ASGCA (@lipouts) January 20, 2023
THE SHARK MAKING WAVES IN CARIBBEAN
Change is a constant for golfers who find their way to the eastern Caribbean island of Anguilla in the British West Indies. From 2006 through most of 2022, Anguilla had only one golf course, an 18-hole Greg Norman design that was first called Tenemos Golf Club at St. Regis Resort, then later CuisinArt Resort & Spa.
After the previous owner passed away, billionaire businessman Richard Schulze, the former CEO of Best Buy, swooped in to restore Norman’s championship layout and in the process, commissioned the Shark to add a nine-hole short course. The new par-28, 1,315-yard layout is called Avalon Links and is situated on 19 acres between the sixth and seventh holes of the big course. The walking-only course consists of eight par-3s, and one par-4, the 345-yard second hole. The par-3s range in yardage from 90 to 169.
"The first hole begins with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and unfolds with a rich variety of tee shot angles, distances and carefully integrated design elements, including white sand belts and large areas of grass to make it playable and fun for beginners,” according to a statement from the resort. “Water features and a double green provide elements of excitement, and a short drivable par four was conceived to complete a great golf experience. Undulating greens and collection areas provide different ways to attack every flag around the green, including flop shots and bump and runs.”
Avalon Links is grassed with Latitude 36 fairways and TifEagle greens. It opened in November 2022.
VALDOSTA CC MAY BE OLD, BUT REJUVENATED
Valdosta Country Club, one of Georgia’s oldest private clubs, is undergoing a massive course transformation under the guidance of Bill Bergin. Work has started on the transformation of the club’s 27 holes into an 18-hole layout, enhanced practice facilities and a new six-hole short course.
"Valdosta is a historic course that was at the end of its viable lifecycle," Bergin told golfcoursearchitecture.net. “It was simply worn out and demand for play was not sufficient to warrant 27 holes. We examined the cost of renovating and maintaining 18 versus 27 and the solution was easy — focus on creating a high-quality course that would be viable well into the future."
Valdosta’s long golf history dates to 1917. The club underwent a significant alteration in 1977, when Joe Lee and Rocky Roquemore designed two new nines, the Bottom and the Plantation, atop of the old layout. Bobby Weed added the Bellemeade nine in 1988. Eliminating nine holes will yield big benefits.
The work began in December and will include rebuilding fairways, bunkers and cart paths, in addition to modernizing the irrigation system. The transformed course and new short course are expected to open in October 2023.