Design Notes

Rees Jones fixes Broken Sound’s Old Course in Florida

Nicklaus Heritage inks its first deal at Jack’s Bay in the Bahamas; Roy Bechtol to make waves at Texas’ Austin Beach Club

The Old Course at Broken Sound.jpg

Broken Sound Club reopened its Old Course in early March, following a redesign by Rees Jones.

The Old Course at Broken Sound Club is a frequent stop for tournaments, including the PGA Tour Champions' TimberTech Championship and the Jim McLean Junior Championship.

Driven by Broken Sound Club’s ongoing efforts to strategically improve and enhance its facilities, the redesign project aimed to address sustainability, improve the overall playing conditions and replace infrastructure. At the forefront of sustainability initiatives, the course is the first golf facility in Florida, second in the U.S. and 14th in the world to be GEO Certified.

The par-72 Old Course is a pure core golf course without housing. Among the complete changes and additions to the course, many of the holes have been reimagined to give players more options on how to play each hole. The classic-style bunkers are now easier to access and designed to be fair and playable.

TifEagle Bermudagrass now carpets the greens, with Celebration Bermudagrass on the fairways and roughs, and Sunday Bermudagrass on tees. By challenging the low-handicap golfer with strategic options and by providing openings into most of the greens for the higher-handicap player, the redesigned Old Course creates a thought-provoking game for players at every level.

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Jones has designed more than 260 golf courses in his career and earned the moniker “The Open Doctor” for having applied his craft to seven U.S. Open venues, nine PGA Championship courses, six Ryder Cup and three Presidents Cup venues, along with two Walker Cup sites.

For the Broken Sound Old Course project, Jones was joined by his second-in-command, Bryce Swanson, who was recognized by a panel of Golf Magazine editors as one of three golf course architects named to Golf’s 40 under 40: The 40 Most Influential in Golf Under 40 Years Old.


Nicklaus Design has commenced work on an 18-hole championship golf course at Jack’s Bay on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

The new $20 million layout set on the Atlantic coastline represents the world’s first Nicklaus Heritage course — a new brand that, according to the company, will showcase “the senior designers from Nicklaus Design who have been personally trained by Jack Nicklaus over several decades. Nicklaus Heritage designs incorporate the design philosophies and values imparted to Nicklaus designers over their careers working with Jack on world-famous golf courses under Nicklaus Design’s Jack Nicklaus Signature brand.”

Chad Goetz, senior design associate at Nicklaus Design will oversee the design.

"It’s going to be spectacular," Goetz said. "A number of holes stretch directly along the ocean and even the land off the ocean has remarkable topography, featuring a rolling terrain of elevation changes, lakes, deep water ‘blue holes’ to the ocean and caves. What mother nature has provided us is rare and we plan to preserve the natural integrity and enhance the beauty of the island."

Tiger Woods and his TGR Design firm designed a 10-hole short course at Jack’s Bay in March 2020. Known as The Playground, it features holes ranging from 71 to 163 yards.

The new Nicklaus course is expected to open in 2025 and will complement Woods' Par 3 layout perfectly. All that will be missing from the new championship course at Jack’s Bay is Jack Nicklaus himself, who is not involved in the design.

A new members-only development known as Austin Beach Club is in the early stages of planning on the outer reaches of southeast Austin, Texas.

Located in a region called Dog’s Head, a 3,000-acre tract where the Colorado River resembles the shape of a dog’s head, the multi-use development is expected to include a 12-hole short course of par 3s designed by Roy Bechtol of Austin-based Planned Environments/Bechtol Golf Designs.

Bechtol has created such courses as University of Texas Golf Club, Escondido in Horseshoe Bay and the Spieth Lower Forty, a six-hole par-3 course in Austin where Jordan Spieth consulted.

“Golf is a demanding game, to say the least,” Bechtol told the Austin American-Statesman in making the case for short courses. “I think you’re seeing a move afoot with younger millennials to play in a way that takes less time and is more fun. This just opens it up to so much more of the populace to fall in love with the game. It’s a much quicker way to spend the day. What we’re trying to create at the Austin Beach Club is to play real golf, get outdoors, get away from computers.”

Bechtol is collaborating with course designer Jim Fazio Jr. on the project.

Austin Beach Club developer Lauren Carlson believes that the location of the course and the purpose for it will drive membership sales.

“The property is so magical,” she said. “We have downtown views and there’s just a feeling you get when you go out there. Whether you want to golf or just decompress, this is about getting into nature and connecting with other people.”

The golf course has a target date of July 2024 for opening.