South Carolina’s Pawleys Plantation reopens following a restoration from Troy Vincent and Nicklaus Design; Brian Silva refreshes the Donald Ross design at Ohio’s Maketewah
David McLay Kidd’s first design in the southern United States — Loraloma near Austin, Texas — is slated to break ground in late October. The new course will anchor a private Hill Country community within Arete Collective’s Thomas Ranch development.
Kidd will employ a light touch, blending in his creation seamlessly with the natural contours of the terrain, and taking maximum advantage of the clifftop site that edges the Pedernales River.
"The Loraloma landscape is vastly more visually inspiring than most of what exists in the Austin area today," McLay Kidd said. "Our goal is to open up this compelling landscape to golfers for a world-class experience, and I will tread very lightly to preserve and protect this land so that it can be enjoyed and embraced for generations to come."
The 120-acre golf site will house a 7,060-yard, par-72 layout, one that will close with a 570-yard par 5. Creeping bentgrass will carpet the greens and Zoysia grass will be used in the fairways. Bracketing the fairways will be natural areas dotted with Texas bluebonnets, wildflowers and other native flora. Nearly half the holes will unfold along cliffsides next to the Pedernales River. Others will be draped atop peaks that will provide dramatic elevation changes and handsome views of the Hill Country and Balcones Escarpment.
"The rules of golf require the player to play the ball as it lies, and the beauty of the Loraloma course is the fact that [McLay Kidd] has designed a sustainable course around the existing lay of the land," said Tom Hogan, co-founder and CFO of Arete Collective and former CFO of Augusta National.
The course is expected to be completed in late 2024, with a full opening scheduled for spring 2025.
Renovation update: Hole 11.
Par 3. Six different tee box options, ranging from 94 to 218 yards.
Getting greener every day. pic.twitter.com/YJvdy6qIZ0
— Quarry Oaks (@QuarryOaksUSA) September 12, 2023
PAWLEYS PLANTATION PROJECT IS COMPLETE
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, located on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, reopened Oct. 2 after a comprehensive greens and bunkers restoration project.
Founders Group International (FGI), Pawleys’ parent company, contracted with Nicklaus Design Group and its design associate, Troy Vincent, to lead a project that has modernized one of the area’s most popular courses while maintaining the integrity of Nicklaus’ original work.
"Pawleys Plantation opened in the late 1980s, and it was time to look at the layout and reimagine what it could be," said Steve Mays, president of Founders Group International. "When you have a golf course that is associated with an icon like Jack Nicklaus, of course you want to incorporate his input and use the Nicklaus Design team to ensure the course continues to fulfill its potential going forward."
Pawleys closed May 22 and golfers were welcomed back to a layout that received a dramatic facelift just as Myrtle Beach enters its peak fall season.
The seeds for the renovation of Pawleys were planted during a trip Nicklaus made to the course in 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its opening. The Golden Bear toured the layout, providing detailed notes on how to best update a design that has long been among South Carolina’s most popular.
At the heart of Nicklaus’ vision was a layout that was more playable for average golfers without diminishing the challenge for more skilled players. Over time, trees had encroached on the course, narrowing fairway corridors beyond the original intent, and the size of the green complexes had shrunk dramatically.
To create more room, Vincent and his team eliminated the sprawling bunkers that lined more than half of the layout’s holes, replacing them with additional fairway space and native areas, and removed trees when necessary to create optimum conditions.
"We followed Jack’s ideas from 2018," said Vincent, who worked alongside the golf legend for 15 years. "It was our intention to make the course more playable, to give players more options, and we have carried that out. I think everyone will be happy."
While there is more fairway to find, the challenge on and around the greens is more substantial as the number of pin areas significantly increased, placing greater demands on the short game.
Highlights of the project include:
> Every green complex and the surrounding fringe was stripped, tilled and restored to its original specifications, netting nearly 40,000 square feet of additional putting surface.
> The new greens feature TifEagle Bermudagrass, an ultradwarf strain that has performed exceedingly well at other FGI layouts, including the Grande Dunes Resort Course and River Hills Golf Club.
> The collar around every green was resurfaced with Tahoma 31, a hardy variety of Bermudagrass that can withstand close mowing and is resistant to mutation.
> The sprawling bunkers on holes one, two, three, four, seven, eight, 10, 12, 16 and 18 were replaced by smaller fairway bunkers, native areas and expanded fairways, enhancing the course’s playability for mid- to high-handicappers without reducing the challenge for more skilled players.
> In addition to the course work, Pawleys is undergoing a clubhouse renovation that will include the building of a new deck, offering stunning views of the course’s 18th hole, and the opening of a new restaurant.
Widely regarded as one of the most attractive courses on the Grand Strand, Pawleys features six back-nine holes that play along a tidal marsh, a stretch highlighted by the 13th, a devilish par 3 that plays to a peninsula green surrounded by water and buffeted by winds off the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
MAKETEWAH RECEIVES RENOVATION, RESTORATION COMBO
Maketewah Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, reopened in the spring following a Brian Silva hybrid of renovation and restoration.
Located in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati, Maketewah dates back more than 110 years to a Tom Bendelow design. Donald Ross redesigned the course in 1919. In 2010, the club retained Silva to create a masterplan that would restore the Ross character to the course and work began in 2012 on a three-phase program. The final phase commenced just after Labor Day 2022 and the course opened back up for play in June.
Silva shifted fairways, altered bunkers, removed trees and performed other tasks to make the course more playable, more classic-looking and easier to maintain.
"We wanted to bring it back to its original design, what Donald Ross intended, with a modern flair," said Ted White, superintendent at Maketewah. "We tried to resurrect it and bring it back to life because it had changed a lot over the years."
The back tees expanded from 6,809 yards to more than 7,100 yards, continuous cart paths were removed and, in particular, many bunkers were restored — both existing traps that needed touching up and the addition of new bunkers that were once part of the Ross design, but had been eliminated over the years.
"We’re trying to put a little movement in the bunker faces so that they capture people’s attention," Silva said. "And hopefully capture their fancy, insofar as they are assisting in the site’s drama and beauty."
Silva has also restored width and ground game options, making for a more Golden Age experience.
"This is a layout more like it was in the 1920s and 30s, and it is more fun and aesthetically pleasing," Silva said. "Maketewah knew there was disguised greatness in the golf course — they knew it could be more interesting."