Architect Mike Dasher has completed a total renovation of the historic Dubsdread course in Orlando. The oldest course in the Florida city, Dubsdread was originally designed by Tom Bendelow, America's most prolific golf designer and the creator of major championship venues such as Olympia Fields and Medinah #3.
Taken in isolation, Dubsdread looks like a very ordinary course on a very ordinary piece of property. Flat and surrounded by housing and streets, Dubsdread could seemingly be Anywhere, Anytown, USA.
Bendelow himself is an interesting character. Like so many early architects an expat Scot, he spent years designing mostly low budget courses across the US. More golfers, it is said, learned to play on a course designed by Bendelow than by any other architect. Maybe his reputation is not up there with the legends of the American industry such as Ross or Tillinghast, but he was clearly an extremely important figure in the evolution of the American game.
Formerly the site of the Orlando Open, Dubsdread has a close connection with some of the greats of American golf. Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Claude Harmon all played at the course. But the growth of housing in the area and the forthcoming widening of the nearby interstate highway created a significant storm water problem, and the city hired Dasher to redesign the course and retro-fit a storm drainage solution. Storm water running into nearby Little Lake Fairway will be filtered through a series of ponds on the golf course.
The plot is extremely tight, with housing close to both sides of some fairways. Dasher has moved hazards on several holes to protect the adjacent homes, while cleverly adding elevation and contour to greens and fairways. A new putting green, two short game practice ranges and an aqua driving range with lights have been added to the practice facility, maximising the use of the small plot of land. Fairways remain relatively narrow, but at 6,165 yards the Dubsdread course is still short by modern standards.
Dasher has got round this issue by creating a set of fairly small, well protected greens that will test golfers' short games.
This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.