Steve Smyers to rebuild historic Donald Ross course in southern Florida


Steve Smyers to rebuild historic Donald Ross course in southern Florida
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Florida-based architect Steve Smyers will break ground in April on a total rebuild of Donald Ross’ 1917 course at the Fort Myers Country Club in the southwest of the state.

“The focus of the project is to design a new golf course – this isn’t a restoration or renovation – as if Ross were approaching the site today, mindful of modern playing equipment, maintenance equipment and practices, turf grasses and environmental concerns,” Smyers told GCA. Ross’ original Fort Myers course was roughly 6,300 yards long, while the new Smyers-designed course will be 7,000 yards, playing to a par of 70, with five par threes and three par fives.

“The goal is to satisfy the current customer base, but also make FMCC more attractive and challenging to younger, more accomplished golfers,” said Smyers. “The new FMCC is being designed to be the area’s ‘go to’ site for various USGA qualifying events, as well as to accommodate state and regional amateur events. As it has done since 1963, FMCC will continue to be the home to the annual Coors Light Open, site of two-time US Open Champion Lee Janzen’s first professional victory.”

Construction of the new course will start in April. The US$6-million project will be completed and the course reopened for play in October. It will remain a semi-private facility. “We are working closely with USGA Green Section agronomists to build a course that demonstrates the highest standards of environmental stewardship,” said Smyers. “Long-term water demands are being minimised through the use of native upland grasses and the induction of indigenous wetland vegetation.”