Golf course architect Steve Smyers is leading a project near Apopka, Florida, which will see the conversion of the course at the Errol Estate into a brand new 18-hole layout.
The estate is currently home to 27 holes designed by architect Joe Lee, but has fallen into disrepair in recent times.
Smyers has drawn up plans to create a new 18-hole course on the site that meets the need of the modern golfer. The course will be renamed the Staghorn Golf Club and Lodge once it reopens.
GCA caught up with Smyers to discuss his vision for the course.
“I look at this as a whole new golf course,” Smyers said. “On one nine we were confined to the corridors that already exist, but essentially the course is new. It’s going to have an US$8 million construction budget.”
Smyers and his team are currently in the project’s planning stage, and the architect says the reduction from 27 to 18 holes has naturally provided more options in terms of space.
“Here in the US we’ve got so many golf courses that are aging, so many communities that are aging, and where the land and environment is in a state of distress,” he said. “We’re going to be able to go in there and create new golf holes, but we’re also going to heal the landscape and create some very good water courses, wetlands and some upland areas. That’s all part of the mission statement here. We’re also going to put an emphasis on having a very strong practice facility.”
Many holes will see golfers having to negotiate water hazards, in particular on the course’s southern section. The third hole will see golfers playing over a small lake towards the green from the tee, while the sixth hole will see players looking to avoid a large lake to the right of the fairway. The dogleg fourth hole is the course’s longest at 635 yards.
“In Florida, the water table can fluctuate by as much as ten feet a year,” Smyers said. “So we’re going to have all sorts of wetlands plantings around the lake, and the golf course will be very much engulfed by the landscape.”
Though significant changes are to be made, Smyers said that the spirit of Joe Lee will still be present in how golfers will play the course.
“Joe Lee was a very prolific architect, very much from the school of Dick Wilson, and was all about length and shot making,” he said. “We’re going to try and adhere to that to modern day standards.”
Construction work is set to commence in October 2017, and Smyers is hoping the course will be open for play in autumn 2018.