The course upgrade project at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill club in Florida in on schedule for the planned October reopening.
In May, Bay Hill began refurbishment work on its championship course, resulting in temporary closure over the summer. The primary focus of the project is to regrass the greens, but other elements include the addition of a runoff areas and the elimination of unnecessary bunkers.
Palmer indicated during the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, the changes to the greens and undulations will be subtle. Players can expect the look and routing of the course to be much the same. The overall goal of the project was not completely to alter the course, but rather elevate its architectural and aesthetic standards.
Efforts for this venture began well before excavators broke ground on the first green. “In November 2008, we created a test green near the end of the Charger range in which we planted seven different types of grass to determine which might be best suited for conditions at Bay Hill,” explains Ray Easler, the club’s general manager. “Of the seven, Emerald Dwarf was the top performer – in part because its longer root system allows it to be more resistant to ground pests, and its growth rate reduces the transition time between seasons.” The selected Emerald bermudagrass was cultivated at Champion Turf Farms in Texas.
Work is being done in phases, typically three holes at a time. While the championship course isn’t scheduled to reopen until October, the Charger course remains open.