Nathan Crace introduces new short game practice facility at Bayou DeSiard CC

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley
  • Lovely Golf Course

    The project in its early stages during the installation of green mix

  • Lovely Golf Course

    The facility following the installation of the turf

  • Lovely Golf Course

    Photo taken during the sprigging phase of the project

  • Lovely Golf Course

    This photo was taken two weeks after the sprigging of MiniVerde ultradwarf bermudagrass

  • Lovely Golf Course

    The facility opened to golfers on 6 August

Golfers at Bayou DeSiard Country Club in Monroe, Louisiana are enjoying a new short game facility developed by golf course architect Nathan Crace, ASGCA.

A group from Bayou DeSiard visited the nearby Annandale County Club near Jackson, Mississippi last year, which is home to a short game facility that had been designed by Crace.

Impressed with what they saw, the group hired Crace to design a new short game practice green complex.

“Bayou DeSiard Country club had a great practice area called the triangle,” said Gene King, club president at Bayou DeSiard Country Club. “We had three greens that could be used for target shots up to 170 yards. They had bunkers around each green. The only thing we didn’t have was a chipping green. We elected to take one of the target greens and convert it to a chipping green and that green went from less than 2,000 sq ft to almost 6,000 sq ft with our new short game complex.”

Speaking to GCA, Crace said: “We’ve designed about six or seven short game facilities in recent years for private clubs, public courses, and multiple Division I college golf teams. I think the trend is in part due to clubs and courses wanting to provide amenities for golfers that appeal to the time crunch everyone is under these days. Not everyone has time to spend four hours or more playing 18 holes multiple times in a week, but any golfer can find an hour a few days a week to work on his or her short game. It’s also a great way to introduce beginners and juniors to the game and I don’t know anyone who couldn’t shave a few strokes off his or her game by improving their short game.”

The project was completed and grassed in May 2015 and opened for members on 6 August.

“It’s important to find an experienced golf course architect when considering creating or renovating a short game facility,” Crace said. “It’s much more than just dropping a green down and a few bunkers. What helps my clients is that my background before becoming a golf course architect more than 20 years ago was as a club pro and my instructional specialty was the short game – likely because that’s how I first taught myself how to play when I was a junior. So when I study a site and meet with a client, I’m not only thinking about how best to custom-tailor their short game facility to their site and their clientele and their needs, but also how the deliver the best return on investment and, most importantly, how the golfers will utilise the facility.”

Crace believes that a golfer’s short game practice should only be limited by his or her own imagination.

“I’m careful to include multiple scenarios to mimic what they’ll see on the course in a given round – tight lies, rough, uphill, downhill, sidehill, chipping, pitching, flop shots, run-outs, bunker play, and more. I want them to have it all in one area and we’ve received tremendous feedback from golfers at each one of the facilities we’ve done.”

“Nathan toured the course and designed the chipping green to conform to the contours of the greens on the golf course,” said King. “It is outstanding. We now have a 5,900 sq ft chipping facility to compliment two other practice greens. Nathan did an outstanding job of architecture. He helped us get bids for the construction and was with us in every aspect of construction. The use of the facility has been outstanding and our superintendent Rob Randel has done an outstanding job growing the facility.”

Crace added: “I really enjoy helping clients by designing these facilities and seeing how they utilise them and we’ve seen interest in our short game facility design services growing beyond the Southeast of the US into the Midwest, Northeast, and Atlantic Coastal states as well as westward. We see tremendous growth potential in providing this valuable service to both public and private courses in the years to come.”