Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida, has reopened its Bay Island course following a renovation project by Hills Forrest Smith.
“The initial feedback has been resoundingly positive,” said Shawn Smith of Hills Forrest Smith. “While the primary goal of the project was to restore the original design and rebuild the infrastructure, we were able to make some subtle modifications along the way that greatly enhanced the beauty, strategy and playability of the course.”
Bay Island is one of three Arthur Hills-designed courses at the club’s ‘West’ site. It also has two courses in northeast Naples, designed by Tom Fazio.
“Most notably, the bunkers were restored to their steep grass face character which create dramatic shadows that show off really well, especially during the twilight hours,” said Smith. “A few of the bunkers were shifted and a handful of new ones were added to provide contrast and enhance the beauty and strategy of the holes.”
Greens have been expanded to their original dimensions, or larger in some cases. “By removing the sand that had built up from years of topdressing, we were able to increase the total useable area of all the greens by over 25 per cent,” said Smith. “The increased size and lower elevation of the greens has made them more receptive to approach shots where players can more easily land the ball short of the green and run it on.
“The larger greens also provided an opportunity to slightly enhance their contouring, which has added interest to the putting surfaces. Expansive short grass areas created around the greens complement the bolder contouring and provide numerous recovery options that encourage creative shotmaking.”
Read more: Shawn Smith spoke with GCA about the project before work began
Hills Forrest Smith has also designed a 2.5-acre short game area with four greens, multiple bunkers and short grass areas. It was created by converting the eighteenth hole of the Creekside course to a par three.