Bonita Bay renovates and restores Bay Island course

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  • Bay Island

    Bonita Bay Club has reopened its Bay Island course

  • Bay Island

    Hills Forrest Smith has completed a project to restore the design and rebuild infrastructure

  • Bay Island

    Bunkers have been restored to their steep grass face character

  • Bay Island

    Smith says subtle modifications have been made to enhance “the beauty, strategy and playability of the course”

  • Bay Island

    Greens have been expanded to their original dimensions

  • Bay Island

    Hills Forrest Smith has increased the total useable area of all greens by over 25 per cent

  • Bay Island

    The eighteenth hole of the Creekside course is now a par three, to make room for a new short game area

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

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.

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