Bonita Bay to begin Bay Island renovation in April

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    Hills Forrest Smith plans to renovate Bonita Bay's Creekside eighteenth to a par three, making room for the short game area

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    The existing eighteenth hole of the Creekside course

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    Hills Forrest Smith has designed a new short game area for Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida

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    The firm will begin renovating the club’s Bay Island course in April

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida, will soon begin a comprehensive project to renovate and restore the Bay Island course and build a new short game practice facility designed by Hills Forrest Smith.

In April, the club will begin renovating the Bay Island course – one of three at the club’s west campus designed by Arthur Hills (it has two more courses, designed by Tom Fazio, in nearby Naples). Infrastructure will be rebuilt, and modest changes will be made to improve the aesthetics, playability and strategy, as the architects seek to restore the original design intent of the course.

“When it was opened in 1994, nine new holes [4-12] were combined with nine holes from the original award-winning Marsh course to create the Bay Island course that exists today,” said Shawn Smith. “The longest and most challenging of the three courses on the west campus, it is laid out to strategically and aesthetically take advantage of its natural setting.

“It is a wonderful collection of holes that takes full advantage of the natural environment which defines much of southwest Florida. The routing weaves through a series of lakes, wetlands and preserves with large stands of oak, cypress and pine trees to create a picturesque golf course that blends beautifully with its surroundings.

“The golf course has changed considerably in the twenty-five years since it was first opened. In addition to updating the infrastructure, we plan to restore the greens to their original dimensions so we can recapture valuable cupping area and strategic pin positions that have been lost over the years. We will look to bring back the strategic and aesthetic value of the bunkers by rebuilding them with their original strong grass faces and flat sand floors. While our efforts will be largely restorative, we will also make a few modest changes to lake shapes, bunkering and a handful of greens to improve the aesthetics, playability and strategy of the course and make it more relevant to today’s modern technology.”

At the same time as the Bay Island renovation, the club will also begin work on the creation of a new 2.5-acre short game practice facility. “The spacious new short game facility will be a wonderful addition for the club,” said Smith. “Consisting of four greens, multiple bunkers with varied depths and sizes and expansive fairway surrounds, it will provide the membership the ability to practice virtually any short shot they can imagine.

“The area for the new short game facility will be created by converting the existing eighteenth hole of the Creekside course to a par three. The new eighteenth will be a dramatic finishing hole that plays over a natural wetland into a wooded backdrop with an amphitheatre-style setting.”