The opening of The Grove XXIII in Hobe Sound, Florida, in 2019 was the culmination of a dream for basketball icon and avid golfer Michael Jordan. And given that his commitment to practice was instrumental in his success on the court, it should be no surprise that every detail has been considered for the practice facilities at his golf club.
We spoke with The Grove XXIII’s golf course architect, Bobby Weed, to find out more.
What was the brief for the practice facility at The Grove XXIII?
Mr Jordan requested a world-class practice facility with industry-leading technology. We were humbled to aid in his pursuit of this goal. New technological advancements allow golf course architects to be extremely precise in conception, design and construction. What we’ve designed and built is something that players haven’t seen before.
Florida is home to numerous touring professionals. Every square foot was designed to clone what players experience in tournament play, for example, The Grove XXIII’s greens can mimic the back-right pin position of the tenth hole at Riviera, the front-left of the fifteenth at Augusta, and more.
Tell us more about how technology has been employed in the layout of the facility.
ShotLink data was utilised to accurately recreate the most challenging shots on the PGA Tour.
The game-improvement programme takes a data-driven approach to measuring over a dozen skills. All data is recorded. This real-time feedback is invaluable to all types of players, allowing them to readily pinpoint areas of improvement.
Just as science has aided advancements in golf equipment, practice facilities are now benefiting and improving player skills like never before.
What are some of the specific features of the practice areas?
The Grove XXIII’s 16-acre practice facility incorporates a 400-yard, two-sided range with target greens of various sizes and yardages, while the short game area includes wedge tees for challenging shots into amoeba-shaped greens.
A separate, four-acre practice area is devoted to a new, state-of-the-art training facility, designed in conjunction with golf coach Darren May.
On the driving range, defined ‘driving corridors’ were constructed with widths of 27 to 33 yards. Separated by ridges, these mimic PGA Tour fairway dimensions. The target greens are laid out in 25-yard increments from 50 to 200 yards and are divided into sections that reflect rotating tournament pin placements.
The short game area has five hitting ‘zones’ that allow members to refine 35- to 90-yard approach shots off contrasting lies and slope angles.
Tell us more about the greens?
The putting green is 80 feet wide, beautifully manicured and segmented into four quadrants. Slopes of one to four per cent allow players to practice breaking putts at numerous speeds.
Greens were engineered with graduated slopes. Multiple practice greens offer ‘runways’ for assorted approach shots. Very rarely is a player afforded a dead-flat putt or wedge shot. Therefore, these practice greens offer a full gamut of greenside options: precise bump-and-runs all the way to skilful, sky-high flop shots.
Mr Jordan became arguably the greatest player in NBA history by how he pushed himself in practice. By building a facility that replicates ‘game-time conditions’ players will be better prepared for tournament play.