Golf course architect Kipp Schulties has been appointed to renovate the North course at Fort Lauderdale Country Club in Florida, USA.
The North course at Fort Lauderdale was designed by Robert ‘Red’ Lawrence and opened in 1951. Greens were remodelled by Chuck Ankrum in 1987 and by Tom Pierson in 1999.
Last month, the membership approved plans for a US$3.7 million renovation, with construction scheduled to begin on 1 April 2019.
“Reinvestment into a club’s infrastructure is vital to the success of not only that club, but of the golf industry as a whole,” said Michael O’Brien, general manager at Fort Lauderdale CC.
“I was hired about ten years ago to draw up a plan for the North course, and they decided to put it on hold in favour of a new clubhouse,” said Schulties.
Since building a new clubhouse, the club has replaced the irrigation system and has recently completed focus groups with the membership about renovating the North course. The scope of the project, which won’t touch the recent irrigation work, has been approved and is to be fully funded by the membership.
“They actually went back to that old plan and we’re implementing a version of that, other than we’re going to be re-looping green complexes and tee complexes and making some notable changes to the roughs,” said Schulties.
“It’s going to be a vastly different golf course. We’re working with pretty much the same fairways, but everything else is going to be different.”
Schulties will replace and possibly relocate some bunkers, and is aiming to make the course an enjoyable experience for golfers of all abilities, with tees that mean the course can be played from a total of 4,500 to 7,200 yards.
Schulties said that he is excited about creating some additional lake on the property, some elevation and to be able to move things around. “The North course is their championship course and that facility is probably 70-80 years old, so technology has passed it by over the last several decades, and they want to put some teeth back into it. There will be a little more strategy and a little more character to bring it back to the real test of golf that it once was forty to fifty years ago.”
According to the club, the response to the renovation of the North course has been positive. “During the project, we anticipate a very conservative membership growth rate; once the North course is complete, however, we fully expect that rate to increase rapidly,” said membership director Valerie Roca.
Schulties said: “In South Florida we’re lucky we get beach sand and that’s literally the surface of Fort Lauderdale, which is about as easy as you get when it comes to construction. I expect construction to finish sometime in August, and the course could reopen in November.”