Architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns have been commissioned by the city of Winter Park, Florida, to redesign and rebuild the city’s century-old nine hole municipal golf course, believed to be the second oldest course in central Florida.
Rhebb, who is based in Orlando, not far from Winter Park, is a long-time Coore & Crenshaw associate, and has worked on many of the firm’s projects, such as Lost Farm in Australia, Cabot Cliffs in Canada and Streamsong in Florida. He has just returned from the renovation of Yokohama CC in Japan. Winter Park will be his first project as architect of record.
“The course has hardly been touched throughout its history,” Rhebb told GCA. “The bunkers are now two or three feet above grade, because of all the sand that has been put in them over time. The greens have shrunk, as is normal on older courses – in fact there is a bunker on the ninth hole that is almost twenty feet away from the rear of the putting surface. The greens are just push ups, and the holes are basically devoid of strategy.”
Rhebb said that the city had realised the course could not survive for long in its present state. But a traditional architect-and-contractor style renovation was also likely to be challenging, because of the cost involved. “We are bringing the cost of this kind of work right down, because we are both architects and shapers,” he said. “Riley and I will share the design work, but equally on any given day we might be out there shaping a fairway, laying sods or excavating a drainage ditch.” Texas-based irrigation and construction expert Don Mahaffey and Canadian shaper Trevor Dormer will also be part of the project, which has a budget of US$1.2 million.
“The city has been great to work with,” said Rhebb. “Steve Leary, the mayor, has put his authority right behind the project and has been a huge help, and in general they have bent over backwards to avoid locking us into anything. They’re really open to new ideas, and that is a big help. Winter Park Country Club is the epitome of quaint community golf. It is fun and inclusive, and very affordable,. We plan to enhance the strategic charm and conditioning of the golf course, and to create a landscape of beauty that the community can be proud of.” Construction will begin in March.