This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.
Golf course architect Lester George has begun the first phase of a renovation project for Audubon Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
The course was originally designed by Tom Bendelow in 1908. George’s master plan seeks to improve and modernise the golf facilities and infrastructure. The first phase sees bunkers renovated.
“I fell in love with the property the first time I toured it, and I think the club leadership saw my passion for its potential,” said George. “Prior improvements to the course diluted the character of the original Bendelow design.
“Our vision was to reinstate classic strategy using the unique terrain features and bunkering aesthetics to enhance the overall playability of the golf course. The development of a long-range plan for future improvements has given Audubon the opportunity to evaluate course strategy, practice facilities, turf varieties, aesthetics, drainage, and overall facility efficiency. We held focus groups to hear what the membership had to say about the facilities and amenities, and we worked that information into the comprehensive master plan for Audubon.”
Director of golf Eric Gilliland said: “This is the first time we have done any significant work on the golf course since 2004-2005, and we were due to take a hard look at the course. I met Lester at a PGA conference about practice facilities, and two people recommended I talk to him about improvements to Audubon because of his excellence in working with small spaces and his reputation for honouring the history of a property. The board brought him in to look at the range, and we ended up asking Lester to create a full master plan for the golf course. The entire restoration is a US$1.7 million project, and the bunkers are just a quarter of that.
“Our membership had no idea how Lester could do so much with so little. With every week during this bunker phase of the project, the golf course changes. It’s amazing how much of an effect this has on the aesthetics and playability of the course. It has become more difficult for the expert golfer while at the same time becoming more playable for beginners. I believe this project will have a positive effect on membership retention and growth.”