Golf course architect Nathan Crace has been commissioned by the Recreation and Parks Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge to plan a renovation of the City Park Golf Course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The course was originally designed by architect Tom Bendelow and will reach its 100th anniversary in 2028. It was also the first golf course ever to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. However, the project will not be a complete restoration of the original design, but instead what Crace terms a “restorvation”.
“Ross and other Golden Age architects were at the cutting edge of a new industry a century ago,” said Crace. “Think about how differently the game was then: the clubs, the ball, and the way we build and maintain courses. We can’t simply restore what was once there and expect it to thrive, but we also don’t want to ignore it and bulldoze what’s left.
“That’s why it’s about a better balance and that’s why I call it ‘restorvation’. We restore the original design intent of the Golden Age architect to the absolute best of our abilities with reverence and respect while renovating to the standards of today so that the finished product can withstand the test of time well into the future.”
Crace’s plans are expected to include the softening of the contours of green surfaces to account for faster green speeds resulting from new turf varieties. Fairway bunkers may need to be shifted to come into play in the same manner as they originally did, while tee surfaces would be expanded to help spread out the wear and tear from additional traffic.
Also under consideration are the addition of more back and forward tees for both low handicap players and beginners and seniors, along with possible upgrades to irrigation, drainage and practice facilities. Crace will also seek to “correct” some of the changes made to the course in the 1980s and 90s.
“We’re very early in the project,” says Crace. “The goal when we are done is to have the aesthetic and atmosphere of a Golden Age design with the conditions and playability for the modern game. As Mr Bendelow used to say, we want the course to be ‘sporty’, so we really want to dial up the fun factor for players of all abilities. It’s important to note that this will always be a Tom Bendelow design; but as a golf course architect, there is no better feeling than golfers walking off the last hole and saying they can’t wait to play the course again. That is the definition of a ‘sporty’ course!”