Nick Campanelli of Michael D’Angelo Landscape Architecture (MDLA) completed his first eighteen-hole renovation project earlier this year, for Heritage Harbour Golf Resort in Bradenton, Florida.
The course was previously known as Stoneybrook and designed by Arthur Hills in 2001. Construction on the renovation began in May 2022 and the club reopened as Heritage Harbour in January 2023.
“The renovation of the golf course was a central focus of the club’s rebranding as a resort property,” says Campanelli. “With that in mind, the course was redesigned to be fun and playable for high handicappers, yet challenging for scratch golfers.”
Campanelli’s plans called for some reconfiguration of the Stoneybrook layout, with the opening two holes removed for resort development. The former eleventh has been converted into two new holes (the third and fourth) and the eighth now plays in the reverse direction and forms holes eleven and twelve. These changes required new greens to be built for the third, eleventh and twelfth holes. Greens at the fourth and sixth were also redesigned.
The course was rebunkered throughout. Fairway hazards on at least 10 holes have been replaced with crushed shell waste areas, helping to reduce the overall sand acreage and the time spent on maintenance. There are now fewer, and generally smaller, greenside bunkers, and new collection areas have been created.
“From a design standpoint, initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to this point,” says Campanelli. “Players love the options provided by the new collection areas that surround almost every green complex. I’m optimistic the experience will only get better as the course matures and the resort component breaks ground.”
Campanelli’s course notes highlight the new bunkering on the par-three eighth (the former fifteenth): “The six bunkers previously guarding the entire front and left side have been replaced by one on each side and the creation of a large collection area at the front and right. For the big hitters, a new back tee has been added that requires players to carry the entire pond that typically did not come into play before.”
TifEagle and TifGrand has been used on greens and collars on all holes to improve the speed, consistency and playability of the putting surfaces.
Campanelli also helped to develop a new putting and chipping green complex and a members-only short-game area.
“The practice green, range and short game complex reopened for play alongside the main course,” he says. “The practice green and range were both expanded and regrassed. The short-game complex was redesigned to include a larger green, a variety of chipping areas and a new greenside bunker. The old eighth green, while no longer in play, was renovated and will function as a practice complex for private instruction.”
Campanelli is hoping his work at Heritage Harbour will be a springboard for new projects.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity that ownership provided and personally love the responsibility that comes with the role of lead architect,” he says. “While I’ve collaborated with other architects on smaller projects, it’s especially rewarding to see your ideas become reality at this scale. We are actively looking for our next Heritage Harbour and look forward to moving dirt on a future project soon.”