The new Stillwater golf course designed by Bobby Weed has opened for play in Northeast Florida.
As the flagship amenity of a new 549-home community south of Jacksonville by developer Lennar, Stillwater is the first new golf course to be built in the region since 2002. Within the 18-hole layout, loops of three, six, nine and twelve holes all start and finish near the clubhouse.
“Keeping the clientele in mind was critically important when designing an interesting, playable and fun layout for Lennar’s new active-adult community,” said Joey Graziani, golf course architect at Bobby Weed Golf Design. “We are pleased at how well Stillwater blends in with the surrounding native wetlands. The low-profile, maintenance-efficient design that we envisioned has come to life.
“Stillwater’s low-profile design provides striking visual contrast of bermudagrass, 18 acres of shell screenings and large swathes of non-irrigated grass native areas. Scottish-style pot bunkers constructed with EcoBunker faces and elegant laydown bulkhead walls provide a contemporary finish on the architectural style.
“The visual deception is a home run. We seek to challenge the golfer to think before each shot yet allow them to navigate around the course in a non-penal way. While some holes look difficult off the tee, they have more generous landing areas.”
Nearly 1.5 million cubic yards of dirt was moved for the golf course and residential development, with the entire site receiving a minimum of three feet of fill. The forward-thinking golf course design has only 70 acres of irrigated turf soil.
Unique to Northeast Florida, the course has sod wall bunkers, built using the EcoBunker product. “Traditional bunkers have vegetative sod that decomposes over time and must be rebuilt every five to ten years,” said Graziani. “Stillwater’s bunkers use layers of artificial turf to fortify the edges. These save significant time and money on labour while yielding a striking aesthetic.”
Weed and his design team have focused on the ground game, and minimised forced carries. Notably, there is no rough on the course. “The club can mow all TifTuf bermudagrass fairways at once using a single height of cut,” said Graziani. “A lower height of cut is used for all tees, approaches and green surrounds, saving the club time and money.
“The impact of no rough is that players receive greater flexibility and shot variety in a fun, different type of challenge.”
Graziani highlights the par fives. “On each of Stillwater’s par fives, players have a view of the green from the tee,” he said. “However, not all hazards are visible. Many of the par fives are S-shaped, which is the quintessential hole shape. The fifth offers stellar shot variety, a right-to-left tee shot followed by a left-to-right approach shot to a well-guarded green. The green is reachable in two with a well-placed tee shot."
With laydown walls and several pot bunkers, the green of the short par-three fifteenth is protected. “Because these visuals are prominent, they cause players to really think about their club selection. The hole tips out at just 150 yards, affording added challenge on this short design.”
Five sets of tees will be available, with the total yardage ranging from 4,760 to 6,745 yards. “We built ribbon tee boxes to allow Stillwater to easily move tees forward or backwards as playing conditions dictate, which are mowed at the same height as approaches and collars,” said Graziani. “Traditional tee pods are more restrictive to specific distances.”
Stillwater also has a 16,041-square-foot Himalayas-style putting course and a 16-acre practice facility that has Toptracer technology and can be lit for evening play.
The golf club will open as semi-private, then eventually transition to private once the membership count reaches a certain threshold.