Todd Schoeder and Forrest Richardson will begin the renovation of Los Alamos County Golf Course near Santa Fe, New Mexico, in spring 2024, nearly a decade after the facility’s first masterplan.
After several false starts, Los Alamos County Council has approved construction on the municipal facility.
“It has been a process with a lot of moving parts,” said Richardson. “Our work picked up where the county left off several years ago, and we’ve had to work with the improvements they made back then, which included a full irrigation replacement.”
Schoeder, of iCon Golf Studio, added: “Other obstacles included balancing the needs of the golfers and golf course revisions versus the requirements of the public regarding overall aesthetics and a trail that traverses the golf course.”
The masterplan includes rerouting holes six to nine, reversing the seventh and eighth, 13 new bunkers and remodelling all existing bunkers, two new greens and renovations to all others, new tees, new cart paths, and a new driving range and practice area. “The goal is a ‘new’ course, reimagined, yet within the same basic routing and footprint,” said Schoeder and Richardson.
The collaboration between Schoeder and Richardson came about due to the scale of the project. “Simply put, it was a lot of work and it all needs to be completed in a short timeframe,” said Richardson. “The idea to team up was an obvious solution to meet the client’s needs.”
“We had also been looking for a project to collaborate on,” said Schoeder. “Combining our design strengths will contribute to a more successful project, meeting the goals of Los Alamos County.”
The routing changes at holes six to nine and the reversal of the seventh and eighth are primarily for safety. It allows the designers to shift the fairways further away from the roads and trails, and means the road is no longer on the right side, in the path of a slice for right-handed golfers. In addition, these changes will allow the team to open up views from the course to the nearby Jemez Mountains.
Some bunkers will be repositioned to accommodate modern hitting distances. “The course’s is set in a forest and on the edge of a rugged canyon,” said Richardson. “What we’ve created is a look that lives up to that ambiance, and over the long term it will help relax the need to maintain the edges with nail clipper precision, which is something this site does not need.”
Richardson said: “Besides the addition of two new greens and one new practice green, we will mitigate drainage and rootzone issues by resurfacing several putting surfaces and drilling and filling the remainder.
Schoeder added: “Also, an emphasis has been placed on restoring the golf course to its original character by repairing and replacing the ageing infrastructure across the entire layout – namely green-to-tee cart paths, areas of disrepair, the new bunkers and an all-new four-tee system. Not to mention a remodelled driving range and practice area where players will, for the first time, be able to use any club in their bag. The overriding goal was to use the golf course to create a point of pride for the community!”