West Bay Club in Estero, Florida, has reopened following a golf course renovation project by Fry/Straka.
Originally designed by Pete and PB Dye in 1998, the course is located near Estero Bay, an environmentally-sensitive area on Florida’s West coast.
With a primary goal of improving playability, Fry/Straka has made substantial changes throughout the course, including new greens, bunkers and re-grassing throughout.
“Upon conducting a lot of agronomic and historical research on the greens, it was discovered the greens had shrunk by around 50 per cent since they were originally constructed, and the original construction was of poor quality,” said Jason Straka, principal at Fry/Straka. “So, the club decided to redesign and rebuild all of the greens as part of the project.
“The entire course was re-grassed, but only around 65 percent of it was regraded,” added Straka. “New tees were added and about 50 percent of the others expanded. All fairway bunkers, green complexes and surrounds were redesigned. Some holes are essentially completely new, while others had less work done.
“Other important aspects of the renovation included improving drainage and irrigation distribution, as well as removing irrigated and maintained acreage of turf.”
Fry/Straka used GPS data loggers to identify areas of turf that could be removed. “We actually have our own ‘fleet’ that we use for renovations. We track hundreds of rounds, and they can be categorised and analysed by gender, age and handicap. It helps us identify and communicate to our clients where areas of turf can come out without impacting play. These areas may be turned into native areas, landscaping, or even pond expansion to general fill material.”
Some ponds have been filled in to widen play areas and, in out-of-play areas, expanded to generate fill for recontouring and drainage improvements. Fry/Straka has also done work to control runoff and filtering of water before it enters the Estero Bay watershed.
Fry/Straka also softened severe contouring on the course to improve playability and maintenance efficiency, expanded playing areas on several narrow, difficult holes, and removed trees to improve turf.
Of the renovated holes, Straka highlights the par threes as particularly interesting. “The Biarritz third hole has turned out very well. Overall, the green complexes are a big improvement over what the team started with.”
The practice range has also been expanded and new short game facilities have been added.
Project planning started in September 2016 with construction beginning in March 2018. Fry/Straka was assisted by project manager Jarrod Dunlap, site project co-managers Ron Farris and Don Habenicht, shaper Derek Dirksen, golf course superintendent Tyler Casey and director of golf Jeff Raimer.
The club reopened for the course for play in November 2018 and held a grand reopening event on 12 January 2019.