Golf Course Architecture - Issue 74, October 2023

75 began in March 2022, with shaping kicking off a month later. Grassing was completed in February 2023. “For the short layout, the property line was much more set than the main course and there was very little give and take here,” says Cochran. “The configuration isn’t as seamless as I would like but it’s crazy fun to play and an easy walk. The site is relatively flat; it doesn’t have the elevation changes you see on the main course, but it is a really fun layout. “During one of JT’s visits, he said how he likes the flexibility of playing from anywhere on the short course, not just from the direction of how the holes were routed. We took this into consideration when placing plant material and finalising green contours and bunker placement. JT also talked about how valuable par-three courses are for practicing, especially for dialling in the distances of his wedges and short irons. Therefore, we went with freeform ribbon tees to give the golfer more freedom to choose where to tee from and to spread the wear better.” The nine-hole layout has 1,101 yards on the scorecard but with the large teeing areas, holes can play much shorter or longer. “Like the main course, it is lightly planted with trees, but they make a big visual impact,” says Cochran. “The trees, coquina paths and native grasses give the layout more of a garden feel in comparison to the bold, rough-edged main course. For the most part, greens have more contour than on the main course, placing more emphasis on accurate wedge play.” There are also extensive practice facilities at Panther National, including a 33,000-square-foot putting and chipping green located between the short course’s first tee and ninth green. “It has very flat to strong contours to provide great variety for golfers,” says Cochran. The main course has two practice putting greens. “The practice green near the first tee is free flowing with long slopes and multiple breaks,” says Cochran. “The Justin and Mike Thomas-inspired practice green near the practice tee is much more structured, it has engineered slopes, ranging from one to four per cent, that are easy to identify. “Using plenty of input from JT, the short-game area has one large green that can be used from all sides. We worked hard to allow for as many different shortgame shots as possible, including those from uphill, downhill, sidehill and flat lies. Although it is mainly for shots up to 50 yards, golfers can hit 100-yard shots from one end of the short-game area to the far end of the green. The putting surface is broken up into two zones – one half is very simply shaped, and the other half is made up of a series of small decks where precision is needed to fly and carry the ball the correct distance.” The range, which is almost complete, has been designed to provide what tour professionals are looking for when they practice. There is over two acres of teeing space, target greens to allow players to practice shots from 50 to 225 yards, and there is a 27-yard-wide fairway (the standard fairway width at a US Open) framed by bunkers for players to practice their drives. REPORT Photo: Jim Mandeville/Nicklaus Design The par-three thirteenth can play from 100 to 235 yards