Golf Course Architecture - Issue 76, April 2024

78 REPORT JDR Golf Design has reimagined an under-the-radar course in Florida to add variety and make it more memorable. Lemon Bay Golf Club in southwest Florida has, in 35 years, gone somewhat under the radar. This may be due in part to the sheer quantity of golf in the state, but also possibly because the course hadn’t reached its full potential. The club was established in 1989 by six founding members, including real estate developer Kim Honey, who purchased what was then the Lemon Bay Beach and Country Club course, designed by Jim Petrides in 1980. Petrides laid out the course on a compact site among the mangroves and backwaters of Lemon Bay. Unlike the courses of the nearby Rotonda West community, Lemon Bay is core golf, with the few houses that do overlook its western boundary separated by water. “Lemon Bay gradually developed a reputation for its great location, the very friendly and welcoming membership and an abundance of amazing wildlife,” says Rogers. “However, the golf course was noticeably underwhelming and out of balance with their stated mission: To offer an exceptional golf experience by promoting the love of the game; encouraging congeniality among members, staff and guests; as well as being responsible citizens of our community and dedicated stewards of our environment.” In 2020, club president Tom O’Shane approached Rogers and his JDR Golf Design team to propose major changes to the course. Rogers says the Lemon Bay taskforce and membership provided “the perfect framework for what I thought could become a really outstanding golf experience”. Rogers set about creating a new masterplan. “The course was mainly lacking in design personality and nuance,” says Rogers. “It possessed very few defined playing strategies or shot values.” Rogers’ plan, approved in 2021, embraces the course’s intimate setting and natural beauty, while providing more of a sense of identity, greater variety and memorability. “Drew immediately grasped the vision here,” says O’Shane. “It was never his intent to change Lemon Bay Golf Club, but he was determined to make it a better version of who we are and what we represent.” In 2022, prior to construction, the winds exceeding 150mph of Hurricane Ian caused substantial damage. Most of the course’s mature stands of native loblolly pines were destroyed, but will, over time, be reintroduced. “ The redesigned greens complexes are the star of the show, employing much needed diversity and character” Rogers serves up some Lemon aid