If you haven’t noticed, many golf courses are being renovated to become easier in an effort to grow the game. The Heron Course at The Oaks Club in Osprey, Florida, is the latest example.
The renovated golf course is being designed on behalf of Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Design. The reconstruction, directed by Jason Straka, a principal of Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, is designed to enhance playability and improve infrastructure, including significant upgrades in surface and subsurface drainage, irrigation and improved turfgrasses. The Eagle Course at The Oaks Club will remain open for play throughout the Heron renovation.
One major objective, according to Straka, is to make the Heron Course more welcoming to a diverse spectrum of golfers’ skill sets and ages, including beginners, women, seniors, families and highly skilled players. Six sets of tees will be set in place to accommodate this range of players. The new Heron Course will be 6,705 yards in length from the farthest tees, slightly longer than the previous 6,695-yard length. The length of the course from the shortest tees will be 4,027 yards.
“Golf is now stretched out over generations,” said Straka, “which is good for the game. “All players on the generational and skills spectrum need to get around the course successfully and enjoy themselves, and the vibrant membership and guests at this club now will be able to do just that.”
One feature that intrigued Straka as he contemplated the renovation design was the nice width of the playing corridors at the Heron Course, in contrast to many other Florida courses. He found this feature to be a benefit from a design perspective, allowing for more artistically-conceived shaping components.
The year-long environmentally friendly renovation project will create a memorable new golfing experience for members and guests. The revitalized course will have new contours, better bunkers and interesting greens complexes. Traffic patterns on the course will be improved due to the new contours and the removal of some overgrown trees and shrubbery. A significant investment is being made in maintaining the longevity of the club with an HDPE fused irrigation system, significant amounts of subsurface drainage, new greens construction, state-of-the-art bunker liner, wall-to-wall concrete paths with curbing, and cutting-edge disease and shade-resistant turfgrasses. In addition, new storm-water control structures will be installed to improve drainage of the golf course and the surrounding development.
A ground game is being introduced to the Heron Course. Most of the approaches to the old green complexes were blocked by sand bunkers and water hazards. The renovation utilizes significant chipping areas around the greens to allow for run-up shots and a variety of recovery shots not permitted on either of the two Oaks courses before. The goal is to enhance playability while still providing confounding recovery shots for the more skilled golfer.