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Photo by: City of Winter Park - A proposed renovation of the Winter Park Country Club, including a training facility and storage space, above, could transform the club.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jun. 11, 2015 6 years ago

Winter Park Country Club could get major makeover

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Plans for mega renovations
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

The golf course Nick Faldo has called “Winter Park National” is on the verge of getting a professional makeover – and a few new features.

Winter Park City Commissioners held a work session on Monday with Winter Park Country Club’s Strategic Plan Task Force, which presented its ideas for a newly renovated country club and a brand new training facility.

Task Force member Matt Hegarty said the group hopes to see a training facility built on a parking lot just south of hole 7, complete with a short game practice area, virtual swing analysis and hitting nets.

The training facility could also be used in partnership with Rollins College, Hegarty said, and would be constructed two to three years after the course’s renovations are finished in September 2016.

Renovations would include new irrigation and grass along the fairways and greens.

“We think this could be one of the best nine-hole golf courses in the world,” Hegarty said. “The people who provide it and play it, we feel like they deserve a world-class environment. We think we can get it there.”

A study conducted by the Club Managers Association of America with the help of the Professional Golfers Association of America and the United States Golf Association shows that greens on a golf course should be replaced every 15 to 30 years and fairways every 20 years. The Winter Park Country has only replaced two greens in a span of 50 years and only one fairway in the course’s history.

“Right now we don’t think people are coming in because our greens are diseased and our fairways are diseased and the strategy of the golf course is off,” Hegarty said. “You can go out to the ninth hole right now and there’s a bunker that’s 20 yards behind the ninth green. It doesn’t make any sense.”

The task force received the help of renowned golf course architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns to construct a new vision of how the course could look. Task Force Chairman Gary Diehl said that parts of the course could be modified for safety and playability. Holes 1,2 and 5 along Webster Avenue are notorious for the risk of driving golf balls into the street, but realigning the tees and greens could fix that, Diehl said.

“We’re trying to make it safer to play,” Diehl said. “It’s scary. It makes you think about your swing.”

Renovating the golf course would cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, with a new training facility costing within the same price range. Hegarty noted a millage increase, the general fund, grants and donations as potential funding sources.

City Commissioner Tom McMacken mentioned perhaps the best option is to renovate the course in pieces, but Hegarty said it makes more sense to do all of the renovations in one fell swoop.

“I think you’re going to run into a revenue issue with the golf course, because nobody is going to come out to play four holes,” Hegarty said.

Commissioners said they were pleased with the conceptual designs they saw.

“We’re not returning this golf course to something, we’re creating something the golf course has never been,” City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel said.

“We want to have a top-of-the line golf course.”

Winter Park Country Club general manager and PGA pro Justin Ingram said he is hopeful the official proposal will go before the City Commission during their June 22 meeting, but City Manager Randy Knight said he was unsure when the Commission would vote on it.

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