Updated course not quite ready
The opening is delayed because the grass needs t ime to fill in , and work continues on b uildings.
By LORRI HELFAND
Published December 19, 2006
LARGO - Golfers will have to wait to try out the city's newly renovated course.
The revamped course was supposed to open by the end of the year, but officials say it probably won't be ready until April.
Mother Nature is partly to blame.
The greens look like velvet, but grass on the fairways and tee boxes is sparse and patchy in areas. And golf course manager Don Brannon says he doesn't expect it to grow in fully until spring.
"You don't want people to play on a course that's not in playable condition," said Brannon, who explained that the grass was planted at different times in different areas.
Plus, he said, if people play too soon, it could damage the course.
In April, the city began the $1.8-million renovation, designed by architect Ward W. Northrup and an engineering consulting company.
City leaders decided to renovate the course after a 2004 report concluded that Largo needed to increase marketing and invest in the course to help it turn a profit.
On Friday afternoon, Walter Zeh stopped by the course to pick up a scorecard and fee information.
"I wanted to get back here and play here," said Zeh, 77, who plans to return in a few months. "I like the course."
But Brannon told him he'll like it even better with the renovations.
The 18-hole, par-62, 3,254-yard course was extended by about 100 yards and new bunkers and berms were added, giving the course more character, he said.
The course, at 12500 Vonn Road, was also rearranged, switching the front nine holes with the back nine holes.
A key advantage, Brannon said, is that there will be less congestion at the first hole, giving golfers more privacy.
Buffers, such as trees, have also been added to help prevent wayward balls from hitting golfers on adjacent holes.
Putting greens are now designed to act as "catcher's mitts" to control the ball on approach shots.
And new concrete cart paths were built at the same level as tee boxes. Before, Brannon said, golfers often had to climb to the tees.
The renovation also includes an irrigation system that serves the entire 46-acre course, rather than the previous one that covered just 25 acres.
Holes will also have larger tee boxes, which will accommodate players of different skills and further avoid wear and tear on the course.
The previous course, built in the late 1960s, had patches of dirt and weeds, but the new greens are built according to U.S. Golf Association Standards, which has special requirements for drainage and layering of materials that help keep grass healthy.
On Friday, crews were planting trees on the course and laying carpet inside the clubhouse. Workers also have to finish building a restroom and two rain shelters.
The grand opening is now slated for the 2007 Mayor's Golf Tournament, which will be held in mid or late April, said Mary Nolen, assistant recreation parks and arts director.
Lorri Helfand can be reached at 445-4155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.