tampabay.com

Golf course reopens, finally

After months of renovation and delays, the Vonn Road site is ready for the public.

By NICOLE HUTCHESON
Published April 18, 2007


LARGO - After months of delay, golfers are finally able to play on the city's revamped golf course.

The renovated course at 12500 Vonn Road was originally scheduled to reopen in late 2006. But that was put on hold because grass along the course had not grown in enough.

Now it has, and golfers like the course's new hills, additional trees and fresh layout.

Since opening April 2, the course has been busy, said Don Brannon, Largo Golf Course manager. The capacity is about 330 rounds a day. So far the course has had up to 277 rounds in a day.

Dennis Price, 84, has played the course for 18 years and says he really likes the new trees.

They make "some holes a little tougher," said Price, who likes to play weekly. "But that's what I like about it."

Before the renovations, Price, an Indian Rocks resident, would travel as far as Tampa to play golf.

"Now it's all I need," he said.

The city will hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 3,254-yard course on April 27 - the same day as the Mayor's Golf Tournament. Organizers expect almost 200 to attend the event.

"Golf is a very technical sport and a lot depends on quality of the surface you're playing on," said Joan Byrne, the city's director of parks, recreation and arts. "We came to a decision a couple years ago: We either have to improve the course or people aren't going to play it anymore."

The $1.8-million renovation began in April 2006. The improvements include extending the 18-hole, par-62 course by 100 yards, adding more than 400 trees and a concrete-paved golf cart course. New bunkers and berms were also added, and the entire course was re-landscaped, adding more rolling hills.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the renovation was a complete overhaul to the irrigation system at the course.

"No matter what you did, the grass wouldn't grow as good as it could," Brannon said. "Now, they drain properly and they hold water when they need to hold it."

City officials had hoped to open the course in late 2006 in time for the 2007 peak season. But the lack of grass on the fairways and tees prevented the opening.

"We were trying to grow grass in the wintertime," Brannon said.

Mild weather and beefed-up horticulture practices since then helped the grass grow.

Greens fees have gone up with the renovations. Now golfing 18 holes and renting a cart during peak season will cost $27, compared with $24 before, Byrne said.

In other recreation news, the city will hold a grand opening for Datsko Park on April 28. The 11-acre park at 3099 Whitney Road E will feature a volleyball court and nature trail. It will be the city's first park opened east of U.S. 19.

Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or 727 445-4162.

Largo Golf Course

- Golfers can now schedule tee times online at www.computee.net/?AA=1100 or by calling (727) 475-5108. To obtain a PIN code, call the Largo Golf Course at (727) 518-3024.

- The revamped restaurant inside the clubhouse has a new name and new offerings. Golfers can now order up sandwiches, soups and snacks from Golfview Cafe and be served on the greens.

- A new restroom now sits at the 10th hole where a portable used to be.

- What used to be hole 10 is now hole 1, which means golfers now start and end their games at the clubhouse.

- More rolling hills, more than 400 trees and a concrete paved golf cart course were added. The course was also extended by 100 yards.

- A round of golf and renting a cart during peak season now costs $27, compared with $24 before.