The $2-million renovation will include upgrades such as bigger, faster greens, larger tees, new bunkers and new cart paths.
By MAUREEN BYRNE
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 3, 2001
SEMINOLE -- Bigger and faster greens are two of the many improvements golfers can expect at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club when a $2-million renovation project wraps up in November.
They'll also see larger tees, new bunkers, newly planted trees, regraded lake banks, resurfaced cart paths, an expanded practice green and a reshaped driving range. Wadsworth Construction is doing the work at the public golf course.
Computer systems that tell players how far their balls are from the pin and show them current scores from sporting events also may be installed on golf carts.
"Basically, we've almost built a new golf course," said Tom West, general manager of Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club, which is south of Bryan Dairy Road and west of Belcher Road.
And the changes, such as lowering the elevation of the greens, should make the par 72 course more user-friendly, West said.
The main part of the project is the enlargement, sculpturing and regrassing of all 18 greens with Tifeagle Bermuda grass. A larger number of pin placements are now possible, which will eliminate constant wear in the same places, West said.
The 18-hole course has been closed since May 15 and is scheduled to reopen Nov. 1.
The greens were slightly expanded in 1996, but this time the project includes digging and remodeling up to 15 feet of the course surrounding the greens. That means bunkers will be in different spots and the pitch of some greens will be altered, West said.
The greens will be expanded from a total of 98,000 square feet to 116,000 square feet and covered with the specialty grass, which cost $37,000 more than a lower grade, West said. "It has to be cut low, meaning the green speeds will always be fast," he said. "And that's what golfers want."
But along with the improvements comes an increase in price. The greens and cart fees during peak season, which runs Jan. 15 to April 15, will be $95, up from $75.
"If everyone likes it, it will probably bring every dollar that they're asking," said Ray Goodman, who owns the 1,000-member County Golf Association. "In the winter, it's not unusual to pay $60 to $100 to play a game of golf in the area."
Bardmoor hired Gary Koch of Tampa, agolf course designer, part-time PGA player and NBC golf analyst, to do the project. "The real challenge was to make the golf course more fair," said Tony Mattera, chief executive officer of Gary Koch Golf. "We want to make it more playable for the average golfer, but the challenges will still be there."
"(Koch) looks at the golf course from a player's standpoint," said Scott Sickich, a vice president of golf operations for Crown Golf Properties, a Glenview, Ill.,-based company that owns and operates golf properties throughout the country, including Bardmoor.
Bardmoor has enjoyed a solid reputation for the past 30 years, but it was time for a facelift, Sickich said.
At one time, the course was private and called Bardmoor North. It hosted the JCPenney Classic, a professional tournament for 13 years. Two nearby 18-hole courses, called Bardmoor East and Bardmoor South, were open to the public.
In 1990, Bardmoor North became a public course. Bardmoor East and Bardmoor South are now the Bayou Club Estates, an 18-hole golf course and gated community of luxury homes off Belcher Road.
Dr. Joseph Jackson has been playing at Bardmoor since 1978. The orthodontist's home is one block from the 13th green and his office overlooks the seventh tee.
Jackson said the course is one of his favorite places to play, but the quality of the greens was suffering. "If this can give us a more consistent putting surface, then that would be great," he said.