Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ford Plantation Unveils Pete Dye Golf Course Redesign

Work recently completed on year-long, $7 million-plus project

(RICHMOND HILL, Ga.) – The $7 million-plus redesign of The Ford Plantation’s Pete Dye-designed golf course was unveiled to national media during a Nov. 7 – 8 showcase at the 1,800–acre sporting club.

The year-long project at the Richmond Hill enclave wrapped in September and has been open for member play since Oct. 1. Golf Digest has already named The Ford Plantation one of its Best New Courses for 2014.

“I looked at The Ford Plantation as a unique chance and almost a blank slate,” Dye said of a course he originally worked on nearly three decades ago. “We wanted to come back and make the course better, and we’ve done that. The Ford Plantation golf course will stand among my finest Southern designs.”

To Club members’ delight, Dye, the only living World Golf Hall of Fame architect, was hands-on throughout the project, spending extended time on-site and hand drawing green complex designs in the Coastal Georgia dirt.

Originally envisioned as a restoration necessitated by infrastructure upgrades, the updating became transformational in its effects. Golf course architect Tim Liddy, a longtime Dye collaborator and confidant, helped lead the redesign.

“Pete is always passionate about his work, but it’s obvious that he feels a special connection with The Ford Plantation,” Liddy said. “It’s certainly among the largest redesigns of one his courses that he’s ever undertaken.”

The 88-year-old Dye’s strong presence was viewed as a bonus by Club officials, were happy to see a legend of the game at work up close.

“We’re thrilled with Mr. Dye’s work here and with Golf Digest’s acknowledgement of The Ford Plantation Club,” said The Ford Plantation CEO and General Manager Nick Cassala. “The course is the latest and most visible sign of the exciting progress being made at Ford.”

More than 1.7 million square feet of Celebration Bermuda sod were laid during the project, as was a combined 58 miles of drainage and irrigation pipe. Green size has grown by 20 percent and 16,000 gallons of water per minute can be moved into surrounding freshwater lakes via a new high-powered storm water pump system.

The front nine at The Ford Plantation retained much of its former footprint and parkland feel, though landscape changes were introduced to widen corridors and create long views, a favorite technique of Dye’s.

The Lowcountry links-style back nine—site of a working rice fields for much of the 1800s—now includes bunkering and natural waste areas as part of an updated “high dunes” look and feel. Some 94,000 cubic yards of soil were moved during the project to achieve that result.

Dye was focused on making the course more playable for Ford members, and the new, more open layout includes generous landing areas—while retaining signature intimidating Dye elements such pot bunkers, switchback fairways and strong-side putting surfaces. Low handicap players will also find a challenge, with tees that can now stretch to 7,409 yards.

“This project continues to be incredibly exciting for The Ford Plantation,” said Paul Wickes, The Ford Plantation Club President. “Our members made the financial commitment, while taking on no long-term debt, to ensure that The Ford Plantation continues as one of the nation’s leading residential communities and private sporting clubs.”

The Ford Plantation partnered with MacCurrach Golf Construction to manage the redesign. It’s the ninth time that the Jacksonville, Fla.-based firmed has worked with Dye on this type of project.

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