What kind of a renovation was needed on the Cypress Course at Bonita Bay Club?

By: December 7, 2022

ASGCA published the 2022 ASGCA-SLRG Golf Facility Market Trend study early this year. It found that the 3rd most frequent project type in the last 2 years was green complex renovation or redesign.

The very same study found that re-grading or re-shaping playable surfaces for better drainage or playability were popular project types.

I am telling you this because the Cypress Course at Bonita Bay Club – a Tom Fazio design that debuted in 1997 – has just finished the 14-month-long golf course renovation project.

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The 400-acre layout, which rests up against the Everglades and other protected wetlands, was mildly impacted by October’s Hurricane Ian.

The renovation touched every hole on the course to make it more strategic for championship-level competitions and more playable for the entire club membership.

The most significant aspect of the renovation was

The most significant aspect of the renovation was raising the entire course by 12 to 18 inches to improve drainage:

  • 6 new lakes were created, four existing lakes were expanded, and the resulting 200,000 cubic yards of earth were spread across the property.
  • Fairways were widened, plus 450 new catch basins were added, and perforated pipe was laid underground to move water away from playable areas.
  • The hurricane and record rains in September revealed areas that needed additional drainage work, which has now been remediated.
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No less important was the addition of 2 new tees—one shorter and one longer—so there are now seven teeing platforms on every hole, set at 500-yard intervals.

The course plays from 4,500 to 7,500 yards, which, according to Fazio Design Senior Design Associate Tom Marzolf, makes Cypress the first Fazio design with a 3,000-yard spread.

I cannot avoid not asking how will Bonita Bay Club will manage the sustainability and financial aspects of the extended golf course.

The above-mentioned study found that golf course length has the biggest impact on sustainability & the economic health of a golf facility.

While the routing remains intact, significant work was done on and around the greens. With the extensive drainage work completed, the course now plays firm and fast, and the green surrounds are shaved-down “low-mow” areas that encourage a wider variety of short-game shots.

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The greens also were enlarged to allow for both more member-friendly and championship-level hole positions.

In another Fazio first, some greens feature wooden bulkhead walls that enhance aesthetics, especially when the often-fluctuating water level drops. Bunkers were redone with a “cleaned up, Augusta look”. White sand is flashed up on bunker faces and the surrounding turf is shaved low.

Furthermore, acres of sand were added in mostly out-of-play areas along and between holes and around trees, creating dramatic vistas throughout the property. The sand, juxtaposed against native plantings and pine straw, is visually appealing.

Tee-shot-landing-area bunkers throughout the course were repositioned further down the holes to counterbalance ongoing golf equipment advancements (improved club and ball technology); these same bunkers should be out of play for shorter hitters.

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The new Cypress Course drive-zone bunkers are angled slightly closer to the center lines of play, rather than the old school, left rough/right rough locations.

The fairway mowing line is now in front of the encroaching fairway bunkers, rather than along the side of the sand. 

Fazio Design Senior Design Associate Tom Marzolf said

“Since the modern ball can fly straighter today, fairway bunkers were moved in closer. To regain the attention of the game’s best players, the tee shot strategy now calls for reaction and alignment choices based on carrying the bunkers.

As the game evolves and equipment improves, golf architecture must react and adjust.”

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Credit: Evan Schiller Photography

Photos by Evan Schiller Photography