Just as the sun is rising over the new verdant greens on the early morning of November 9, members of Estero Country Club, in Estero, Florida, will celebrate a Grand Reopening of their golf course with a champagne toast and the musical sounds from bagpipes, reflecting the Scottish influence on golf.
The story behind this course renovation was the savvy selection of new grass by golf course superintendent Mark Thomas and the partial course closures which enabled members to enjoy continuous play throughout the process.
The premier member-owned country club – home to the Gordon Lewis-designed championship golf course and an Audubon Certified Sanctuary – had benefited from a multi-million-dollar restoration in 2018. (Lewis considers Estero to be one of his best designs of all time.)
“But after the renovation, the course was having problems with the Latitude 36 Bermudagrass they had selected,” said Mark. “It did not perform as well as expected. At the same time, we were experiencing poor irrigation coverage.”
Mark is a highly respected British golf course superintendent with 32 years of experience in revitalizing golf courses around the world. He has been recognized as something of a Golf Course Doctor. After analyzing the course, in 2022 Mark created a plan to convert the existing irrigation to an updated version to enable expanded water coverage. The improved irrigation system with new heads and wiring allowed the course to receive the volume of water and coverage they needed.
“Mark and his team researched the best grass for our needs,” said Andrew Plesz, PGA Head Professional, “conducting several trials to ensure whatever grass was selected was the best fit. The Club’s goal was to become more environmentally sensitive and less nutrient dependent while being more conservative in the use of water and fertilizer. We knew that Bimini Bermuda turf grass would be the right fit for the future of our course from a soil composition standpoint and will help facilitate lower costs in the future.”
He added, “In April 2023, the Latitude 36 was killed off. The back nine were totally closed for ten weeks starting in May to begin re-grassing with Bimini Bermuda. Next, they closed front nine and opened back nine for play while re-grassing the front nine, basically closing 9 holes at a time. The golf operation facilitated a single-tee crossover with two pins in each green; players would play a front nine pin and then replay same 9 holes to a back nine pin. To the players, it felt much like playing 18 holes.”
“We have 375 golf playing memberships, about 40% of them playing year-round,” said Andrew. “Selecting the right grass and shutting down half the course at a time was a unique renovation format, enabling us to maintain the member experience while simultaneously working area water restrictions.”
Selecting Bimini will help preserve water usage and save money for the Club in the long run. The total grassing and irrigation costs were just under a million dollars, but the member response was priceless. When the full course reopened in early October, the members response to the new playing conditions was highly positive, enabling Estero Country Club to continue to provide a premier playing experience in Southwest Florida for their members. Their Grand Reopening celebrated this event.
If you have any questions about membership opportunities at Estero Country Club please contact Sarah Lenio, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Estero County Club
ECC (www.EsteroCC.com) is a private member-owned golf club located within The Vines community in Estero, Florida, south of Fort Myers, originally developed in 1986. Estero Country Club was named No. 5 in the listing of 2022 Top Ranked Clubhouses, presented annually by Club + Resort Business, which ranks the top clubhouses in the U.S. The Audubon Certified Sanctuary is home to a 7,072-yard, 18-hole Gordon Lewis-designed championship course with six sets of tees and a comprehensive teaching program that includes TPI instruction. Surrounded by lush tropical acres and sparkling lakes, the course received a multi-million-dollar restoration in 2018. Resort-style amenities include a newly renovated clubhouse with formal dining, an expanded indoor/outdoor casual dining venue with seating overlooking the golf course and outdoor terrace social areas with fire tables. Fitness aficionados enjoy the new fitness center, five Har-Tru clay tennis courts, two pickle ball courts, and two bocce courts with full programming support. Connect via social media at Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.