Gil Hanse Returns to One of His First Designs to Add Expansive Short Game Area
By: Tony L. Starks
Well before the olympic golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, before Streamsong Black and the North Course renovation at LACC, Gil Hanse designed nine-holes at a quaint private club in The Hamptons. It was one of his first projects. In 2000, he expanded South Fork Country Club, which had been a nine-hole club since it’s founding in 1921, to a full-length 18-hole course.
Late last year, Hanse returned to South Fork as now one of the most respected and recognized names in golf course architecture. His goal this go round was to build an expansive short game area – which would allow club members to practice myriad shots in a limited space.
“We don’t have a practice range, so it was important for us to create an area that gave our members versatility in their practice,” says Tim Garvin, the club’s PGA Head Professional. “There was only an acre and a half to work with, but we knew we could come up with something special.”
With the creative vision of Hanse, a 10,000-square-foot putting green was constructed with hitting areas stretching up to 80 yards away. There are four bunkers of assorted depths and various turf conditions, including fairways, rough, fescue and undulating terrain – all matching the aesthetics and conditions found on the course. There’s also an artificial turf hitting area simulating tight lies that’s been very popular.
Other incorporated features include a refreshment stand and speakers, so members can grab a drink and take in some tunes while they practice.
“Our members really wanted this to be a social space, and it has become a place to hang out at the club, which is kind of cool,” says Garvin.
It’s also benefited the clubs already booming junior pro – gram, which attracts 30-40 kids three times a week during the summer. The new short game area has allowed staff to enhance the putting and chipping/pitching sessions incorporate into youth clinics, which had previously been more challenging to accomplish on course with so many juniors.
The facility has only been open since July, but has already received rave reviews from the membership. The staff has been able to capitalize on that by hosting special events, like the “Backyard Party” where members and guests were treated to food, craft cocktails and closest to the pin/putting contests.
“We’re making it a focal point for practice, socialization and fun,” says Garvin. “We see it as a way to differentiate ourselves and help us stand out in the golf-rich area of The Hamptons.”
Add another one to the list of Gil Hanse masterpieces.