Independence Golf Club, recently redesigned by Lester George, has been selected as one of Golf Digest’s prestigious “Best New Courses1 of 2014.”
“The paramount objectives of the renovation were to improve Pace of Play, Sustainability and Playability and create a golf course that golfers of all skill levels could find fun and enjoy,” said Lester George. “We removed more than 500 trees and bushes that were cluttering the golf course and obstructing views, which really opened up the course to make it more visually appealing. We also removed and redesigned dozens of bunkers to make the course more strategically viable for a wider variety of players. It is now an enjoyable experience for beginners, low-handicap and high-handicap players.”
The fairway area was increased, thereby reducing the rough area; the remaining rough height was lowered, and 7 acres of rough was converted to mulch beds. George also added protective and saving bunkers and re-routed cart, walking paths, and traffic patterns. This combination of changes has resulted in an average round of 4 hour and 5 minutes, yielding an average reduction of 45 minutes per round. This increase in pace of play allows 10 more prime-time groups at an average revenue of $300 per foursome, yielding a revenue increase of $3,000 per day. In addition, 10 fewer golf carts are needed due to faster pace, at a cost of $75 per cart for a savings of $750/month.
The golf course architect recently presented a case study of his work at Independence at a two-day Pace of Play Symposium held by the USGA. The symposium’s goal was the sharing of ideas between golf industry professionals so they can work together to increase the pace of play around the country.
“Improved pace of play is vital to the game’s long-term sustainability, and we look forward to sharing our efforts in reducing playing times,” said Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA. “These measures include improving the player experience at our national championships, collecting data from thousands of recreational rounds around the country, and collaborating with other organizations such as the LPGA. Together, we can make a huge impact on the game.”
“This project was quite the jigsaw,” said Independence Golf Course owner, Gif Breed, of the Richmond, VA based sports marketing firm Pros, Inc. “Lester is a wonderfully rare ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ architect. I am thrilled to see Independence listed as one of the Best New Courses of 2014.”
For more information, please contact: Shannon Fisher, Vice President of Communications, George Golf Design, 804-314-3268
1 Golf Digest’s Best New Courses list includes both new golf courses and newly renovated golf courses
About Lester George: A member of the esteemed American Society of Golf Course Architects, internationally renowned golf course architect, Lester George, has quite a versatile resume. In addition to his award-winning new course designs, has developed a niche in renovating and restoring classic golf courses designed by some of the most revered golden age architects. He has worked on everything from plains to steep, rocky terrain to brownfield and environmentally challenging sites, including a course under which thousands of unexploded bombs were discovered once excavation began – and he has become somewhat of a master at designing practice facilities that offer a realistic experience for golfers. George’s Kinloch Golf Club is the highest ranked golf course in the history of Virginia, having won countless awards. Ballyhack Golf Club is rated # 7 in the state by Golf Digest and was on several top ten Best New Course lists. The Old White Course at The Greenbrier was honored as Golf Digest’s Best New Remodel and now hosts a PGA Tour event; the James River Course at The Country Club of Virginia was the #5 Best New Remodel; and Willow Oaks Country Club was one of Golf Digests’ Best New Remodels of 2009. Most recently, Lester’s renovation of Independence Golf Club was listed as one of Golf Digest’s 2014 Best New Courses.