A New Coore-Crenshaw Links in Scotland?

What’s hot in Florida, Italy’s golf boom, Jim McLean’s new home and maybe—fingers crossed—a Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw collaboration in Northern Scotland.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (Image: cooreandcrenshaw.com)

Red-hot design duo Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. (Image: cooreandcrenshaw.com)

Sign me up for any golf course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the red-hot architects of Canada’s Cabot Cliffs, the rejuvenated Pinehurst No. 2 and several more exceptional courses. But what magic might they create on a piece of prime linksland in golf’s motherland? Work on the proposed Coul Links, located just 2.4 kilometres from legendary Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Northern Scotland, could get started as early as next April. That’s if the go ahead is given by the often prickly Scottish National Heritage board, which has already designated parts of the site as environmentally sensitive. The developers of Coul Links are golf impresario Mike Keiser (of Bandon Dunes and Cabot Links fame) and fellow Chicagoan Todd Warnock. If approved, the project is expected to boost tourism in Northern Scotland by giving golfers a reason to stick around for a while rather than just driving in for the day to play Royal Dornoch. Read more in Golfweek.

Excitement already seems to building for Italy’s first-ever Ryder Cup, which will be contested at Marco Simone Golf Club near Rome in 2022. A recent ITCM survey reveals that the number of rounds played annually by international golfers on the country’s 142 18-hole courses rose by 200,000 between 2014 and 2017. Italy is an especially popular destination with golfers in the United Kingdom, with six out of 10 surveyed saying they’d rather tee it up in Italy than the U.S., Greece or Spain.

Ocean Course Hammock Beach Resort (Image: Hammock Beach Resort)

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort has completed a 13-month restoration. (Image: Hammock Beach Resort)

On this side of the great Atlantic water hazard, Florida is in the news for a string of high-profile course openings and re-launches.

On Sept. 29, the new Black Course by Gil Hanse was unveiled to rave reviews at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, an hour’s drive from Tampa. Hanse’s par-73 beauty joins the Blue (Tom Doak) and Red (Coore-Crenshaw) courses at what has become one of the world’s must-play golf resorts since it opened in 2014. The Black course features numerous elevation changes and countless humps, bumps and hollows that recall the courses of the Sand Belt region of Melbourne, Australia.

Just three days later, the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature design just south of St. Augustine, reopened following a 13-month complete restoration. Owned by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the course took a massive pummelling from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, then was bruised again by Hurricane Irma just two months before its re-launch. The Ocean Course is best known for its six ocean-side holes, as well as a closing stretch called “The Bear Claw.” Also on site is the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course.

Jim McLean (Image: Jim McLean Golf School)

Jim McLean has moved his headquarters to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. (Image: Jim McLean Golf School)

And on Nov. 3, Salamander Hotels & Resorts reopened its North Course at Innisbrook Resort, in Palm Harbor on the Gulf of Mexico. The venerable Larry Packard design is one of four courses at a property that each March hosts the PGA Tour’s Valspar Golf Championship on its Copperhead Course. The renovation of the demanding 6,400-yard layout included the complete rebuilding of all bunkers and the re-sodding of greens with TifEagle Bermuda Grass.

Finally, word comes that after a 26-year-run at Trump National Doral in Miami, the headquarters of the Jim McLean Golf School is moving to the Biltmore Hotel in nearby Coral Gables on Jan. 1. One of Florida’s premier luxury resorts, the Biltmore is home to a venerable Donald Ross-designed course that recently completed a $5-million (U.S.) renovation that included the restoration of bunkers to Ross’s original designs.

McLean’s switch to the Biltmore comes on the heels of surveys showing a significant decline in rounds played at almost all of the courses in the Trump portfolio. Could McLean be jumping a sinking ship?

 

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