By Rick Palsgrove
Changes could be in store for the layout of The Links at Groveport golf course.
The city of Groveport contracted with Hurdzan Golf Design for $25,000 to develop a master plan for the future of the golf course, located at 1005 Richardson Road.
The 18-hole, par 72, 6,573 yard (from the longest tees) golf course opened in 1929 with nine holes designed by Frank Waugh. The back nine holes, designed by Hurdzan-Kidwell, were built in 1971.
“The purpose of the proposed master plan is to identify the outdated elements of the course and to make the product better. The idea is to preserve tradition and the designer’s intent while improving the golfing experience,” Christopher Hurdzan of Hurdzan Golf Design told Groveport City Council on Dec. 9.
Hurdzan said that, over time, “golf courses can wear out” with greens getting smaller, bunkers getting bigger and paths crumbling.
“Plus, golfing technology changes and maintenance changes. With newer clubs golfers can hit farther and hazards become out of place,” said Hurdzan. “A golf course can become misplaced in time.”
According to Hurdzan, recommendations in the master plan could decrease maintenance costs, improve the pace of play, increase the “fun factor” and help the course attract a wider demographic of golfers.
Hurdzan said the master plan suggests restoring character to the greens and bringing them back to size, trimming or cutting some trees to expose Walnut Creek to make it more visible, rejuvenating the bunkers and removing some unnecessary bunkers. He said there could be more forward tees installed, which could attract more golfers thereby raising course revenues.
“You have nice greens, they’ve just shrunk over the years,” said Hurdzan. “Sand bunkers are expensive to maintain and having about 60 percent fewer of them will save money.”
One of the bigger proposed changes, according to the master plan, would be to reconfigure the course by eliminating holes 7, 8 and 9 and replacing them with three new holes on land that could be purchased to the south of the existing course.
“Holes 7, 8 and 9 are problems because they are close to the water table, do not drain well and there is little air movement because of the trees, which can cause grass disease and weeds,” said Hurdzan. “Plus the suspension bridge over the creek leading to these holes is a liability and maintenance issue.”
Councilman Shawn Cleary is opposed to any proposal to remove holes 7, 8 and 9 stating, “These are beautiful, classic, tough golf holes that are part of the character of the course. They are signature holes. I’m 110 percent against removing these holes.”
Hurdzan also said the course needs a larger parking lot, cart path and irrigation improvements, a maintenance facility and a practice facility.
According to Hurdzan, the estimated costs for making changes to the golf course, excluding the maintenance facility and potential land purchase, would be between $500,000 to $700,000. He said improvements to the course could be done in phases over a period of time.
“This is a complex golf course,” said Hurdzan. “It’s a wonderful asset that can be polished up for future generations to use.”
Council will consider The Links at Groveport Master Plan and its proposals further at a future meeting.