After more than two decades and countless rounds of golf, Emerald Bay Golf Club of Destin is undergoing major renovations to its championship golf course designed by Bob Cupp.
"It was just time," said Jearl McCall, director of golf for Emerald Bay.
The Emerald Bay course renovations, which started Feb. 10 with plans to finish by July, will include new and enlarged greens and tee boxes, many new bunkers, a significant amount of new cart paths, several new water features and bridges as well as enhanced and additional practice facilities. The greens will be significantly larger with TifEagle Ultra Dwarf Bermudagrass, which provides a very dense surface for improved putting speed and consistency.
"We're lengthening and shortening the course," McCall said, by moving the tee boxes, plus adding a fifth one.
"It's the best of two worlds,” added McCall. “We're making it to where your scratch golfer can be challenged" from the longer tees, while the forward tees give the average golfer "the ability to have a blast."
Course designer, Bob Cupp was on the property Monday checking out the work.
"They are making a lot of excellent progress," Cupp said of Southeastern Golf, a course construction company. "They are doing all the right things.”
On Monday a lot of dirt was being moved around as well as scraping away of old greens and tee boxes.
"We're trying to get grass on the ground by the time it warms up," Cupp said.
He said they will be putting down roughly 18 acres of new sod on the course.
Cupp, whose career in golf course design has spanned more than 40 years, was the original designer of the course back in 1991. He served as senior designer for Jack Nicklaus for more than 15 years before starting his own firm in 1984. Since that time, his courses have hosted more than 50 national and international tournaments, including seven major championships. In 1992, Golf World named Cupp the first ever Golf Architect of the Year.
When the Emerald Bay course was originally built, "it wasn't about distance or length, but more tactical," he said. "Today it's more about fun."
"We needed to spruce up the old girl," Cupp added.
Not only was it time from an aesthetic standpoint, but with the advancements in golf equipment, the course needed some changes.
"With the upgrade of clubs and balls, we had to increase the distance on the holes," Cupp said. "It's all part of keeping up with the times. Clubs are so much better" than they were 20 years ago when the course was built.
"People like playing because they can hit the ball better … it goes further and straighter,” Cupp continued. "People are having more fun playing golf."
And having fun is what it's all about at Emerald Bay.
"We're trying to make everybody happy," McCall said.
The first of several open house events is set for 5 p.m. March 19 at the Emerald Bay Golf Clubhouse. This will be an opportunity to review the new membership programs as well as view renderings of the new course design and photos of the current progress. Heavy hors d'oeuvre will be served, and there will be a cash bar with a variety of drink specials. To RSVP, call the golf shop at 837-5197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.