At the Links
By Andy Jorgensen
As the summer season creeps in, I wanted to take the time to update everyone on what will be occurring on the Links Golf Course this summer. We have tremendous work ahead of us, but the overall goal of the project is to enhance this gem not only for playability, but also to assist in updating the current playing surfaces, irrigation system and aesthetics of the golf course.
Since being constructed back in the early 1980s, this course has served its purpose and continues to be the most popular and busiest course at On Top of the World Golf Club. However, a lot has changed since back then, and now that the course is nearing 40 years old, it is in need of a facelift.
To assist with that, we have hired notable architect Jan Beljan to rework the teeing areas and yardages to provide a more player friendly opportunity while improving the separation between each teeing ground. As part of this project, we will be incorporating a set of “scoring tees” that will play to about 4,100 yards to provide a fun opportunity for all levels of players to enjoy. Ms. Beljan has incorporated this design aspect into several other courses, and has received rave reviews from their players. In addition, we will be adjusting each set of tees to accommodate a larger range of player skills.
Ms. Beljan has a long and extensive background in the golf industry, and understands the needs of senior golfers better than anyone. Coming from a golf family in Pittsburgh, Penn., Ms. Beljan honed her skills working for golf architect Tom Fazio as a senior design associate for over 20 years before heading out on her own. Her experience as a registered landscape architect, certified arborist, assistant superintendent and project manager provides for a unique outlook on the playability, strategy, ecology, maintenance and aesthetics of a golf course.
In 2012, she became a founding partner in the National Women’s Golf Alliance, was featured in the USGA Golf Museum in 2017-2018 and has been listed twice on the “Top Ten Most Influential Woman in the Game of Golf” list from Sports Illustrated. We are very excited about her expertise and look forward to having her work with us on this project.
In addition to updating the teeing surfaces, we will be redesigning all of the putting surfaces in order to allow for new TifEagle ultradwarf bermudagrass to be installed. TifEagle ultradwarf bermudagrass is currently the best turf on the market for putting greens in Florida, and is what was installed on the Tortoise & The Hare course in 2015. This turfgrass provides for improved maintenance, better ball-roll and maintains the overall consistency throughout the year. Ms. Beljan will assist the staff in design and layout of these putting surfaces throughout the entire project.
During this time, we will also be installing a new irrigation system throughout the golf course. The irrigation system is the backbone of the operation and is being designed to provide for better water distribution, placement, conservation and control. With water becoming a more and more valuable resource, this new system will improve our efficiency while securing our future as an operation. Although we won’t miss having to repair leaks on a daily basis, we will be looking forward to growing turf in areas we previously never could.
Because of this, the Links will be closed from Tuesday, April 2 through mid-November to allow for completion of the work. However, you may see some equipment operating in outer areas of the golf course prior to this. To minimize disruption, we will try our best to limit the amount of closures on the Tortoise & The Hare during this time. We are very excited about this work, and look forward to seeing you once the course reopens later this year.