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Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee
Sarasota Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015 7 years ago

Bobby Jones committee hones in on improvement plans

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The group tasked with examining the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club agrees the facility needs significant upgrades, but the desired scope of work is still in question.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Seven months after its inception, the Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee has agreed on at least one thing: The municipal course is in need of significant upgrades to become the profit-turning institution the city wants. Past that, things are a little foggier.

On Monday, the Bobby Jones committee presented an update to the City Commission. Chairman Dan Smith stressed the need for major renovations to end the issues that led to the creation of the committee earlier this year.

“It needs significant improvements,” Smith said. “I mean significant, big dollar improvements — otherwise we’re going to be here again in a few years talking about this.”

Still, the group is working on hashing out approximate costs and more specific recommendations. The numbers collected so far vary: improving one sample course cost $2.5 million, another $5.8 million. One architect says the cost of renovating an 18-hole course typically ranges from $3.4 million to $4.3 million, but how does that scale to a 45-hole complex?

“The cost factors are weighing heavily on us,” Smith said. “I think a couple of the committee members are really concerned about making a recommendation that could cost $8 or $9 million and not have the check right there to do it.”

The board is split on what the course should look like following renovation. Some board members are fine with current configuration, plus additions such as a new clubhouse and training area. The Friends of Bobby Jones, led by Shawn Pierson, wants to restore the club’s original 18-hole Donald Ross-designed course, which consists of 9 holes on the existing American and British courses.

That plan has some outright supporters, and a few others who might consider it if the price was right. Unfortunately, once again, cost is a mystery.

“I don’t think anybody knows that at this point,” Smith said. “That’s a real frustration for us. Those of us who like the idea would love to say, ‘This is how much it’s going to cost.’”

The committee will produce its final report to the commission in December, at which point city leaders will make a decision regarding the next steps.

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