Not every golf course gets designed by Pete Dye. Probably even fewer get redesigned by a Hall of Famer.
Ford Plantation’s course fits into both categories — it was designed by Dye in 1985, and on Friday, Ford officials unveiled the redesign by Dye and his longtime collaborater, architect Tim Liddy.
The reviews from residents regarding the $7 million makeover have been glowing.
“I think everything came out perfectly, and it’s beautiful, certainly” said longtime Ford Plantation resident Bob Weil, a former club president who, along with Stephen Rabinowitz, played mine holes with media members to show them the course.
Weil said Dye intended to make it a course every golfer can play, and he achieved that.
“My wife is a 30-plus handicap, and she loves it. It’s wide-open for her. She can get to green and she doesn’t care that par is four, she has a lot of fun,” Weil said, adding that it also can be challenging for more serious golfers, based on tee locations.
“I think the execution by Mr. Dye has proved out, and he did exactly what we wanted,” he said.
The par-73 course covers 73 acres and 7,409 yards. Its redesign lasted about a year and incorporated everything from more than 1.7 million square feet of Bermuda sod to 29.5 miles of drainage pipe, 28.6 miles of irrigation pipe and 3,464 sprinkler heads.
That’ll pump about 1,600 gallons of water a minute, while the new drainage system can remove some 16,000 gallons of storm water a minute.
Dirt was moved, too — about 94,000 cubic yards of soil, according to a statistic sheet provided by Ford Plantation.
It added about 304 yards to the course and made the greens 20 percent larger. And if the changes have made the club more playable for its members, the view still is great. Maybe even better.
“One of the wonderful things about golf is you get to play it in great places,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s beautiful to be out here and experience this, and (Dye) is a master at that artistry.”
Rabinowitz also finds the course improved.
“The landing areas are easier to hit. You can see the hole on every hole. There are no blind shots, nothing where you don’t know what you’ve got to do,” he said. “Now, being able to do it is a different question, but you know what you have to do.”
The redesigned course opened to residents Oct. 1. It since has been named one of the top new courses for 2014 by Golf Digest.
‘We’re thrilled with Mr. Dye’s work here and with Golf Digest’s acknowledgment of the Ford Plantation Club,” Ford Plantation CEO and General Manager Nick Cassala said. “The course is the latest and most-visible sign of the exciting progress being made at Ford.”
The redesign was paid for by members, and Ford Plantation Club President Paul Wickes said it was done without taking on long-term debt to “ensure that the Ford Plantation continues as one of the nation’s leading residential communities and private sporting clubs.”
Those who want to play, though, better have deep pockets.
The course is open only to property owners, their guests and those who buy national memberships. A golf membership alone starts with a $10,000 initiation fee — it can go toward resident membership if the member buys property within five years — and includes annual dues of $6,300, an annual maintenance fee of $1,200 and an annual food and beverage minimum of $500.
Dye, the only living architect in the World Golf Hall of Fame, said he looked at the redesign at Ford — one of only two courses in Georgia he’s designed — as a unique chance, almost a blank slate.
“We wanted to come back and make the course better, and we’ve done that,” Dye said. “The Ford Plantation golf course will stand among my finest Southern designs.”