2012 is seeing a lot of innovation and renovation when it comes to golf courses. While your local course may have gotten around to fixing that divot, there are a couple of slightly more notable projects that are about to get underway this year. Let’s take a moment to examine some of the bigger golf course development projects to take place this year!
First off, we have one of the biggest names in golf design, Phil Mickelson, taking on a new project. While this fact alone may not be quite news worthy, here’s a twist: he’s renovating the course for free. Now, when you’re one of the biggest and best names in the business, when you take on a new project, typically you expect to be paid handsomely for your time. What is it exactly that makes this course so special? The course in question – Torrey Pines – happens to be the course on which Mickelson grew up playing. With this decision to do some pro-bono work, Mickelson joins the ranks of several legendary golf course architects, including Pete Dye (who famously designed Wintonbury Hill GC in Connecticut for the handsome sum of $1.00), to lend their skills without the promise of payment. As the San Diego Tribune reports:
“Mickelson has not publicly discussed his ideas for the North, but those familiar with his thoughts on the course say his top priority would be to keep it enjoyable for the average golfer. He is said to be sensitive to the concerns by locals who don’t want the demanding South Course to have a twin brother.”
Michelson, a San Diego native, is most likely going to update the bunkering and work on some of the green complexes on the course. Whether or not he goes beyond minor touch-ups and decides on a complete overhaul remains to be seen.
Mickelson isn’t the only golf course great to design this year. Some of the biggest names in the business are competing to design the Olympic course. Golf is going to be returning to the Olympics after a whopping 112-year hiatus. South Africa’s Gary Player, America’s Jack Nicklaus, and Australia’s Greg Norman are three among eight finalists in the running to design the 18-hole course on which the Olympic golf tournament will be played in Rio de Janeiro in just four short years. As CNN states:
“Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design and Nicklaus Design join Hawtree Ltd., Hanse Golf Design, Renaissance Golf, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson-Perret Golf Course Architects in the competition to design the course that will be built in the Barra da Tijuca area of Rio, the part of the city that will host the largest number of the Olympic venues. The winner will be announced by Rio Games organizers on Friday.”
Perhaps the best news (for us amateur players that is) to come of this announcement is that the course will be managed by a private operator after the Olympics and made available to the public as soon as the games end!