Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, Fla., one of South Florida’s more iconic golf courses, is undergoing a $1.3 million renovation by Jupiter, Fla., based Signature Design Services, the exclusive golf course design firm of World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd. The renovation of Grande Oaks – best known as the course where the classic comedy “Caddyshack’’ was filmed, is being led by Harry Bowers, Principle in Signature Design Services (www.sig-golf.com) , with consultation from Floyd.
Floyd consulted on the original re-design of Grande Oaks (www.grandeoaks.com) more than 16 years ago when the club was owned by famed Miami businessman Wayne Huizenga. Nova Southeastern University in 2006 acquired Grande Oaks from the Blackstone Group as the home course for its powerhouse Division II men’s and women’s golf teams. The Sharks won the 2012 NCAA Division II championship and finished second in 2014. The Lady Sharks won four consecutive Division II Championships (2009-12) and were runner-up in 2013.
''Jeff Williams (Grande Oaks General Manager) contacted me this past October and asked if we would be interested,’’ said Bowers, who has gained a reputation over the years as a master of golf course renovation and design. “Because Raymond was involved before, we jumped at the chance. It’s a great golf course with a great history.’’
Bowers has worked with Floyd on the designs of such acclaimed courses at Old Palm in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Turnberry Isle Miami and the Palm Beach Par 3 in Palm Beach, Fla., recognized as one of the nation’s best Par 3 courses.
An accomplished amateur player, Bowers started his design career more than 25 years ago alongside legendary architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and worked with him on renovation projects at Oakland Hills Country Club, Baltusrol Golf Club and Aronimink Golf Club, each of which has hosted major championships.
When complete in October, the Grande Oaks renovation will bring Nova Southeastern University a step closer to hosting a NCAA Division II Golf Championship as well as begin plans to transition Grande Oaks from a golf club to a full-service country club. In regards to the latter, Grande Oaks has signed more than 60 new members since the renovation project was announced.
The project, which began in mid-March, was originally supposed to involve re-grassing the greens and changing out the sand in the fairway bunkers. But a detailed examination of the course – through ground penetrating radar – showed Bowers that drainage lines were basically undamaged. That meant significant time and cost could each be saved simply by removing the top eight inches of greens mix.
“There was no need to tear up the entire greens. The infrastructure was sound,’’ Bowers said. “I said ‘Let’s take the money and elevate and expand the tees.’ So we re-worked the budget.
“When an architect gets involved in a renovation, he finds ways to save money – or better utilize money. That’s what we did here. We found a better way to utilize the money that was allocated. We basically went from a partial facelift to a complete facelift.’’
The facelift includes the removal and re-shaping of many of the mounds that surrounded the fairways and greens – thus expanding the fairways - elevating some of the tee boxes to provide better views of the fairways, and transplanting and planting dozens of Grande Oaks’ signature Live Oak trees.
“We’re getting the holes to better fit the terrain,’’ Bowers said.
Grande Oaks’ fairways and tees are being re-sodded with Celebration Bermudagrass and the greens with TifEagle Bermuda.
“Our goal when he brought in Harry and Raymond was to bring this course back to the level we think it should be,’’ Williams said. “The topography we have here is beautiful for South Florida. We felt we needed a significant update and that’s what we’ve done.’’