News

Last Update :1/26/2023

Erik Larsen-Designed St. Johns (Fla.) Golf Club Experiences Successful Reinvention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Erik Larsen-Designed St. Johns (Fla.) Golf Club Experiences Successful Reinvention  

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FLORIDA, USA (January 26, 2023) – Versatile golf course architect Erik Larsen (ASGCA) and St. Johns County have opened a model public golf course project at the St. Johns Golf Club in southern St. Johns County. The course reopened on November 30, 2022, after an extensive renovation, continuing Larsen’s work of creatively reviving golf when renovation work is a strong trend. 

 

In two months since opening, St. Johns Golf Club’s longtime Director of Golf/General Manager Wes Tucker said the county course has excelled: a record 5,785 December 2022 rounds, a 63 percent increase in annual memberships vs. December 2021 and 35 percent growth in shop sales over the first two months.

 

Larsen, a Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, resident and former Executive Vice President of Arnold Palmer Golf Design Company, was involved with the St. Johns Golf Club project for seven years – from feasibility study to planning and design. Larsen worked with Tucker and his staff, St. Johns County, its Board of County Commissioners and Wadsworth Golf Construction Company. The St. Johns Golf Club work followed Larsen’s successful 2015 reinvention of the Atlantic Beach Country Club course and its infrastructure east of Jacksonville. Atlantic Beach was the 2016-18 Korn Ferry Tour Championship site. 

 

More Larsen projects are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2023. Larsen’s course portfolio includes 17 courses that have hosted professional Tour events globally and 25 that have received various annual top-course ratings via Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golfweek. Recent recognition includes Atlantic Beach among Golf Digest’s 2014 best new courses and consideration for St. Johns among major publications for 2023. His work includes private, public, short course and master planning.

 

“The St. Johns Golf Club is a terrific example of publicly owned, accessible golf and interesting architectural work coming together to make the players’ experience much more fun,” Larsen said. “Job one was to fix the golf course, which suffered from poor drainage, broken irrigation, outdated features and contaminated grass. This led to making St. Johns a properly functioning course. Then we brought starting and finishing holes, the practice facility and an additional ‘wee-links’ concept nearer to the clubhouse to allow people to interact more. We layered on a ‘throwback’ design style unlike anything around, all which will create more fun and social interaction.”

 

The St. Johns Golf Club is in Elkton, Florida amid the 550-home Cypress Lakes subdivision 2 miles west of Interstate 95 at State Road 207 and 10 miles west of historic downtown St. Augustine, Florida (4900 Cypress Links Blvd., Elkton, Fla., 32033). St. Johns County is one of the fastest growing counties nationally (40 percent larger in the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Report), annually has the top-rated schools in Florida and has been deemed the healthiest county in Florida over the past decade.

 

St. Johns Golf Club was established from potato farmland as a county-owned facility in 1989 and operated as a 27-hole course for years despite poor conditioning and with nine holes going fallow a decade ago. After weighing whether to sell the land for housing, St. Johns County opted in 2021 to approve funding on an $8-million renovation to develop an 18-hole course, with the money drawn from recreation impact fees, a transportation trust fund, utility fund, bed tax and general fund. The county will use the excess 80 acres to build new fire and sheriff’s stations and establish to-be-determined amenities. 

 

The work is the continuation of a national trend where the National Golf Foundation, the leading research firm in golf business, estimates that at least 80 percent of all golf course work nationally in the past five years has been renovations with a total investment of more than $9 billion.

 

“This course is one of the real jewels of St. Johns County,” said Henry Dean, the chair of the St. Johns County Commission. “It’s a wonderful amenity and the public has demonstrated that, with about 35 percent of the rounds coming from out of the county. We were able to fund this not from the general ad valorem tax that affects homeowners, but to utilize the 7 million visitors per year that we see here. As a commissioner, I would be irresponsible to walk away from this golf course.”

 

Larsen brainstormed with Tucker to use “traditional throwback” design principles by taking three overgrown holes and changing others drastically to produce new routing for a course which has attracted as many as 70,000 rounds annually. Features include wide fairways, Biarritz, Punchbowl and Redan green designs and square, low maintenance “coffin” bunkers throughout. These tributes to architects C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor from the early 1900s are reminiscent of courses in the United Kingdom’s links-style layouts or Northeastern United States and provide a rare offering for a public course or any course in the Southern United States. An expansive short-game area and finishing and beginning holes and the practice area situated much closer to the clubhouse are also part of a completely new complex. The course is made up of TifEagle bermudagrass greens, TifTuf bermudagrass fairways and Zoysia bunker faces. The course plays to par 71 at a maximum of 7,009 yards to 4,803 yards at the shortest tees.

 

Greens fees, established by the St. Johns County Commission, range from $25 for walkers to $59.50 for out-of-state visitors. 


Photography and video available via request and some may be accessed at www.larsengolf.net.

Press Release issued on behalf of Larsen Golf by Clayton Communications.


Media Contact:

Ward Clayton, Clayton Communications

(904) 910-7728, jaxclayton123@gmail.com

About Erik Larsen

Erik Larsen, an experienced golf course/landscape architect, is a member and past president of the prestigious American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and has National Certification by the Council of Landscape Architectural Review Board (CLARB). He has approximately 40 years of experience in the golf development industry, having personally designed nearly 100 golf courses in communities reaching 23 states and 24 countries. These include his most recent Larsen Golf projects, Atlantic Beach Country Club and St. Johns Golf Club, both in Northeast Florida, and earlier work with legends Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, where he was the lead designer on numerous high-profile projects. Larsen also currently serves as the Business Development lead for the Southeastern region with BrightView Golf, the nation’s largest third-party golf course maintenance provider. An Iowa native, Larsen began working on the golf course at his hometown Newton Country Club at age 12. He earned a Landscape Architecture/Horticulture degree from the highly touted program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

More information: www.larsengolf.net

St. Johns Golf Club: www.sjgc.com

Atlantic Beach Country Club: www.atlanticbeachcountryclub.com



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