Improvements to The Woodmere Club

Sometimes you can make an older golf course significantly better and more enjoyable with just a few changes. Our team had that opportunity recently in New York and the work we did is a great example of how a team approach and some practical changes can really enrich a site.

Located on the south shore of Long Island, NY, the 102-year old Woodmere Club sustained extensive flooding and storm-surge damage during 2012's devastating Superstorm Sandy. In over a century as a storied and revered private club, Woodmere-which was expanded to 18 holes by Robert Trent Jones in the 1950s, has weathered it all: droughts, the Great Depression and wars. When Sandy covered Woodmere's golf course and clubhouse in six feet of salt water, repair and improvement became a must.

The staffs lack of ability to water killed several greens and compounded the problems brought by the sea salts. An especially unfortunate loss was a stand of 100 decades-old pine trees near the fourth and 10th holes. Their loss eliminated much of the strategy for the two bordering holes.

Understandably, some members wanted the trees to be replaced, but take a look at the results above and below and see If Woodmere made the right decision.

The new and improved 10th bunker complex
The steep left side is more of a hazard when playing from the right side of the fairway.
The fescue grasses suit the Long Island environment.
The 10th + 4th fairways are combined into a superwide target.
Paying homage to the RTJ runway tee.
The low profile left fairway bunker adds strategy to the tee shot.
The view of the 4th hole.
The construction and maintenance teams worked collaboratively to great results.
The view of the 10th hole. The tee used to point into the range.
Fescue grasses growing in on the back side of the big bunker.
The large green side bunker.
This style complements the course and site.
The bunker impacts play on 10 + 4
An aggressive approach angle.
The Woodmere Club
The original RT Jones expansion plan. 1 was changed to 4 some time ago.
The old view from the 10th tee before super storm sandy.
Brad Klein taking a picture of all the superfluous stuff around the tee.
The old view from the 4th tee before our work.
The maintenance facility was down for an extended period.
Starting to remove the salt water killed trees.
Adam our captain.
Zsa Zsa my roommate!
Erasing the ugly old bunkers.
Working under JFK Airport.
The Joes work in all conditions. (Joe Hancock on the right)
Greenside bunker taking shape
Finishing the greenside bunker
Draining the greenside bunker
Grassing and irrigation added to the bunker
Sodding the surrounds and more drainage.
James, Rob and Joe! Great partners.
Construction almost complete.
Adam and Joe Hancock
Bunker surround irrigation
Adding and spreading the sand working with the maintenance crew.
Sodding and seaming the approach.
Rob and James creating a blended transition of grass types.
Tee construction begins
Superintendent and head pro work on a new logo
Joe Hancock hitting towards the rainbow
The finished 10th hole

When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. Haruki Murakami

The work our small team (including Don Mahaffey, Joe Hancock and the superintendent Tim Benedict) constructed on the 10th hole was designed around the existing green. Previously, the hole had tour bunkers that looked like symmetrical jigsaw puzzle pieces. We removed those dated bunkers as it they were pairs of bell bottom jeans. We then replaced the bunkers with tight green surrounds and one large greenside bunker that hugs the right side or the green. The sandy blurt was transformed into a large bunker complex that ate into the landform and separated the 10th and 4th holes. The new bunker complex entices players to challenge the sand, to receive better playing angles and to get more rewarding bounces.

Woodmere was brought to prominence by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and his work Included many of his trademarks, including several rectangular "runway" tee complexes. The club has continued to stretch out additional tees as an homage to the popular feature by Jones from the 1960s. One such complex served as Inspiration, as we were able to build the 10th and 4th tees into a singular V-shaped runway tee. This allowed for a longer 4th hole and the proximity created a more intimate setting between holes for a greater sense of community. It's now easier for members to talk to each other and see how other golfers are playing. We were also able to remove at least one dozen view-obstructing items from the teeing area. Cart path, ornamental trees, curbing, fences, hedge rows, bushes were all removed. What remained was an expansive vista that immediately showcased the property as soon as a member or visitor entered the gates to the course. We were even able to connect and combine the two fairways into a massive conjoined 120-yard expanse. This past winter, we had the opportunity to see a group of players whose tee shots were spread out by over 100 yards and in an even greater variety of places.

Now the 10th and 4th holes play with far more strategy and look fantastic. The member who brought us onto the project says our work was "a home run!”