March 10, 2000
Last week I renewed the column series I started last summer and fall on The Rookery, the new public golf course by Chris Adkins and Pete Oakley now under construction near Milton. This week’s column continues the story.
As Adkins walked the new course with me recently, a few dozen herons flew into their rookery in the eastern side of his property. The newly discovered nesting area caused Adkins and Oakley to change their course’s name and design.
It is near spring, and a young heron’s fancy turns to love. The mating calls of herons will never be confused with the melodic lilt of other birds, however.
It may be music to other herons, but to our ears it sounded like “HHHRRAAWWKK!”
The design changes caused by the rookery are now in evidence on the grounds. Unless players saw the original plans, however, they won’t be able to tell.
For example, the sixth hole now runs along the forest edge near the nesting grounds. It is a medium length dogleg left. The green has no bunkers near it, and the trees behind the green form a nice visual backdrop.
There is no benefit to cutting the dogleg with a high hook or sweeping draw. Four sets of cedar trees, formerly part of an old hedgerow, extend from the forest edge beyond the corner of the dogleg. The cedars will make approach shots from the left side very difficult. Adkins cut off the cedars’ branches up to about 10 feet, so while the green is always visible, the challenge is also clear.
Looking back from the green, one can see that the best strategy will be to drive to the right center fairway, and hit a high short iron to the gently sloping green.
Adkins is not sure how players will react to the design. “After we see how they play it, we may need to take out a stand or two. I’d really like to keep the cedars there if we can, without making the hole too difficult,” he said.
The island green on the fifteenth hole, a medium length par 3, is another design change caused by the rookery. It may become the signature hole for the course, much like the 17th hole at the TPC at Sawgrass.
Tee shots that just miss the green will be re-directed toward the middle by the mounds that encircle it. If the tee shots are off by a slightly greater margin, however, some will bounce off the slopes into the water.
Adkins will soon plant dozens of trees throughout the course. Many will be put in locations that will force golfers to play the course as it is designed. For example, new trees near the tee boxes will supply a measure of safety for golfers playing adjacent holes.
A nearby property owner made a deal with Adkins to clear some areas for the other parcel’s development. The Rookery crew will transplant several mature loblolly pines onto the course. Ornamental trees such as crepe myrtle and Bartlett pears will also grace the property.
Adkins said, “The ornamental trees will have a minimum diameter of an inch and a half. As much as we can, we want to make it look like the trees have been on the property all along.”
The crepe myrtle and cedars to be planted along the western edge of the property adjacent to Route 1 will provide screening, noise reduction, and a nice appearance to passersby.
(This is the fifth in a continuing series of columns on the design and construction of The Rookery, originally known as The Greens at Broadview.)