Annandale Golf Club in
Madison, Mississippi (a northern suburb of Jackson) has been the
home to the PGA Tour's Viking Classic (originally the Magnolia
Classic) since the event moved north from Hattiesburg CC in 1993.
The course is a Jack Nicklaus signature design spread out over 250
acres of rolling land and centered around a stately antebellum-style
clubhouse. In 2010, the club decided improvements needed to be
made to the practice facilities at the club and called on
Watermark's principal and golf course architect Nathan Crace to
develop a plan to utilize an area where the old bentgrass nursery
used to be located between the maintenance area and the 10th tee.
Working closely with
Annandale superintendent, Al Osteen, and a select committee, Nathan
developed a plan that not only created a new short game area and
made much-needed improvements to the existing driving range tee, but
also managed to screen off the maintenance facility and isolate the
#10 tees in the process. The new tees on the 10th holes were
shifted toward the 18th green and mounding created around the entire
short game area so that members practicing their short game skills
feel like they are in their own world.
Additionally, the existing practice
chipping green was relocated to make room for a new indoor teaching
facility adjacent to the practice tee. Now the new short game
area consists of two large practice greens on opposite ends of the
facility, enabling golfers to hit a multitude of shots ranging from
short chips and flop shots, to greenside bunker shots and full
wedges from more than 100 yards. And by simply changing
direction, members can now practice long fairway bunker shots onto
the adjacent driving range.
"Working with Al on this project has
been a lot of fun," Crace said in a recent interview. "He's
literally one of the smartest guys I know and having him proactively
involved on this from the planning stage has been a key to the
project's success. With Al's experience and [shaper] Floyd's [Lemm]
expertise, we make a pretty good team. I think the members
will be thrilled when we're done and I look forward to getting
feedback from the Tour guys when they come back next year."
Work on the short game facility began
in the summer of 2011 immediately following completion of the Viking
Classic and the driving range renovations will begin at a later date.
The short game area was complete and open for play when the Tour
returned the week of the British Open in 2012.