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gallery name:   Ole Miss GC -- Greens & Course Renovation 2008 | Oxford, Mississippi

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|  News: WorldGolf.com posted this story on Golf Inc.'s "Top 5 Renovations" honor | 02.04.09 | Click Here

Update!  New "Before & After" photo gallery for the Ole Miss project is now online!  |  Click Here

|  News: Tee to Green Magazine makes the Ole Miss project its Oct. 2008 cover story  |  Click Here (3 MB)

 |  Scroll down for updated photo galleries (most recent photos are located at the bottom of the page) 

|  News: The Daily Mississippian reports on the Ole Miss GC project  |  03.17.08  |  Click Here

| View video clips of golf course architect Nathan Crace describing the renovation work  |  Click here

| View member Charles Alexander's interview on YouTube about the renovations (Sept. 2008)  |  Click here

 
In the same town where the legendary William Faulkner once lived and wrote and contemporary author John Grisham now resides, golf course architect Nathan Crace is crafting a thriller of his own.  Crace, however, is using bulldozers and dirt instead of pen and paper.  It all began back in 1999 when Crace worked for another design firm (prior to co-founding Watermark Golf) and was called in to redesign the tee complexes at the course.  At the time, Crace also completed a 27-hole master plan showing how the property could be utilized to completely transform the facility.  Although that plan was never realized, it did cause ideas to simmer for the next few years.  In 2006, Crace was called in to create a practice facility for the benefit of the Ole Miss men's and women's golf teams on about five acres adjacent to the back of the course's existing driving range.  When completed that fall, it instantly gained critical acclaim as the best on-campus team practice facility in the Southeastern Conference.  In 2007, Crace was called back to design a short game practice facility, but the time frame for the project became too compressed and bids were unable to be negotiated in time to complete the project that year. 

However, Crace was also contracted that year to tackle the renovation of the entire golf course--except for the tee complexes which had been renovated eight years earlier.  The scope of this project would include new green complexes with TifEagle Bermuda for all 18 holes and the practice green using Crace's well-known style for blending playability with excitement and aesthetics.  In addition to the greens, the project also includes new sand bunkers (including ten new fairway bunkers), a new irrigation system and irrigation lake, new and relocated concrete cart paths, expansion of the public golf practice tee, grassing of all fairways with hybrid bermuda, and the addition of approximately ten new front and back tees to different holes to create more length and variety.

Some of the more notable changes Crace has devised include the lengthening of the par-5 14th including the relocation of the new green into a hillside guarded by a new lake and bunkers, a new irrigation lake that comes into play on holes #2 and #4, the "strengthening" of the closing four holes for tournament play, and the improvements to Crace's favorite hole--the drivable par-4 13th hole.  The 13th hole plays along a ridge on some of the highest ground on the property adjacent to the Oxford Airport.  Being on the ridge, near the airport, and nearly devoid of trees, the wind is a constant factor on this tempting par 4 and Crace has installed six new bunkers to keep long drivers honest and deliver a look from the landing area to the green he describes as a "moonscape."  If the finished product is anything like his vision for the hole, it is destined to be one of the more talked about holes on the course!  Be sure to take a look at the photos and 3D renderings below. 

The course officially re-opened for play on October 1, 2008.  Congratulations to the project team & the University! 

 

The above photo shows a view from the fairway of the new green at the par-4 fourth hole during grow-in (note the new green on the par-3 fifth hole in the background) as the morning fog burns off.  We will post more "after" photos as time permits after the course opens for play this fall.

 

Seen in this photo during grow-in, the new green on the par-3 fifth hole sits at an angle from front right to back left with two large bunkers guarding the back left pin placement and a collection area to the back and right of the green that helps to gather errant shots played "too safe" away from the sand.

 

The new green complex at the par-5 14th hole has been moved left and benched into the hillside while the location of the old green has been transformed into a small lake to the right.  Now golfers trying to reach the green in two shots will have to contend with more than trees--though there is a rumor that a shot played into the bank left of the green can deflect back toward the putting surface...or into a bunker...or into the collection area behind the green.

 

In this grow-in photo, the new green complex on the par-5 sixth hole features a long (two to three club lengths) but narrow green with three bunkers.  Players who challenge to new fairway bunkers and succeed are rewarded with an approach from the right side of the green, while those golfers who elect to play safely off the tee along the left side of the fairway must negotiate the green side bunkers if going for the green in two...creating a classic "risk/reward" scenario.

 

TORNADO

  Photos of 5 Feb. 2008 tornado damage at Ole Miss GC (photos courtesy of Bobby Chamblee/Eagle Golf & Athletics).

 

3D MODELS

  The following are some of the 3D models prepared by Watermark Golf during the design studies phase.

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SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 20 February 2008 with University officials and the contractor.
Shaper rough grading the new practice tee The site of the new practice tee and the new tee complex for #10
#1 green from forward tee (note the deep grass bunker front left) View of #1 green from the top of the deep grass bunker
Shaper working the approach to #17 green #17 green looking toward the tee (note new fairway irr. lines)

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 27 February 2008.
The new (and daunting) fairway cross bunker on the par-5 15th A view from inside the bunker to the green shows its depth
Behind the #15 fairway bunker back down the hill toward the tee View down the fairway toward the tee from behind #15 green
Shaper working #13.  Given it's exposed hilltop setting and design (including 6 new bunkers), Mr. Crace feels that this short par-4 will be one of the more interesting holes when it's finished. The future site of #14 green.  With a new lake right of the green and the hillside to the left, this will be one of the more striking changes of any hole when the project is complete.

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 18 March 2008.
A new pipe extension widens the first fairway by twenty yards. Drainage & gravel installed in #1 green (view from behind green)
The new green on the par-3 fifth hole features two large bunkers guarding the font and back left pin positions
New fairway bunkers on the 6th hole frame the tee shot & create more risk/reward for play from the member and championship tees
Seen from the front, the par-5 6th will feature a large rolling green framed by three bunkers and numerous catch basins
Seen from the right side (with two of Mr. Crace's children in the photo for scale), note the considerable depth of the new 6th green
New fairway bunkers on the par-5 7th hole help to break up the previously existing fairway that was bland and featureless
The approach shot into the new green on the 7th hole can vary as much as two club lengths from the front left to back right pins Set on a point and exposed to the wind, four bunkers step their way up to the new green of the short par-4 13th
Seen from the forward tee, the six new bunkers (four left and two right) on the 13th hole turn the dogleg and make this short par-4 a perfect candidate for a drivable risk/reward hole.  The first bunker on the left is actually a fairway bunker inside the dogleg, but appears to be nearer the green--causing doubt in the mind of the golfer wishing to go for the green from the tee.
The new green complex on the uphill par-5 15th rolls and tumbles with large bunkers, catch basins, and grass bunkers juxtaposed against the backdrop of hardwoods and pine trees behind the green.

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 17 April 2008.
The par-3 third hole plays slightly uphill to a new green guarded by a deep bunker right and framed by a backdrop of hardwoods.
The contours on the new par-3 third green make placement off the tee a key for golfers looking to make birdie.
The green site of the 4th hole as seen from the south side of the new irrigation lake (the fourth fairway is to the left in this photo).
A view of the new irrigation lake looking west toward the 4th tee in the right background and the 3rd green in the left background.
Greens mix installed on the new green of the par-3 fifth hole.
With the greens mix installed on the par-5 sixth green, the three bunkers guarding the left side of the green appear more visible.
Seen from the fairway, 7th hole has been changed dramatically with new fairway bunkers and the new green in the background.
Destined to be one of the golfers' favorite new holes, the short par-4 13th green is more visible in this photo with greens mix installed and the multiple new bunkers can be seen rolling and tumbling their way from the landing area to the wind-exposed hilltop green.

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 28 April 2008.
The new green of the par-3 third hole seen when the floor of the green core is being prepped for drainage (note bunker to right).
A closer view of the floor of the green core shows the exciting contours in the new green that will make shot selection important.
A view of the new green on the par-5 14th from the hillside left of the green (see photos below).  Bobby Chamlee (left) and James Baxter of Eagle Golf & Athletics inspect the site the morning after a 2" rain the day before.
Another view from the hillside left of the 14th green shows the bunker guarding the front right and the new lake.
A view of the new 14th green complex from the landing area in the fairway with the new lake to the right and front of the green.
This photo was taken 27 February of the existing site for the 14th green.  Note the elevation change of the new green between this photo and the previous photo after the green is "benched" into the hillside and the lake has been excavated (the two large pine trees behind the green and the large lone oak back right of the green can be used for reference between the two photos).

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken by Eagle Golf & Athletics on 13 May 2008.
Sod being installed around the new practice putting green (#10 tee and the driving range tee are see in the left background).
Due to the slopes around the new practice putting green, some sod had to be "stapled" into the ground to keep it in place.
The finishing touches being put on the sod around the new practice putting green.
Sod complete around the new practice putting green.

 
 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 20 May 2008.
The bunker fronting the new green on the par-4 10th hole.
Daunting bunkers guard the front of the uphill approach to the new green on the par-4 11th hole.
A closer look at the bunkers at the 11th green.
The new ("bunkerless") green after rough shaping on the par-3 12th hole.
The new 12th green seen from the front right with the Oxford Airport runway beyond.
The new 12th green seen from the back left with the tees in the background.
The new green with mix installed on the rollicking 13th hole as seen from the member tee.
The 13th green seen from the second fairway bunker.
The new 14th green with mix installed as seen from the second landing area of the par-5 hole.
The new 18th green is the largest of the the new greens on the course at more than 8,000 sq. ft.
Perched atop a hill, the greenside bunker left of the 18th is even more daunting from within than from the tee.
The lower bunker left of the green is slightly shallower than the greenside bunker, but no less intimidating for an uphill bunker shot.

 

FUNNEL CLOUD?

  Mr. Crace snapped these photos of a possible funnel cloud during his 27 May 2008 when a number of storms rolled through.
Notice the possible funnel cloud forming in the upper left corner of this photo of the practice green.
In this photo a few seconds later, the funnel began to take shape and elongate.
A closer look shows the funnel lengthening and taking a clearer shape.
Just as quickly as it appeared, the funnel drew back into the cloud and disappeared.

 

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken during Mr. Crace's site visit on 6 June 2008.
The view of the new fairway, green, and lake on the dogleg left par-4 fourth hole.
05-27: From the landing area in the fourth fairway, the lake guards the right side and a lone menacing bunker is short and left.
05-27: A closer look at the bunker left of the fourth green after rough shaping.
Prepping the new fairway bunkers for sod on the par-5 sixth fairway, as seen from the member tee.
With water in the new lake on the par-5 14th, the approach is much more daunting.
A closer view of the 14th hole (to see the dramatic change on this hole, view the before photo of this hole by clicking here).
A view of the uphill approach on the lengthened (by nearly 100 yds from the back tee) 17th hole from the member tee
(now a 452 yd par-4 from the back tee)
Mr. Crace's re-design of the short 325-yard par-4 18th with four gaping bunkers (three are 7 to 9 ft. deep) has transformed this into a challenging closing hole.  No longer a pushover, the hole demands that players electing to go for the green could find themselves facing a treacherous second shot from one of the bunkers or watch their ball roll back down the hill, leaving a 100+ yard recovery shot!

 

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were provided by Bobby Chamblee of Eagle Golf & Athletics on 10 June 2008.
A view from the 6th tee of the new fairway the morning after sodding the new fairway bunkers.
A view from the 6th tee of the new fairway after sodding the green complex (seen in the background).
A view of the green from the second landing area of the par-5 6th hole after sodding the green complex (note bunkers to the left).
Sand and sod are complete on the new fairway bunkers on the formerly straight away downhill par-5 7th hole.


 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken on 30 June 2008.
A view from the left side of the par-3 5th green after sodding and prior to sprigging the green and fairway.
A view from the trees left of the par-5 6th green after sodding and prior to sprigging the green and fairway.
A view from the forward tee of the new fairway bunkers and series of greenside bunkers on the new
par-5 6th hole prior to sprigging the green and fairway.
A view from the fairway of the daunting par-5 14th green and new lake after sodding and prior to sprigging the green and fairway.
To truly appreciate the scope of the change to the 14th green, take a look at the 14th green BEFORE the renovation work here.
A view from the forward tee of the par-3 3rd green after sodding and prior to sprigging the green and fairway.

 

SITE VISIT

  The following photos were taken on 29 July 2008.
The new 4th green prior to sprigging the green surface with a large new bunker front left and the new irrigation lake guarding the right side of the green..  If you look closely, you can see the new green of the par-3 5th hole in the distance through the trees.
The new 6th green approximately three weeks after sprigging the putting surface (about 80% coverage).
The new fairway bunker (foreground) and the greenside bunker on the new uphill par-5 15th prior to sprigging the fairway.
"Crimping-in" sprigs on the massive green of the par 4 18th finishing hole--now the largest green on the course.

 

Be sure to check back with us.  We will be adding photos of the golf course work soon.

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