The Richmond Hill, Georgia exclusive 1,800 acre sporting club, Ford Plantation, introduced its newly redesigned golf course by Pete Dye recently. The year-long project at the enclave just south of Savannah opened for play in October and has already been named by Golf Digest as one of the Best New Courses for 2014. The majestic waterfront property once captivated the imagination of automobile magnate Henry Ford, who built a winter retreat there in the 1930’s.
“I looked at my original design at Ford Plantation as a unique chance and almost a blank slate,” Dye said. “We wanted to come back after nearly three decades and make the course better and we’ve done that. The Ford Plantation golf course will stand among my finest Southern designs.”
To club members delight, Dye, the only living World Golf Hall of Fame architect, was hands-on throughout the project, spending extended time on site and hand drawing green complex designs in the Coastal Georgia sand.
Originally envisioned as a restoration necessitated by infrastructure upgrades, the updating became transformational in its effects. Golf course architect Tim Liddy, a long time Dye collaborator and confidant, helped lead the redesign. “Pete is always passionate about his work, but its obvious he feels a special connection with The Ford Plantation,” Liddy said. It’s certainly among the largest redesigns of one of his courses the he’s ever undertaken.”
The 88 year old Dye’s strong presence was viewed as a bonus by Club officials, who were happy to see a legend of the game at work. “We’re thrilled with Pete’s work here and the Golf Digest acknowledgement of The Ford Plantation Club,” said CEO and GM Nick Cassala. “The course is the latest and most visible sign of the exciting progress being made at Ford.”
More than 1.7 million square feet of new Celebration Bermuda sod was laid as was 58 miles of drainage and irrigation pipe. Green size has grown by 20% and 16,000 of water per minute can be moved into surrounding freshwater lakes via a new high powered storm water pump system. The front nine retained much of its former foot print and parkland look, though changes were introduced to widen corridors and create long views, a favorite Dye technique. The low-country links style back nine-site of a working antebellum rice plantation in the 1800’s-now includes bunkering and natural waste areas as part of an updated ‘high dunes’ feel, with 34,000 cubic yards of dirt moved to achieve the effect.
Dye was focused on making the golf course more playable for the members, and the new open layout includes generous landing areas, while retaining signature intimidating elements such as Dye pot bunkers, switchback fairways and strong side putting surfaces. Low handicap Ford members will also find a distinct challenge with tees that can stretch to 7409 yards.
The Ford Planation is a gated sporting community featuring 400 home sites, an on site day spa, deep water marina, world class equestrian center and more than 10 miles of scenic horse, biking, and hiking trails. For more information visit www.FordPlantation.com.