by By Kaylee Hultgren | January 01, 2009
This is an important time for the golf world, says course architect Rees Jones. "All the very significant golf courses are going through restoration, because technology is so much better," he recently told officials at the Big Island's Mauna Kea Golf Course in Hawaii, where he's heading up a revamp. "It's exciting to make better experiences," Jones added. Indeed, modern touches like innovative types of turf and eco-friendly features are improving play on older courses and winning fans at newer ones, like the following.

terraneaTerranea Resort
Palos Verdes, Calif.
(310) 802-7464;

The 102-acre, $475 million Terranea Resort is set to open along Southern California's picturesque Palos Verdes Peninsula this June, along with a nine-hole, par-3 course promising stunning ocean views. Designer Todd Eckenrode envisions attracting players with a broad range of skill levels. "Not everyone has five hours to spend on a full-length, 18-hole round of golf, but virtually anyone can find the time to play a quick nine holes in an hour or so," he notes. "If nothing else, it's a great excuse to come visit the site, enjoy the outdoors and take in the views."

Features such as a short-game practice area with chipping and putting greens are popular with beginners and families. Moreover, says Eckenrode, every hole will offer generous tee space, allowing for instruction to carry on throughout the course without interrupting the play of more skilled golfers. For those who prefer a more competitive venue, the Trump
National Golf Course is just three miles away.

Terranea's eco-friendly design features an irrigation system that uses "bioswales," which function much like wetlands. Gently sloped channels built into the landscape collect and organically treat pollutants while enhancing water quality and providing a habitat for birds and aquatic species. All pesticides and fertilizers used on the course either are organic or cause no residual damage.

A total of 60,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space will include the 18,000-square-foot Palos Verdes Grand Ballroom, the 6,600-square-foot Marineland Ballroom and several multifunctional spaces with panoramic views of the Pacific, for a grand total of 33 meeting rooms. Nine outdoor areas will add 75,000 square feet of space for events.

A 25,000-square-foot spa, three swimming pools, two restaurants and a secluded cove perfect for snorkeling also are on site.

Mauna Kea Golf Course
Kamuela, Hawaii

(800) 735-1111;

In October 2006, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel along the Big Island's western Kohala Coast was racked by an earthquake and forced to close for major repairs. Approximately $150 million and two years later, the resort and its adjacent Mauna Kea Golf Course sport a new and improved look.

The 18-hole course, originally constructed out of lava rock in the 1960s by Robert Trent Jones Sr., has been restored by his son's company, Rees Jones Inc. The method behind the makeover was to retain the essential strategy and challenge of the original design, while implementing cutting-edge golf technology to modernize play.

For example, the greens have been replanted with ultra-dwarf Tifeagle Bermuda grass for higher quality and more consistent putting surfaces; Tifway 419 hybrid Bermuda grass, a popular pick for warmer, drier climates, was reserved for tees, fairways and roughs. Bunkers were outfitted with new irrigation systems, and overall drainage improvements were made to help maintain course upkeep.  To up the level of play, overall yardage has increased by approximately 200 yards, while multiple tees offer challenges for players of all skill levels.

On hand is a pro shop, a clubhouse restaurant and new locker rooms. Approximately 5,000 square feet of indoor meeting space is available at the resort, with another 60,000 square feet for outdoor functions.

torranceTorrance Course
Fairmont St. Andrews, Scotland
(866) 840-8208;

Gary Stephenson, founder of The Linksmen design firm of Celina, Texas, is leading a major renovation of the 18-hole Torrance Course at the 209-room Fairmont St. Andrews. Opened in 2002, the cliffside, links-style course originally was designed by European Ryder Cup champion Sam Torrance and World Golf Hall-of-Famer Gene Sarazen. By summer, the reconfigured fairways will be poised to host the Local Final Qualifying event for the 2010 Open Championship.

Work on the course includes rebuilding all tee areas and redesigning bunkers. Select tees have been relocated to different holes to improve visibility and play.

A recent $20 million renovation of the resort saw the improvement of guest rooms, the spa and the lobby, as well as the 15,000-square-foot conference center, with its 6,000-square-foot ballroom, a boardroom, 14 meeting rooms and a theater with seating for up to 120.

A few miles south of the property is the resort's 18-hole, par-72 Kittocks Course (formerly the Devlin Course), where St. Andrew's medieval architecture and the dramatic cliff lines off the North Sea provide a stunning backdrop.