Fresh Greens

A roundup of new or renovated courses here and abroad

For most golfers, just the opportunity to be out of the office, fairway wood in hand, can be enough to make them happy. But give them the opportunity to play somewhere new and notable, and the grins expand dramatically.

The following is a roundup of fresh or about-to-open projects -- including the seventh track to debut in St. Andrews, Scotland, the storied birthplace of the game -- as well as a few top-notch renovations.

Fallen Oak at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino
Newly glorious:
Fallen Oak, part of the
Beau Rivage Resort &
Casino in Biloxi

Beau Rivage Fallen Oak
Biloxi, Miss.
(228) 386-7444; www.beaurivage.com

One of the hot new layouts in the country complements the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, which reopened in 2006 following a $550 million renovation, necessitated in part by damage brought by Hurricane Katrina. Tom Fazio designed Fallen Oak, built exclusively for the resort’s guests. The course runs through 510 acres on the edge of the DeSoto National Forest, about 15 miles from the hotel.

Even though the track is considered a coastal layout, it challenges with several elevation changes, and players have to negotiate stubborn stands of hardwood trees. To preserve the hushed nature of this Southern site, the course features 10 bridges and concealed cart paths.

Once the day on the course is finished, the 1,740-room resort offers 11 dining outlets -- including Todd English’s Olives -- four bars and an 85,000-square-foot casino. The property has 50,000 square feet of meeting space; the largest room is the 17,000-square-foot Magnolia Ballroom.

Bonnet Creek Golf Club
Orlando
www.hilton.com

On the outskirts of Walt Disney World, ground has been broken at the Bonnet Creek development on a 1,000-room Hilton and a 498-room Waldorf=Astoria hotel. These two properties won’t open until fall 2009, but work on a Rees Jones-designed golf course, which will surround the Waldorf=Astoria, began several years ago. Currently called the Bonnet Creek Golf Course, it should be ready for play by this fall.

“You could almost walk to Epcot from the golf course,” says Steve Weisser senior designer for Montclair, N.J.-based Rees Jones Inc.

The two hotels will offer a combined 125,000 square feet of meeting space, 90,000 of which will be in a dedicated conference center. Included will be a 36,000-square-foot ballroom. Each hotel also will have its own event space: 25,000 square feet in the Hilton and 11,000 square feet in the Waldorf=Astoria. For extra relaxation, the complex will offer a 24,000-square-foot spa.

Campeche Playa
Campeche, Mexico
www.campecheplayaresort.com

Jack Nicklaus is the architect of the course going in at this new resort on the Gulf of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This will be the Golden Bear’s 15th layout to open in Mexico in about as many years.

Not far from Mayan ruins, the track will wind through jungle and mangroves, offering views of the nearby beaches. Particular care is being taken to preserve the ecology through which the layout will pass. For instance, the irrigation system will use water purified by a plant being built for the purpose, and no chemicals will be used in the maintenance of the course.

Also under construction is the resort itself. The first phase -- including a 330-room hotel, a 150-slip marina and the golf course -- will open in late 2008. When all parts are finished in 2010, Campeche Playa will comprise more than 3,000 units.

Donald Ross Course at Indiana’s French Lick Resort

Midwestern meditation:
The Donald Ross Course 
at Indiana’s French Lick
Resort reopened in 2006.

French Lick Resort Casino
French Lick, Ind.
(812) 936-9300; www.frenchlick.com

By 2009, two renovated courses and a brand-new layout will make up this Midwest golf paradise.

Two redesign projects already have been completed: The Donald Ross Course reopened in September 2006 following a $4.6 million restoration of the layout, built in 1917. Just added to the mix this past September was the Tom Bendelow Course, originally called the Valley Links when it opened in 1907. About $1 million was spent to turn 18 holes into a Scottish-style, nine-hole walking track. The final gem in this golf necklace is a new Pete Dye course, scheduled to open in 2009.

The enticing amenities at this resort run far deeper than the golf offerings. Guests stay in either the 443-room French Lick Springs Hotel -- with its 24-treatment-room Spa at French Lick, numerous dining choices, Promenade Shoppes and extensive pool complex -- or at the 246-room West Baden Springs Hotel, with its own 14,000-square-foot spa and fine-dining restaurant. On the grounds is a 109,000-square-foot conference center, including a 13,000-square-foot ballroom. Another 40,000 square feet of meeting space are available at the West Baden Springs.

Ocean Edge’s Jack Nicklaus course

Sea breeze:
Ocean Edge’s
Jack Nicklaus course

Ocean Edge
Resort & Club
Brewster, Mass.
(508) 896-9000; www.oceanedge.com

Jack Nicklaus is the name now attached to the course at the Ocean Edge Resort & Club on Cape Cod. The back nine of the $6 million redesign opened last May, and the entire layout is scheduled to debut on Memorial Day. As the work finishes, the club will become private, available only to members and hotel guests.

All greens and holes have been redone, and the course has been lengthened by about 300 yards. The natural look of the 1986 track, however, has not been changed: The Nicklaus Design Group worked around mature trees, incorporating the rolling topography and the elevation changes, while modernizing the challenges. The property’s Linx Clubhouse also has been upgraded, now featuring a members-only lounge, expanded locker-room facilities and more function space, including the 2,500-square-foot Linx Pavilion.

The centerpiece of the 334-room resort is the 1912 Nickerson Mansion, which houses some of the property’s 15,000 square feet of meeting space. For recreation away from the golf course, guests can wander the private beach, swim in one of eight pools or ride bicycles on the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, among other activities. Details were being finalized last month on a $12 million renovation to the property that will add about 7,500 square feet of flexible meeting space.

Pelican Hill

Coastal debut:
Pelican Hill

Pelican Hill Golf Club
Newport Coast, Calif.
(949) 467-6800; www.pelicanhill.com

Just reopened along the seaside south of Los Angeles is the Pelican Hill Golf Club, with 36 holes of golf redone by original creator Tom Fazio. The Ocean North and Ocean South layouts debuted in the early ’90s, quickly gaining fame for accommodating and challenging the games of all comers.

The courses have been closed for the past two years, during which Fazio reshaped the layouts, which brush cliff edges along the ocean. An Italianate clubhouse was built overlooking the Pacific Ocean, featuring the Pelican Grill, an espresso bar, a 40-seat private dining room and a pro shop.

The golf club is the first element of the Resort at Pelican Hill to open. The property itself comes online next fall with 204 bungalow-style rooms and suites; 128 two-, three- and four-bedroom villas; an Italian restaurant, and a 23,000-square-foot spa with 22 treatment rooms. A detached conference center with a separate arrival area will offer 20,000 square feet of meeting space enhanced with floor-to-ceiling glass walls revealing breathtaking ocean views. A variety of outdoor venues will include patios and expansive lawns.

Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Marana, Ariz.
www.ritzcarlton.com

Just coming off the drawing board and into construction is the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in this desert town northwest of Tucson. Slated to open later this year, almost two years before the hotel unlocks its doors, the layout is on schedule to host the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship in February 2009, a tournament that normally attracts Tiger Woods and the rest of the PGA Tour crowd. (This year’s tournament will be held next month at the neighboring Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain, a private facility.)

“It’s absolutely gorgeous high desert, with a great forest of saguaro, an abundance of cactus and beautiful vistas,” Nicklaus has said of the setting that eventually will offer 36 holes. The first 18 will measure a far-reaching 7,833 yards, quite a challenge for even the longest hitters, although the altitude will help the ball flight.

Plans for the 250-room luxury resort include 226 rooms and suites in the main building and 24 individual casita rooms and suites nearby. Among the group offerings will be two ballrooms of 9,000 and 4,800 square feet, respectively. Other amenities will include a 17,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, and 20 miles of desert hiking trails. Tennis, swimming and biking also will be available.

St. Andrews Castle Course

Fit for a king:
St. Andrews
Castle Course

St. Andrews Castle Course
St. Andrews, Scotland
(011) 44 (0) 133 446 6666
www.standrews.org.uk

This highly anticipated addition to the St. Andrews Links -- the seventh offered by the St. Andrews Trust -- will welcome players of all levels as of June 28. Unlike the Old Course that hosts British Open Championships and requires men to have at most a 24 handicap and women a 36 handicap, the Castle Course will have no such restrictions.

The layout was designed by David McLay Kidd, a Scot himself, famous here in the United States for creating the original and highly regarded links at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore. Here, he is sculpting 220 acres that once were part of a hunting ground for Pictish kings. The highlight of the course will be the Kinkell Ness headland, site of the long-gone Kinkell Castle, which will hold a double green for holes 9 and 18.

A circular clubhouse also is under construction. It will offer views of that double green and St. Andrews Bay.

Many groups coming to the birthplace of golf stay at the 209-room Fairmont St. Andrews (fairmont.com), which has two golf courses of its own and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

Westin Roco Ki Beach & Golf Resort
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
(954) 624-1771; www.westin.com

Opening in tandem next fall are this Caribbean getaway and its Nick Faldo Championship Golf Course, just 19 miles from the Punta Cana International Airport. The property will cover about 500 coastline acres with four miles of white-sand beaches.

To be managed by Troon Golf, Faldo’s layout takes in rugged cliffs, palm-lined beaches and a mangrove forest. The par-three 17th plays to a headland above the turquoise sea; the 18th hole also hugs the coast, requiring two shots over the incoming surf.

Outside the main building of the 315-room resort, guests will be able to stay in one of the 56 condo-hotel suites or the 20 Jungle Luxe Bungalows, being built on stilts. A 20,000-square-foot conference center will offer 14 meeting rooms, while the 18,000-square-foot spa will feature 15 treatment rooms. Nongolfers will be able to swim, fish, scuba dive, sail, play tennis or just lounge in the sun.