Virginia Golfer Sep / Oct 2017 - Page 30

Davis Love III (left) has helped redesign several col- lege courses, including ones at Florida, Georgia and Furman. He hopes to bring Birdwood to the level of top college courses across the nation. Rotella and Love have been close friends for decades—so close that Love insisted on Rotella becoming an assistant captain on the Ryder Cup team last fall—and described the good doctor’s presence as invaluable. “Bob really worked hard behind the scenes,” Goodwin said. “It’s not by accident that Davis is sitting here. Bob had a lot to do with it.” Goodwin had been highly impressed with the work of the Love Design team (Love III, brother Mark, and Scott Sherman) in the redesign of Goodwin’s Hilton Head course at Sea Pines. Atlantic Dunes is a brand new course built on top of the original Ocean Course, and opened to rave reviews. Love’s team also built a popular course in Cabo San Lucas, a course at Barefoot in Myrtle Beach, and renovated the University of Georgia course, considered among the top 10 collegiate courses in the country. Sherman worked on the University of Flor- ida course redesign and the Furman course, where he lives in Greenville, S.C. “We believe Birdwood will be the finest team golf facility in the country for collegiate golf,” said Pat Hogan, executive vice presi- dent and COO at the University of Virginia. Love said he is eager to take on that challenge. “It’s exciting to take a great golf course and make it better,” Love said. “I’m a for- mer college player, and having watched the college process that last five years with my 28 son, Dru, having played at Alabama, I know what Virginia needs to get the best high school recruits to come to Charlottesville.” Love has always been influenced by the traditional golf designers. His father, a high- ly-respected teaching pro and golf coach at the University of North Carolina, “was as old school as it g ets,” Love III said. “In my mind’s eye, Birdwood suits for an old style golf course,” Love III said. “We want it to look like it has been here for a hundred years.” Love’s design team wants to bring out the history of the Birdwood landscape, which was part of a 1739 “upland wilderness” land patent, one of the earliest in the Virginia col- ony. Part of the redesign will include holes near the historic grounds of the Birdwood mansion, a two-story brick plantation house built between 1819 and 1830, featuring a dis- tinctive lighthouse-shaped water tower, and traces of the late 19th century ornamental gardens, that includes elaborate sculptures. Love and his cohorts fell in love with the idea of playing back toward the north por- tion of the land in order to get a touch of the mansion and the history. “Davis said if you can get to the point where you can touch that, you can feel that while you’re playing, you can feel the historic context of the site,” said Chris Schooley, senior real estate project manager for the Virginia Foundation. “Davis believes that’s the character of the property, that’s what you’re going to leave with. He really liked that context at the end of the round because that’s the image you’re going to take with you.” Current holes No. 1, 2, 14, and 18 will remain, but will be modified to play more fairly and in some cases lengthened to accommodate modern technology. Six new holes on the “back 80” unused portion of V I R G I N I A G O L F E R | S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 17 the property will be created. Those will be the new No. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 12 holes. The other eight holes will be reworked in a fairly significant way. The current par-3 14th hole, known as the island green, will be eliminated because Love has a disdain for island greens unless they are natural. He believes golf holes should always offer the player an escape option. Love’s team is excited about the proposed new four finishing holes, which will be different in character and play toward the mansion. The par-5 15th will play backward down the current No. 7 corridor. No. 16 will play across the current No. 6 pond, some- thing Love himself really pushed for. No. 17 will be a picturesque par-3, playing down toward the same pond, while the new 18 will be the old No. 9, just much longer, as in a 500-yard par 4. Martin Winters, Birdwood’s director of golf, who has worked there since 1993, said the project is something he’s dreamed of for years. “We have a lot of infrastructure issues because we’re a 32-year-old course, and I think this redesign will give us a course that not only University of Virgin- ia students, staff, and the entire univer- sity community can enjoy, but also the Charlottesville community, the First Tee organization, our local tournaments such as the Jefferson Cup, and the university men’s and women’s golf teams.” Bowen Sargent, the longtime coach of the University of Virginia’s men’s program, also speaking for Kim Lewellen’s women’s program, said they are both excited about the future. Not only will the course be rede- signed, but the plan is to build a state-of- the-art teaching and practice facility for the men’s and women’s teams. “Having a world-class golf course, which I know Davis Love III will construct, will assist our recruiting and player development,” Sar- gent said. “More importantly, the new Bird- wood will give Kim and I the ability to host a local tournament and NCAA tournaments.” Love will also design a quality and func- tional short-game area adjacent to the new home for the golf teams, which will also assist in recruiting and development. Goodwin’s big dreams will carry a big price tag, yet to be determined. “Doing it right is going to cost 15 or 20 per- cent more than someone else who isn’t doing it right,” Goodwin explained to boosters. That’s the cost of dreaming big, something Goodwin believes is worth the expense. vsga.org Dreaming Big