Originally created 02/10/01

Aiken golf course construction begins soon



Construction begins on an 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course at Aiken's Woodside Plantation in less than two weeks.

Woodside Development Corp. finalized the deal with Nicklaus Design in the past month, Bill McKay, the general manager of the development company, said Friday.

Other than to say "it's a major undertaking," McKay wouldn't say how much it will cost to build the course.

The holes on the course, which will measure more than 7,200 yards, have been routed by Nicklaus Design. The grading plan is also complete.

"We're shooting for (opening) Masters 2002," McKay said of the private course, which will have Bermuda grass greens.

To be called Nicklaus at Woodside, it is the first course in the area by Nicklaus Design, one of the top golf architectural firms in the world.

Based in North Palm Beach, Fla., the company is part of Golden Bear International Inc., the privately held company of golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, along with sons Jack II, Steve, Gary, Michael and son-in-law Bill O'Leary, are the company's designers. Of the 227 Nicklaus Design courses open for play worldwide, Jack Nicklaus has designed 197 of them.

Jack Nicklaus, a winner of a record 19 major professional championships, has been designing golf courses for more than 30 years. His sons have joined him in the business in the past decade.

"I take great pride in knowing that one of my greatest legacies to golf will be the mark my whole family is making as golf course designers," the 61-year-old Nicklaus has said. "They've taken my philosophies, added their own personal touches and are creating exciting golf courses around the world."

Some of the top Nicklaus Design courses in the world are Muirfield Village in Ohio, Cabo del Sol in Mexico, Castle Pines in Colorado, Valhalla in Kentucky, Shoal Creek in Alabama and Harbour Town (co-designed with Pete Dye), in Hilton Head, S.C.

"We feel very, very lucky and privileged to have a design company of this caliber doing our golf course," McKay said. "They're great designers. They have a lot of winners in this country. Nicklaus Design has an individual way to doing a golf course."

When work begins on Nicklaus at Woodside, it will mean two of the top architectural firms in the country will have courses under construction in Aiken. Work started in March on Sage Valley Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio, an Augusta National Golf Club consultant. It is scheduled to open in October 2001.

Nicklaus at Woodside will make Woodside Plantation something of a golf course mecca. Woodside Country Club, which is owned by Club Corporation of America, has two 18-hole courses, the Wisteria and Plantation courses. The Wisteria, designed by Rees Jones, opened in 1987, and the Plantation, designed by Robert Cupp, opened in 1990.

The Nicklaus at Woodside course will be separate from the Woodside Country Club courses. Though less than a mile away from Woodside Country Club, Nicklaus at Woodside will have its own clubhouse. Parts of it will run parallel to the Cupp course.

The par-72 course will cover 700 acres on land that is "pure-wooded," McKay said. "It has never been farmed. It is untouched and beautiful."

McKay said some Nicklaus Design officials were at the site Friday.

"They love it," McKay said. "They think it's a magnificent site because of the elevation changes and the proximity to water. There are three lakes on the golf courses. It's not flat and mundane. It's a very interesting and exciting golf course."

Woodside Development Corp. earmarked the land for a golf course when it created Woodside Plantation in the late 1980s.

"We've looked forward for a long time to building another course," McKay said. "The time was right to do this."

Most of the top golf course architects working today have courses represented in the Augusta and Aiken areas. They include Arthur Hills (Cedar Creek), Rees Jones (Woodside's Wisteria course and The Club at Jones Creek), Jim Fazio (The River Golf Club) and Tom Jackson (Mount Vintage).

The closest Nicklaus Design course to the Augusta-Aiken area is Great Waters, a course in Greensboro, Ga. It opened in 1992.

Nicklaus Design, based in North Palm Beach, Fla., has 227 courses open for play worldwide, 197 designed solely by Jack Nicklaus. Nine of the Nicklaus Design courses are in South Carolina, and five are in Georgia.

South Carolina

Colleton River Plantation, Hilton Head

Daufuskie Island Club, Hilton Head

Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head

Golden Bear Club at Indigo Run, Hilton Head

Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island

The Golf Club at Indigo Run, Hilton Head

The Long Bay Club, Myrtle Beach

The Reserves at Lake Keowee, Lake Keowee, S.C.

Turtle Point, Kiawah Island

Georgia

Bear's Best, Atlanta

Country Club of the South, Alpharetta

Great Waters, Greensboro

Laurel Springs Golf Club, Suwanee

Nicklaus Golf Club at Birch River, Dahlonega

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.


Numerous Nicklaus Design courses are ranked among the top courses in the United States and the world. Here are the Nicklaus Design courses that appeared in the latest Golf Magazine and Golf Digest rankings.

Golf Magazine

Top 100 courses in the world (1999-200)

Muirfield Village (Ohio) (31)

Harbour Town (S.C.) (74)

Cabo de Sol (Mexico) (78)

Shoal Creek (Ala.) (97)

Golf Digest

America's 100 greatest golf courses (1999-200)

Muirfield Village (Ohio) (15)

Castle Pines (Colo.) (46)

Shoal Creek (Ala.) (61)

Valhalla (Ky.) (68)

Harbour Town (S.C.) (71)

Sycamore Hills (Ind.) (83)