Gordon Lakes has been a 27-hole golf course since its third nine, the PineView side, opened in 2002.
Head pro and general manager Bill Fumai never looked at it that way, and neither did a lot of his golfers.
"I could never call it a 27-hole course," Fumai said.
He'll be able to call it that in April when the LakeView nine, which has been under renovation since late June, reopens.
LakeView, which is the back nine of the original Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed 18-hole course that opened in 1975, hasn't fit in with the other two nines because it was showing its age.
PineView, designed by Dan Schlegal of the architectural firm of Ault & Clark, opened five years ago, and the IslandView, the original front nine, was renovated two years ago. Schlegal, who now runs Schlegel Golf Course Design, came back to oversee the renovation of the IslandView and LakeView nines.
Fumai couldn't blame golfers for avoiding the old LakeView nine.
"They didn't want to play this one because of the usage; the 30-year wear and tear on it," Fumai said of LakeView. "People would never play this except as an afterthought or because we had an overflow issue."
Another reason why golfers avoided the LakeView side is because it had the original 30-year-old Bermuda 328 grass on its greens while the PineView and IslandView had new TifEagle Bermuda grass. Golfers don't like going from one kind of putting surface to another in the same round because of the speed of greens vary with different grasses.
That won't be a problem now that TifEagle has been planted on the LakeView side.
"The handprint is the same on all three nines," Fumai said. "We won't have that overflow issue (from the PineView and IslandView nines) anymore because everyone will want to play all three nines."
In addition to changing the grass on the greens on the LakeView side, Gordon Lakes smoothed out the contours and enlarged the greens, moved some bunkers back into play for the low handicapper, re-configured tee boxes, added a large pond on par-3 fourth hole and cleared the brush from between the holes.
"Trent Jones Sr. liked to have one tee box for everybody," Fumai said. "Of course, 30 years ago not a lot of women or seniors were playing golf. He had the front of the men's tee box for women and seniors. We split tee boxes into pods, like we did on the other two nines. So instead of a runway, we have pods for men's, pros, seniors and ladies."
Gordon Lakes also made the LakeView side more playable for women by moving their tee boxes up. The women's yardage dropped from 2,760 yards to 2,412.
"Ladies didn't like this golf course because it was too long," Fumai said. "They had two holes (on the LakeView nine) where they had to carry the ball 150 yards in the air to get it over a creek. The average lady couldn't hit it over that ... my wife (Doris) couldn't hit it over those creeks; she hated it over here."
Of all the improvements to the LakeView side, Fumai might be the proudest of the cleaner look it now has. For the first time, the 45-acre Gordon Lake, which separates the IslandView the LakeView nines, can be seen from every hole on the LakeView side.
"It used to be just junk," Fuami said of the areas between the holes.
The amount of renovation on the LakeView turned out to be more than the IslandView because "we fell in love with this side and we kept doing more to it," Fumai said. "The clearing of all the trees and the see-throughs were never part of the original plan, but as this project took off, we became enamored with this side."
Fumai played a active role in giving LakeView's par-3 fourth hole a new look. Instead of a ditch guarding the front of the green, there is now a three-quarter of an acre pond with a mushroom fountain. The tee shot, which is 155 yards from the men's tee, is now all-carry over water,
"This is our new baby," Fumai said. "We wanted a signature hole on this side. We've got No. 6 on the IslandView side and No. 8 on the PineView."
If a golfer asked Fumai which of the two nines he'd recommend once the LakeView is open, he'd go with the LakeView and IslandView sides.
"If he's a decent golfer and wants a challenge, we'd like to put him on the marquee nines," Fumai said. "Whenever we can use the Robert Trent Jones Sr. nines as the 18 holes of golf, you can say you had a great round of golf or a great day. We think what we've got the Trent Jones layout back to what it was 30 years ago. To play a Trent Jones Sr. updated and renovated golf course is quite a treat."
The PineView side is considered the easier of the three nines, so Fumai would send the less accomplished golfer off on that side.
"The average to high handicapper loves that side because the ball rolls and carries," Fumai said. "
During a recent tour of the LakeView nine, it was unusually quiet. No work has been done there since mid-September. All that is left is for the grass on the greens and the sodded areas of 419 Bermuda around tee boxes and bunkers to fill in.
Fumai said the side is "90 percent" ready to go, but it still might not open until Masters Week.
"We don't want to open this up until it is as good as the other two nines," Fumai said. "We're very proud of them; we have too much invested in this."
Fumai said there is a possibility that the side will close back down after Masters Week.
"If it isn't up to our standards, we will keep it shut down and let it grow in a little bit more and open it back up in the summer."
Gordon Lakes has big plans for the course once it is truly a 27-hole course. Fumai would like to have a Regions Cup event there, but his main goal is to have the All-Army Trials and All-Service Matches in 2008, which will be the Army's year to play host to those matches.
"We're making an effort to be the best in Augusta; we feel like we're the best in the Army," he said.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.