The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Boca Resort & Club reopens golf course after major renovation

Picture-perfect greens will welcome members and hotel guests back to the course.

Repairs to the course substrate, improvements to the tee areas and installation of a turf grass

known as Celebration make the course more inviting.

The pond is cleaner and a heron sits where a splintered pedestrian bridge to the 18th green used to be.

Players now take carts around the pond.

New golf carts with onboard GPS displays are among the improvements.

New beds of tropical plants border many of the holes.

Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Brian Biggane

    Fifteen months ago, the Resort Course at the Boca Raton Resort & Club had fallen into disrepair, with bald patches in fairways and yellowing greens.
    One sweeping renovation later, the same course opens this month with lush new Celebration grass on its fairways and TifEagle on lush sloping greens that have been restored to their original size and quality.
    “Everybody is excited,” head professional Jimmy Gascoigne said. “I’ve been getting calls from people every day looking to get back out. It’s something our members deserve, and they’re all looking forward to it.”
    The first renovation of the course since 1997 began when the club, typically open year-round, closed in April. Frank Kynkor and his company, Marquee Consulting, oversaw the process, which maintained the original routing but added a new practice green, expanded the tee boxes and redid each of the 18 greens.
    The use of Celebration grass on the fairways and TifEagle on the greens has been popular on top courses in South Florida for a few years.
    “They tend to be the trend down here for the right reasons,” Gascoigne said. “It’s a great mix, not only from a playability standpoint, but from a color and resiliency standpoint.”
    The changes resulted in the course playing at 6,262 yards from the tips, nine yards longer than in the past, down to 4,500 from the red ladies’ tees. That doesn’t include a big addition: Each hole features a marker in the fairway designating a so-called Family Tee, playing to about 3,700 yards.
    “We call it the barefoot golf experience,” Gascoigne said, “and it caters to a wide variety of people: The couple that just wants to go out and play a quick nine, a starting point for a junior golfer who’s gaining experience, or a person who’s taking up the game. It follows along the lines of the PGA of America’s Tee It Forward program. It’s an experience within the hotel.”
    Gascoigne, 34, a graduate of Penn State, said the Family Tees are a result of both feedback from club members, who account for about 60 percent of the rounds compared to 40 percent by hotel guests, as well as the changing nature of the game.
    “No longer do people have six hours to play a round of golf; some only want to take two,” Gascoigne said. “So it’s a quicker experience, and a more enjoyable one as well. The challenge is still there, but it’s a way to introduce golf to everyone.”
    Longtime members will notice no more than subtle changes in the layout, which has been around since 1927 and boasts Sam Snead and Tommy Armour on its roll of former club pros. Gascoigne said all of the bunkers have been reconstructed and “dozens” of trees — primarily oak, silver leaf palms and poincianas — have been added.
    As before, 15 of the 18 holes feature one or more water hazards.
    “It’s not a drastic change, but the way we phrase it is, if you played the golf course before you’ll recognize it, but you have to play it a little differently.”
    Also, a new fleet of golf carts has been brought in, each equipped with a GPS system.
    Gascoigne sounded confident that the renovation has brought the Resort Course back up to the high standards of the hotel, a Waldorf Astoria/Hilton Hotels property that has long been considered among the most prestigious in South Florida.
    “Coupled with the services standards of our hotel,” he said, “we can offer a world-class experience for everyone.”

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