at the club, which is lengthening its course to nearly 7,100 yards.
By Steve Pike
In the golf world, longer is always better, whether it’s a new driver technology that’s touted to give a player 20 extra yards off the tee or a golf course that’s adding length to combat the aforementioned technology.
Count The Seagate Country Club at the Hamlet in Delray Beach among those golf courses going long.
The club, part of The Seagate Resort & Spa on East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, is lengthening the course by approximately 300 yards, primarily by adding back tee boxes to seven holes.
The new Seagate “Black’’ tees will lengthen the course to nearly 7,100 yards versus the nearly 6,780 yards currently on its scorecard.
The most significant change will be on the course’s par-five, ninth. The new back tee will lengthen the course from 530 yards to more than 600 yards — a rare length for a South Florida course.
“The course at 7,100 yards will bring in a lot of people,’’ said Darren Panks, the club’s director of golf. “When players look at the scorecard they see 6,780 yards and think that’s a little bit on the short side. If we get something on the card that says 7,100 yards — that’s an attraction for better players. And with today’s equipment changes (clubs and balls) you have to have a course that’s at least 7,100 yards long to attract anyone who is somewhat of a better player.’’
Even at slightly less than 6,800 yards, Seagate Country Club is formidable.
At this past May’s qualifying round for the 2014 U.S. Men’s Open, for example, the low round was only three-under-par 69 shot by Korea’s Sunny Kim.
“It was one of the more difficult courses in Florida (for qualifying) and showed that the course is a good test of golf,’’ Panks said.
Being the host course for a U.S. Open qualifying round was a good step in Panks’ efforts to attract better players and more members to the club; lengthening the course is a solid step in those efforts.
A third step that should bring the club considerable attention is the Walgreen’s Charity Championship, which The Seagate Country Club will host Nov. 6-9.
The tournament is part of the LPGA Legends tour that features past LPGA stars.
“We’re trying to get some other tournaments secured, too,’’ Panks said.
The club earlier this year unveiled a new initiative that opened the club to public memberships with three options: country club, resort and associate.
The Seagate Resort & Spa also is offering “stay and play’’ packages for its guests.
“We’ve been getting some resort play and some new members lately,’’ Panks said. “And we’ve been getting a lot of people coming out and looking at the product and raving about it. The course is in as a good a shape as I’ve seen it in 17 years, so we’ve got everything going for us. The energy is out there and people are interested. Now it’s just a matter of getting them joined.
“We’ve got to bring in more core members who are good players — people in their 40s who can energize the club. Once we have them, other people will know there are some good games going on here and that will attract other members.’’
Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club re-grasses
Seagate Country Club isn’t the only club undergoing summer changes to prepare for fall play. The Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club in Boca Raton is in the midst of a re-grassing project that will put Tiff Eagle grass on its greens and Celebration Bermuda on the fairways and in the rough.
The course has been closed since May and, according to head professional Andy McMechan, will re-open Nov. 15.
The project is being done with consultation from Jack Nicklaus’ Nicklaus Design team. In 2002, Nicklaus re-designed the course that was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1959. Nicklaus, who lives in North Palm Beach, visited the club last year for initial consultation for this project.
In addition to the re-grassing, McMechan said minor changes are being made to 12 of the course’s 18 holes.
“We haven’t made any routing changes,’’ McMechan said. “But we’re doing work on some bunkers — adding some and taking some out — and rebuilding the green to their original specifications.’’