New Country Club of Winter Haven to debut in November

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

For more than five decades, the Lake Region Yacht and Country Club on the south shore of Lake Hamilton has been an integral part of the golf lifestyle in Polk County.

Country Club of Winter Haven - golf course
Bergin Golf Designs will renovate and enhance the golf course at the Country Club of Winter Haven.
Country Club of Winter Haven - golf courseCountry Club of Winter Haven - poolCountry Club of Winter Haven - clubhouseCountry Club of Winter Haven GC
If you go

Situated in lake-laden Winter Haven, a city of 27,000 residents some 47 miles southwest of Orlando, the venerable private golf club is undergoing a major transformation. Beginning June 10, it will be named the Country Club of Winter Haven (CCWH).

Following a comprehensive enhancement program executed in several phases, the makeover will include renovation of irrigation and drainage installations; tees, greens and bunker reconstruction; and bridge restoration. In addition, the existing clubhouse, pool and tennis facilities will receive upgrades. The club is expected to reopen Nov. 1, 2013.

Long-range plans call for a new expansive, multi-story clubhouse that would house all amenities. Discussions have also included the possibility of high-end condominiums stacked on the top or to the side of the clubhouse.

"What makes us special is we are a high-end golf experience with no homes on the course with a phenomenal lakeside setting," said Charlie Soule, president of the CCWH.

Billy Casper Golf to assume management

Once the revitalized club reopens in November, Billy Casper Golf will assume management of operations, golf course and property maintenance, member programs, sales, marketing and public relations, staffing and training, merchandising, restaurant and banquet activities, special events, golf instruction and financial management.

"We're very excited about partnering with Billy Casper Golf because they have a sterling reputation of overseeing renovation projects and restoring private clubs to their original luster," Soule said.

Billy Casper Golf will provide guidance and assistance in the club's membership program, which will encompass equity member, equity corporate member, golf member, junior member, tennis/sports member, senior member and social member opportunities, Soule said. In addition, there will be a national membership initiative beginning in November, he said.

Founded by golf legend Billy Casper and headquartered in Vienna, Va., Billy Casper Golf is the largest domestic owner-operator of golf courses, country clubs and resorts, with more than 140 properties under its turnkey management. Among the private clubs in its portfolio are the Golf Club at Ravenna in Littleton, Colo., Ivy Hills Country Club in Cincinnati, and Montgomery Country Club in Laytonsville, Md.

Bergin Golf Designs to improve Country Club of Winter Haven course

Bergin Golf Designs will renovate and enhance the golf course at the CCWH.

Bill Bergin, who heads the Atlanta-based firm, has been involved in the planning and design of more than 40 projects during the past 20 years, including 15 revisions.

Before starting his own firm, Bergin worked for Bob Cupp, played professionally for six years and served as a teaching professional at Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta.

Bergin, who played in more than 250 professional tournaments, including three U.S. Opens and two British Opens, utilizes his playing and teaching expertise in formulating course designs.

Among Bergin's high-profile designs are The Club at Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, Tenn., the Auburn University golf course in Auburn, Ala., and Chariot Run in Indiana.

"We're creating a tremendous play experience on a well-conditioned course with a high standard of maintenance at the Country Club of Winter Haven," Bergin said. "There will be a five-tee system, making it playable for all abilities."

Among the key changes made, Bergin said, were making Lake Hamilton a more important part of the experience, creating green complexes with expansive collection areas, and installing a state-of-the-art drainage system.

"Having exceptional drainage will result in good, firm, quality turf, which is appealing to all types of players," he said. "Some other things we did was create traditional style bunkers and square tee boxes, enlarge existing ponds and lengthen the course 500 yards from the championship tees."

Enhancing Bergin's work on the course is Billy Casper Golf's proprietary "BC Green" initiative at the CCWH, which conserves, protects and enhances the environment. The course will be enrolled in the Audubon International "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" program, which is aimed at increasing efficiencies in maintenance, energy, water, pesticides, fertilizer, equipment wear and labor.

"I'm excited about the changes we've made on all the holes and particularly the 18th hole, which is a spectacular finish to a round," Bergin said. "It has great views of the lake and the clubhouse in the distance.

"Golfers of all skill levels are really going to love playing this course."

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment