The Oaks Club in Osprey, Fla., has completed the renovation of its Heron Course, a year-long project that brings a memorable new golfing experience for members and guests.
“By re-imagining this beautiful course, we have renewed one of our community’s most important assets to the benefit of all our homeowners,” Oaks Club board president Chuck Clack said. “Our golf amenities have helped make The Oaks Club one of the Gulf Coast’s leading private residential communities for the past 31 years.”
Course architect Jason Straka, of Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, said the renovations are designed to enhance playability and improve maintenance conditions. The new Heron Course will play between 4,185 and 6,825 yards, slightly longer than the current 6,695 yards. “The revitalized course will have new surface contours, better constructed and strategically placed sand bunkers, interesting greens complexes, and a new teeing system that will accommodate players of all skill levels,” said Straka, who redesigned the course on behalf of Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Course Design.
Other design changes include a brand new irrigation system, a new drainage system, state-of-the-art greens construction, new and improved turfgrasses, and new landscaping.
“This renovation project was a total team effort,” added Straka, noting that he and director of green and grounds Nick Kearns regularly led member tours of the project. “Nick also used an aerial drone to create video updates, which were sent to members every Friday, documenting that week’s progress. He should win an Academy Award for his filming.”
Kearns noted that the new design gives golfers a variety of enjoyable options when playing the Heron Course. “Depending on how the course will be set up with pin and tee locations, you could literally feel as though you’re playing a totally different course on different days,” he said. “The 10th hole will really make you consider your club selection, since using a driver off the tee or an iron could mean the difference between an easy birdie or a tough par 4.”
Director of Golf Tim Beckwith said the redesigned course includes many other features that golfers will see and enjoy, such as large, tightly mowed chipping areas, fewer bunkers, forgiving fairways, shorter carries over hazards, and new and larger tees at a wide variety of distances. “The timing was right for a redesign since the original Heron Course was 31 years old,” he said.
Heron Renovation Committee Chairman John Bogatay said planning the Heron Course redesign began in 2011. “Our primary objective was to replace the irrigation and drainage system, while designing a challenging and playable course for golfers of various levels of skill,” he said. “As part of the renovation, we added 250 drains and 350 irrigation sprinklers, and all greens were reconstructed for reduced maintenance and water usage.”
Oaks Club members approved the project in late 2013 and construction began in mid-2014. The project was completed within budget and on schedule, Bogatay added.
The Oaks Club is a private country club community developed on more than 1,000 acres situated on the east and west sides of U.S. 41 in Osprey, 12 miles south of downtown Sarasota.