Building of Treviso about to make the turn

Editor’s note: This is the 10th installment in a series about the TPC at Treviso Bay. At the end of every month, staff writer Tom Hanson brings you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build a golf course. The TPC at Treviso Bay is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. 

A bulldozer shapes the 11th green at Treviso Bay

Photo by Garrett Hubbard

A bulldozer shapes the 11th green at Treviso Bay

As the end of the year approaches, the progress at exclusive PGA Tour Tournament Players Club makes the turn. It’s been 11 months since the TPC at Treviso Bay broke ground. It’s been a long, slow, tedious 11 months.

Imagine playing behind a 20-handicapper who is playing two balls. Building a championship golf course is a process that requires an extreme amount of patience.

To the naked eye, the former citrus grove tucked away between Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41 East barely resembles the grounds that will host the world’s best golfers. But for the trained consultants, most of the painstaking, time-consuming work is completed.

“The beginning always seems like a slow process,” said Chris Gray, the project manager for VK Development. “It may seem like it’s taking a long time but we’re right on schedule.”

For Gray, the sight of Eureka Palms that will boarder the east side of the course is a sign of progress. The landscaping is the first glimpse of lush green. More is coming. Over the next six months, the construction will be full steam ahead.

“You’ll see big changes in the next several months,” Gray said. “To see those palms and the landscaping is a sign of things to come.”

While it’s been a waiting game for most of the past year, with permitting, dredging of lakes and the usual rainy season, time will be of the essences in the next couple of months.

Leslie Claytor, the PGA Tour project manager, spent the past week in Naples even though the PGA Tour offices were closed for the holidays. He made the trip because he said the next couple of weeks are crucial.

Arthur Hills, the course architect, and Hal Sutton, the PGA Tour player consultant, are scheduled to visit and make another formal walkthrough in mid-January. Claytor said that meeting will spur the direction and the progress of the course.

“We’re only a month into mid-grading but the next six months are crucial to being completed on time,” Claytor said. “Once the architects do the next walkthrough we will be in full-blown construction mode.”

In the next couple of weeks, Claytor plans to do some fine tuning, such as tweaking sight-lines off the tees. With 95 percent of the irrigation and heavy machine work completed, he says it’s time to concentrate on the formal golf construction.

Other than breaking ground and an environmental issue with the bordering Rookery Bay Estuary that resulted in a fine, this year has been an uneventful year for the TPC. And Gray is thankful for that. He called the day after Hurricane Ernesto breezed through Southwest Florida the most significant event of the year.

“I was prepared for the worst with Hurricane Ernesto, but when I went to the course the next day, amazingly everything was intact,” Gray said. “The storm could have easily set us back a ways.”

The TPC at Treviso Bay survived the hurricane and rainy season.

The goal is to have the grass on the course by June. The first tee shot won’t occur until late 2007 but the second 11 months should go faster than the first.

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