Arthur Hills visits newest baby

Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment in a series about The TPC at Treviso Bay. On the last Sunday 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 expected to be completed in the fall of 2007.

For Arthur Hills, the world-renowned golf course designer, the TPC at Treviso Bay in East Naples is his newest baby.

Like any newborn, Treviso Bay needs nurturing.

It needs attention. It needs developing. It will go through its awkward stages.

Three months after breaking ground, the championship course is still in its infancy.

The lake that outlines the ninth and 18th holes is completed. But besides several piles of dirt, the course hasn't taken much shape.

Hills came to see his newest baby last week. Hills and his associate, Brian Yoder, came specifically to Naples to talk to the Daily News about its monthly look at "Building a TPC."

"It's kind of neat that the Daily News is taking on a project like this," Hills said. "I'll be excited to see the final product. The evolution of the course by using pictures and video will be interesting. It's like chronicling a newborn and following it until it's an adult."

Each month, the Daily News has taken video and pictures from five different spots on the course. When it is completed in the fall of 2007, the Daily News will have a time-lapse news product from beginning to end.

At first glance, you can't even imagine that this old orange grove will become a championship course. Hills said it's like raising a child. You have to have patience to build a golf course.

Phil Garcia, president of Ryan Golf, the site contractor, drove Yoder and Hills around and said, "Keep on hogging." In the golf course construction business, hogging means to move the dirt.

"Right now it's all about moving dirt," Hills said. "Once all of the lakes are dredged and the holes are clear, either Brian or I will be down every week or so to keep an eye on the project."

The landscape is so incomplete, Hills even had to look at design drawings to talk about certain spots. At what will eventually be the fourth and fifth holes, there has been no change. The trees that line the Rookery Bay Estuary still remain. It's the only place where natural tree lines will be preserved to shape the holes.

While you have to use your imagination now to see a championship golf course, Hills is confident that the TPC at Treviso Bay will host a PGA Tour event. Hills designed the TPC at Eagle Trace on the east coast of Florida, the former home of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

Though not overly long, Hills is certain Treviso Bay — at 7,200 yards from the tips — will provide an equal test for the pros.

There has been much speculation that The ACE Group Classic could move to Treviso Bay in 2009. The ACE recently signed an agreement with Quail West, which is situated on the Lee and Collier County border in Bonita Springs. Hills designed Quail West.

"I don't think they will shoot any lower scores here than they will elsewhere on their tour," Hills said. "Normally, they set up the courses shorter than they are designed. So what if they do shoot low scores. It's golf and they are playing each other. It's all comparative."

Hills said he tries to build golf courses that are fun for the average golfer because they play the course the most.

On his first trip to the TPC at Treviso Bay, Hills' smile never left his face.

He was having fun, talking about his new baby.

Hills said for the most part, babies are fun.

"As long as I don't have to change diapers," Hills said. "I had eight kids and never really got the hang of this."

Despite the joke, Hills knows that the TPC at Treviso Bay will grow up to be something everyone can be proud of.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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