ORLANDO, Fla. -- Survey 100 golfers about the key ingredient to a memorable golf outing, other than score, and probably 90 percent of them will say "good greens."
That's why Eagle Creek Golf Club went the extra mile when it used a brand new type of grass in its greens as it prepared to open in March of 2004. The south Orlando golf club became the first course in Florida to use Mini Verde, the fifth type of ultra dwarf Bermuda in existence.
Some called it a gamble, but General Manager Gary Piotrowski and Golf Course Superintendent Buck Buckner were comfortable with the decision.
As well they should have been. A year later they have been proven correct. The comment cards and guest surveys point to a common theme in the rave reviews during the first year of Eagle Creek - "Great greens."
"Our greens continue to be the star of the show here," said Piotrowski. "Like a lot of courses in the area, we suffered briefly from the hurricanes and the wet weather pattern over the last 10 months. But our greens have come back in a big way. They really held up well and are in great shape now."
"Our regular weekday group played Eagle Creek last month when our club was conditioning the greens," said Lake Mary resident John Curtain. "It was so good, we signed up for another round the next week. The greens were just superb - as good as I have seen in a while."
The Mini Verde provides extremely durable and fast-rolling putting surfaces. It is similar to Bent grass, which promotes a truer, faster putter surface than Bermuda. But Bent grass can only be maintained in cooler climates. Mini Verde is much sturdier than its Bermuda family members, and thus can stand the heat of Florida's summers.
"Eagle Creek chose Mini Verde because we feel it will recover faster from stresses such as verticutting and disease pressures," said Eagle Creek Golf Course Superintendent Buckner, formerly of Isleworth Country Club in Orlando. "Another great aspect of Mini Verde that the golfer's especially enjoy is that it will tolerate low mowing heights which equates to faster greens. And, the putting surfaces have a darker green color."
Five other states - Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arizona and Louisiana, - feature courses with Mini Verde greens. There will be many more in the future, including orangle Lake Country Club (""), which is using Mini Verde as it rebuilds its greens ("").
"It will be a natural progression," said Piotrowski. "Tifeagle has been the most popular choice of grass on greens the last few years, but Mini Verde outperforms it in nearly every category. The primary reason for choosing an ultra dwarf grass is to increase green speed. Ultra dwarfs can tolerate lower mowing heights. Secondly, these grasses have proven to be cleaner (no off type grasses mixed in) than the majority of tifdwarf on the market today. And Mini Verde is at the top of the list."
Eagle Creek is a fascinating Ron Garl/Howard Swan design located on Narcoosssee Road just southwest of prestigious Lake Nona. The 7,198-yard, par-73 layout is a strategically demanding yet very playable golf courses, featuring ample landing areas and challenging green complexes. Swan's European background is apparent in the course's bunkering, as many of the 90 sand bunkers are rivetted, creating challenging recovery shots.
National recognition and awards came quickly for Eagle Creek. Travel and Leisure magazine tabbed Eagle Creek as one of the top 10 new courses in Florida this decade, and several publications published feature stories on the course that one visiting golfer called "a must play for anyone coming to Orlando for a golf vacation." Most recently, Orlando Magazine named the grill room at Eagle Creek as one of the top 10 "19th Holes" in all of Central Florida.
The most unique aspect of the Eagle Creek design is its five par 5's, including the terrific finishing hole. The 480-yard par 5 offers golfers a chance to finish in glory, reaching the green in two. But the sloping putting surface is bordered in front and to the right by water, requiring extreme accuracy on the approach.
The stunning clubhouse, vintage New England manor in appearance, overlooks the 18th hole. It features a 120-seat restaurant, a banquet room that accommodates 150 people, men's and women's locker rooms and a fully stocked pro shop.
In addition, Eagle Creek is an Audubon International Silver Signature course, and is the first course in Florida with Mini-Verde greens, providing outstanding playability and durability.
Eagle Creek's location, just 12 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, makes it a natural site for group outings and convention golfers. It is has become a favorite of the locals as well.
The golf course is distinctive Orlando golf with a European flair. It is designed to blend unobtrusively with the homes in the master-planned Eagle Creek Golf Community. Homebuyers have the option of choosing from different communities that will make up Eagle Creek. In addition, there will be a community park and recreation center for residents.
The Eagle Creek golf course and community are part of the subsidiary of Emerson International, Inc.; the United States division of the United Kingdom based Emerson Group.
For more information about Eagle Creek Golf Club, or to schedule a tee time please call (407) 273-GOLF or visit the club's Web site at www.eaglecreekgolf.info.