DUBLIN, Ohio -- Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, a partnership with worldwide reach in award-winning golf-course design, has completed a major renovation of Columbia Country Club, in Columbia, Mo. Columbia Country Club is managed by Dallas-based Eagle Golf.
Jason Straka, a Fry/Straka principal, oversaw the project, including a complete rebuild/re-routing of ten holes and the renovation of the remaining eight holes and the practice facility. Further, 2,000 feet of Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional stream were restored on two holes, adding to the environmental benefits of the renovated golf course. For Straka, equal to the careful planning of the golf-course redesign was the pleasure of getting to know those involved in the club's leadership and administration.
"While I enjoyed working on the Columbia Country Club golf course, I will always cherish the relationships I made with so many members and the club's current board and staff," said Straka. "I am a Midwesterner through and through, and these were 'my people,' so to speak.
"They are kindhearted, well-meaning folks who value family and friends. I truly hope the 'new' golf course will enhance their lives for many years to come."
A number of challenging factors required consideration as Straka drew up plans for the redesign. The course is landlocked by surrounding development roads, freeways and an abandoned Missouri Department of Transportation site. It also is bisected by a small river, which courses through a deep ravine. As the golf course originally was built in the 1920s, the property on which it is situated is quite small. Over the past few years, a resurgence in commercial development along the course's southeastern boundary began. Municipal decisions, such as a new freeway exit, a new bridge spanning the river and a new access road, directly impacted the golf course, taking out a portion of three holes. Consequently, all of the back nine holes had to be redesigned and some holes completely relocated in order to keep the overall yardage. The rebuilt holes feature significantly-improved drainage, irrigation, turf-growing conditions, aesthetics and playability.
The new golf holes are a bit wider and more playable than the old holes, yet shots into the greens can be demanding. The par-71 course now ranges from 4,702 yards from the forward tees to 6,527 yards from the back tees. State-of-the art construction led to more disease- and drought-tolerant greens, which now drain well and can withstand the transition zone's heat and summer stresses while still providing excellent playing conditions. Stunning vistas of Hinkson Creek were opened up by removing invasive vegetation. Stilling pools were created throughout the streams to control sedimentation, and hundreds of native riparian plants were installed along the streams.
The overall result of the redesign work is a spectacular renovation showcasing the environmental attributes of Columbia Country Club, including Hinkson Creek and several of its tributaries.
"Members often wonder what they are getting for their money when their golf course closes for construction," said Kathryn Comfort, senior vice president of private club operations at Eagle Golf. "Jason's creative design and sensitivity to the concerns of our longstanding membership, together with the positive attitude of our staff, has kept the members upbeat and made them wonderful ambassadors for their club.
"During construction and the subsequent closure of the course, the membership has grown by a net 51 new members. That says a lot about our staff and how the members are feeling about Jason's new design."
About Columbia Country Club
Columbia Country Club sits on 120 acres nestled directly across from the Stephens College stables, on Old Highway 63. Open since 1921, it long has been considered "The Original Club," the first private golf club in Columbia, Mo. With the original nine holes designed by J.M Waston in 1921 and the back nine by Larry Packard in 1987, the golf course captivates players from beginning to end. The beauty and classic layout of the course features heavily-wooded fairways along the meandering Hinkson Creek. Having hosted legendary PGA Tour Professionals such as Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, Columbia Country Club is a premier course with a rich history.
"It was a pleasure to work side by side with Jason Straka, a true professional in the field of golf-course architecture," said Brett Bieske, PGA, general manager and director of golf at Columbia Country Club. "He created a top-notch layout, designed to add enjoyment for all types of golfers while incorporating numerous aesthetic features to enhance our course's visual value.
"This process provided countless points of interest that allowed our management team as well as our membership to gain knowledge in agronomy and architectural design. The experience throughout the process was monumental for the club and was made enjoyable through Jason's work."
The staff, membership and community all look forward to the summer unveiling of the newly-designed golf course at Columbia Country Club.
About Eagle Golf
Eagle Golf has been in operation for more than 28 years. The company provides a full suite of golf-course management and construction-management services to more than 30 golf courses located in major metropolitan areas in seven states. Eagle Golf's portfolio includes seven private country clubs and 23 properties classified as premium or moderately-priced daily-fee courses. More than three million rounds of golf are played at Eagle Golf courses each year, making up almost one percent of the total rounds played in the United States annually.
"We serve a diverse client base," said Joe Munsch, CEO of Eagle Golf, "from equity-owned private clubs, to high-end public facilities, to municipal golf courses. The common denominator for Eagle Golf is the customer service that we provide at each and every facility we manage.
"We don't just talk about delivering the difference…we do it every single day."
More information can be found at www.eaglegolf.com.
About Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design
Award-winning golf-course architects Dana Fry and Jason Straka announced in 2012 the formation of their golf-course design partnership, Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design. After having worked together for nearly 20 years, they now bring their collective design experience, talent and renowned client dedication to their new venture.
Although the pair collaborates on all projects, Fry resides in Hong Kong, China, while Straka remains in the United States, so that they can have worldwide reach and serve their global clients. In addition, the company has associates based in Lisbon, Portugal; Milan, Italy; Beijing, China; and Porto Alegre, Brazil.
For more information, see www.frystraka.com.
Sally J. Sportsman