Golf News for Wednesday, October 9, 2013 | Courses

Lester George honored by ASGCA for work at Delaware's Rock Manor Golf Course

Lester George has been honored by the ASGCA for his work at Rock Manor Golf Course as part of their Design Excellence Recognition Program, which shines a light on the innovation and problem-solving skills required of today's golf course designers. Nominations were reviewed by a panel of golf industry leaders, including representatives of the Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Golf Course Builders Association of America and National Golf Course Owners Association

Rock Manor Golf Course is one of the oldest municipal golf courses in country. It opened in 1922, is owned & operated by City of Wilmington, Delaware and was the only municipal golf course in Wilmington for years. This project was an engineering feat of historic value with many challenges. Despite the multitude of constraints and regulations, Lester George yielded a 6400 yard, par 71 golf course.

The major problems George faced with the Rock Manor Golf Course project were the expansion of Rt. 202 and I-95 encroaching on the course and flooding of the nearby Matson Run Watershed. By creating a completely new golf course with heavy demand on floodwater attenuation, working around utilities and routing around a major highway interchange, Rock Manor Golf Course is now a playable, fun, beautiful course that improved the environment.

The Blue Ball project, the largest state project in Delaware history, is transforming the I-95/Rt. 202 interchange, including Rock Manor, into a gateway for surrounding communities. Lester George of George Golf Design, located in Richmond, Virginia, created a master plan that worked within immense constraints. Initially, the Blue Ball Project assumed the dissolution of the golf course, but instead the City of Wilmington and the State of Delaware turned to Lester George to coordinate the project and manage the tasks of 10-15 government agencies to design and build a golf course within the Blue Ball constraints.

A municipal water plant housing the city's drinking water supply, and the Blue Ball development, surrounded the course. Expansion of Rt. 202 and I-95 had significantly encroached on the course, which had been shrunk to par 67 and 5700 yards. Eventually, flooding of the Matson Run Watershed became a life or death reality to residents; the tributary flooded so badly during Hurricane Hugo that there was loss of life. The course had to become part of the flood attenuation solution or be lost.

The city waited until we got into this project to run new distribution lines for the public water supply from the clear well (the drinking water reservoir). George Golf Design enlisted Wadsworth Golf Course Construction to build the golf course and incorporate new sustainable maintenance activities and floodwater attenuation for Matson Run.

"This is one of those projects that required an incredible amount of hard work, teamwork, coordination and vision from everyone involved," said Lester George. "George Golf Design was fortunate to have the trust and confidence of the City of Wilmington and the State of Delaware to work through the morass of complexities at Rock Manor."

The Blue Ball Project, including Rock Manor Golf Course, was named a winner of the Federal Highway Administration 2006 Excellence in Highway Design Award in both the Environmental Protection and Enhancement and Project Development Process categories. Delaware Today readers voted Rock Manor the Best Public Golf Course in the Wilmington, Delaware area.

Commending the Design Excellence honorees cited for illustrating "Value of the Golf Course," ASGCA Vice President Lee Schmidt said, "In each case, golf course owners, managers and superintendents faced challenges unique to them, including the landscape, environment or business situation. And, in each case, they met the challenges by working with ASGCA members, who serve clients around the world every day."

Shannon Fisher, Vice President of Communications, George Golf Design, 804-314-3268,