Bayonet & Black Horse Being Transformed By Gene Bates

The first segment of a golf course transformation unlike any other on the Monterey Peninsula was unveiled in early May with the debut of eight renovated holes and a completely new hole at the Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif.

Under the guidance of architect Gene Bates, both Bayonet and its companion course, Black Horse, are being sculpted into the centerpiece of a multi-million-dollar project by the Seaside Resort Development, LLC (SRD). When completed in late 2009, or early 2010, the facility will boast a luxury destination hotel and spa overlooking Monterey Bay, to be operated by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

"This is not merely the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the golf courses, it is an entirely new book," said Joe Priddy, director of golf at Bayonet and Black Horse, which opened in 1954 and 1964, respectively.

Through the years, the former military layouts have tested many of the game's great players. They're now undergoing alterations that will create two distinctly different golf courses. While Bayonet will retain most of its classic, tree-lined character, Black Horse will acquire a more open feel, with both courses receiving new bunkering and greens.

Bayonet's front nine is the first phase to be completed. Work on Black Horse's back nine will begin May 7, and is slated to open in spring 2008, when work on the resort hotel starts on what currently is the driving range.

At that time, the remaining holes (Bayonet's back nine and Black Horse's front nine) will be under reconstruction. While work is underway there, a new double-ended practice facility - 58,000 square feet of grass hitting space that already has been completed - will be completed and open for use.

The synchronized effort points to a final completion of the 36-hole renovation in summer 2009.

Although the overall length of Bayonet has increased only 16 yards (to 7,133), the strategic and visual impact created by Bates' bunkering is immeasurable.

The completed nine holes at Bayonet will be different in several ways, notably in the order in which they play. Eventually, the holes may comprise the back side. That means a completely new par-4 - an uphill dogleg right of 476 yards - will be either the ninth or 18th hole. This new two-shotter replaces the old fifth, also a par-4.

Par has not changed on any hole, though the longest par-5 on the course has been shortened from 626 yards to 613 and will be placed before the new hole to create a daunting one-two combination.

Overall, the addition of the classic-style bunkering, filled with white sand, along with the removal of the Kikuyu and poa annua grasses in the fairways and greens, produce the most substantial improvement to the playing surfaces. The Kikuyu and poa eradication will take place on both courses. All of the new turf is Jacklin T1 bentgrass, a turf superior in density and performance, while affording better roll. The turf will benefit from the new irrigation and drainage systems that are being installed on all 36 holes.

One of the most dramatic design changes to the greens is the more level putting surface on what was the par-4 seventh (now the fifth hole on the side). Gone is a drastic, left-to-right drop-off, replaced with a fairer target with more modest movement movement.

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