Florida Course to Use Unique Grass On Greens

When Eagle Creek Golf Club opens in Southeast Orlando in spring 2004, Florida golfers will experience a new type of grass on the putting surfaces never before seen in the state. It is a grass that consistently ranks at or near the top in national field testing. Mini Verde, the fifth type of ultra dwarf Bermuda in existence, will provide Eagle Creek with extremely durable and fast-rolling putting surfaces, according to results seen in other parts of the South.

"Eagle Creek chose Mini Verde because we feel it will recover faster from stresses such as verticutting and disease pressures," said Eagle Creek superintendent Buck Buckner, formerly of Isleworth Country Club in Orlando. "Another great aspect of Mini Verde that the golfers will especially enjoy is that it will tolerate low mowing heights which equates to faster greens. And, the putting surfaces will have a darker green color."

Five other states Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arizona and Louisiana feature courses with Mini Verde greens. Based on these early successes, there will be many more in the future.

"It will be a natural progression," said Eagle Creek General Manager Gary 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, according to the superintendents we polled who have used both. The primary reason for choosing an ultra dwarf grass is to increase green speed. Ultra dwarfs can tolerate lower mowing heights. Secondly, these grasses appear 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 Ron Garl/Howard Swan design located on Narcoosssee Road just southwest of Lake Nona. The 7,198-yard, par-73 layout promises to be a strategically demanding yet playable golf course, 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 difficult recovery shots.

The most unique aspect of the Eagle Creek is its five par-5s, including the finisher, a 480-yard par 5 that offers a chance to reach the green in two. But the sloping putting surface is bordered in front and along the right by water, requiring extreme accuracy on the approach.

Garl is excited about the design, especially the green complexes. "Eagle Creek is unique to the Orlando area for a couple of reasons," the veteran architect said. "We have a true British flair with the bunkering. And many of the green complexes have chipping areas with bunkers placed outside the chipping areas. In America, greens typically fall away from the sides. The green complexes at Eagle Creek are very reminiscent of Great Britain."

The New England manor-style clubhouse 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 pro shop. Eagle Creek is registered as an Audubon International Silver Signature course.

Eagle Creek's location, 12 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, makes it a natural site for groups and conventioneers. It may become a favorite of locals as well. The golf course is designed to blend unobtrusively with the soon-to-be built homes in the master-planned Eagle Creek Golf Community, which will boast a community park and recreation center for residents.

The Eagle Creek golf course and community are part of a 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 call (407) 273-4653 or visit www.eaglecreekgolf.info.