Missouri's Columbia CC Reopens Following Remodel

After undergoing an extensive renovation overseen by Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, the golf course at Columbia Country Club in Columbia, Mo., reopened for play on July 27.

"The comments by the membership and guests of the club have been incredibly complimentary," said Jason Straka, a Fry/Straka principal who oversaw the project. "If they enjoy the course now, they will fall in love with it as it matures over the next few years."

Ten holes were rebuilt or rerouted, and the remaining eight holes and the practice facility were updated. In addition, 2,000 feet of Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional stream were restored on two holes, adding to the environmental friendliness of the course.

Since it reopened, Columbia Country Club has seen a membership increase of nearly 10 percent. On August 3, the par-71 layout hosted the first round of the inaugural Columbia Women's City Golf Championship, where a new women's course record of 72 was set.

"You can get a risk-reward shot or you can play it safe - nearly everyone says the redesigned course is beautiful and extremely fair," said Brett Bieske, the club's general manager and director of golf. "It now has the look and feel of a Lake-of-the-Ozarks course."

Enhanced aesthetics and playability were two central goals of the redesign. Among the many changes was the removal of a number of trees and invasive vegetation that restricted imaginative shot-making on certain holes, and have since opened up views of Hinkson Creek and its tributaries. In addition, some new tees were added and other tees redesigned.

A number of challenging factors faced Straka with the redesign. The course is landlocked by roads, freeways and an abandoned Missouri Department of Transportation site. The property is bisected by a small river, which runs through a deep ravine, and the site of the course, opened in the 1920s, is quite small.

Over the past few years, commercial development surged along the course's southeastern boundary. Municipal decisions - such as a new freeway exit, a new bridge spanning the river and a new access road - took out a portion of three holes. Consequently, all the back-nine holes had to be redesigned and some holes moved completely to maintain the overall yardage. The rebuilt holes feature improved drainage, irrigation, turf-growing conditions, aesthetics and playability.

The new golf holes are a bit wider and more playable than the older ones, yet shots into the greens are still demanding. The course now ranges from 4,702 yards from the forward tees to 6,527 at the tips. The greens now feature a new turf that's more tolerant to disease and drought, and the putting surfaces now drain well and can withstand the transition zone's heat and summer stresses. Stilling pools were created in the streams to control sedimentation, and hundreds of native riparian plants were added along the streams.