One clear trend in our Best Remodel competition, now in its fourth season, is that our panel of judges prefers sensible-if-modest renovations to extreme makeovers. Thus our Best Remodel of 2008, the Old Course at Saucon Valley in Pennsylvania, follows in the tradition of its predecessors, Brookside in Canton, Ohio, Stanwich in Connecticut and The Greenbrier's Old White Course in West Virginia. All were solid layouts before, merely enhanced and improved.
With Saucon Valley, the aim of Fazio and his chief lieutenant, Tom Marzolf, was to sympathetically update a 1922 Herbert Strong design that had been rearranged by Perry Maxwell in the late 1930s. Improvements included considerable tree removal, the deepening of 78 bunkers, removal of 11 others and installation of 11 new ones, new back tees on half the course and extensive surgery to four holes.
Among the most transformed is the third hole, where bunkers fronting the green were filled to allow the extension of the putting surface, bringing it closer to Saucon Creek in front. Short approach shots on this par 4 can now roll back into the drink.
An even bigger change occurred on the 435-yard 12th, which will play as the 18th hole for the Women's Open July 9-12. The original Strong hole was a par 3. When Maxwell remodeled the course, he left the green but turned it into a sharp, dogleg-left par 4. The fairway has been shifted to the right by about 25 yards to relocate the landing area to the area of the old par-3 tees, so golfers will face the same approach into the green that Strong had intended. Four bunkers on the inside of the dogleg now guard that ideal angle of approach. Meanwhile, the hole's name, Dog Leg, has been changed to "Biarritz" to reflect a pronounced dip that bisects the front portion of the green.
As for the normal 18th, a short, heavily bunkered par 4, it will play as the 15th for the Women's Open because there's very little room between the green and clubhouse for grandstands and skyboxes.
Even Tom Fazio, the game's latest "Open doctor," doesn't have enough clout to get a clubhouse relocated.
|1. SAUCON VALLEY C.C. (OLD) Bethlehem, Pa. Yards: 7,126 Par: 71 Fee: $60,000 Designers: Tom Fazio With Tom Marzolf sauconvalleycc.org|
|2. SLEEPY HOLLOW C.C. Scarborough, N.Y. Yards: 6,845 Par: 70 Fee: $100,000 Designer: Gil Hanse And George Bahto sleepyhollowcc.org|
|3. HAIG POINT C. (CALIBOGUE) Daufuskie Island, S.C. Yards: 7,380 Par: 72 Fee: $65,000 Designer: Rees Jones haigpoint.com|
|4. OMAHA C.C. Yards: 6,746 Par 71 Fee: $27,500 Designer: Keith Foster omahacc.org|
|5. MONTESORO G. AND SOCIAL C. Borrego Springs, Calif. Yards: 7,307 Par: 72 Fee: $85,000 Designer: Tom Fazio montesoro.com|
|6. SEDGEFIELD C.C. Greensboro, N.C. Yards: 7,130 Par 71 Fee: $12,000 Designer: Kris Spence sedgefieldcc.org|
|7. HAWK'S NEST G.C. Vero Beach, Fla. Yards: 7,027 Par: 72 Fee: $75,000 Designer: Jim Fazio hawksnestgolf.com|
|8. CARDINAL G. & C.C. Greensboro, N.C. Yards: 7,002 Par: 70 Fee: $12,500 Designer: Pete Dye And Tim Liddy 530-528-4600 cardinalcc.com|
|9. SAILFISH POINT G.C. Stuart, Fla. Yards: 7,088 Par: 72 Fee: $115,500 Designer: Jack Nicklaus sailfishpoint.com|
|10. MAYACOO LAKES C.C. West Palm Beach Yards: 6,906 Par: 71 Fee: $12,000 Designer: Kipp Schulties mayacoolakescc.com|