First Coore/Crenshaw project in Alabama
Wicker Point Golf Club, the first Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw-designed golf course in Alabama, is inching closer to opening.
Wicker Point, a private course being built along Lake Martin in central Alabama, is scheduled to open this fall according to a release from Russell Lands, owner of the new course.
Per the release, at the end of last October, there was only one fairway and a few tees that still required any significant grading. Most of the rest of the course, which winds its way through rolling forested terrain and along Lake Martin’s shoreline, was already shaped and sodded. The driving range currently is being sodded.
Sixteen greens, which feature TifEagle Bermudagrass, were sprigged last summer. The two remaining greens are scheduled to be sprigged in late spring with the arrival of warmertemperatures. The practice green will be sprigged at that same time.
The golf club, located in the center of The Heritage, a luxury residential development, will include a clubhouse and adjacent pro shop, a practice facility, a putting course, and golf cottages that will be available for members’ guests.
Bill Coore on why they took on Wicker Point Golf Club
Coore spoke about the project with Alabama Golf News in December at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort near Scottsdale, Arizona. He talked about the scope of the project and why the Coore/Crenshaw design team took on the job.
Representatives of Russell Lands visited the Coore/Crenshaw offices in Austin, Texas, where they met with Crenshaw, the former Masters winner, and business manager Scott Sayers. Coore was not part of the initial conversation, but when he returned to the office, he said both Crenshaw and Sayers were eager to pursue the project.
“Ben and Scott both said, ‘Bill, these folks are just fantastic. Let’s at least take a look at this,’” Coore recalled.
“I got tickled because when I went [to Lake Martin], the Russell Lands people showed me a site that was totally unworkable for a golf course. The elevation was like mountain climbing and it just wasn’t going to work.”
Coore said he joked with Crenshaw and Sayers after seeing the site. “I had great fun with Ben and Scott about how much they liked the people but apparently they never looked at one of the topo maps,” he said.
Coore said in the past, his design team has turned down projects because the team was not comfortable working with owners or developers.
“You don’t want to be working with somebody you dread seeing coming,” he said. “We like to spend time with the people for whom we might be working and understand what their goals are.”
Looking for a workable site
After the first proposed golf course site was rejected, Russell Lands, Inc. President and CEO Tom Lamberth took Coore around the property looking for other sites. Coore was impressed with Lamberth’s willingness to find a suitable parcel of land for a stunning new golf course.
“You would think most people who own property on the lake with shoreline would say put the golf back on the interior because we want the shoreline for real estate development,” Coore said.
“Tom did exactly the opposite. He said, ‘Bill, we are Lake Martin, Alabama, and we want to showcase this lake. Can you possibly get some of the holes down on the lake?’ That’s exactly the opposite of what you would normally hear from a developer.”
Coore said the Wicker Point project “has been fantastic.”
“It’s a part of the country we have never worked and the people we are working for – not only do we like to see them coming, but we so hope they will be happy with the end result,” he said.
Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News
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All photos courtesy of Russell Lands