Golfers are excited about the much anticipated Fort Myers Country Club grand re-opening. The legendary Donald Ross course built in 1916 gets a much needed renovation.

Nearly a century ago, the late Donald Ross designed the 130-acre Fort Myers County Club Golf Course located between McGregor Boulevard and US 41. This iconic facility has been masterfully managed by the City of Fort Myers since its inception. The toll of brutal summer rains and decades of use has impacted the course so much in recent years, that the City began regularly closing the course after heavy summertime downfalls.

This summer the course finally received a much needed renovation, bringing it up to 21st century standards. As the lead civil engineer for this project, our team worked closely with the City of Fort Myers staff, Wright Construction and the golf course architect, Steve Smyers, to incorporate an innovative system of water retention and water quality infrastructure into the new design.

Our familiarity with the grant programs through the Department of Environmental Protection was instrumental in helping the City obtain $840,000 in TMDL water quality restoration grant funds to make this project happen.

To ensure the City’s facility would be open for the public during peak season, the team met a very aggressive construction schedule. The schedule was compressed into six months, and it ran from April to October, which is the most challenging time to renovate a golf course because it is rainy season. The course re-opened to the public on schedule, just in time for City residents, seasonal residents and visitors to enjoy the golf course during the season of cooler weather and less rainfall.

The new course kept many of the same challenging elements from Ross’ original design, yet incorporated enhancements that are suited to today’s golfer and modern equipment. The project features revamped fairways, greens, pathways, tees, roughs, and sand traps. The irrigation, drainage, and utility facilities are also now modernized and more efficient.

The new water management system retrofits are particularly beneficial to the course, because they serve a dual purpose as hazards for the golfers, and as stormwater infrastructure that improves water quality and attenuation. For maximum efficiency, stormwater runoff that flows into the ponds is being reused for course irrigation.

The City Public Works Department and the Community Redevelopment Agency collaborated to make the ponds on the golf course even more impactful to the community, because they also provide water quality credits that can benefit property owners who seek to redevelop older properties along the Cleveland Avenue corridor.

It was a rewarding project for our team, combining both history and innovation. For more information, contact Kevin Winter, P.E., at [email protected].