July 18, 2002
Oversize drivers have taken over Belle Haven Country Club’s golf course. But now it’s not Great Big Bertha’s and other golf clubs with large heads, but rather beefy construction workers driving bulldozers and earthmovers across fairways and greens. The club is tearing up its 75-year-old golf course and building a new one.
Just two weeks ago, Belle Haven members were carefully replacing their fairway divots and fixing ball marks on their manicured greens. But since then, workers have sprayed the grass to kill it, built silt fences around the course to prevent erosion, and dug up sprinkler heads. On July 8, heavy equipment began moving dirt, and they have the place to themselves because the club has suspended play on the course until next spring.
"The club wanted to completely rebuild the golf course," said Tom Murphy, Belle Haven’s general manager. "Also, the majority of the active, voting members decided to close the course for almost a year and get it over with, instead of spreading the construction work over three years and keep playing."
Jim Carty, a member of the club’s long range planning committee, said that the members chose to close the course for two reasons: cost savings and the unpleasantness of playing part of the course while bulldozers stirred up dust on the next hole.
Murphy explained that the course renovation is part of a $18 million, multi-faceted improvement program to upgrade all of the club’s facilities. "We will finish with the golf course work this coming December," Murphy said. "And we will lay down new bent grass sod, versus seeding, to shorten the time the course is unplayable. We hope it will be ready for golf in mid-Spring 2003."
ABOUT THE SAME TIME, the club plans to begin an expansion of their athletic facility by adding new tennis courts, indoors and out, saunas and steam rooms, more exercise equipment, and a day care center.
The next construction phase, according to Murphy, is the renovation of the clubhouse and it will start in December 2003. "We hope to almost double the size of the existing facility over a two-year period, yet keep our kitchen open during that time."
Belle Haven has enlisted the help of other country clubs in the Washington metro area to allow its members to keep playing golf. "Twenty six other clubs have given us a total of 23,000 tee times at their courses for Belle Haven members to use during the next year, said Murphy." It is a common practice among clubs to help each other out during course renovation, according to Mount Vernon Country Club general manager Bill Sawin. "We are happy to help," said Sawin. "We will call on Belle Haven when we work on our course."
BELLE HAVEN hired golf course architect Arthur Hills, to redesign the course, and contractor—Oliphant—to execute Hills’ design. "We are adding over 200 yards to the course," said Murphy, "but the general routing of the individual holes will remain the same. We are building all new tees, fairways, and greens." Murphy also said that they are adding 11 acres of new lakes to better manage storm water.
The club is also moving their entrance north along Fort Hunt Road to the intersection with Huntington Avenue so that members and guests can access the club more safely through a traffic light.