LIBERTYVILLE, Illinois (Dec. 5, 2006) – Golfweek Magazine has recognized the work of prominent golf course architect Rick Jacobson and his former mentor, Jack Nicklaus, by naming Bayside Resort Golf Club one of the nation’s Top 50 new courses.
An 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Bayside is the focal point of an 850-acre master planned community located on the Assawoman Bay in Fenwick Island, Delaware. The 1,640-home residential golf course community is being development by Carl M. Freeman Companies.
“It’s always an honor to work with Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer ever to play the game and one of the most prolific and creative golf course architects ever,” said Jacobson, who worked closely with Nicklaus on the Bayside design. Jacobson was employed at Nicklaus’ Florida-based design firm from 1983-1991 before starting his own company in the Chicago area.
Jacobson previously worked with the Freeman Companies’ development team on the award-winning 27-hole Bear Trap Dunes golf course resort community in Ocean View, Del. Jacobson’s strong relationships with Nicklaus and leaders of the Freeman Companies- along with his stellar track record in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond -made him the natural choice to collaborate with Nicklaus on the project.
“The Freeman Companies’ vision and commitment to excellence are two key factors that made the project a success ,” Jacobson said.
The complete list of the Top 50 New Courses appeared in Golfweek’s Oct. 28 issue and may be seen on the magazine’s website at golfweek.com.
“Rick did a lot of great work when he was employed with us down in Florida and it was great to get back together and work with him on Bayside,” Nicklaus said. “It turned out to be an excellent project.”
Bayside was designed and developed with a focus on environmental sensitivity and the preservation of natural wetlands, salt marshes, and woodlands, Jacobson said. These natural elements were the unifying elements of the comprehensive plan for the resort community. They contribute to the development’s feeling of openness, acting as buffers between the course and the residential development. The environmental preserves also mean that the golf course acts as a wildlife refuge.
Bayside has been an immediate hit not only with critics of golf course architecture but with everyday golfers. The stunning view across the bay of Ocean City, Md. is just one of the aesthetic elements that sets the course apart.
“We have a lot of repeat players at Bayside,” Bayside director of golf Bill Hamilton said. “The thing that has really impressed me is the number of people who come back to the pro shop after 18 holes and say, ‘Can I get back out there and play nine more?’ ”
Hamilton describes Bayside as “a challenging course-but fun-challenging.” Ample fairways enable higher-handicappers to get the ball in play off the tee. But comparatively small, elevated greens protected by a variety of bunker complexes require players to have command of their short games in order to score, Hamilton said. “There is water on every hole but you don’t necessarily have to carry it or play alongside it every hole,” he said.
Bayside has five sets of tees to accommodate every level of golfer: the Signature Tees (7,545 yards), the Championship Tees (6,835 yards), Member Tees (6,418 yards), Club tees (5,615), and Forward Tees (5,168 yards).
But Bayside is less about length than it is about thinking one’s way around the course, considering strategic alternatives on each shot, and making good decisions about how to play each hole. “It is a great risk-reward golf course,” Hamilton said.
Next year, Bayside will begin hosting significant local tournaments, including the 2007 Delaware high school championship conducted by the Delaware State Golf Association; the men’s Delaware State Amateur, and the Delaware Women’s Amateur. Next August, Bayside also will host a qualifier for the U.S. Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur championship.
“We want to be known as a tournament-quality course,” Hamilton said. This year, Bayside hosted a junior tournament for the Philadelphia PGA and the Delaware State Golf Association’s Senior Four-Ball tournament.
Bayside opened in September 2005 and hosted 16,000 golfers over the next 12 months, Hamilton said. The resort club now has 190 out of a maximum 450 members. The facility eventually will be a private resort course but until then it is open to the public.
Jacobson started Jacobson Golf Course Design, Inc. in 1991 as a full-service golf design firm specializing in new course designs as well as master plan renovations and additions to existing facilities.
In recent years, he has opened several new courses, including the Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis. (2006); Vista Links in Buena Vista, Va. (2004); Makefield Highlands GC in suburban Philadelphia (2004), and Patriot Hills GC in Stony Point, N.Y. (2003), which was rated among the Top 10 News Courses by Celebrated Living Magazine. All of these courses have opened to critical acclaim and owners, both public and private, have benefited from customer loyalty and repeat play.
In 2004, Golf Magazine named Jacobson’s Spirit Hollow GC in Burlington, Iowa one its “Thrifty Fifty” – i.e. one of the nation’s top 50 courses costing less than $50 to play. Golf Digest and Golfweek currently rank Spirit Hollow among Iowa’s top 10 courses.
Jacobson’s first 18-hole project in North America – Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, Va. – has been ranked among the nation’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses by Golf Magazine and was ranked among the best new upscale courses in 1996 by Golf Digest magazine. Recently, Golf Digest included Augustine on its list of “Best Places to Play.”
Golf Magazine ranked Jacobson’s Bull Run Country Club in Haymarket, Va. – located approximately 35 miles west of Washington, D.C. – the top new public course in Virginia in 1999. Jacobson’s Bear Trap Dunes opened to rave reviews and the 27-hole complex was honored by Golf Inc. Magazine as Development of the Year for 2002. Bear Trap Dunes also was included in Golf Digest‘s “Best Places to Play.”
Jacobson has extensive experience in the renovation and restoration and has worked on some of the Midwest’s most renowned golf courses. Among Jacobson’s renovations are Bob O’Link GC in Highland Park, Ill. (Donald Ross); Sunset Ridge CC in Northfield, Ill., named 2005 Private Renovation of the Year by Golf Inc. Magazine; North Shore CC in Glenview, Ill. (Harry S. Colt, Charles H. Alison), and Glen Oak CC in Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Tom Bendelow). Jacobson also renovated Pete Dye’s Des Moines G&CC in preparation for the 1999 U.S. Senior Open. He also has done a dramatic makeover on the Blackhawk Trace course at Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Ill.
Jacobson currently is renovating and restoring Oak Park Country Club, another Chicago-area Donald Ross original.