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Photos: Jan Bel Jan

Pelican’s Nest


Bonita Springs, Florida

Golf course architect:

Jan Bel Jan, ASGCA

Jan Bel Jan Golf Course Design

Project summary:

The two

golf courses at Pelican’s Nest

Golf Club in Bonita Springs,

Florida, have been completely

overhauled by Jan Bel Jan,

ASGCA, resulting in a vastly

improved player experience and

increased revenue for the club.


Watertronics (pump);

SubAir Systems (aeration);

Better Billy Bunker (bunker lining)

Transforming a club

A comprehensive renovation of the two courses at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club

has transformed the golf experience for players of all abilities


he first course at Pelican’s Nest

Golf Club in Bonita Springs,

Florida, opened in 1985. Over the

following 10 years, 18 additional holes

were built in phases, and rerouting

occurred with every new phase.

This approach meant that many

inconsistencies had become evident

across the two courses. The varying age

of greens, along with blocked drainage

and inconsistent soil profile, meant each

performed differently. Bunker sizes, shapes

and depths had changed over 30 years,

altering the strategy of the holes.

There were a number of additional issues

too: water wells were compromised during

drought, meaning salt content in the well

water was too high to grow quality turf;

fairway turf was contaminated; slopes

and drainage were problematic; traffic

patterns left areas with extreme wear;

trees were creating excessive shade for

healthy grass growth; and invasive exotic

species had proliferated.

Jan Bel Jan, ASGCA, was hired to

conduct a full renovation, to address

these problems while giving each course a

unique identity, a uniform appearance and

consistent maintenance practices.

Greens were rebuilt to their original

design, with tweaks to allow for more

rounds and Stimpmeter readings of 11-12.

Sub-surface drainage for a portable SubAir

system was installed, as well as over 1.25

miles of HDPE pipe to take reclaimed water

to an irrigation pump station. A pump

blends well water with reclaimed water to

manage salts in real time and reduce water

use, improving water and power efficiency.

Excavated mix has been used to create

additional tees over the two courses and

raise elevations of fairways that were

too close to the water table, and holes

with severe slopes and/or compromised

drainage have been regraded.

Fairways have been re-grassed using

a contemporary turf and long-term

maintenance costs have been reduced

by eliminating bunkers that did not

contribute to strategy or aesthetics, while

a new bunker lining system reduces

erosion during intense rain events.

The amount of irrigated maintained

turf has been reduced and replaced with

appropriate, attractive, low-maintenance

plants and/or crushed shell highlighted

by native pollinator plants. Invasive plants

and other trees causing shade on greens

and tees have been removed, with areas

re-landscaped with native plants.

The renovation program has achieved

its desired results. The courses have

retained their strong ‘test for the best’

ratings from the back tees, while gaining

new ratings suited to shorter hitters

from the new forward tees. The high

‘fun factor’ has translated to measurable

increased satisfaction, leading to improved

handicaps for members and more rounds,

guest play and revenue.