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By Design


evere design features were

making life difficult at

Independence Golf Club in

Midlothian, Virginia. They required

a high level of maintenance, and

meant the course was too difficult

for the majority of golfers. Each

round was averaging over five hours

to play, which limited the number of

golfers that could be accommodated

each day and left the club in a loss-

making position.

At the same time, families wanted

additional recreation options beyond

golf, but few were being offered.

To address these problems, the club

enlisted Lester George, ASGCA, and

a new master plan was created. This

would see the removal of more than 700

trees and bushes that were cluttering

the course and obstructing views, and

the removal and redesign of dozens

of bunkers. The fairway area was

increased and rough areas were lowered

or converted to mulch. Protective and

saving bunkers were added, and cart

and walking paths were re-routed to

improve the flow of golfers around the

course. In addition, new wells were

drilled to avoid the reliance on public

potable drinking water, increasing water

efficiency and sustainability.

The changes combined to make

the course much more playable, and

reduced round times by an average of

55 minutes, yielding a revenue increase

of $3,000 per day.

The new design also made way for

new facilities at the club, including a

golf teaching academy and a clubhouse

addition for corporate and private

events. The bunkers on the driving

range were filled so the area to be used

for concerts, fireworks, soccer—even

frisbee golf. There is a new lawn area

that doubles as a croquet course

and adds space for weddings, social

events, and other outdoor activities.

The facility also includes the only par-

three course in the country offering

regulation golf cups, 8-inch beginner

cups and FootGolf on every hole.

The changes have transformed

Independence Golf Club into a

popular, playable and profitable

facility. “One of the conundrums

owners and managers of golf courses

often find is that they don’t see how

they can make alterations to their

courses that improve strategy for more

experienced players while catering to

beginners who are just learning the

game,” says George. “The paramount

goal of the renovation at Independence

was to create a golf course that golfers

of all skill levels would enjoy.”


Midlothian, Virginia

Golf course architect:

Lester George,

ASGCA, George Golf Design, Inc.

Project summary:

Independence Golf

Club was faced with three problems

pace of play, playability and


all of which affected the

bottom line. A new golf course design

has addressed each of these issues.


Giff Breed, Owner/Operator;

Dan Taylor, Golf Course Superintendent;

Landscapes Unlimited (construction);

B. K. Katherman (building construction);

Balzer & Associates (building architect);

Smith Turf & Irrigation (irrigation);

George Frye, TransGolf (grassing)

Independence GC

Delivering results

Design overhaul transforms appeal of Virginia club

New bunkering has improved playability,

for example at the 11th hole, shown

before and (main pic) after renovation