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Erik Boland

It wasn't that Steve Locke believed he had a bad golf course at Colonial Springs, it was just that the club president decided he had one that needed work. Especially after Locke determined several years ago he wanted to take the 27-hole layout private.

Superintendent Mark Chant put it another way. "Basically we took a good picture and put it in a better frame," Chant said.

That they did.

The $4.5 million renovation, done by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., started in 2004 and will be completed in late May as work finishes on the Pines Course. The grand opening is scheduled for June 1.

No new holes were built on the grounds, but most were tweaked - some more dramatically than others. Sixty-five bunkers were added among the three courses and two new greens were built. Fourteen fairways were reconstructed and 17 tee boxes are new.

"He spent a lot of time here," Locke said of Jones, Jr. whose brother, Rees, is known as the "Open Doctor" for his work on courses that have hosted U.S. Opens.

Colonial Springs, which began as a public course in 1995 and officially went private in 2006, doesn't have those kinds of ambitions, but Locke and club hierarchy wanted a better course for a membership that is currently at 300 and, Locke hopes, growing.

"We wanted to make the course more challenging for the low-handicapper without killing the little guy," Locke said.

For that reason each hole now has four tee boxes and the "little guy" will need the choices on some of the holes. One striking redesign was on the Pines' 540-yard - from the back tees - par-5 seventh hole. The tighter fairway winds to the left and back to the right, all leading to a large, sloped green guarded to the left by a bunker and to the right by water.

The second hole on the Pines, previously "flat and uninteresting," Locke said, is an uphill 394-yard par-4 and dull no longer. Players tee off from a valley [several tons of dirt were removed to create tees 30 feet below ground level] to a more narrow fairway with a large bunker added near what would be the landing area for most players. The majority of the renovations took place on the Pines Course but there are noticeable changes on all three courses.

From the back tees, the Lake Course now measures 3,378 yards, the Valley is at 3,488 yards and the Pines tops out at 3,442 yards. By current standards, any combination of the nines - for a full 18-hole round - isn't overly long. But the strategic bunkering and added length, along with the significant work around the greens and mounding throughout, gives Colonial Springs (colonialspringsgolf.com) a longer-than-it-looks feel.

"We were going private and we needed something to spice it up," said Locke, who added that membership plans start at $5,800, with no assessments, minimums or locker room fees. "We know we're not on the East End so we needed to do something to attract people. We wanted to do something special, and I hope we have." ■

 



 

"Robert Trent Jones, Jr. has turned Colonial Springs into a hidden gem in the middle of Long Island! You can expect spectacular golf from any of the tee boxes."

-Brian Schuman

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