Months after the completion of renovations at the Granada Golf Course and a grand re-opening ceremony in November, the greens still need work after some unexpected setbacks.
Some of the greens were damaged after the heavy rains across South Florida in recent months and has led some golfers to question whether Coral Gables has proper management for the course.
“They spent a lot of money to renovate this thing and they’re losing it by not taking care of it,” said resident and long-time golfer Jack Thompson. “You can lose a course pretty quickly and you’ve got to stay on top of it.”
Coral Gables Parks and Recreation Director Fred Couceyro said they have a detailed plan for the maintenance of the course and also have a consultant working with city staff to manage the greens.
“We were thrown for a loop with the rains. December was an unseasonably wet month,” Couceyro said.
He said the city is also working to hire a full-time superintendent to plot out the maintenance and plan for the greens as work on the course continues.
Heavy play, after the long closure of the course, also may have been a factor in the wear and tear on some of the greens.
The course reopened in November after being closed about six months while the first phase of the Granada Golf Course Improvement Project took place. The work cost the city about $500,000 and also included installing new shelters and extending golf cart paths.
“We’d like for it to always look like it did when it opened and we did know that we would get heavy play because people were excited to play,” Couceyro said.
Some of the golfers, including Scott McBath, who lives in the Westchester area and has played at Granada about 10 years, said they thought the course played well and they saw the improvements from past conditions. McBath said, on a recent morning on the course, that he especially saw changes at the third hole.
“When I played here last year it looked like the Sahara Desert,” McBath said, “What they’ve done now, it looks much better.”
Couceyro said that there are no plans to have an outside company handle the management of the Granada golf course or any of the city’s other courses. He said having a superintendent who’s also a city employee keeps that person invested and connected to resident’s needs.
The parks and recreation staff is now planning for the second phase of renovations at Granada, which will include replacing the course’s rain shelters.
“It’s in the final design process and then it goes through estimates and we’ll share [the plans] with the neighborhood as well,” Couceyro said.
Discussion and plans for the course’s renovation began in 2014 when the city started planning to replace the greens. There was community input and uproar over some parts of the renovation plans.
Some residents opposed plans for a running path around the greens and others voice strong opposition to the trimming of banyan trees across the course. City employees called it “routine” trimming while some residents said the city could have found a better way to protect the trees while still doing some trimming.
“People don’t like change but some of those trees needed to be trimmed and some trees added so it didn’t look so barren,” said Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick, who has lived off North Greenway Drive for decades.
The Granada Golf Course has been open since 1923 and is one of the oldest nine-hole golf courses in Florida.
“I think it looks wonderful now and I think the city needed to make an investment,” Slesnick said.