American Society of Golf Course Architects

Jason Straka, ASGCA, completes renovation of Columbia (Mo.) Country Club

Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design has completed a major renovation of Columbia Country Club, in Columbia, Mo. Jason Straka, ASGCA, a Fry/Straka principal, oversaw the project.

The renovation included a complete rebuild/re-routing of 10 holes and the renovation of the remaining eight holes and the practice facility. Further, 2,000 feet of Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional stream were restored on two holes, adding to the environmental benefits of the renovated golf course.

A number of challenging factors required consideration as Straka drew up plans for the redesign. The course is landlocked by surrounding development roads, freeways and an abandoned Missouri Department of Transportation site. It also is bisected by a small river, which courses through a deep ravine. As the golf course originally was built in the 1920s, the property on which it is situated is quite small. Over the past few years, a resurgence in commercial development along the course’s southeastern boundary began. Municipal decisions, such as a new freeway exit, a new bridge spanning the river and a new access road, directly impacted the golf course, taking out a portion of three holes. Consequently, all of the back nine holes had to be redesigned and some holes completely relocated in order to keep the overall yardage. The rebuilt holes feature significantly-improved drainage, irrigation, turf-growing conditions, aesthetics and playability.

The new golf holes are a bit wider and more playable than the old holes, yet shots into the greens can be demanding. The par-71 course now ranges from 4,702 yards from the forward tees to 6,527 yards from the back tees. State-of-the art construction led to more disease- and drought-tolerant greens, which now drain well and can withstand the transition zone’s heat and summer stresses while still providing excellent playing conditions. Stunning vistas of Hinkson Creek were opened up by removing invasive vegetation. Stilling pools were created throughout the streams to control sedimentation, and hundreds of native riparian plants were installed along the streams.

The overall result of the redesign work is a spectacular renovation showcasing the environmental attributes of Columbia Country Club, including Hinkson Creek and several of its tributaries.

“Members often wonder what they are getting for their money when their golf course closes for construction,” said Kathryn Comfort, senior vice president of private club operations at Eagle Golf. “Jason’s creative design and sensitivity to the concerns of our longstanding membership, together with the positive attitude of our staff, has kept the members upbeat and made them wonderful ambassadors for their club.

“During construction and the subsequent closure of the course, the membership has grown by a net 51 new members. That says a lot about our staff and how the members are feeling about Jason’s new design.”