Pages 24-25 From Winter 2009 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at

The 18th hole at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

BallenIsles Country Club In Palm Beach Gardens:
Re-opens its newly-renovated East Course

by Joe Stine

The official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on 12/17/08, at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida reopening its newly-renovated East Course. From left to right: David Weener, the Immediate Past-President of BallenIsles Country Club, Andre Varona, Director of Membership & Sponsorship Sales for NPBC Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Eric Jablin of the City of Palm Beach Gardens and Fred Corrado, President of BallenIsles Country Club
         BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens celebrated the official grand reopening of its newly-renovated East Course on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008.
         The design work for the renovation was done by world-renowned ASGCA Golf Course Architect, Keith Foster. Foster, has designed over 20 of the ‘Top 100 Golf Courses’ in the United States, including the famed Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, The Baltimore CC in Baltimore, Maryland, and the venerable Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. BallenIsles East Course is Foster’s first designed course in Florida.
         Michael Hattman, Director of Golf for BallenIsles was also on hand to answer questions and share in the excitement. He told us that the East course was hand sprigged with a brand new experimental hybrid grass call Celebration, which is an aggressively fast growing new type of Bermuda.
         All 18 greens were rebuilt with TifEagle certified superdwarf bermuda grass. Hattman said that TifEagle is superiority to Tifdwarf and to other superdwarfs, because it has more rhizomes, less thatch, lower cutting heights, fewer seedheads, and better color during cooling temperatures. The teeboxes on the East Course were all rebuilt with Seaside Paspalum, which is another one of the newer grasses. Paspalum has a dark green color and is a sturdy grass that holds up well in hot weather.
         BallenIsles members also got involved and made sure that great care was taken on the East Course project to preserve BallenIsles’ natural environment. This included extra measures necessary in order to protect several wildlife habitat areas that are sanctuaries for water fowl and many species of indigenous wading birds.
         Over $9 million has been spent in renovations to the East Course alone, while still preserving the natural environment. Another $14 Million has been allocated to clubhouse improvement, for a total improvement cost of $49 million to the Palm Beach Gardens club.
         The old East Course at BallenIsles had a lot of history. Jack Nicklaus and Julius Boros won the PGA tour here at BallenIsles. Bruce Fleisher originally qualified for the PGA tour here, and Lee Trevino teamed with the "Golden Bear" to help the U.S. sweep an exciting World Cup Victory here.
         BallenIsles has hosted the PGA Championship, the World Cup, the PGA's Senior Championship and countless other Golf Classics.
         The old East course featured 220,000 square feet of bunkers. The new East Course has 160,000 square feet. Foster’s Lead Design Associate, Kevin Hargrave said that a lot of drama was added to the bunkering of the East Course, by way of reshaping to make them more visible from the tees. Also adding a more natural look to the shaping to what he called the tongues of the bunkers increased the visual interest of them. All bunkers have been also been compacted properly for better playability.
         Although green size naturally varies from hole to hole, the overall square footage devoted to greens is the same as previously. All the greens were totally rebuilt to USGA Specifications, and all of the areas surrounding the greens complexes were also reworked to get them to blend naturally while allowing for proper drainage and aerification.
         All tee boxes were rebuilt with a low elevation and have been laser leveled, plus the direction of all the tees have been reoriented with a more classic square shape that naturally redirects the golfers more toward the landing areas.
         A large landscaping component costing a cool million dollars was also implemented, including new tree lined perimeter areas that also help to redirect the golfers eye toward the golf course and away from the residential areas. All 18 holes have been enhanced with lush new colorful plantings. In fact, over 2,600 new trees have been planted and over 20,000 new plants and shrubs were installed before the opening day of play.

A Magnificent Trio of Championship Golf Courses
         Few country clubs offer golfers such a historic connection to the traditions of the game. The three championship courses at BallenIsles were originally commissioned by John D. MacArthur to serve as the home of the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA). In addition to hosting the World Cup Championship, the PGA Championship, and the PGA Seniors' Championship in the 1970s, these are the courses where many golf legends originally qualified for the PGA Tour. The North and East courses, designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee, and the South course, recently redesigned by Gene Bates Golf Design, are magnificent in their maturity, impeccably maintained, and reserved strictly for members and their guests. So, if you got a friend that is a member at BallenIsles Country Club, now would be a good time to call them up and ask to play the East Course.

Pages 24-25 From Winter 2009 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at