Golf Course Architect
The Florida Golf Course Architecture
of Ron Garl
In Vero Beach; at Indian River Club
by Joe Stine, Editor
FGM also see www.indianriverclub.com.
years ago in beautiful Vero Beach, Florida, golf course architect,
Ron Garl designed and built an extraordinary championship caliber
golf course at Indian River Club. Indian River County's southernmost
golf course, Indian River Club is close enough to the Atlantic
Ocean to enjoy soft ocean breezes, yet far enough to take advantage
of the natural high rolling terrain of an ancient coastal sand
ridge with elevations up to 50 feet above the nearby seashore.
Garl, a native
Floridian who knows as much about the great coastal ridge as
anyone told us that it is actually known as the "Atlantic
Coastal Ridge," and dates back around 100,000 years to the
Pleistocene Era. "The way I understand it," said Garl,
water levels were much higher back then because there was
less ice at the earth's poles. At one time the sand ridge we
see today was most likely an ancient barrier island."
feature of this golf course is the excellent drainage. When many
other area clubs need to close as a result of heavy rains and
standing water, Indian River Club rarely closes. More often than
not, the day following a heavy rain the course has recovered
and is ready for play.
witness to the ancient nature of the land, Garl's unique golf
course design took full advantage of its high rolling terrain.
Embracing the natural beauty of the site, the 18-hole, 7,013
yard, par 72 course is rich in breathtaking views, but ever so
sensitive and respectful of the natural environment.
Pictured here, the 416 yard par four, 5th hole at Indian River
Club takes advantage of the natural high rolling terrain of an
ancient coastal sand ridge known as the "Atlantic Coastal
Ridge, with elevations up to 50 feet above the nearby seashore.
Photo by Ken E. May.
Indian River Clubs Golf
of its unique proximity to the great Atlantic Coastal Ridge the
golf course at Indian River Club's 120 acre Certified Signature
Sanctuary also offers a truly rare cross-section of four distinct
and natural environments. The western quarter of the golf course
features beautiful stands of old-growth pines; the mid-section
has a very genuine 'Old Florida' look and feel with white sugar
sand, large clear lakes and marshes; the eastern quarter has
hammocks of old oaks and towering sand pines; and holes #5 and
#6 play along the ancient coastal sand ridge dunes with elevations
up to 48 feet.
2015 Indian River Club celebrates 20 years of certification status
by Audubon International, only the second certified Signature
Sanctuary in the world to reach that goal. Indian River Club
maintains its Signature status through an environmentally focused
management program that measures efforts in five categories:
Habitat Enhancement, Waste Management, Water Conservation, Energy
Conservation and Wildlife Conservation. The goal of that management
program is to provide a community of lasting value and beauty
for its residents and club members in a healthy and sustainable
As part of their continuing involvement
in the Audubon International Signature Sanctuary Program at Indian
River Club the golf course superintendent and his crew continue
to maintain many projects including:
reclaimed water from Indian River County and St. Johns River
Water Management to irrigate all of Indian River Club's golf
course and residential properties.
regular silt and soil testing for monthly and annual reports;
recycle all machine oil and all water used to clean equipment.
water by hand treating dry areas as needed. Proper water management
also reduces the opportunity for disease development.
slow-release organic fertilizer on the golf course turfgrass.
Integrated Pest Management program (IPM), which is the reduction
(not elimination) of chemical usage on the golf course.
maintaining aquatic plants in the lakes and native grasses that
act as buffers around the water perimeters. These provide fish
and waterfowl food and nesting cover and act as a filtering buffer
system for storm water runoff.
of Indian River Club's 13 acre preserve of Scrub Oak and Hickory
that was set aside for the Florida Scrub Jay and resident Gopher
Tortoises. This area is maintained with regular trimming regulated
by Lake Masters and by using signage and fence to prevent golfers
from entering. This special fence has also been designed to allow
rabbits and foxes to pass underneath.
emphasis is placed on allowing for or retaining naturally occurring
standing dead trees as an important habitat component within
the golf course environment. These standing dead trees provide
nesting habitat for primary cavity nesters, such as woodpeckers,
which in turn provide nesting and shelter habitats for secondary
cavity nesters, such as bluebirds, wood ducks and owls.
Island Audubon Society also conducts a monthly "Bird Walk"
at Indian River Club and has done so since the start of construction.
Members and residents are encouraged to participate. A spotting
guide based on birds actually seen on site, is distributed to
members appreciate the steps necessary to maintain Indian River
Club's Signature certification status," said superintendent
Bobby Wallace. "We're stewards of the environment. We have
more than 3,000 species of plants and animals that live at Indian
River Club and our membership is proud of what we do."
While playing this hole with Florida Golf Magazine, Architect,
Ron Garl stopped to identify a Gopher Tortoise in front of the
tee-box. Also built on the ancient coastal sand ridge known as
the "Atlantic Coastal Ridge, the natural setting of the
back tees of the 394-yard, par 4, sixth hole, named Scrub
Jay, is surrounded by Indian River Club's 13 acre preserve
of Scrub Oak and Hickory that was set aside for the Florida Scrub
Jay and resident Gopher Tortoises. Scrub Jays and Gopher Tortoises
are both endangered species. Photo by Ken E. May.
1991, Audubon International has worked with properties and businesses
to provide third party verification that those businesses have
taken measures to reduce their impact on the environment. When
golf course managers agree to and adhere to specific guidelines
governing water conservation and quality control, wildlife and
habitat management, outreach and education, and chemical use
reduction, courses become eligible for designation as certified
Two Audubon International
programs guide golf course management: the Signature Program
and the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The Signature
Program began in 1993 as a way for Audubon International to assume
a leadership role in working with developers on new construction
projects for the purpose of promoting sound land management practices
and appropriate land use changes based on scientific research.
like Indian River Club that are designed, constructed and operated
in accordance with Signature Program guidelines are eligible
for Signature certification. According to Nancy Richardson, Audubon
International's Signature Program Director, "Landowners
and managers develop their projects according to a set of Principles
for Sustainable Resource Management which guides the program
process. Each member produces a site-specific natural resource
management plan, a framework for management outlining the long
term management of the course." Indian River Club is the
only Certified Signature Sanctuary in Indian River County.
Sandhill Crane parents teaching their
young what critters are good to eat at Indian River Club in Vero
regard to Indian River Club, Nancy Richardson, Audubon Internationals
Signature Sanctuary Program Director, Early on, folks involved
with Indian River Club recognized the importance of protecting
its most valuable asset-- its natural environment. Entire ecosystems
were preserved, habitats were enhanced, thousands of native trees
including huge specimen oaks, were transplanted out of the way
of development, acres of exotic/invasive plant species were removed,
and native drought-tolerant plants were introduced into community
Clubs development philosophy has always been "Good
environmental planning makes good economic sense." Audubon
International believes that as well and sees environmental planning
and protection as a priority when assessing a site for development.
said Richardson. Now because of that planning, residents
living within Indian River Club, enjoy a protected place where
seeing Sandhill crane adults and their little 'colts' is a frequent
occurrence, where seeing a swallow-tailed kite is an exciting
event, and where a quiet, social and natural lifestyle remains
the path that the community has chosen.
Grey Fox Kits keeping an eye out for
mom. Photo taken at Indian River Club in Vero Beach.
at the very southern end of Vero Beach and less than a mile from
the spectacular Indian River Lagoon, the Indian River Club is
a beautiful community noted for its friendly, outgoing atmosphere
and challenging golf.
sits on an exceptional 300 acres which is home to well preserved
old growth pines, a rare coastal scrub jay habitat and pristine
lakes. Into that environment has been inserted a world class
eighteen hole golf course and 243 home sites, all done with enough
care to maintain the special designation of an Audubon International
Of the 211 total
single family lots in the community, all but 40 have been completed
and have occupied homes on them. Three of four possible eight
unit condominium buildings are built and occupied. The community
is in a healthy real estate market and provides good opportunities
to acquire attractive, existing homes or to buy new. The Indian
River Club residential community is managed by a professional
property management company and has a well established and proactive
An aerial photo of the green of
the 18th hole at Indian River Club which is aptly named, On
Membership at Indian River
River Club is a private golf club. Membership Director, Stu Burk
says, "Our mission is to provide a superior golf experience
to golfers of all skill levels by protecting the beauty and condition
of our Audubon International Signature Sanctuary golf course
while preserving the uniquely friendly atmosphere that has set
this private golf club apart since its inception."
the best Members anywhere, fun events planned for the new season,
and Indian River Club's golf course is second to none in Vero,"
says Stu. Our executive chef continues to wow us and our
golf operations staff makes each members visit a pleasurable
one. And, for the benefit of our members & guests we have
onsite lodging accommodations at our charming lodge located on
number 9 fairway. To learn more or to visit Indian River
Club call Membership Director, Stu Burk at (772)770-0757 or email
"If you are a serious
Florida golfer looking for the perfect private club, Indian River
Club in Vero Beach is a must see"
Also see www.indianriverclub.com.