BallenIsles CC, Nicklaus Design agree to multi-year design partnership

BallenIsles CC, Nicklaus Design agree to multi-year design partnership

The project will refresh the East Course, including complete re-grassing, new irrigation, improved tee locations and original design features — all with the goal of returning championship golf to the venue.


BallenIsles Country Club recently announced a strategic design partnership with Nicklaus Design to take the club through a multi-year renovation of its famed East Course and golf practice facilities.

BallenIsles and Jack Nicklaus recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of Nicklaus’ victory at the 1971 PGA Championship held on its famed East Course, which was called PGA National at the time.

The Nicklaus Design team is currently engaged with project manager Ron Despain from Troon in completing the master plan for the club to consider a complete renovation to its learning center and updates to the championship-tested East Course, which are currently slated to take place in 2022, pending member approval. The team is currently working on a series of projects on the East Course that will take place this summer, including tree replacements, renovations to the 9th hole as the club constructs a new pickleball center and other projects that will prepare the course for the upcoming renovation.

“If any name should ever be permanently tied to the East Course, there is only one name that fits:  Nicklaus,” BallenIsles Country Club COO and general manager Ryan Walls said. “We are very encouraged by what the future will bring to complete a multi-year golf improvement project bringing all three courses to modern-day standards and quality of design.”

Under the refreshed master plan, the BallenIsles practice facilities will see a total re-imagination of the teeing grounds, target areas and practice greens. The new design will incorporate modern-day practice areas and targets to enable members to routinely practice the wide variety of golf shots demanded on BallenIsles’ three championship courses. The learning center will include state-of-the-art technology, multiple target areas, short game practice areas, a pitch-and-putt course and a putting course. It will also serve as an entry into golf, welcoming first-time players and professionals alike.

At the same time, BallenIsles and Nicklaus Design will refresh the famed East Course, with a goal of seeing championship golf return to the venue. The East Course renovation is expected to include a modernization of the irrigation system, a complete re-grassing of the course, improvement of tee locations and the return of original course design features from when the course hosted major championships. The Nicklaus Design team will add length and strategy.

Nicklaus Design’s senior design team of Chris Cochran and Chad Goetz will lead the mission of returning the East Course to its former glory while providing a playable, enjoyable test of golf for members. “We are thrilled to be involved with a club of the stature of BallenIsles in restoring their East Course and enhancing their practice facilities,” Nicklaus Design president Paul Stringer said. “With the history of Jack’s victory in the 1971 PGA, we are honored to carry out the legacy of the Nicklaus name and be a part of the long-standing history at BallenIsles.”

Originally built in 1964 and designed by Joe Lee and Dick Wilson, the East Course is a challenging 7,189-yard, par-72 layout. The course was last enhanced in 2008 under the direction of Keith Foster and Kevin Hargrave, and included the planting of 2,600 additional trees as well as 20,000 new plants and shrubs. Greens were renovated to meet USGA standards and bunkers were reshaped to be more visible from the tee box areas.

The renovation of the East Course follows the $7.5 million redesign of BallenIsles’ South Course by famed golf course architect Rees Jones in 2019 and the $35 million clubhouse renovation and expansion project in 2018.