The Marsh Hawk Course at Ford’s Colony Country Club was originally designed by Dan Maples and opened in 1984. Wildly popular with area golfers, my objective in renovating the course was not to give the course a new identity, but to recapture some of the magic lost though the years. We rebuilt and enlarged the greens, modified some of the grades that were too severe, rebuilt the bunkers, enlarged some tees and improved the drainage and irrigation systems. The end result is a course that is more playable, more easily maintained, and one that has a few more “Sunday pin placements”.
The Marsh Hawk course is blessed with some striking elevation changes and the 535 yard, par five 3rd hole showcases this. Shorter and more conservative tee shots steer clear of the left fairway bunkers and wind up on a high plateau, leaving a panoramic view of the lake and distant green. Longer tee shots that challenge the bunkers take advantage of a long downslope and offer the chance to reach the green in two. The green sets naturally into a hillside, framed by three bunkers and fronted by a finger of lake.
The Marsh Hawk renovation allowed a special opportunity to move this green from a non-descript location at the foot of a hillside to the water’s edge. The result is a spectacular, 194 yard par three that is among the most exciting and striking holes on the course. The green sets at a diagonal to the tee shot, putting a premium on both distance control and accuracy.
The 10th is a relatively straight-forward par four where a long tee shot is rewarded. While shorter drives land into a steep upslope, leaving a blind approach, long drives reach the crest of the hill and a short approach into a shallow green. During the renovation we shifted the green about fifty feet to the right to provide more sunlight, air circulation and a better angle of play.
After the difficult, long 16th Hole, the 153 yard, par three 17th offers a respite and a chance at birdie. The green is moderately sized, offers some interesting hole locations and is protected by a large bunker on the left and a fall-off into a chipping low on the right.