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Sanford Golf Design Transforms Former Martin County Golf Course

Martin County Golf Course Photo by Art Cicconi

Sanford Golf Design has just completed its comprehensive redesign of the Red/White course at Martin County Golf Course, recently renamed Sailfish Sands Golf Course.

Teaming up with contractor TDI Golf, Sanford Golf Design reduced the overall footprint of the former 18-hole course, originally built in the 1920s, into a reversible nine-hole course that can be played in two different directions, renamed the Sands 9 Black and Sands 9 Gold.

John Sanford, ASGCA, principal and lead golf course architect for Sanford Golf Design, said, “When Martin County decided to reduce the number of holes from 36 to 27, Kevin Abbate, Parks and Recreation Director, challenged the architects by having them consider unique design approaches like a reversible 9-hole course, double greens or a new modern approach to draw new players to the course. Other challenges were to design the course to be family-friendly, minimize water usage, and use the natural terrain and native landscape. We understood that we needed to create a new dynamic approach to this project and we believe we exceeded the project scope.”

The idea of a reversible 9-hole course stuck and was expanded to include a developmental layout that would be fun for everyone and walker-friendly.

The reversible nines are laid out on about 60 acres and can be played as 18 different holes. The Sands 9 Black course plays clockwise and the Sands 9 Gold course counterclockwise. Both will be available for play every other week, enabling players to enjoy a different experience. They measure 3,368 (Black) and 2,868 (Gold) yards from the back tees, respectively. Each hole has five sets of tee boxes, providing an enjoyable experience for players at every level.

“Both routings feature a nice variety of par 3s, 4s, and 5s with multiple playing angles so that all players can enjoy the reversible experience,” said Sanford.

Sailfish Sands’ practice range has also been redesigned to double as a modern “golfertainment” venue. The driving rage will be powered by Toptracer Range, with amenities like shot-tracking technology and distinct target greens set at varying distances. Food and beverage services will also be dramatically improved as Sailfish Sands completes work on its brand-new clubhouse. The facility will be open at night, extending Sailfish Sands’ daily hours of operation.

“This is cutting-edge thinking on the part of the Martin County Parks Department, led by Kevin Abbate,” said Sanford. “I can see entire families coming out to enjoy the games available on the range alongside avid golfers using the facilities to hone their skills with swing analytics and statistics.”

Golfers will now have two brand new nine-hole options, in addition to the Sailfish 18 course, Sailfish Sands’ championship-rated course.

“Martin County residents expressed how important having a refreshed and affordable public golf course is for our community, and we listened. We made sure that the improvements made to the golf course would not only address sustainability from a maintenance standpoint but also provide a great experience for players of all ages and skill levels.”

“The idea of a reversible course was perfect, as now our golfers will get two different experiences under the same footprint with additional putting greens to practice their game. We are very pleased with the design Mr. Sanford and his team proposed for the 9-hole course, transforming our vision into a reality. They also did a fantastic job adapting the design of the driving range to accommodate the Toptracer Range Technology; everything we asked for, they delivered!” said Mr. Abbate.

Sailfish Sands is the municipal golf facility belonging to Martin County, Fla. For more information about this project, visit www.SailfishSands.com.

For more information about Sanford Golf Design, visit https://www.sanfordgolfdesign.com/

About Sanford Golf Design

Led by past American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) President John Sanford, Sanford Golf Design is a global golf course design firm with a commitment to crafting strategic, sustainable, and significant golf courses. Experience that includes new-build courses, transformative golf course renovations, and multiple collaborations with Jack Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design gives Sanford Golf Design a unique perspective that is unparalleled in the industry.

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