Plantation architect says he’ll ‘elevate the golf experience.’ One skeptic is buoyed

Brian Curley looked out on a fairway of the Plantation Country Club and smiled as he gazed at several tall trees. Some people worried, he said, that the golf course’s new owner would remove the stately cottonwoods and spruces.

Curley, the golf course architect hired to redesign the 18-hole Garden City course, said that wouldn’t happen.

“We need all those trees,” said Curley, who has designed more than 150 golf courses around the world. “Believe me, I want to save them, because the trees are what make this small parcel viable, because they direct traffic and keep it safer.”

Glass Creek LLC, the California business that bought the Garden City course late last year, hired Curley to redesign the course to accommodate the impending loss of the No. 9 and No. 10 fairways along State Street.

The Ada County Highway District is widening State Street and will take 25 feet from one section of the course’s northern boundary along State Street and up to 40 feet in another section. That will eat up part of Nos. 9 and 10.

Later, Glass Creek plans to develop 18 to 20 acres of the State Street frontage that remains. Will Gustafson, who leads Glass Creek, has said the development will include condominiums and townhouses that face the course, and a small number of retail businesses.

Ada County Highway District is widening State Street, so Plantation Golf Course is undergoing a redesign. Katherine Jones

Curley, who is based in Phoenix, was in Boise on Thursday mapping out plans for the 102-year-old course.

Curley said he believes the country club’s 500 members will be pleased and the club will be able to attract new members. He said that Plantation has “good bones” and that he’s looking to make it more interesting while keeping its charm.

“What you see right now is a relatively flat piece of land with big trees,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a relatively flat piece of ground with a lot of big trees.”

Some of the changes won’t be visible, he said. The course’s irrigation system will be replaced with a state-of-the-art system that can regulate watering to the day’s needs. Some watering must now be done by hand because sprinklers don’t reach everywhere.

Curley said he plans to eliminate wet spots along some of the fairways that leave standing water at times. He’ll design holes that provide variety so that it doesn’t seem like every hole is the same.

“My role is to make sure that we elevate the quality of the golf experience,” Curley said. “That’s not to say this place is bad or wrong, but it can be brought up to appease and please as many people as possible.”

Plantation Golf Course is known for its stately trees, which will remain as part of the redesign, says Brian Curley, golf course architect. Katherine Jones

One of the biggest concerns Curley heard from club members was that the course will become slightly shorter, going from a par 71 to par 68.

“Even with the shorter course, it’s going to be a great, sporty, fun golf course,” Curley said.

ACHD is set to begin work in January 2021 to widen State from four to six lanes in front of the country club. Work is expected to be completed that fall. The country club will pay to create a new entrance at Pierce Park Lane, slightly east of the current entrance.

The course will likely close at the end of the 2020 golf season and remain closed for a year while the course renovation takes place.

Craig Quintana, spokesman for Save Plantation, a group that formed amid concerns that the new owner might cut the golf course down to nine holes and develop the rest of the land, said group members have been happy with Glass Creek’s actions so far.

“People don’t seem displeased by what has been proposed,” he said. “The Gustafson group has been true to their word in that they wanted the State Street frontage and would redesign the course. They also said they would make the course more interesting, and the mock-ups we’ve seen certainly seem to be coming true in that regard.”

Curley expects club members will like the redesigned, if smaller, course.

“I think they’re going to be happy with it,” he said.

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Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.