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Ballyneal set to expand to 36 holes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   

Construction will hopefully begin sometime this year on a second 18-hole course at Ballyneal Golf and Hunt Club south of Holyoke.

The second 18-hole course is being designed and built by Bruce Hepner, who was a key person in getting the original course built at Ballyneal.

Until last June, Hepner had been vice-president and senior design associate of Tom Doak’s design firm, Renaissance Golf Design, and in that capacity had assisted Doak in the design and construction of the original 18 at Ballyneal, which opened in 2006.

“Bruce is the perfect person for the job,” said Ballyneal founder Rupert O’Neal. “With his experience in the sandy soil out here, it was a simple choice to trust him with a second, complementary course.”

The property for the new course sits to the southeast and south of the existing 18. “It basically wraps around the current course,” Hepner said.

The site for the original 18 reminds golfers of the Irish west coast links and the new course’s land will be more reminiscent of the East Lothian linksland in Scotland.

“It’s laying there,” Hepner said. He mentioned there will be little he and his crew will have to do. While planning, they are looking to lay the holes in and around the existing dunes and chop hills.

The new course will have a different topography but should play the same as the original 18. “The site for the new 18 is a quieter piece of ground, so nothing needs to be forced,” Hepner said. “My goal will be to peel away the layers and let the best golf course evolve and reveal itself. We will be seeking a similar playing surface to the existing course at Ballyneal while accommodating limited cart play on the new 18.”

The new course will allow carts but they will be limited, according to Ballyneal’s website. Hepner said they are trying to design the course to be cart compatible but hope to keep them to a minimum.

“It’s fun to have the opportunity to build another one,” Hepner said. He isn’t sure of a beginning date and said he wants to take his time. He also said they aren’t in any rush and want to do it right.

“He knows our land,” O’Neal said. “Bruce will deliver what our members want­—an equally exceptional, equally fun complement to what we already enjoy. He has great affection for this place and I know he will pour his heart and soul into the project.”

Ballyneal was Travel and Leisure Golf’s Best New Course of 2006 and currently is ranked No. 6 Best Modern by Golfweek, No. 48 in the United States by Golf Magazine, and one of Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Courses.

Holyoke Enterprise June 30, 2011