The renovated golf course is expected to open in summer 2024
By LEGION TAYLOR
Construction and development of the Wakulla Sands golf course is progressing steadily towards a summer 2024 opening, under the leadership of Superintendent Shane Bass.
Bass has been working on golf courses for about 30 years, almost all of his professional life. He started out in his hometown of Titusville, working on the golf carts at a PGA course, and continued into the maintenance side of things while taking classes at FSU, and he’s done it ever since.
He worked in Tallahassee for many years, most notably on the Hilaman and Jake Gaither courses. He also did work on the Glen Arven course in Thomasville, Georgia, as well as helping to build the St. James Bay course in Carrabelle in 2000-2001. While he stayed there for nine years, Bass says that he “Always just wanted to come back to this area… This opportunity opened up, and thought it was a good place to end my career.”
“The opportunity just worked out, I actually owned a house in Monticello… we just happened to have sold it, it just worked out to the benefit of everybody that I could head this way.”
He joined the course in May 2023, after the previous manager moved on, but just before serious reconstruction efforts had started, and has already almost completed the project.
Under Bass’ management, the course has been completely reconstructed and remodeled, improving upon the previous design.
The county purchased the golf course in October 2021 as a means to get rid of up to 1.2 million gallons of treated wastewater from its Otter Creek Treatment Plant.
Before the county bought it, an RV park had been built on top of the driving range and most of the first hole of the course, so in order to make the acquired land a fully functional course, a complete redesign was necessary.
“We’ve basically put 18 holes where 17 holes were before,” Bass said.
Each of the greens has had the grass changed out, so that it will not only look better for players, but also so that the reclaimed water that the county sprays the course with will have an extra layer of filtration before it reaches the water table again.
“It’s a good way to get rid of the wastewater because the plant will take up a lot of those nutrients that are left in that water and use it to help the grass grow,” he said. This ensures that the reclaimed water is reintroduced in the healthiest and most effective way possible.
In order to ensure that the course doesn’t become saturated with that reclaimed water, they’ve installed Rapid Infiltration Basins, or RIBs for short. That way, if the course gets several inches of rain as it did last week, or too much water is sent that way, the water can be diverted away from the course, keeping it nice and playable.
These RIBs constitute 9 acres of the course’s full 130-acre area scattered around the course, and are surrounded by low-flow irrigation heads, allowing reclaimed water to be pumped directly into them, rather than onto the course, if necessary.
The course has already begun to diserse the reclaimed water, currently spraying around 750,000 gallons each day onto the course, before it’s even completed.
Bass estimates that by the end of December 2024, the course will be dispersing 1.2 million gallons each day.
The major construction is mostly complete, with only a few greens left to sod, and those are supposed to take only a few more days, weather permitting.
The golf course will hopefully be open in the summer of 2024, after more sod is laid in the spring. The course will not be membership-exclusive, but rather open to everyone, although the fee schedule hasn’t been worked out just yet.
“It’ll be a great home course for the high school teams to play and hopefully something they can be proud of,” Bass said.