Meet the architect of Florida's brand-new, popular golf course

Michigan-based architect Chris Wilczynski discusses his latest projects and the affect the coronavirus pandemic is having on the golf course design business.

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The coronavirus pandemic continues to shape daily life, but golf has emerged as one of the safest ways to feel some sense of normalcy amidst social-distancing guidelines and other restrictions on public gatherings.

As a result, the game is chugging along impressively. The pandemic has not managed to stop the opening of new golf facilities, either.

Michigan-based golf course architect Chris Wilczynski's latest project, the new Esplanade at Azario Lakewood Ranch, just east of Sarasota and Bradenton, became the newest golf course to open in Florida in recent weeks.

"The golf course was supposed to open in March. It just opened on May 18th," Wilczynski said.

Though the pandemic did slow the finishing touches on the course, golfers are now enjoying it, as shown by its 4.5-star rating through 11 reviews.

Even though Esplanade at Azario opened a few weeks behind schedule, golfers are enjoying the layout and conditions at Florida's newest golf course.

Wilczynski, who worked for noted architect Arthur Hills before hanging his own shingle in 2010, used gently seeping manufactured ground contours to create the central challenge, plus the course's 65 medium-depth bunkers. There are some ponds and wetland areas, but almost no forced carries, making it very playable. Though the course is part of a nascent real estate development, wide corridors ensure that it will not feel cramped, even when the houses are built.

Esplanade at Azario will become a private course once the development nears full build-out in a few years, but for now tee times are available for as low as $35 through GolfNow.

Listen to more of Wilczynski's updates, as well as his thoughts about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the travel schedules of course architects and other industry trends, in the video above.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
7 Comments
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This is a very good course. When the greens speed up, this will be a top-ranked course.

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It would help where in Florida this course is like an address

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Where in Florida is this course located?

Staff
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Tom, it's in Lakewood Ranch, which is a massive (and growing) residential area east of the Sarasota/Bradenton area in southwestern Florida. I've added that clarification because, fair enough, "Lakewood Ranch" is not as easy to place as those more established cities; fair enough.

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Course looks nice and it is always good to hear about new courses opening up (especially muni courses) instead of which ones are closing. But not sure why CV-19 would affect what jobs he takes. I evaluate properties around the country for prospective buyers. If I want to work, I go to the property wherever it is...they are sure not coming to me. Planes are flying and most intrastate travel restrictions have been lifted.

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I’ve now played the course twice. The layout is great. I’ve played Chris’s other course (at the Esplanade, Lakewood Ranch), many times and have enjoyed it every time.
The new course is already in great condition. Although it’s likely to be many years before the course closes to outside play, it’s definitely worth playing if you’re in the area.
Green fees have now gone up to $55.

Staff
Commented on

Indeed; $55 for mornings, down to $35 for later afternoon tee times.

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Meet the architect of Florida's brand-new, popular golf course