By Ward Clayton

Julington Creek Golf Club, the centerpiece of the Julington Creek Plantation community since the late 1980s, has closed for the summer to renovate the course and is scheduled to reopen in the fall.

Ownership group Brown Golf Management made the announcement internally in December 2021 and posted the news on the website in early May. The course was scheduled to partially close on Monday, May 16 with work to begin on the front nine first and the back nine still available for play for approximately another week. By the end of May, the entire course and practice facility were scheduled to close with a reopening tentatively scheduled for October 1. The course is not operated by Julington Creek Plantation.

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“We foresee a golf course that is more player and maintenance friendly and lives up to the standards that the neighborhood expects,” Brown Golf Regional General Manager Sarah Minnis said on May 6. “This was a few years in the making and was necessary work for this course.”

Minnis and Brown Golf CEO John Brown made the website announcement of the work, which they estimated would cost more than $1 million considering the renovation and course closure loss of revenue. The renovation is scheduled to be carried out by Westscapes Golf Construction of St. Petersburg, Fla., and includes irrigation work, redoing the greens, bunkers and tees, enhancement of the driving range with a new teeing area and enlarged putting green and tree and sod work around the course, which hasn’t been renovated since the course opened in 1987. James Puckett, the Julington Creek golf course superintendent, has been involved with Westscapes during renovations at other courses and Westscapes was chosen from among seven renovation company candidates, according to Minnis.

Minor irrigation work began in January, most of the fairway bunkers on the course were eliminated over the next three months and 1,200 tons of sand were loaded into the parking lot in April to prepare for the course work to begin. The greens are scheduled to be renovated by demoing and coring out the putting surfaces and using TifEagle bermudagrass as the new surface.

As a result of the pending work, 2022 memberships were suspended, and it is not clear if membership opportunities will return. Greens fees this spring were a high of $42 for weekday play and $55 on weekends. In comparison, golf courses nearby in the County Road 210 area this spring ranged from $49 – $86 on weekdays and $61 – $99 on weekends.

“We believe we will be able to relaunch a brand-new asset that delivers an upgraded experience,” Brown and Minnis said in the website memo, dated Dec. 17, 2021. “We appreciate the opportunity to evaluate our market position and pricing as we get ready to reopen this fall.”

According to Brown Golf, capital projects post-2022 will include repaved cart paths, bridge updates and repair, full irrigation replacement, clubhouse building updates and parking lot updates. Sister course Windsor Parke Golf Club in Jacksonville will also undergo a renovation after 2022. Brown Golf operates 27 courses in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Originally named The Champions Club at Julington Creek, the course debuted its front nine in 1987, designed by golf course architect Robert Walker of Atlantic Beach and managed by Riverside Golf Group. Jacksonville’s Steve Melnyk, a former U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champion and ABC golf broadcaster, designed the back nine a couple years later as his company, Riverside Golf Group, managed the facility. Pacific Life Insurance Company bought the course and Windsor Parke from Riverside in 1999 for $13 million. Current owner Brown Golf, based in Camp Hill, Pa., purchased Julington Creek and sister course Windsor Parke, located off J. Turner Butler Boulevard in Duval County, in May 2015 for $2.7 million ($1.2 million for Julington Creek). 

Photo courtesy Julington Creek Golf Club
Hole 8 green of the Julington Creek Golf Club.

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