By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- When J.V. Ferrara purchased the Hubbard Golf Course in 1999 he new that changes were in order, but even he never envisioned what has taken place the past two years.
Ferrara, a Brookfield native who currently resides in Liberty, purchased the golf course and took over April 1, 1999. He immediately changed the name of the course to Pine Lakes Golf Course, the first of many changes.
"There was nothing really wrong with the name," Ferrara said. "But as long as I've been around Hubbard Golf Course has always been referred to as the 'driver and wedge' course and I felt that if we were going to change it had to start with the name.'"
Ferrara's long-range plans will continue for several more years.
"When I bought the course I never really envisioned just what we were going to do," he added. "I think that I got the first architect drawings in July of that first year and then I knew and we started."
That first year he made changes on four holes, including major changes to three of them, and this year he's built one entire new hole and made a big change to another.
Ferrara is in the middle of a $55 million project that includes, besides renovation of the golf course, home sites and condominiums. His purchase of the golf course from the Powell family included 88 adjoining acres.
The land runs alongside No. 15 fairway and plans are for three new holes, as well as the homes and condos.
"The one thing about J.V. Ferrara," said Pine Lake's new director of golf, Dave Coller. "He understands the game of golf. All during this renovation process he's never interrupted the flow of play on the course, and the golfers have appreciated that and accepted the changes."
Coller and course professional Dave Boos have worked closely with Ferrara and course superintendent Tom Orlando during the renovation process.
The first changes began in the fall of 1999 on Nos. 1, 3, 8 and 10.
There was a complete renovation of the tee area on No. 1, with three small lakes added for looks alongside the tee. The No. 10 hole was lengthened to a par-5 with a new green and a lake in front. That forced the changing of No. 3, the par-3, since its green needed to be moved to make room for the new No. 10. A lake was also added in front of the No. 3 green.
The biggest change in that first stage was on No. 8, where the hole was lengthened nearly 100 yards with a completely new green.
"It went from an easy par-4 to a very difficult par-4," said Coller.
This year, Ferrara has overseen a new No. 9 hole which is expected to open May 30. The new hole is adjacent to the old No. 9, which will be turned into the club's driving range.
The new hole is very similar to the old one, maybe a little shorter, but the new green is larger and well bunkered. There are also several fairway bunkers the golfers will contend with.
"This green was sodded," said Orlando. "It is probably further along right now than the three greens we put in a year ago."
"We did this one right," Ferrara added.
When the new No. 9 hole opens, the new tee box for No. 2 will be put into action. The hole, a very short par-4, will become a good par-4 from the new tee, which is 100 yards behind the old tee.
Beside the golf holes that have been changed, Ferrara constructed two beautiful bridges, added a fountain in No. 10 lake and made changes to the clubhouse area.
"Those bridges were built with lumber that we had cut from the trees we took down on the course," added Boos.
For the future, Ferrara plans to begin construction on homes this fall. He has already cut out three new golf holes from the wooded area adjoining the course.
Those three holes are expected to be seeded by September 2002 and ready for play in July 2003.
When completed the entire back nine will be redesigned. Four current holes, Nos. 11, 12, 15 and 17 will be eliminated and will become the area where condos will be built.
The design has golfers playing No. 10, then moving to the old Nos. 13 and 14. They will then play three new holes, No. 13, a 385-yard par-4 with a meandering stream, No. 14, a 484-yard par-5, and No. 15, a 365-yard dogleg par-4.
No. 16, the famed "saucer hole" will remain, but No. 17 will be changed completely with a new green being built near the present No. 11 tee.
"If you haven't played here in several years you probably won't believe the changes," said Coller, "and if you wait another couple of years you won't even believe it's the same course."