Nicklaus back in Benton Harbor for hands-on design work at Harbor Shores golf course
by Kevin Allen
June 30, 2009 – Jack Nicklaus wore his work boots to Harbor Shores Monday.
The golf legend was in town to monitor ongoing work at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores during what will likely be his final visit to the development before the full 18-hole course opens next year.
The course is scheduled to open in a nine-hole preview format July 15, while construction on the rest of the course continues in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Nicklaus began shortly before 10 a.m. on the course’s sixth hole along Michigan 63 across from Jean Klock Park.
He looked out at the fairway, which at this point consists of mud, sand, weeds and exposed plastic pipes, and directed design adjustments to a crew at his side.
Nicklaus continued on to the seventh, eighth and ninth holes, which are being built in Jean Klock Park. Workers in bulldozers began moving earth on the seventh hole’s fairway moments after he ordered adjustments to make the hole, as he later explained, more “user friendly.”
A crowd of more than 60 people followed Nicklaus around for nearly two hours as he worked, seemingly unbothered by the audience.
Although grass has not yet been planted on several holes, Nicklaus pointed out during an afternoon press conference how far the course has come over the last few years.
The course includes several sites that were formerly occupied by vacant industrial buildings and dumps.
“When I first came up, I asked, ‘Where are you going to put the golf course?'” he said.
Now the land has been cleaned of contamination and a world-class golf course is growing in its place.
“That is going to be one heck of a golf course,” Nicklaus said. “It’s going to be something this area is proud of.”
Mamie Yarbrough, who represents Benton Harbor and a portion of Benton Township on the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, asked Nicklaus if Benton Harbor will someday host a championship golf event.
His answer: “You certainly have the facility for it.”