A classic clock was the “cherry on the top” of The CC of Naples’ complete golf course renovation.
The old saying is that time flies when you’re having fun. At The Country Club of Naples in Naples, Fla., time—in the form of a distinctive, prominently positioned, four-faced classic-style clock—now also serves as a constant reminder of the fun, and good experiences, that members and guests can have while on the property of what was founded in 1966 as Naples’ fourth golf course and first private, full-service club.
The clock was installed two years ago at the equity club, according to Superintendent Bill Davidson, CGCS, “as sort of the cherry on top, after a complete golf course renovation.”
A group spearheaded by then-Club President John Sampson and Chuck Feeny, one of two current Vice Presidents, led the effort to purchase a clock as a culmination of the project, which marked the first time the course had been shut down for a restoration (greens and tees had been rebuilt in 1997). Florida architect Gordon Lewis, ASGCA, was brought in to lead the complete rebuild of the original Bill Diddel design, which extended the course to 6,772 yards from the tips and created six sets of tees for all levels of golfers.
It was decided, Davidson says, that a clock could serve as a good central focal point for the club’s new-look grounds, as something that could be seen from all directions.
A Lasting Farewell
Sampson saw the project as the last contribution of his two terms as Board President, which concluded just before the clock was installed. “I went to four fellow Board members and to Chuck [Feeny], who was not yet on the Board, and asked each of them to contribute their equity in the club, as I would, toward the clock project,” he says. “They didn’t hesitate, and we started to work to make it happen.”
The project also afforded Davidson an opportunity to help correct some issues surrounding the golf course’s first hole that needed to be addressed as the course reopened.
“During the renovation, I came up with a plan to fix a major problem regarding flow towards the first tee,” Davidson says. The system in place prior to the renovation didn’t allow a smooth flow from the practice tee to the first tee, he explains, and golfers had to leave the practice facility to putt.
“Now that we could contain the golfers around the first tee and practice facility, it made perfect sense to put the clock there as well,” he adds.
“That’s why we went with a four-faced clock and [decided to] put it by the new range/practice putting green and first tee,” he explains. The clock’s location would allow it to be seen from the clubhouse, practice range, first tee and the 9th green.
Admiring from Afar
But not just any clock would be worthy of such a prominent position. To make sure that a truly signature timepiece would be commissioned to properly mark the start of this new era for The Country Club of Naples, Sampson led research into several possible suppliers. That led to the selection of The Verdin Company, a six-generation, Cincinnati-based family business that has been making cast bronze bells, carillons, tower and street clocks, and other streetscape furnishings since 1842.
“We felt their quality was unmatched,” Sampson says.
Jeannie Caldwell, Product Manager for Verdin, says The Country Club of Naples’ interest in a clock was typical of clubs that have made major improvements and then look for “different ideas to enhance the work they’ve done on their golf course and property.”
Sampson and others from the club held several conference calls with a Verdin team led by Caldwell to discuss different options for the type of clock they were looking for.
“Once we got an idea of what they were considering [with a design for the clockface that would include the club’s logo of a signature tree in front of a lake], we took a photo of the area where the clock was going to be installed and prepared a rendering that showed the clock in place, to give a clear idea of how it would look once it was installed,” Caldwell says. “This really assisted them in making the final decision.”
Ready for the Worst
The renovation at The Country Club of Naples was completed, and the order for its new clock was placed, in May 2010. While actual installation of the clock only requires about four hours, it was not installed until the end of August 2010, because of advance preparations needed to give it proper and permanent stature. To prepare for the worst storms southwest Florida can bring, Davidson had an engineer design a steel-reinforced concrete base that, he says, will help keep the clock standing “ ‘til the cows come home, as my dad would say.”
And when a Verdin installer came on site for the installation, a lift was rented to help stand up and set the clock. “There’s no way to do it with ladders, and with this type of clock, you don’t want to take a chance,” Davidson says.
Another concern was being able to see the clock from the clubhouse at night, so a photo eye was installed to turn on internal lights.
General maintenance that’s required now that the clock is in place includes dusting and cleaning outside fixtures as needed. Davidson also did a slight modification of the irrigation system, so the high-salt, effluent water that the club uses hits the clock as little as possible.
A Permanent Beacon
As the most prominent sign of how the course overhaul, and clock installation, have helped to raise the club’s profile, Sampson reports that the United States Golf Association selected The Country Club of Naples as a qualifying site for this year’s U.S. Open. “That was a real honor,” he says.
In addition to now being the landmark that Sampson says generates “more compliments” than any other feature on the course, the clock has proved to have practical benefits, too. “One big benefit is that during a shotgun start, everyone can see the time,” Davidson says. “When we opened back up and people saw the clock, they all said, ‘Now that’s a clock.’ I have to admit, it’s impressive. It is definitely a statement.”