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Ivan Lendl to build US golf course

Tennis great Ivan Lendl and International Golf Group Chairman David A. Rosow plan to build an 18-hole private golf club in this northwestern Connecticut town that will rival the best courses in New England.

Rosow, who lives an hour away in Southport, and Lendl, who lives in Goshen and now plays on the Celebrity Players Tour and Tour, decided nearly three years ago that the region needed a high-quality, private 18-hole course.

"Torrington Country Club has a waiting list and all the others are nine-hole courses," said Rosow. "We are both avid golfers and want a premium core golf facility. And with the derth of courses in northwestern Connecticut we concluded this was a great opportunity."

A two-year search for the best land for a links-style course singled out 650-acre Ivy Mountain Farm owned by the children of Mike Budney, who turned 89 last Tuesdayand who is such an avid golfer that he has a practice facility at his home. Lendl and Rosow have a multiyear option on the property from the Budneys while they go through permitting with various governmental agencies.

"We would love to be under construction sometime next summer, with a planned opening in 2002," Rosow said.

The developers hope to include a state-of-the-art practice facility and a nine-hole par-3 course on the property, if one can be fit adequately on the land.

Rosow, whose company operates four golf properties, envisions a modest clubhouse, tennis courts, a swimming pool and, perhaps, limited homes.

"Our plan," he said, "is to design the best golf course to fit on the property. After that is routed and permitted and underway, we will think about housing. But there will be no more than 20 homes, they will be very, very high-end, and they will overlook the course but not be adjacent to it."

Cottages on-site would allow four foursomes to spend the night.

"It will be low-key and countryish," said Rosow, adding that he expects to cap the memberships at 260 families.

The golf courses will be designed by Steve Smyers of Lakeland, Fla., who has three courses listed among the Top 100 Modern Courses in America and who is well-known for sensitivity to the environment -- an important factor for the developers.

"Steve's environmental credentials were very important to us. We want a great golf course and one that is environmentally sensitive," Rosow said. "We also envision a course in which the game is played on the ground and where there will be strategic options available for players of all handicaps on each hole. That is the major reason we chose Steve.

"Ivan and I have played a number of Steve's courses and are incredibly impressed with the way he fits a golf course into the land and the strategy he designs."

The property, Smyers said, "is the best we have ever worked on. It has a wonderful contained setting, what you look for to give you a real comfortable feeling when you¼re on the property."

The site has tremendous vistas of the hills to the west and south that surround a 200-acre pasture, and more than half the golf course will be in view from the clubhouse.

"It also has a wonderful lake, gently rolling terrain, and what we look for in hard, powerful edges -- edges being tree lines and the foothills," said Smyers. "The site is open but contained by forest areas to the south and east. And off to the north and west is a mountain range and state park that will never be developed."

What of the involvement of Lendl, the winner of eight Grand Slam championships who has abandoned tennis for golf?

"Ivan will be very much involved," said Smyers. "That is his nature and golf is his passion. Both he and David have a real fire for this project. Ivan is a student of golf architecture. He has played all the great golf courses in the world and loves to talk about strategy, design and the game of golf. He is as intense with golf as he was with tennis."


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