A slow-driving account of the development and building of Ironhorse, a ``country club community'' in West Palm Beach. ``Designing a golf course,'' Strawn, a devoted golfer and former construction entrepreneur, is told, ``is five percent common sense and ninety-five percent drainage.'' The Ironhorse property, a flat 350 acres in the Florida wetlands, presented an array of challenges to golf-course architect Arthur Hills. The area was drained 20 years ago, prior to legal restraints aimed at maintaining ecological balance. Still, when Alan Sher, a wealthy button manufacturer, purchased an option on the property, he met resistance from ``tree huggers'' and the Audubon Society on the grounds that the course abutted a preserve area, threatening the well-being of the rare Everglade swail kite. Hills and the team of designers and landscape artists and technicians hired by general partner Joshua Muss, who bought control of the project, had to contend with a low water table and the moving or removal of a rich variety of plant life, including bald cypress, Australian pines, sabal palm, and wild myrtle. Legal maneuvering, financing, designing, clearing, selecting and planting fairways and greens, and shaping the 18-hole course took four years. While absorbing in small bites, Strawn's frequent asides and tangential anecdotes on golf literature, the history of golf-course design, botany, architecture, and the failure of the savings-and-loan industry become tiresome. Strawn also gets bogged down in the early financial stages and initial planning of Ironhorse—he's a third of the way through before ground-breaking. Too long by half or, as they say, ``uses a bit too much club.''
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