The project began in 2020, when The Atkins Group donated more than 300 acres of real estate, including the former Stone Creek Golf Course, to the University of Illinois Athletics. The course has been lengthened to around 7,500 yards, a new irrigation system installed, sand replaced in all bunkers, and there is a new team lounge in the clubhouse, which is exclusive to the men’s and women’s teams.
Stone Creek Golf Course closed to the public in 2020 for an unprecedented renovation project, C+RB reported. The June 4 unveiling of the new-and-improved course marks “a new era” in Illinois golf programs, according to Athletics Director Josh Whitman.
The project began in 2020, when The Atkins Group donated more than 300 acres of real estate, including Stone Creek Golf Course, to Illinois Athletics, a donation estimated at $15 million in value, The Daily Illini reported. Due to the large value of the donation, the course has been renamed by Illini Athletics as Atkins Golf Club.
Atkins Golf Club will host both Illinois golf programs moving forward and was specifically renovated to aid in the success of both teams, The Daily Illini reported. The course has been lengthened to around 7,500 yards, from its previous 7,100-yard length, which allows for better and more fulfilling practice.
The men’s team was so excited to get practicing that they played a round behind closed doors on June 1, trying out the course for the first time, The Daily Illini reported.
“When they were done, they were floored,” Illinois men’s golf head coach Mike Small said on June 3. “They were so excited about the challenge that this golf course is going to present and the condition it’s going to be kept in.”
Another renovation that the golf teams are excited about is the new team lounge in the clubhouse, which is exclusive to the men’s and women’s teams, The Daily Illini reported. A touch that wasn’t there before, the dedicated lounge may go further than people realize.
“We’re going to host a Spring event here next year, and to have a place where we can hang out and host team meetings; it’s a big deal,” Small said. “It’s going to help the present players, but also the future players in recruiting.”
Additionally, the course’s renovation has also brought forth a new look, The Daily Illini reported. Replacing the old sand from bunkers, there is now bright white sand surrounding the fairways and greens, giving the course a luxurious touch.
The greens are also set to look even brighter with a new irrigation system installed on every hole, which helps create more consistent play and the continuation of this world-class facility, The Daily Illini reported.
The June 4 official opening marks the start of this new chapter in Illinois golf programs’ histories, The Daily Illini reported. Being able to host events opens up new opportunities for both practice and competition moving forward, as one of the premier college courses now exists in Urbana, Ill.
“We were not interested in a C-level golf course,” Whitman said. “If we were not able to do this at a high-high-level, then there really was no benefit to them.”