After discovering 95-year-old aerial photos of the Charlevoix, Mich., golf course’s original design, the club decided to restore the layout by expanding putting surface areas, strategically removing trees, restoring and expanding lost fairway and approach areas, and bringing back lost bunkers.
The historic Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix, Mich., has turned back the clock with a restoration that will be complete for the 2017 season.
In the summer of 2016, the demolishment of an old building in Charlevoix led to the discovery of golf architect William Watson’s original drawings of the historic course. While aerial photos existed from the late 1930’s, there was no actual documentation of the original parkland design.
The original course was designed in 1923 by Watson who is famous for classic and major championship designs across America including Olympia Fields in Chicago, Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis, The Olympic Club in San Francisco and others. With five teams of horses and 150 men, the Scotsman turned a farm on the outskirts of the small Lake Michigan village of Charlevoix into one of the most iconic and enjoyable courses in America.
After 95 years, with the original plans having resurfaced, the decision was made to begin a restoration that would restore much of what had been lost over the decades.
Changes include expanding putting surface areas on many of the holes that were lost over time, and strategic tree removal. The tree removal has opened up the winding creek that meanders through the front nine and brought it back in play in certain areas. Other changes included restoring and expanding lost fairway and approach areas, as well as bringing back lost bunkers. The work has brought back some of the strategies for playing the course that Watson originally intended.
The new design strategies are most evident at the historic 16th hole. The classic short par 4, known for its well-positioned green set in the hillside, lost some of its green complex over the years, as well as a strategic bunker and fairway approach area on the left side. The expanded putting surface and left side bunker have been brought back in play challenging the golfer up the left side for the best approach angle.