Pine Hills CC in Sheboygan, Wis., Pine River CC in Alma, Mich., Woodfield CC in Boca Raton, Fla., Castle Pines GC in Castle Rock, Colo., and Congress Lake Club in Hartville, Ohio have all announced projects at various stages—ranging from bunker restoration and greens expansion to tree removal and massive earth moving.
From Florida, through the Midwest and into the Rocky Mountains, renovation projects are at various stages. Here’s a sampling of some of the work taking place.
Golf Course Architect Chris Wilczynski, ASGCA, has completed a Master Plan for the original nine holes of Pine River Country Club, a private, 18-hole golf course in Alma, Mich. The original nine holes were designed by the Chicago Landscape Company in the 1920s while the second nine was added in the 1960s.
Developing a master plan for the original nine was a project initiated by longtime club member and co-owner of the 18-hole course, Al Kommel, who hired Wilczynski after a recommendation from the Golf Association of Michigan.
“The design and routing of the course was well thought out,” said Wilczynski. “Over time, many of the natural elements of a course begin to fade and exceed their life cycle. The master plan is a comprehensive road map that will lead to improved conditions and a better golf experience.”
The renovation is scheduled to begin this summer with the removal of 250+ trees to expose the landscape and enhance playability on every hole. Furthermore, the addition of four acres of native grass areas, a natural and diverse habitat for wildlife that will require limited maintenance, is also part of the plan.
Other key enhancements include the expansion of greens back to their original size and building new tees on every hole.
“There will be four sets of tees that range from 3,300 yards to 1,950 yards. By adding forward tees, we are creating a shorter course that invites players of all ages and skill levels to the game,” Wilczynski said.
Wilczynski’s vision also includes new bunkering throughout, featuring his signature style of steep grass faces and slightly concave sand floors.
“We’ll focus on strategic bunkering and repositioning them at more appropriate angles to the line of play which is an essential design element in creating challenge and interest,” said Wilczynski. “The course will have a very natural and timeless feel as the bunkers will be placed within the property’s existing landforms and ridges.”
Construction work is in progress on the Kipp Schulties redesign of the golf course at Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. Discussions between the club and Schulties began in 2017, when the architect was asked to create a master plan for a comprehensive redesign and renovation of their course, a Bob Cupp design from 2002 that replaced the club’s original Joe Lee layout.
The project will address drainage issues and replace irrigation, expand greens to increase the number of pin positions, and add tees.
The plan passed a membership vote in the winter of 2018-19 and contractor Heritage Links began construction in March 2020, with the budget set at almost $8 million.
All greens are scheduled to be built and grassed by mid-August and the entire project is expected to be complete by mid-September. The club is targeting a mid-November reopening, subject to weather.
“The biggest change on the golf course will be on the 12th hole,” said Schulties. “The county came in and cleared all the vegetation within their easement, which is what separated Woodfield from the Florida Turnpike. Of course, once this happened, homeowners and golfers alike were now exposed to masses of South Florida traffic within a couple hundred yards.
“To counter that, we filled in an entire lake on the right side of the hole, dug a new lake on the left between the course and the homes—meaning there were many homeowners that now have waterfront lots—moved the hole to the right and then added a berm and 16-foot-tall hedgerows combined with transplanted trees to buffer out the adjacent roadway.
“On just one hole, we moved almost 60,000 cubic yards of earth—something you rarely see within a hole in a renovation project, given the flat canvas of land that we call Florida. In fact, we’ve had projects where the total amount of earth moved on the entire 18-hole golf course is only 80,000 cubic yards.”
Drew Rogers has been appointed as consulting architect to Pine Hills Country Club in Sheboygan, Wis., Golf Course Architecture reported.
“I was contacted by Keith Robel [Club President] and Rod Johnson [Course Superintendent] back in March 2019 with the notion that they really wanted to examine options for the future—perhaps a fresh new set of eyes and a spirited perspective to help carry on their tradition of great golf,” said Rogers. “It was quickly obvious to me that the course is beyond special already—it just requires light hands moving forward to make it better—bit by bit.”
Work will begin on the 18th hole, which currently has the most opportunity for immediate improvement and impact, Golf Course Architecture reported.
“Phase one is probably the most important because it is being seen as the momentum builder for the longer-term improvements,” said Robel.
Robel and Rogers hope to complete this opening project this autumn, but the club is being cautious given the uncertainty caused by coronavirus, Golf Course Architecture reported. Some very small refinements are already under way, including mowing lines and tree removal.
Jim Lipe, senior design consultant at Nicklaus Design, has completed a four-hole renovation at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, Col., Golf Course Architecture reported. Lipe has worked at the club since the late 1980s, completing various projects throughout the years on the course and practice area.
“The most recent work has involved reimagining the green and tee complexes and introducing a greenside pond/waterfall on the 16th hole,” said Lipe. “The existing mountain stream crossing on the 14th fairway was relocated along with adding a new fairway bunker. A new back tee was added on the 15th hole. The mountain stream on the left side of the 17th hole was enlarged and new fairway and greenside bunkers were also added. The tee complex was lowered and realigned in conjunction regrading part of the existing fairway to attain maximum visibility of the stream as it cascaded alongside the new tees.”
The ninth fairway and left-side fairway bunkering were realigned slightly right in conjunction with the reconstruction of the existing mountain stream on the hole’s right side, Golf Course Architecture reported. The fairway was regraded to improve fairway surface drainage and a forced carry pond was eliminated. A new back tee was added that can be used on both the ninth and eighteenth holes.
Jack Nicklaus originally designed the course in 1982 and the renovation work through the years that Lipe oversees is to “reflect Jack’s vision of shot variety and length” and to keep the course relevant and challenging in today’s game, Golf Course Architecture reported.
The architect has worked alongside the club’s superintendent, Doug Brooks and golf course contractor, Total Turf Golf Construction, for many years, and on the current project, Golf Course Architecture reported. This clubhouse was also renovated in the past year, with a large fire pit located in an area near the existing small putting green.
Lipe will now look to expand the practice facilities and plan other hole modifications that will likely commence construction in October, Golf Course Architecture reported.
Forse Design has completed a bunker restoration project on the Donald Ross-designed course at Congress Lake Club in Hartville, Ohio, Golf Course Architecture reported. The project has involved rebuilding and restoring bunkers to a Ross style, with architect Jim Nagle using original tracings and old aeriel photographs to re-establish their original placements. In some cases, multiple small bunkers have been replaced with a single large bunker that was evident in the original design. Some bunkers not found on the original tracings are being filled in.
Forse Design’s master plan also proposed greens expansion, tree management, the reinstatement of original fairway widths and work on water hazards, Golf Course Architecture reported.
“Time, plantings, well-intending greens chairpersons, and nature had changed the playability, shot value, and character of the course,” said Warren Hackett, the club’s historian. “Brooks were covered and morphed to ponds. In some instances, bunkers were shallowed with clay bases and re-sanded, causing drainage and maintenance issues. Some bunker shaping occurred to make them more consistent with other holes.”