(Photo of 11th Hole at Fox Chapel GC by Russell Kirk/Golflinks)
The renovation of the historic Seth Raynor-designed course at Fox Chapel is the latest in a series of investments made at the Pittsburgh, Pa.-area club as it prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2023. The bunker renovation and regrassing project at Sequoyah National added new capillary concrete bunkers and Zeon Zoysia tees and fairways to the course designed by Robert Trent Jones II at the Cherokee N.C. club.
The renovation of the historic Seth Raynor-designed golf course at Fox Chapel Golf Club outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. has been completed. One of only a few Raynor-designed courses in the world, it had undergone numerous changes—both natural and manmade—in its near-century of existence.
In 2014, Fazio Design was asked to help the club prepare a long-range masterplan that started with new sand in the bunkers and evolved into a total reimagining by the Fazio team, led by Senior Design Associate Tom Marzolf. The Fox Chapel membership knew that the club had an “undiscovered gem,” as Tom Watson described it in 2013, but this project enabled it to restore a number of revered Raynor template holes, highlighting the historical significance of the layout.
Fox Chapel was founded in 1923 and the golf course opened in June 1925.
“We are extremely pleased to have restored Raynor’s original vision for golf at Fox Chapel,” said President Robert M. Marsh. “Not only is this significant for fans of Seth Raynor, but it is wonderful for fans of golf at all skill levels, which was important to us throughout the process.
“Furthermore, this investment caps several years of investment in our club, which positions us very well for the next hundred years,” Marsh added.
The golf course is now open, with, in Marzolf’s words, “the strictest adherence to Raynor principles possible. It is not an interpretation, it’s truly putting Raynor back on the ground. Seth Raynor is once and forever the architect of Fox Chapel.”
Raynor, who died prematurely in 1926 at age 51, is known to have designed or worked on some 50 courses, plus others that were never built. Many no longer exist, while some have been substantially redesigned, were created in association with C.B. Macdonald or featured only a limited amount of his input. Raynor adopted Macdonald’s preference for “template” holes and favored geometric shapes when constructing greens, bunkers, and fairways.
To accommodate new equipment, the Fox Chapel course was “modernized,” moving Raynor’s features into play where golfers of all skill levels now hit the ball. Moving and reshaping bunkers also meant eliminating evidence of where old bunkers had been, as well as changing mowing lines. New tees have also been added, long and short, to make the course playable and enjoyable for all.
“We are thrilled with the restoration of our Seth Raynor course along with the dedication by our golf course architect, construction team, club management, and our golf course superintendent and his staff, as well as the overwhelming support by our membership,” said Thomas B Reading, Chairman, Committee of the Green.
The course renovation is the latest in a series of investments made at Fox Chapel as the club, where the historic Brandon Smith and Alden/Harlow Clubhouse is a registered architectural landmark, prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2023. Two new casual-dining venues have been added, and the iconic Grill Room has been renovated. Other new facilities include a fitness center with two locker rooms, massage room, and ladies’ locker room, and other improvements include a new cart staging area, expanded putting green, new employee facilities, administrative offices, and a parking lot and atrium roof. The main kitchen, pool snack stand, pool locker rooms, and tennis courts have also all been updated.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and KemperSports announced that Sequoyah National Golf Club in Cherokee, N.C. has completed a bunker renovation and regrassing project that began in March 2020.
Capillary concrete bunkers were installed throughout the course and existing fairways, tees and green surrounds were converted to Zeon Zoysia by the Robert Trent Jones II Design team and Southeastern Golf.
The move will allow for year-round premium playing conditions on Sequoyah’s award-winning Robert Trent Jones II layout. The course reopened all 18 holes for play the first week of October.
“We’ve invested in the future of the golf course with these upgrades and we’re very pleased with the finished product,” said Sequoyah National’s Golf Board Chairman, Curtis Wildcat. “With these improvements, we believe Sequoyah National is now the finest public mountain course in the Southeast.”