The Brown County Golf Course in Hobart, Wis.; Cherokee Country Club in Westport, Wis.; Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell, S.D., and The International in Bolton, Mass., are embarking on projects, while Westhaven Golf Club in Franklin, Tenn. has reopened to member play following a greens renovation and enhancement.
The evolution of golf equipment and golf course maintenance practices is at the root of a $600,000 renovation project at the Brown County Golf Course in Hobart, Wis., Wisconsin.Golf reported. Work began September 20 and will feature updates to virtually every hole of the classic parkland layout just outside Green Bay.
Brown County has changed very little in its lifetime outside of a $300,000 re-grassing project to the greens and surrounds in 2013, and some minor fairway bunker adjustments in the early 1990s, Wisconsin.Golf reported.
Superintendent Scott Anthes has contracted with Lohmann Quitno Golf Course Architects of Chicago to bring Brown County’s bunkers into the modern era, Wisconsin.Golf reported. The project, funded through the sale of property bordering the course that at one time was under consideration for a third nine, will be completed this fall with the anticipation of full play from opening day next spring.
“The sand in our bunkers is contaminated, they’re too big, and they’re too far away from the greens,” Anthes says. “When the course was built in the late 1950s, the bunkers were placed a certain number of feet from the greens because they used pull gangs to mow around the greens.”
Crews will take two or three holes out of play at a time this fall, with any new grass coming in the form of sod to encourage faster recovery, Wisconsin.Golf reported. Most holes will go back into play immediately upon completion, while a few holes that will see green expansions may require temporary greens this fall.
“The position of the bunkers is 1950s-based. The golf ball flies farther and the equipment is better,” explains Todd Quitno, Vice President of Design for Lohmann Quitno. “We certainly want to modernize the golf course for current yardages and bring the enormity of the bunkers down to a more manageable size. They will be built to today’s standards and we’ll freshen up the look. I don’t think much has been done to them – ever.”
The original designer—Lawrence Packard—typically built much larger bunkers and placed them farther from the putting surfaces than those of modern designers, Wisconsin.Golf reported. This results in long, difficult shots that most players struggle to accomplish. They also require more work on the part of the maintenance staff.
“Sometimes players face a 30-yard greenside bunker shot,” notes Quitno. “That’s not fair.”
Most of the work at Brown County will involve greenside bunkers, both repositioning them and shrinking their size, Wisconsin.Golf reported. Quitno also plans to move, add or completely reposition a few fairway bunkers. Three greens will receive expansions to provide more flexibility for hole locations (Nos. 2, 8 and 12).
“Number two is the biggest one,” Anthes says. “We’re trying to create more pin spots. The green is small and gets beat up.”
The second hole is a reachable par 5 that will now feature a more open route to the front of the green than is possible with the current large Packard bunker, Wisconsin.Golf reported. The new design calls for a small, round bunker in front, with fairway-height grass to either side enticing players to take their chances between it and bunkers guarding the front right and to the left of the green.
“I think Brown County is a wonderful golf course,” Quitno says. “It’s very popular, reasonable to play, and caters to a variety of golfers, which is great. The setting is awesome, but I certainly think it needs to be freshened up. The bunkers stand out the most at this point as far as needing some attention.”
Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell, S.D. has a master plan for its future and has some ambitious goals to guide them in the coming years, the Mitchell Republic reported. The goal is to find the golf course sweet spot that so much of the golf industry is balancing: how to make the course playable for golfers of all ages, while continuing to make it challenging to draw competitive tournaments and provide a test for skilled golfers.
That means on every hole of the course, Lakeview plans to build new forward tees, the Republic reported. A study from the Golf and Cemetery Board and consultant Kevin Norby, of Minnesota-based Norby Golf Course Design, found that Mitchell has one of the longest courses from the forward, or red tees, in the state of South Dakota. Currently, it plays at a length of 5,688 yards but the addition of new tees would create a 4,690-yard course for beginners and less-skilled players.
The master plan was presented September 20 by Mitchell Golf and Cemetery Director Jason Gunnare to the Mitchell City Council, who did not have to vote on the presentation, which was informational in nature, the Republic reported. The plan has eight phases of varying costs, and if all phases were completed, a projected cost was estimated at $3.55 million. The plan will guide the golf course’s capital requests over the next 10 years, Gunnare said.
Norby has been involved in a number of South Dakota projects, including renovations at Elmwood Golf Course and Bakker Crossing Golf Course, both in Sioux Falls, and master planning at Brookings (S.D.) Country Club, the Republic reported.
“We want to make the course more playable for all levels, and make it more challenging for the better golfers,” Gunnare said. “The red tees are historically known as the women’s tees but it’s important to have it better suited to ability.”
Among the most ambitious goals for the long-term: redevelop the driving range with new hitting stations and targets, create a three-hole short course loop that could potentially be expanded someday to 11 holes and build a standalone 32,000-sq. ft. Himalayas putting course on the site of the former lawn bowling area, the Republic reported.
The goal, Gunnare said, is to continue the momentum that the course and the game of golf has seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, when the outdoor, socially distanced sport has seen a renaissance of players old and new, the Republic reported. Lakeview has nearly 600 members this year, he said.
The short course and putting course—which would have large mounds and humps with holes that could be changed throughout the year—would provide opportunities for additional golfers to play on nights and weekends without a tee time, the Republic reported.
“The golf course wants to encourage new golfers,” Gunnare said. “We’ve had a very good year, and we would like to continue with that. one of the benefits of COVID is we’ve seen a surge in new golfers and people who haven’t golfed for a long time are coming back to the game.”
Those projects are the most expensive, at a cost of $745,000 for the driving range renovation and three-hole short course, and $678,000 for the putting course and eight additional short-course holes, the Republic reported. Among the other long-term changes on the plan for Lakeview in phases 2-4:
– Removing and relocating many cart paths to widen fairways and add bunkers, and thin the unhealthy and undesirable trees.
– Realign the par-4 11th hole and move the green complex to the south to where the current 12th tee box is located.
– Remove the current par-3 12th hole, which plays uphill at 150-170 yards and build a new par-4 12th hole that will play from 310 to 365 yards.
– Build a new pond north of the current 13th hole for drainage purposes, which would be reconstructed.
– Build a new par-3 14th hole, which would play about 160 yards and replace the par-3 taken away by removing the 12th hole. – The change would also mean the par-5 15th hole would be shortened to a par-4 of 385 to 455 yards, and make the course’s par 71, instead of the current 72.
Phases 5 and 6 would include relocating the No. 7 green to protect it from the nearby 8th hole and reconstruct the green at No. 8, the Mitchell Republic reported. Gunnare said the first five phases of the project are the highest priority.
“There needs to be a level of commitment on the city’s side, not in spending a certain amount of money but that you agree in the direction that we’re going. … There needs to be some direction, so we know where to go.”
City Council members were generally supportive of what was in the master plan, the Mitchell Republic reported.
“There are some ambitious ideas in the plan, but if we don’t make the plan and put it out there, we’ll never make any progress,” said City Council member Steve Rice. “There’s some exciting things that can be done out there to improve the playability and the pace of play.”
“I like a lot of this plan. … If we don’t invest in the jewel that we have, it will just be another golf course,” Council member Jeff Smith said.
Gunnare said the goal will be for the first phase to be conducted in 2022 with tree work and tee boxes, although how much can be done will depend on the city’s budgeting process, the Mitchell Republic reported. He said some of the work could be done over the winter seasons and the goal would be to have the course remain open throughout any renovations.
The Town of Westport, Wis. has reaffirmed its endorsement of a multimillion-dollar renovation project proposed for Cherokee Country Club, where the owner argues that golf-course improvements are needed to remain viable, the Waunakee Tribune reported. Initial project plans would have resulted in 9.82 acres of wetland and waterways being disturbed.
According to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal, approximately 10,000 dump truck loads of sand would have been removed from beneath the existing golf course so that the club could raise the playing surface, the Tribune reported. Cherokee Country Club filed permit applications with both the Wisconsin DNR in April to allow for the proposed wetland disturbance, and with Dane County for the grading work that would be involved in the project.
Westport administrator Tom Wilson said the town has no say in whether those applications are approved, the Tribunereported. Supervisors did a supplemental review this spring, however, and recommended their approval under the advisement of town plan commissioners.
Town officials were recently asked to reconsider that recommendation, after the Friends of Cherokee Marsh expressed concerns that the project would have an adverse effect on the marsh they had devoted so much time and effort to protect, the Tribune reported.
“We do not support the application for permit to permanently discharge fill material into 9.82 acres of wetland and to convert 1.3 acres of shallow open water to upland,” the Friends stated in a July letter to Westport officials and the Army Corps of Engineers. “We understand that the proposed 9.82 acres of wetland loss would be offset with wetland mitigation credits, but if the mitigation occurs in another watershed as expected, Cherokee Marsh and its downstream waters receive no benefit to offset the wetland loss.”
The Friends also expressed concern that initial plans included the conversion of 1.3 acres of shallow open water to upland, something the DNR strongly discourages, the Tribune reported. Plan commissioners directed staff to reach out to representatives from Cherokee Country Club and its project team, requesting a response to the Friends group’s concerns.
Principal of Heartland Ecological Group, one of three companies involved in the renovation plan, Jeff Kraemer informed the town that revisions had been made to the project to minimize wetland and waterway impacts substantially, the Tribune reported.
“Cherokee’s revised plans have further minimized wetland impacts from 9.82 acres to 2.06 acres. Of the proposed wetland impacts, 1.31 acres will result in wetland loss through conversion to uplands, while 0.75 acres of wetland impacts will result from excavation activities and will result in a conversion of wetland type but not a loss,” Kraemer stated. “Waterway conversion to uplands has been eliminated from the proposed plan.”
Town officials were apparently satisfied with the project team’s response, as no action was taken to reverse its recommendation that the project be approved, the Tribune reported.
“I thought that their response to the questions was really well done,” Wilson said. “They’ve clearly been working with the Department of Natural Resources for a long time to get this all accomplished. And it will make the whole watershed better, what they’re doing.”
Town chair Dean Grosskopf agreed, the Tribune reported.
“I think they’ve done a really nice job quelling the fears that people had there at Cherokee Marsh,” Grosskopf said. “It sounds like they’re going to do a nice job.”
Golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw recently visited The International in Bolton, Mass. to set plans in motion for the Pines Course redesign, which will begin next year. In addition to surveying the course, the team met with club members and The International’s ownership group, Escalante Golf. More than 150 current and prospective members attended An Evening with Coore & Crenshaw to hear their initial thoughts on the new layout, their history in the greater Boston area and the state of the game of golf.
The International has a storied 120-year legacy, boasts two world-class golf courses, and is the only 36-hole private golf club in the greater Boston market. The Pines Course was originally designed by Geoffrey Cornish and then revised by Robert Trent Jones. In 1999, Tom Fazio designed The Oaks Course, which is situated next to the Pines.
Coore and Crenshaw intend on refining Cornish’s original layout, while drawing inspiration from the land for their design, much like their latest project, Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes. Known as one of the longest golf courses in the world measuring at more than 8,400 yards, the new Pines Course will be more playable for golfers of all skill levels.
“I recall first walking onto this site and immediately recognizing the potential for something truly interesting,” says Coore. The combination of unique landforms, amazing vegetation and just the overall natural beauty of the site – it’s all compelling. Using some existing corridors with the option to approach some areas from different angles makes us very excited that there will be some really diverse and good holes out here.”
Escalante Golf acquired the club earlier this year and immediately went to work on expanding on its vision to reimagine the club and modernize every aspect of it, beginning with the golf courses.
“Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are arguably the best design team in the industry, and we’re thrilled to partner with them as they envision a blank canvas and create a new course that will challenge the next several generations of members at The International,” adds David McDonald, President of Escalante Golf.
In addition to hearing from Crenshaw and Coore, members also heard from Tripp Davis, the architect who recently completed work on The Oaks Course, which is re-opening on September 20. Davis was challenged with adding length to the course, restoring all the natural waste bunkers, both redesigning existing bunkers and creating new bunkers, and building new tee boxes. Davis worked closely with Agri-Scapes Golf and course superintendent Michael Galvin on the project.
Escalante has a large vision for The International including a master plan that boasts a new clubhouse, golf cottages, a teaching center and an estate house to attract national and international members.
“Escalante Golf has incredible expertise in a lot of different areas,” Crenshaw says. “We have a tremendous amount of faith in them, and we’re honored to be included in this opportunity. We’re honored to be working in tandem and alongside Tripp Davis, who does wonderful work. So we want to thank Escalante, the members here, and the prospective members. We’re excited to partner with you in making the best of this beautiful acreage.”
“The International has the potential to be one of golf’s most iconic clubs,” adds McDonald. “We have worked extremely hard to create a vision that will elevate every part of the facility and create a new standard for a 36-hole private golf club. Obviously, having two of the best courses in the state will propel us towards that goal.”
Westhaven Golf Club in Franklin, Tenn. has reopened to member play following a five-month greens renovation and enhancement project. Open since 2009, Westhaven Golf Club’s 18-hole golf course was originally designed by Arthur Hills, Steve Forrest and Associates.
This summer’s renovation included the redesign of six new greens, a newly designed practice putting green, and a conversion of all putting surfaces to TifEagle Bermudagrass. Golf course architect and former Augusta National Superintendent Billy Fuller oversaw the green complex redesign project.
Phase II of the project will take place next summer when five green complexes will be redesigned and renovated.
“I am very pleased with the results of our first phase,” said Westhaven Golf Club General Manager Mark Lammi, PGA Master Professional. “Billy Fuller’s new green complex designs will both excite the more skilled players and give the higher handicap golfers better playability. Southern Land’s commitment to a full conversion of putting surfaces to TifEagle Bermudagrass will give us one of the most complete golf experiences in the Southeast.”