A course renovation that includes a new instruction facility will cost $6 million; another $4 million may be spent on a new clubhouse, as part of a project designed to reach the owner’s goal of becoming “one of the five top public courses in the Chicago area.”
Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Ill., southwest of Chicago, will close after play on Sunday, August 21 for an extensive renovation that may also include a new clubhouse, reports southtownstar.com.
Jim McWethy, owner of the club, said he has one motivation for making the changes: “We want to be in the top five of public courses in the Chicago area.”
Phase One will involve an extensive, $6 million renovation of the course by architect Ray Hearn, Mistwood’s original designer. That is $800,000 more than Cog Hill, the Chicago area’s preeminent public course, spent on the major renovation of its Dubsdread layout that closed in 2008.
McWethy’s wants Mistwood to reopen in the spring of 2012, an accelerated timetable that has added to the cost of the renovation.
The course renovation will not add any length to Hearn’s original layout, because no additional room is available on the property. So the new Mistwood will tip out at 6,796 yards, significantly shorter than other top Chicago-area public courses such as Dubsdread (7,326 yards), Village Links of Glen Ellyn (7,208), The Glen Club in Glenview (7,149) or Thunderhawk (7,031). It will be closer in yardage to courses such as Ruffled Feathers (6,898) and Prairie Landing (6,950). “Most smart golfers will play [the new Mistwood] from the black tees, at 6,283 yards,” notes Tim Cronin of southtownstar.com
The renovation work will include creation of a new lake that will interact with the third hole, creating a long, forced carry to the favorable side of the split fairway, and curling behind the repositioned third green, to separate it from the clubhouse.
The “lake” is actually a creek connected to the Des Plaines River, which required that the Army Corps of Engineers approve the project. All permitting has now been completed, with the Corps signing off on what may be the most expensive part of McWethy’s plan, to give the creek a “quarry look.”
“Lining the creek with stone is incredibly expensive,” notes Dan Phillips, Mistwood’s Director of Golf.
Also included in the $6 million cost will be a new learning center at the back of a revamped driving range; when it’s done, Mistwood’s four-man professional golf staff will have a 5,000-sq. ft. classroom building for their instruction.
Phase 2 of the project, which McWethy hopes to implement on a similar timetable, would build a new clubhouse to replace Mistwood’s current building, which dates to the club’s September 1998 opening. The current building “appears to have been built by someone who ripped the blueprints apart and incorrectly taped them together,” Cronin writes. “The confusion starts with the pro shop, placed on the second floor, and goes from there.
McWethy, who was part of the original investment group that built the course before taking sole control in 2003, says he has wanted to replace the clubhouse from day one. When final permits are granted, the current building will be knocked down and an expansive building, with room for banquets and separate casual dining, and with a pro shop on the first floor, will take its place.
The additional price tag for the clubhouse hasn’t been revealed, but Cronin estimates that McWethy, whose business holdings range from computer software companies to a blueberry farm, is planning to spend around $10 million on Mistwood over the next year or so.
“That’s a bold gamble on a sport that isn’t growing in a difficult economy,” Cronin writes. “McWethy knows he needs to take customers from other courses to grow his business. [He also knows that] while Mistwood gets more play than it did before he bought out the other owners, who had run the place on the cheap, he needs to improve [the course and club] to make the business boom.
“If a remodeled course, new clubhouse and committed owner doesn’t make Mistwood a destination course,” Cronin adds. “It’s hard to imagine what would.”
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