More than 400 trees were removed as the Perry Maxwell design saw a complete renovation with air circulation and sunlight at the tees and greens being prioritized. Renovations also included adding a series of smaller collection ponds feeding into a larger basin.
The Topeka (Kan.) Country Club began renovations for its golf course in January and, in less than five months, the project is almost finished, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Club + Resort Business reported on the extensive enhancement project in April.
Efforts to improve the course, air circulation and sunlight at the tees and greens were prioritized, the Capital-Journal reported. More than 400 trees were removed to improve playability and enhance long-range views across the course.
Renovations also included adding a series of smaller collection ponds feeding into a larger basin, the Capital-Journal reported. The ponds will start at the 15th hole and trail along in front of the 17th green.
Todd Clark, golf course architect with CE Golf Design, told the Capital-Journal the main thing club members will notice are the efforts to make the course more playable.
“We’re adding tees to every golf hole,” Clark said. “There’s also some opportunities where we’re going to link in the course a little bit like a whole number. So, the tees are the first thing they’re going to notice because they’re going to be stepping around those right out of the gate.”
Eliminating and laser-leveling tee boxes, new drainage and adding 12 new fairway bunkers are all part of the renovation, he told the Capital-Journal. In addition, all existing bunkers will be modified, reshaped and rebuilt using the Better Billy Bunker method.
That method provides an advanced drainage and liner system, while providing better playing conditions deeper into the life of the bunker, Clark told the Capital-Journal.
Clay Meininger, President and Chief Operating Officer at Topeka Country Club, said more than 400 trees were removed from the property, the Capital-Journal reported.
“This is going to transform the whole property,” Meininger said. “I always thought we were one of the best clubs in the Midwest, but now, we’ll be definitely a top-tier club.”
The current project marks the first major renovation of the golf course since the Perry Maxwell-designed course debuted in 1940, the Capital-Journal reported. Maxwell had added nine holes to the existing Thomas Bendelow-designed 9-hole course that had opened in 1906.
Working with Clark on the renovations has been Ron Whitten, golf course historian and designer, while Mammoth Golf Construction is doing the work, the Capital-Journal reported.
Whitten’s and Clark’s master plan focuses on modernizing the 83-year-old course, the Capital-Journal reported. The plan was approved by Topeka Country Club stockholders in late 2022.
Clark told the Capital-Journal the Maxwell style highlights greens.
“The way we do that is we spend a lot of time depressing the bunkers around the greens and showing out the green complexes,” Clark said.
Whitten said a signature Perry Maxwell look is the openness of the course, the Capital-Journal reported. The amount of green space at the renovated Topeka course will be unique.
“I don’t know of a more challenging set of greens in the state of Kansas,” Whitten said. “One of the more challenging I think that still exist among Perry Maxwell’s best is still Prairie Dunes, but these are pretty darn good.”
Clark and Whitten said they’ve heard feedback from club members and consider it their job to bring to fruition what the members have envisioned, the Capital-Journal reported.
“I’ve had people playing the course and walk by me and said, ‘Oh, you’re making it too easy,’” Clark said. “And I told ’em, ‘We’ll wait till the rough grows because you know under a lot of trees, grass wouldn’t grow.’
“Now we’re taking all these trees away, the grass is gonna grow.”
Whitten said Topeka Country Club has always been the capital club for the city, and members take pride in that, the Capital-Journal reported.
“They’ve always taken pride in what they felt was the superior golf course in really the whole northeast part of the state,” he said. “I think we are enhancing it, and we’re kind of helping it get to that higher level.”
In 2019, Topeka Country Club unveiled an updated clubhouse and wellness center following a $7.5 million renovation and expansion. The multiphase project began in September 2017 and touched on every aspect of club life, including a new pool, dining, banquet facilities, fitness, golf shop, locker rooms, and day-to-day operations.