Design Notes

New York’s Westchester Hills Unveils its Rees Jones Renovation

Faldo Design plans a new short course for England’s Chart Hills; Lohman Quitno refurbishes Wisconsin’s Abbey Springs; Greg Martin opens renovated Settler’s Hill in Illinois

Westchester Hills Golf Club — Hole 3.
The third hole at the Rees Jones renovated Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, New York.

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> Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, New York, a Troon Prive-managed property, recently completed a $3.5 million golf course renovation by Rees Jones. The renovations, which began in October 2021, touched on multiple areas of the course to add functionality and visual aesthetics. Greens, fairways and chipping areas were all expanded, new tees were added and all bunkers were renovated. Jones’ enhancements to the original 1913 Peter Clark design included adding 20,000 square feet of green expansions, 50,000 square feet of chipping area expansions and 30,000 square feet of fairway expansions. In addition, Jones’ team installed XGD drainage in all greens and updated and renovated all bunkers with new sand and Capillary Concrete drainage.  They also installed 10 acres of new sod throughout the course and installed a new irrigation system, consisting of 12 miles of pipe, 1,250 sprinkler heads and 54 quick connects.

The project commenced with the addition of a Rees Jones-designed practice putting green area. The 6,700-square-foot practice green is surrounded by fire pits, along with farm fencing, a nod to the club’s Gedney Farms history.  “Our design was to liven a classic-style golf course while upgrading the course’s playability and maintenance standards,” said Jones. “The members of Westchester Hills strive for excellence and we are proud to be included in their success. We fully expect the golf course’s new features to take the Hills golf experience to a new level in the private club community.”

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> Sir Nick Faldo and his Faldo Design team are returning to one of their earliest creations, Chart Hills Golf Club in Kent, England, to create a six-hole par-3 course. Faldo teamed with Steve Smyers to design Chart Hills’ championship course in 1993 and this new project comes twelve months after Faldo Design renovated that layout.  The six-hole par-3 spread will feature holes from 50 to 100 yards and will incorporate design traits inspired by two fabled courses where Faldo has been especially successful, St. Andrews (Old) and Augusta National. It will be configured to allow golfers to play two three-hole loops or to use it as a short-game practice ground. Bunkering will be sparse, to ensure maximum playability, but creative contouring on and around the greens will offer a test to the best.

“I am thrilled to see my first par-3 short course design come to life at Chart Hills,” said Faldo. “The course will boast USGA specification greens, and the design has been hugely influenced by some of the most significant holes from my career.”

Faldo will also build a 7,200-square-foot putting green, with elements of Faldo’s favorite greens from St. Andrews, Augusta National and Muirfield.

> Veteran Illinois-based designer Bob Lohmann has retired, and so the firm of Lohmann Quitno has been renamed Quitno Golf Designs to reflect Todd Quitno’s sole ownership. Before Lohmann took down his shingle, however, he teamed with Quitno to renovate Abbey Springs, a semi-private layout in Fontana, Wisconsin, which reopened in early July. Originally designed by Ken Killian and Dick Nugent (the firm where Lohmann started his career in 1974), the 52-year-old layout rolls through forested terrain and boasts handsome views of Lake Geneva.

The project primarily revolved around transforming the greens. “Many were way too steeply sloped, which required the grounds crew to keep speeds in check through a higher cut, otherwise they were unpinnable,” said Quitno, who spearheaded the work. “That resulted in complaints about the greens being slow. Several also had very steep surrounds that were tough for the novice golfer to navigate as balls would funnel far away or into deep bunkers.”

Quitno rebuilt 14 greens to USGA specifications and renovated the surrounds on all 18 greens. “Our goal was to create a lot more variety in the surfaces,” said Quitno. “We also integrated internal contours to create more distinct pinnable areas guarded by bumps, ridges or rolls.” In addition, Quitno fully addressed the greenside bunkering. “We rebuilt the surrounds, and now the bunkering has a more classic, elegant look and is accompanied by bentgrass roll-off and roll-on areas that provide more recovery options and interest,” said Quitno.  

Several holes were redesigned, with an emphasis on ground contouring.  New drainage, regraded fairways, an improved practice area and a new short-game practice green are other highlights.

> Settler’s Hill in Batavia, Illinois re-opened August 6 following a Greg Martin-led renovation. A Kane County Forest Preserve District course that’s located 43 miles west of Chicago, Settler’s Hill dates to 1988, with 13 holes constructed on landfill and five holes on the perimeter of the landfill. Martin’s improvements included a state-of-the-art irrigation system, a new driving range/practice area, a new four-hole short-course learning center tailored to juniors and renovations to the existing course. Two brand new par-3s, several new hilltop tees and relocated greens will give a truly distinctive character to the Settler’s Hill, a course that Martin describes as “a roller-coaster ride.”