Michigan’s Kalamazoo Country Club gets Andrew Green’s attention; St. Louis’ historic Normandie to undergo a Nicklaus reimagination
Bobby Weed Golf Design has completed a three-year modernization project on the Championship Course at Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, North Carolina.
Situated northeast of Asheville in a scenic valley between two mountain ridges, Grandfather’s Championship Course was designed by Ellis Maples in 1968 as one of America’s first true mountain courses. Maples later designed a second course on-site named Mountain Springs, which was constructed in 1977 to monetize the remaining real estate development inside the gates of Grandfather.
Bobby Weed Golf Design has provided consulting services focused on short-term improvements and master plans to both golf courses for over a decade. Weed, a nearby seasonal resident, has tactically overseen these projects that have restored and improved upon Maples’ original intents.
"My past conversations with golf course architect Ed Seay — who mentored under Ellis Maples and served as the on-site project manager — assisted our firm in understanding Mr. Maples’ true design objectives," Weed said. "Mr. Seay also revealed how challenging the golf course construction was in difficult mountain conditions. From those discussions, we have upheld their design philosophies, while improving upon the golf course’s infrastructure, maintenance and aesthetics."
RELATED: Design Notes archive
The following elements were included in Weed’s latest project, which took place during each fall and spring from 2019-2022:
— A tee shift to the left on the 11th hole expanded the playing angle and sight line for drives.
— A new tee complex was built on the 16th hole to add length and reduce the severity of the dogleg down a treacherous creek bed. Both enhancements at Nos. 11 and 16 influence the risk versus reward strategy.
— Fairway bunkers were rebuilt on holes eight, 10, 11 and 18 for improved maintainability and visual contrast.
In terms of infrastructure, as a seasonal club subject to above-average rainfall and harsh winters, it was of utmost importance to maximize drainage and playability. Diversion swales were reinstalled on the high sides of many holes to better contain surface runoff from encroaching onto golf holes. Herringbone drainage systems were also installed in every fairway to enhance surface and subsurface drainage, as well as retain firm playing conditions.
Both structures now convey water into a primary storm drain. The primary storm drain that conveys water down the mountain and across the golf course was replaced. The Corrugated Metal Pipes (CMP) had oxidized and begun to fail since their original installation in the late 1960s. These culvert drains were replaced with High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, an ideal substitute that does not corrode and is well-suited for longevity throughout the golf course.
“On-going golf course infrastructure improvements are imperative to maintaining our high standards,” said general manager of Grandfather Golf & Country Club, John Cunningham. “We are appreciative of Bobby Weed Golf Design for their long-term relationship and commitment to our club.”
We are delighted to announce a new partnership with The Stanwich Club, located in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Our initial work will involve the creation of a Masterplan for the course and some exciting options for a large section of newly acquired land adjacent to the clubhouse. pic.twitter.com/WWZ45FS6bn
— OCM Golf (@OCMGolf) December 14, 2022
ANDREW GREEN GETS SHOT AT OWN DESIGN
Master restoration artist Andrew Green has touched up some of America’s most historic courses in recent years, from Inverness to Oak Hill to Congressional. Over the next few years, Green will embark on a different proposition: Rather than restore the existing Kalamazoo Country Club layout, parts of which date to a Tom Bendelow design from 1910, the club elected to have Green produce a completely new design.
Green’s new creation will be part of a total transformation of the club, according to the A Position’s Terry Moore. Club owners Bill Johnston and his wife Ronda Stryker, both prominent philanthropic forces in Kalamazoo, had a desire for the city’s namesake country club to reinvent itself with a new course and new clubhouse facilities that will rival any in the country.
Ownership procured a 50-acre property southwest of the existing facility which is intended to house a 100,000-square-foot clubhouse, which will include underground parking. Among the amenities will be a short game training area and a short course.
Kalamazoo will be Green’s first original design and he has completed the routing. It is expected to play as a par 71, and tip out at 7,200 yards. “The design will be clean, classic, and minimalist in terms of nothing being unnatural and manufactured,” said John Fulling, the grounds and facilities manager at Kalamazoo. “It’s going to be fun and challenging, but not so challenging that players won’t want to come back.” The course is tentatively scheduled to be completed by 2026.
A NEW NORMANDIE IN ST. LOUIS
Nicklaus Design has completed its design and routing of a new version of Normandie Golf Course, in St. Louis, Missouri, with construction expected to commence in August 2023. Reputed to be the oldest public golf course still being operated in its original location west of the Mississippi, Normandie was a 1901 design from Robert Foulis, a native Scot who was a protégé of Old Tom Morris.
Normandie’s transformation is occurring under the auspices of the Metropolitan Golf Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the local Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association and Beyond Housing, a nationally recognized community development organization focused on creating a stronger, more equitable and prosperous St. Louis. Nicklaus was introduced to the project by his friend Tom O’Toole, a past USGA President and founder of the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association.
According to the Metropolitan Golf Foundation, the ultimate strategy is to use the renovation of Normandie Golf Course as a catalyst for social change, by implementing community employment, scholarship opportunities, mentoring, internships, as well as golf programming. The vision of Normandie Reimagined is centered on youth and community.
The Nicklaus folks will retain some of the old Normandie routing and corridors, but drape an entirely new layout atop the existing terrain. While par will remain at 71, back tee yardage will increase from 6,534 yards to 6,842. Nicklaus will retain the unusual finish, a closing par 3 of 250 yards.
“The appeal of this project to me was to be involved in an effort that could serve as a catalyst to change needed in our country today, beginning with parts of St. Louis County,” said Jack Nicklaus. “Restoring Normandie for a community in need will have a long-lasting positive impact on the lives of youth in St. Louis.”