Design Notes

Tripp Davis returns to finish the job at Texas’ Green Tree

Arizona’s Desert Mountain tweaks its Renegade course; Rick Jacobson and KemperSports team up to renovate Illinois’ Winnetka

Tripp Davis and Associates (TDA) is back at Green Tree Country Club in Midland, Texas, to begin construction on the West Nine. The club’s East Nine was completed in 2022 and opened for member play Labor Day weekend.

"The members have found that the East Nine design requires a thoughtful approach to playing each hole, and that the greens are challenging yet fair," said Wray Crippin, COO of Green Tree Country Club. "The East Nine has a fantastic turf quality, and the course went from flat West Texas land to a unique golf course with undulating fairways not commonly seen in this area. We are excited to see what Tripp will do on the West Nine."

TDA, along with golf course contractor Course Crafters, will focus on redoing all the tee complexes, fairways, bunkers and greens on the West Nine. Most of the irrigation will be upgraded. Tif 419 Bermuda will be used in the roughs and fairways, and the greens will have .007 Bent Grass.

New practice facilities along with a 20,000-square-foot lighted putting course named The Pine also were constructed last summer.

"Green Tree is one of the best clubs in West Texas and we are extremely proud of our association here as the design team for two major renovations," Davis said. "Course Crafters is off to a good start on the West Nine with project superintendent Terry Mausbac leading the charge and getting holes Nos. 1, 2, and 3 grassed before the Christmas holidays. The design of the golf course is really starting to pop thanks also to the talents of shaper Bill "Hollywood" Willingham. It has been a very creative project to create interest on such a flat site reminiscent of the classic style of Australian Sand Belt courses such as Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath."

Construction is expected to be complete in early summer, but the club is committed to not opening the course until it is fully ready.

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Scottsdale, Arizona’s Desert Mountain recently completed work on its one-of-a-kind Renegade course. The much-lauded club and community opened its seventh course in 2019, but it’s the very first course, Renegade, that put Desert Mountain on the map back in 1987. The unique Jack Nicklaus Signature design features two distinct targets on each hole, an easier-to-access white flag and a more challenging gold flag. In some cases, both flags were planted in one massive green, in others there were two separate greens. When it opened, Golf Digest called it "The most versatile course in the world."

Following a thorough renovation of Renegade in 2019, the club embarked on further refinements to the course in 2022 as it prepares to debut a new clubhouse later this year. This included construction of a new double-ended driving range, regrassing the bentgrass tees and fairways with ryegrass, and altering the design of the first hole. Among the first hole changes were eliminating the left-side fairway bunker to open up more landing area, adding three bunkers down the right side and softening the white flag green.

The project involved a collaboration between Nicklaus Design, Marvin Mills Irrigation Consulting, Landscapes Unlimited and Desert Mountain’s agronomic team.


Libertyville, Illinois-based architect Rick Jacobson has begun work on all 27 holes at Winnetka Golf Club.

Located in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Winnetka has committed to an ambitious renovation to its public-access 18-hole championship layout, as well as to its nine-hole, Par-3 spread. Under the auspices of the Winnetka Park District, Winnetka has also enlisted KemperSports to manage the course operations and to oversee the renovation project.

Jacobson has started the process of releveling and resurfacing tees, fairways and greens, reworking fairway and greenside bunkers, and enhancing the infrastructure with improved drainage and irrigation. Work to the Par-3 course commenced in August 2022, while the championship layout began its transformation in November. The storied championship course has roots that date back more than 100 years and features the architecture of William B. Langford and C.D. Wagstaff.

"The Winnetka Golf Club has been a special part of the Winnetka community for more than a century, and we are proud to help Rick Jacobson lead the restoration of such a prized local asset right here in our backyard," KemperSports CEO Steve Skinner said. "The golf course has great bones, and this renovation will take it to the next level."

Both courses are expected to reopen in summer 2024.