Raymond Hearn revitalizes Michigan’s Saint John’s Resort; Jeff Howes completes the Bucharest Golf Club in Romania
In partnership with the Cobbs Creek Foundation and TGR Foundation, TGR Design by Tiger Woods is creating a new short course at the historic Cobbs Creek golf facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The as-yet-unnamed layout will be welcoming and accessible to golfers of all ages and abilities, introducing new players to the game and challenging the game’s best, according to the TGR Design website.
However, Woods stated that the course will also support the programming of the TGR Learning Lab at Cobbs Creek. This 30,000-square-foot education facility will be operated by TGR Foundation and sit adjacent to the short course, providing year-round school day and after-school programming for local students. Programming will be available at the short course to build the skills of young golfers while developing the core values of the game.
“I’m excited to work with the Cobbs Creek Foundation and the Philadelphia community on this special project that combines my passions, golf and supporting youth through education,” Woods said. “Through the campus, we will provide meaningful education opportunities for local youth while expanding access to the game I love.”
Cobbs Creek’s championship course, a city-owned layout in West Philadelphia, was the longtime home to Charlie Sifford, the pioneering Black golfer who was an inspiration to Tiger Woods in Woods’ formative years. The regulation course was designed in 1916 by Hugh Wilson, the same man who created the famous Merion East course nearby. Closed since 2020, that course is being restored and reworked by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. The short course from TGR Design is expected to open late in 2025.
Located in the western Detroit suburb of Plymouth, Saint John’s traces its roots to the 1940s as a Catholic seminary, with golf debuting in the 1970s. By the 1990s, the resort offered 27 holes, most of them unmemorable. The property was sold to the Pulte Family Foundation in 2021.
"The 27 holes were, at best, mediocre,” Hearn told GolfCourseArchitecture.net. "Our project has kept nothing of what was originally there, maybe half a dozen corridors, but that’s it. There was a lot of tree planting here in the 1980s and '90s. We have taken a number of trees out for breadth. This has been crucial in providing more angles and options throughout the course."
Hearn’s new layout will stretch 7,002 yards, with construction led by Rich LaBar, one of the industry’s top golf contractors. Included among the offerings will be a seven-hole short course with three sets of tees and hole designs that pay homage to classic architecture from the Golden Age greats. The longest hole will play 112 yards.
"This is one of the biggest golf projects in the last 25 years in southeast Michigan and probably in the Midwest," Hearn said. "The land in this area of the state is typically flat. The land for this golf course, however, is not. It is so rare to have a diversity of landscapes like we have here. On this site the ecosystem is so varied. There are flatlands, valley drop-offs, stands of hardwood trees, wetlands, prairie and so much more.
"The new course is architecturally strong and beautiful. Golf course architecture in its simplest form is about meaningful angles and options. And that’s what we have aimed to do at Saint John’s: provoke thought-out shots with players considering alternatives depending on the conditions and match. Visually, every hole is so different."
The redesigned course will be known as The Cardinal. It will embrace a water theme, with a twisting creek a significant feature on the opening nine holes and lakes affecting play on five holes. The Cardinal at Saint John’s Resort will see completed construction in the summer of 2023, then sit for a year-long grow-in. Expected opening is spring 2024.
A reporter for the Madison County Record (Huntsville, AL) says rumors about a 36-hole TPC development on the city's north side. The city denies it, and the PGA doesn't (but it doesn't confirm it either). https://t.co/FuhVYDGGpr pic.twitter.com/WAobDqyT1d
— Bethpage Black Metal (@BPBlackMetal) March 28, 2023
GOLF IN ROMANIA TAKING HOLD
In a country better known for its tennis and gymnastics, Romania is now making inroads in golf. Kilkenny, Ireland-based architect Jeff Howes, formerly with Jack Nicklaus, has completed an 18-hole project for the Bucharest Golf Club.
Located 20 miles north of the Bucharest city center, the 6,590-yard course has been fully seeded and has nine holes open for play. Five holes will cross the two valleys that run through the property, and Howes told GolfCourseArchitecture.net that the natural landscape has "created a roller-coaster routing with clusters of short and long holes."
Expected opening of the full 18 holes is in May.