Design Notes

Texas’ PGA Frisco opens Fields Ranch West

Rees Jones tweaks Seattle’s Sahalee; Tom Clark and Ron Whitten begin renovation of venerable Topeka Country Club in Kansas

Fields Ranch_West14.jpg
A view of the 14th hole at the Beau Welling-designed Fields Ranch West course.

Fields Ranch, PGA Frisco’s showcase championship golf courses at the PGA of America's new home in Frisco, Texas, will open for play on May 2.

The Beau Welling-designed Fields Ranch West is accepting tee times for May 2 onwards. The Gil Hanse-designed Fields Ranch East will accept tee times for May 30 onwards after the conclusion of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, May 24-28.

Fields Ranch West rambles along Palmer Creek amid a prairie setting punctuated by live oaks and mesquite trees. Welling took full advantage of the site’s natural beauty to create a golf course that is not only picturesque, but combines being family friendly with championship caliber.

Fields Ranch East sits softly on the land and draws its design style and cues from the surrounding landscape. It combines the best of the property’s natural qualities with a thoughtful approach to strategic design. Upon opening to the public, it will play host to an eye-popping 26 additional championships scheduled through 2034, including two PGA Championships, two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and two KitchenAid Senior PGA Championships.

“Fields Ranch opening will mark the beginning of a new era in championship golf in North America and we are so proud to launch this unprecedented golf and entertainment destination,” said Paul Earnest, director of golf and operations at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco. “What Gil Hanse and Beau Welling have created here will test the world’s best golfers as well as providing memories of a lifetime for players of all skill levels for decades to come.”

Omni PGA Frisco Resort will also be showcasing the opening of The Swing, a lighted, 10-hole, Par 3 short course, as well as The Dance Floor, a two-acre putting course. Both are co-designed by Hanse and Welling. The Swing presents a fun complement to the golf offerings with holes ranging from 45 to 100 yards. The Dance Floor is considered to be one of the largest natural grass putting courses in the world. It offers the chance to not only practice putting, but also enjoy a laid back atmosphere for golfers and non-golfers alike while navigating three 18-hole layouts and a casual putt-around area.

“No matter what you are looking for in a golf trip, Omni PGA Frisco Resort has all the aspects and amenities to provide a world-class experience for every guest,” said Jeff Smith, vice president and managing director of Omni PGA Frisco Resort. “In partnership with the PGA of America, we look forward to being one of the most sought-after golf destinations in the world.”


Rees Jones, together with golf course developer and construction company Landscapes Unlimited, recently completed a renovation of Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, site of the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open and the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Ahead of the 2024 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Jones and Landscapes worked on all three nines, the North, South and East and focused their efforts on bunker renovations.  For the first phase of Jones’ Master Plan, bunkers were reshaped and relocated and benefitted from new drainage, sand and modern liners.

"Sahalee is a Pacific Northwest treasure," said Jake Riekstins, Landscapes Unlimited chief development officer. "Any time there’s an opportunity to smartly add modern infrastructure to a storied golf course while achieving a golden age style, the results are ‘wow’ experiences for different generations."

The Topeka Country Club in Topeka, Kansas, recently began an extensive golf course renovation and enhancement project. Kansas-based golf course architect Todd Clark of CE Golf Design and golf course historian and designer Ron Whitten are leading the renovations, while Mammoth Golf Construction is executing the work. The project began in January and is expected to be completed by mid-summer 2023.

Aside from an irrigation system update in 2004 and a greens resurfacing project in the late 90s, the current project marks the first major renovation of the golf course since the original Perry Maxwell design debuted in 1940. Maxwell’s design added nine holes to the existing Thomas Bendelow-designed nine-hole course, which had opened in 1906. Clark and Whitten’s master plan focuses on modernizing the 83-year-old golf course and was approved by Topeka Country Club Stockholders in late 2022.

The renovation project includes adding, eliminating and laser-leveling tee boxes; installing new drainage; and adding 12 new fairway bunkers. In addition, all bunkers will be modified, reshaped and rebuilt using the Better Billy Bunker method which provides a technically advanced drainage and liner system, while providing optimal playing conditions much deeper into the life of the bunker.

As part of the renovation and to improve playability, invasive trees are being removed resulting in wider playing corridors as well as additional air circulation and sunlight to tees, fairways and greens, which will help improve agronomic conditions. Tree removal will also enhance the long-range views across the golf course and reveal the rolling topography of Topeka Country Club.

Many modifications are also being made to the overall routing including adding a cascading water feature to the 15th hole that feeds a pond in front of the 17th green — Maxwell’s original Topeka Country Club design did not include any water hazards. The new water feature is similar to what Maxwell created at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition, new cart paths will be added or rerouted throughout the property.

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. American icons such as Bob Hope, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, former U.S. President Taft and many others have been a part of Topeka Country Club’s rich history, with visits to the clubhouse and course over the last 100-plus years. 

“In remodeling Topeka Country Club for the 21st century, we seek to install as much Maxwell authenticity as we can,” said Clark. “His wonderfully contoured greens are being preserved while reclaiming a few front and back corners to recapture lost hole locations. The bunkers protecting the greens will all be new and be shaped in a Maxwell style with playable bright white sand and contain the most efficient drainage component. We’re also adding fairway bunkers to a number of holes where none previously existed, to add both definition and challenge to certain tee shots and second shots.”

Clark has 25-plus years of experience in designing new and renovated golf courses. A graduate of Kansas State University, he has designed courses throughout the Midwest. Whitten served as senior editor of architecture for Golf Digest from 1985-2020 and has been involved in the design of five courses, including the Architects Golf Club in New Jersey and Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin, site of the 2017 U.S. Open.