Tom Lehman to modernize Arizona’s ancient Adobe course at the Arizona Biltmore; Beau Welling renovates Indiana’s Evansville Country Club
Hello, friends ... here’s where architecture news meets broadcast news. Legendary CBS broadcaster and golf fanatic Jim Nantz has signed on as design consultant for the short course at Minnesota’s Tepetonka Club.
On May 23, Tepetonka Club, a new, 228-acre private golf destination located in New London, two hours west of the Twin Cities, announced that Nantz will collaborate with Tepetonka’s design firm, OCM Golf, on the creation of The Prox, the club’s short course.
"I’ve had the pleasure of knowing [Tepetonka Club chairman] Mark Haugejorde for over 40 years and Tepetonka is his life’s calling," said Nantz, who has broadcast sporting events for CBS since the 1980s. "After visiting with Mark and the OCM Golf team nearly a year ago, it became apparent that they were on the brink of building something that will be legendary. I’m proud to be a founding member and honored to join [OCM partners] Geoff [Ogilvy], Mike [Cocking] and Ashley [Mead] as a consultant on The Prox. I have deep admiration for OCM and the forward-thinking creativity they are bringing to the game."
Tepetonka is Minnesota’s first entry into the highly popular private golf destination category, this despite the state being renowned for hosting events at historic venues. Led OCM Golf and the architecture firm of Douglas Fredrickson Architects, the goal for each member's or guest’s day is summed up in the phrase: "Can’t wait to get there — hate to leave!" The Prox is the club’s short course and practice facility, to which Nantz and OCM will bring their considerable combined golf experience.
"After meeting with my old friend a few times, Jim said he wanted to become a member and I asked if he might be interested in a deeper involvement," said Haugejorde, a former teammate of Nantz’ on the University of Houston golf team. "Jim personifies the three guiding principles of Tepetonka: camaraderie, community and charity. And given the decades he’s spent calling tournaments at courses that include some of the world’s best par 3s, and the level of attention to detail he brings in all things he does, we know he’ll add his experience onsite with OCM in August. We can’t wait."
In August, Nantz, OCM and Doug Fredrikson will present the entire master plan for golf, lodging and supper club to Tepetonka members in Minneapolis. Founding memberships have been completed, with invitation-only memberships open. Given the interest, members are clearly embracing the club’s innovative, fractional ownership model, where the course is never crowded and the fun is always paramount.
"Having had the opportunity to spend some time with Jim recently, it became apparent that he has a keen interest in golf course design and specifically in short courses," OCM’s Cocking said. "The Prox will be integrated into Tepetonka’s practice facility, and we’re looking forward to working with Jim on the design. His input and experience will be invaluable in what we’re creating."
OCM Golf will also create a 6,765-yard, par-70 championship course. Construction is scheduled to begin in October, with an expected opening in summer 2025.
Wrapping up this winter season works at Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre @omegaEUmasters
New green complexes await on holes 1,4 and 5. Well done to all involved 👏👏 @dsampsongolf @DPWorldTour @solgolfconst pic.twitter.com/NGPUY3owab
— European Golf Design (@eurogolfdesign) May 16, 2023
TOM LEHMAN, ARIZONA BILTMORE COLLABORATE
The Arizona Biltmore Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona, began an extensive renovation project in late April on its Adobe Golf Course.
Led by the Lehman Design Group and five-time PGA Tour champion Tom Lehman, a Scottsdale resident, the multimillion-dollar renovation project will bring modern golf course design and water conservation technology to the 95-year-old course. When complete, the new Adobe Course will offer golfers more variety, challenge and length, feature recontoured fairways, new greens and enhanced landscaping.
The Adobe Course is expected to reopen for public and member play this fall, while the club’s Links Course will remain open for daily play.
"It’s a pleasure and exciting to work with the JDM team to refresh one of Arizona’s most iconic and historic golf properties," Lehman said. "The renovated Adobe Course will demand a much wider variety of shots, will have more length and much improved strategy. We’re using the most efficient and highest quality modern turf to dramatically improve the ability to maintain the greens, fairways and tees to the highest standards. Add on to that a wonderful landscape plan full of new trees, colorful plants and flowers and the result will be a far more visually appealing and fun Adobe Course for players of all levels."
Originally designed by William P. Bell, the Adobe Course opened in 1928, a few months before the iconic Arizona Biltmore Hotel. During its six-month renovation, crews will install a new state-of-the-art irrigation system and plant new drought-tolerant TifTuf bermudagrass throughout the golf course. In addition, the new irrigation system will allow the agronomy team to control each sprinkler head while using high-tech sensors to measure soil moisture and salt levels to allow for precise watering and reduced water usage.
In addition to the new turf and irrigation system, green complexes will be renovated, tee boxes will be laser leveled, and bunkers will be rebuilt, incorporating a technically advanced drainage and liner system. Throughout the renovation, the golf course’s general routing and par (71) will be consistent with Adobe’s famous parkland setting.
BEAU WELLING IN A HOT STREAK
Firecracker-hot Beau Welling Design, recently lauded for its contributions to the new PGA Frisco complex in Texas, has completed a renovation of Indiana’s Evansville Country Club.
In addressing safety concerns about its driving range, the club eventually enlisted Welling for a series of improvements, including relocating the driving range, building several new holes and rebuilding a number of greens.
"This thought process led to the idea of upgrading infrastructure throughout the golf course," Welling told GolfCourseArchitecture.net. "This was especially the case for the greens, which were built with different methodologies at various times. There were old push-up-type greens, some quasi-USGA-type ones, and others that were a bit in between. There was also a desire to change the grass due to the different strains the greens had."
Work began on the project in September 2022, with Heritage Links handling construction duties. A new short-game area accompanied the course and range reopening. Design associate Hunter Rigsby was onsite, assisting in carrying out Welling’s directives.
Welling’s new creations are the eighth, ninth, 10th, 14th and 15th holes. Old Nos. 8 and 9 were abandoned in favor of the new driving range.
"To do that, we created a new eighth hole, which is a par 3 that plays along a bluff," Welling said. "It’s 130 yards, but it’s going to be spectacular and super exciting."
The new ninth hole is the reverse of what had been the previous 10th hole. "Players on the back tee have to hit over a big ravine and then climb up a hill on what is a short par 5," Welling said. "This hole will offer something that’s really distinctive from the experience that the members had previously. The new 10th is, in essence, an extension of the old 16th, but in reverse. And then we have taken the old 14th and broken that up into two holes, as the new 14th and 15th, which makes up for the loss of one hole because of the driving range."
Welling also redid the green complexes on seven holes.
"For the golf holes and green complexes that we’ve redeveloped, we’ve tried to put a premium on accuracy that’s required to get to certain hole locations,” he said. "The golf course is not very long, roughly 6,100 yards, and they have a lot of really good players, so we’ve tried to create more low-cut surrounds around greens, but also have more contour in the greens themselves, to really ask the better players to hit a really good shot in order to score. This will have a positive impact on the playing experience … the good players will be super happy."