Observers told architect Ray Hearn that American golfers would never accept vertical-faced revetted pot bunkers, but his renovation of Mistwood Golf Club in Chicago seems to be proving otherwise.
The long-time home of the Illinois Women’s Open, Mistwood closed early the last two years enabling Hearn, the course's original designer, to complete his renovation work and make improvements to the course.
The most noticeable change comes at the par five third hole where the green has been relocated to create space for a future clubhouse, and a double fairway added to create a risk-reward opportunity. The creek that used to be in front of the green is now behind it – and has been expanded into a pond that guards the entire right side of the hole and three sides of the green.
In addition, Lannon stone walls were added along seven holes. Other improvements included repositioning tee boxes and bunkers, adding new high quality bunker sand, lengthening the course to 7,040 yards, and adding fescue grasses throughout the course.
Mistwood’s renovation also included the addition of 20 revetted bunkers, a common sight on the links of the United Kingdom, but rare in American golf.
“I couldn’t be happier with how everything has come together on this project and believe we now have one of the top golf experiences in the Chicago area,” said owner Jim McWethy. “The work that Ray did incorporating the sod bunkers and the improvements he made to each hole are spectacular.”
Mistwood owner McWethy, who took over the facility, in 2004 agrees he has swum against the tide, given the tough economic times that have seen most courses cutting back rather than expanding.
“A big part of this renovation was due to my love of the game,” McWethy admitted. “By expanding, we did run counter to the rest of the golf world, but I feel it was worth it in order to position Mistwood among the very best golf experiences in the country. If you have an exceptional product, market it well, and take great care of your customers – even in this market – you can be successful and we are doing that at Mistwood.”