All change at Chicago's Mistwood


Sean Dudley

Chicago public facility Mistwood Golf Club is undergoing a major renovation to its Ray Hearn-designed golf course. Hearn himself is leading the project, which includes a new learning centre. The course will reopen in May 2012.

Mistwood's owner, local Chicago businessman Jim McWethy, said he chose to renovate the course, add the new learning centre and begin plans to build a new clubhouse to create a destination golf experience for golfers in Chicago and the Midwest.

The remodelling is being done in three phases. The first phase is the golf course construction, which includes lengthening the course to over 7,000 yards and making changes to every hole.

The second phase will be the learning centre. The original clubhouse and cart barn will be torn down as soon as the learning centre is completed. Initially the new centre, will double as Mistwood’s clubhouse when play resumes. The third phase is the construction of the clubhouse, which McWerthy hopes to start in 2012.

“At first we thought we would do everything at once, but then realized it would make more sense to do it in phases to avoid any construction problems along the way,'” said McWethy. “Deciding when to start the clubhouse is difficult. We would like to break ground by fall 2012, but we have to get the course changes and learning centre out of the way first.”

“Re-calibrating a golf course for shot values is where a golf course architect earns his money,” said Hearn. “Strategic improvements for all levels of golfers is the name of the game. I really enjoy improving my courses over time in terms of shot value, strategy, beauty and playability, which I believe we have now accomplished here at Mistwood.”

The most noticeable change is at the par five third hole, where the green has been relocated to create space for the new clubhouse. The creek that used to be in front of the green is now behind it-and it has been expanded to a pond.

Other noticeable changes come at the second, where two new stacked sod (revetted) bunkers and two new tees will increase the challenge, and the eleventh, which gets a more elevated back tee.