After a decade of work, the restoration of the Donald Ross-designed Essex Golf & Country Club (G&CC) in Canada is complete. "I like to tell members that we have taken Essex G&CC in Windsor back to the way it looked and played when their grandparents were there," said Bruce Hepner of Renaissance Golf Design, which is responsible for the project.
"What they started off with was a very flat property, but what always blows me away with Essex is the way Ross simulated a rolling landscape," said Hepner. An open ditch that zigzags through the property for a mile and a half was built for drainage purposes. That material was used to build Essex's push-up greens. "It was a brilliant exercise in drainage that also created a great golf design," Hepner said. "What really makes Essex shine today is. its green sites, the internal contours of the greens, the approaches to the greens and the variety of contours." The restoration project started in 2000 with a new pump house followed by a new sprinkler system and an intensive treeclearing programme to open up the fairways off the tee as originally intended.
Using an original Ross course layout and older photographs, the classical grass-faced bunkers were re-established with traditional lines and depths of three to five feet.
Initially the course had in excess of 100 bunkers. "Over time about 20 of those were eliminated, many during World War II, so we brought back several key cross bunkers in the Donald Ross style for a total of 88 on the course today," said superintendent Chris Andrejicka.