Golf course architect Chris Wilczynski has developed a masterplan for the golf course at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
James Gilmore Harrison designed the original course at Warwick Hills, though the layout as it currently stands was created by Joe Lee following a redesign project in the late 1960s.
Wilczynski will be the latest architect to leave his mark on the course, which played host to the PGA Tour’s Buick Open from 1958-69 and again from 1978-2009. However, the upcoming work will look to update the course, rather than redesign it.
“We don’t want to move dirt all over the place,” said John DeMarco, chairman of Warwick Hills’ Greens Committee. “But we recognise that nearly 50 years have passed since Mr. Lee was here. That’s a long time. Technology has changed in course maintenance, golf equipment and other factors. We thought it was time to look at the total picture, so we asked Chris to give us a hole-by-hole analysis with recommendations for improvement.”
Wilczynski had been working with the club on a tree management project, during which the architect realised the potential benefits of an architectural update to the course.
“As the tree project progressed, I kept offering ideas about how to tweak various holes,” he said. “The membership already knew the club was due for a masterplan, but they needed to see examples of how the course could be improved.”
The architect is not intending to radically alter the course, commenting that ‘the bones of golf course are really solid’.
“The greens are outstanding and there’s a good variety of holes,” said Wilczynski. “We won’t be touching the greens, and none of the proposed work on fairways will be invasive. Most of the work will involve reimagining the bunkering, adjusting fairway alignment and adding a variety of tees, as well as continued tree removal.”
Joe Lee was a fan of redundant hazards according to Wilczynski, having studied the architect’s construction notes for his redesign. These included trees being purposely planted behind bunkers. As part of Wilczynski’s masterplan, many of those trees will be removed.
The upcoming project will also include the relocation or removal of numerous bunkers on the course, while many forward and middle tees will be added.
“The intent is to widen the holes and make the layout more strategic and less penal,” Wilczynski said. “Width creates strategic options and different opportunities for angles into the fairway landing areas and greens. My design philosophy focuses on playability and aesthetics. The recommendations outlined within the master plan specifically address these design philosophies and the club’s goals and needs.”