Columbus Country Club renovation reaches halfway point


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    Donald Ross created nine holes at Columbus Country Club, and renovated many others

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    The green on the second hole has been recently renovated

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    The third hole has undergone renovations as part of the project’s first phase

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    A shot of the fourth green

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    To celebrate Columbus CC’s illustrious history, Hargrave drew up the above plan, inspired by the original drawings of Ross himself. This shows the course as it will look after the renovation is completed next year, in a distinctly ‘Ross style’, including the font of the text and the legend..

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Golf course architect Kevin Hargrave is leading a renovation project at the Columbus Country Club in Ohio, US.

Work on the front nine holes has been completed, with the focus now set on renovation of the back nine.

The course at Columbus CC is rife with historical significance, and stood host to the 1964 PGA Championship won by Bobby Nichols, just three strokes ahead of runners up Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

The original nine holes at the club were built in 1903 by Tom Bendelow. In 1914, the club hired Donald Ross to renovate the existing nine holes and add a second nine. In 1920, Ross returned to remodel and lengthen the entire course. Multiple architects have touched the course since then, including Colt and Alison, Dick Wilson and Geoffrey Cornish.

Hargrave has worked as lead design associate for his mentor and fellow architect Keith Foster since 1996 – a relationship that continues to this day. In addition to his association with Foster and his projects, Hargrave also has developed his own firm with a clientele that has grown to over 20. 

In 2011, Columbus CC hired Foster and Hargrave to develop a detailed masterplan for course improvement. In 2015, with Foster’s relocating to the state of Virginia, he turned the project over to Hargrave.  

Detailed construction plans and specifications were completed by Hargrave in the spring 2016. Phase one of the renovation work, focusing on the front nine, began the Tuesday after Labor Day and the work was completed the week after Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to proceed with the same timeline for the back nine this year,” Hargrave said. “The project includes dropping over 1,000 tees to opening up the amazing vistas of the property, green surround work, green surface tweaks if need be, and green expansions if possible. Bunker renovations will also take place, as will some select tee work. Some forward tees will be added, and other tees that require a qualified golf course contractor to shape will also be focused on.”

The overall project has been budgeted at US$2.4 million, with half of this set aside for each nine. The contractor for the project is TDI International.

“The front nine work all went to plan, and we were slightly under budget,” Hargrave said. “The same crew that worked on Keith’s project an hour away at Moraine CC in Dayton is doing our work here at Columbus. A lot of the decision makers at Columbus saw the outstanding work done there and said that they wanted that same quality of work done at their club, so we made it happen.”

“We hired Keith Foster Design to provide a master plan, a road map to get us back to the original Ross design elements that a century of golfers have continued to enjoy throughout the country,” commented John Reehil, president of Columbus Country Club. “Kevin Hargrave has navigated that road map expertly, breathed three-dimensional life into it, and breathed new life into Columbus CC with a timeless sensibility in the execution of the front nine’s renovation. Kevin has a Golden Age architect’s vision and 21st century architect’s equipment. We at the Columbus CC are all the better for it.” 

“Among those Ross inspired design elements implemented are wider fairways whose directions shift with bunkers not trees, flat bottomed bunkers with a steep face in front, firm fast conditions that allow players of all levels to run the ball up to the green on every hole,” Reehil added.

Jay Frank, the club’s general manager, said: “It is my firm belief that the renovation will appeal to all levels and ages of golfers differently. Some will enjoy the wider fairways, some the shorter tees and some the renovated bunker complexes. Others will enjoy the additional length and native fescue areas throughout the property. The renovation will bring a classic golf course back in time while also preparing it for the future of the game.”