Drew Rogers to renovate Willie Park Jr. design at Pine Lake Country Club


Drew Rogers to renovate Willie Park Jr. design at Pine Lake Country Club
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Drew Rogers has been hired to carry out a renovation of the course at Pine Lake Country Club.

Located in Orchard Lake, Michigan, the course was formerly known as the Automobile Club of Detroit, and the first nine holes were laid out by Willie Park Jr. in 1919. The club was given its current name in 1921, and a further nine holes opened in 1924, also designed by Park Jr.

Rogers has had access to a vintage aerial photograph (pictured above) and will use the image to influence the upcoming project.

“The story of this club is one of continual transformation and influence,” explained Rogers. “To say the course has been ‘tinkered with’ since 1924 would be an understatement. Holes have been repositioned. Greens have radically changed shape. Holes have been rebunkered and loads of trees planted. Today, it feels like you’re playing three or four different golf courses out there.

“However, what the aerials make clear is that Pine Lake in the 1930s was still a superb, cohesive layout. My job is to refurbish the course to that high standard, while also creating a greater consistency of this vintage style and character. That’s where the aerial photography is such a huge help. It gives me something to go on, in terms of hazard placement, for example. It confirms some of the observations I had already made about original shapes of certain greens, bunker placement, the alignment of fairways and the presence of vegetation, or lack thereof.”

Rogers’ JDR Design Group firm is currently working on a number of high-profile renovation projects, including at the Harry Colt-designed Old Elm Club near Chicago and the Tom Bendelow-designed course at Spring Lake Country Club in Michigan.

“I have a lot of respect for the knowledge Drew possesses on golf course architecture and design, and have much admired his work at Old Elm Club,” said the Pine Lake’s superintendent Terry Poley. “With the leadership and vision Drew brings to this project, we will be able to restore Pine Lake’s heritage as one of the finest golf courses in South East Michigan.”

Rogers has studied Pine Lake and its aerial archives since 2012, and feels that the holes closest to the clubhouse today are the ones that most resemble the Park Jr. holes featured in the vintage, aerial photography.

“That gives us a pretty good roadmap to follow, a solid base of understanding that we can use as a stylistic foundation,” said Rogers. “Our improvement plan at Pine Lake is more than mere design. We want to overcome challenges with drainage, bunker construction, turf health, and address the clutter of trees that has grown up or been planted over the course of decades. Park was a master of the craft. His work here is worth preserving in any way we can. Our goal here is to mesh his legacy with the traditional design idiom in which I prefer to work.”