Mt. Prospect Golf Club to undergo extensive renovation project

Mt. Prospect Golf Club to undergo extensive renovation project
By Sean Dudley

A renovation of the course at Mt. Prospect Golf Club in Illinois is about to get underway.

Mt Prospect is a public golf club located in suburban Chicago just 10 minutes from O’Hare airport. The golf course will close for renovation on 16 June and reopen during the summer of 2015.

Built in 1927, there is no record of who designed the original course, but a major part of the project will be to revive the classic 1920s design and evoke some of its architectural roots.

Speaking to GCA, Brett Barcel, Mt. Prospect’s PGA director of golf operations, explains that the course has some serious architectural calibre.

“The golf course is quite a puzzle in that there are some absolutely amazing green complexes, obviously built by someone of architectural note, and there are other things that don’t quite make sense,” said Barcel. “Old aerial photos confirm that the original 18 holes only had six holes with fairway bunkers – this on a course built with no trees and little elevation changes. The routing was also strange and left a lot of unused ‘triangle areas’ but at the same time some holes are forced together in tight corridors. This made us question the architect or architects that were used. No one has been able to find a record of the architect who designed the original course.”

Esler Design has been hired to help advance the current design of Mt. Prospect Golf Course, with Barcel saying that the course already has ‘great bones’ and needs enhancing rather than reworking.

“We need to fix everything underneath the surface of the golf course – irrigation, drainage, greens mix, tees, bunker sand,” he said. “The course is 90 years old and has not had any work since an irrigation system and retention ponds were built in the early 1980s. We also need to address our practice areas, which were undersized and unsafe in their existing location.”

The course’s routing will also be altered as part of the project – a move Barcel believes will strengthen the course, as formerly the back nine played far shorter than the front nine. A 450-yard par four eleventh hole will be created using a new corridor, and the thirteenth hole will be redesigned and lengthened. The course’s eighteenth hole will also be redesigned.

“Four new holes will be established and one rerouted, allowing us to create a 20,000 sq ft putting green, two 15,000 sq ft short game areas, a 320-yard deep driving range with 40,000 sq ft grass tee, and back range teaching tee,” he said.

Barcel also said that work will take place on several green complexes with the aim of recapturing old unused fill pads.

“Elements of the traditional style bunkering will be used and the best original green complexes will remain and be used as templates for remaining greens,” he explained. “All the new greens will have the classic design of the era and match the original greens. The goal was to enhance the elements of the MacDonald, Raynor and Ross-style green complexes and bunkering that already existed on the course. Doing such a thing at a new course would seem contrived, but in rebuilding a 1920s course it fits the norm. The greens will be rebuilt to USGA specifications and will be re-grassed with Pure Distinction bentgrass.”

Wadsworth Construction will carry out the work, which will cost in excess of US$7 million.

“Despite the expense, our board felt this project was long overdue and worth the price as a comprehensive solution to every aspect of the golf facility,” concluded Barcel. “They realise we only have the chance to close down for repairs once every 87 years.”

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