Renovation for Detroit Alison course


Sean Dudley

Members of Orchard Lake Country Club in Detroit have approved a major renovation of their course, originally designed by Hugh Alison, Harry Colt’s partner. 

The club has hired Kentucky-based classic course specialist Keith Foster to redesign the bunkers and recommend additional improvements. Renovations begin this summer.

“Orchard Lake is a unique course with all the fantastic design elements that Colt and Alison brought to their projects,” said Foster. “Our goal is to bring out all the greatness that Colt and Alison originally intended, while making the course fun to play for all levels of golfers and economically and ecologically sustainable.”

There are three key elements to the Orchard Lake renovation. First is a bunker reconstruction, adding new drainage systems. “Keith Foster recently redesigned the bunkers at perennial PGA Tour stop Colonial in Fort Worth,” said superintendant Aaron McMaster. “Colonial had serious infrastructure issues with its bunkers but, since the renovation, ranks among the best on tour and the drainage is so good they can be back in play within an hour of a heavy rain storm. We expect to match that kind of performance.”

The second element is resurfacing all the greens with one of the latest strains of hybrid bentgrass. The club hopes these new surfaces will also allow McMaster and his crew to deliver consistent green speeds, while using less water and fertiliser.

The final element is the conversion of large out of play areas from Kentucky blue grass to tall fescues. The bluegrass areas need significant water, fertiliser, and maintenance, and the club expects the switch to reduce the inputs needed.

Early preparation for the project has already begun, but work begins in earnest on 31 July, when the golf course will close. The project team expects the course to reopen in May or June 2013.