Smyers to save Butterfield from soggy fate


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Butterfield Country Club (CC) has engaged architect Steve Smyers for a full renovation of its William Langford-designed course. A major part of the renovation will be to undo the effects of, and prevent further damage from, a stream that runs through the Oakbrook, Illinois, USA property.

Smyers, his lead architect Patrick Andrews and engineer Don Dressel of Christopher B. Burke Engineering in Rosemont have been working together, along with DuPage County officials, to improve the Ginger Creek drainage basin. Leibold Construction of Ames, Iowa, has begun work on the property.

Ginger Cream was a small stream running through the property when Butterfield was built. Since then, runoff has greatly eroded Ginger Creek. The Midwest Club Tributary, which runs into the creek, has also caused major drainage issues.

"You used to be able to step over the creek," said Jay Walsh, chairman of the greens committee at Butterfield CC. "Now in some places it is 10-14 feet wide. There is so much water throughout the entire property that we need to detain it according to government regulations and let it out at a certain rate of flow. That requires us to build five detention ponds totalling 3.4 acres across the property."

Smyers and his team have developed a plan to stabilise the creek bank and retain storm water in an pond system that will wind through the golf course. While three existing ponds total 1.5 acres in size, two more will be dug, more than doubling water storage. In addition wetlands plantings will take place to encourage a more effective ecological system.

With the course itself, Smyers plans to realign Ginger Creek and the Midwest Club Tributary as well as shift around the tees and greens to restore the historical landing areas, increasing the 18-hole course's current 6,600-yard length from the back tees to 7,200 yards. "Bringing back Langford's traditional landing areas is the most important factor," said Smyers. "We have the original routing and aerial photos from the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s, and you can easily see the landing areas he meant to have on the ridges, hillsides and little plateaux."

This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.