Albanese and Matthews collaborate on new nine for Saskatoon GC

  • Saskatoon

    Paul Albanese and Jerry Matthews are adding a new nine to Saskatoon Golf Club in Michigan

  • Saskatoon

    Construction is under way on the new nine, which has been named Silver

  • Saskatoon

    The course is expected to open for play in the autumn

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Golf course architects Paul Albanese and Jerry Matthews are adding a new nine to the 36-hole Saskatoon Golf Club in Caledonia, Michigan.

When Albanese began his golf course design career in 1992, Matthews was his first employer.

“Jerry has essentially been retired for a while, and one of his colleagues – also in the upper 80s – called him and wanted to add nine holes to his existing 36-hole facility at Saskatoon,” said Albanese. “They had known each other for forty-to-fifty years. Jerry knew he would need some support in getting the project done, so he called me and asked me if I wanted to co-design this with him. It was quite a touching honour to be asked by my first employer, whom I have always respected in this wonderful profession, to ask to work together again. Without hesitation I got on board with Jerry.”

The project will see a new nine – called Silver – added to the club’s existing Red, White, Blue and Gold nines. Construction is under way with the Silver expected to open in the autumn, although the impact of coronavirus may see this pushed back.

“The course will be very different than the other 36 holes, and this is due in a large part to the unique piece of property they gave us to work on,” said Albanese. “It is essentially glaciated sandy terrain interspersed with wonderful mature and large pines, oaks and maples.

“Three of the holes play adjacent to a beautiful wetland; two play over a ravine with customised bridge crossings; and all holes have been designed with a lot of strategy behind them, while ensuring that the clientele will be able to get around the course without being overly penalised or losing balls. The design incorporates a strategy that both Jerry and I have embraced for decades in ensuring golfers of all levels have a fair challenge. That sounds easy to do, but it takes a lot of thoughtful design – which these nine holes will have.”

In Albanese’s first years with Matthews, they worked on some highly acclaimed projects such as Timberstone golf course in Michigan.

Reflecting on working with Matthews again, Albanese describes the process as fun. “We have been having a real blast,” he said. “It has been very interesting to see how our two design styles, which have evolved over the past 25 years, mesh again after that long a time. And, they have integrated very well. Jerry and I have always gotten along as professionals with mutual respect. And, even when I worked with him 25 years ago, we had always been able to integrate our different thoughts, styles and concepts into a comprehensive design that is truly unique, interesting and memorable.

“This time around, I would say that we are probably having more fun too. Jerry is really enjoying the sunset of his career – he never thought he would be designing such an interesting project at this age. And, I am thrilled with seeing Jerry have so much fun. He enabled me back in the early 90s to join a profession that has provided me with a lot of fun over the years. So, it is really nice to return the favour to Jerry, all while creating a golf course that has such interesting facets itself too. Jerry and I enjoy the collaborative creative process, and, we are fully engaged with it on this design together.”

Bill Howard, the club’s owner who hired Matthews last year, passed away in mid-March. “We are all saddened that he did not get to see the final nine that he championed,” said Albanese. “But the Howard family will press on, as they have been for many years now. And, Bill will be with us in thought and spirit as we finish this design in his honour.”