Briarwood set for bunker renovation following membership vote

  • Briarwood
    Jeff Mingay

    A visualisation of new greenside bunkering on the par-five fifth hole at Briarwood

  • Briarwood
    Jeff Mingay

    Mingay plans to replace two existing bunkers on the left of the par-four twelfth green with one larger bunker

  • Briarwood
    Jeff Mingay

    A 1938 aerial photo of the property shows the scale of Alison’s original bunkering

Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers

Briarwood Country Club near Chicago, Illinois, will start construction work on a bunker renovation project in April 2022, following a membership vote to approve architect Jeff Mingay’s design proposals.

The course, originally known as ‘the Briergate links’, was designed by English architect Hugh Alison in 1921 and Mingay plans to restore his bunkers while updating drainage, installing Better Billy Bunker liners and replacing contaminated sand.

“Hugh Alison’s layout at Briarwood can’t be improved upon,” said Mingay, who has consulted on restorative-based improvement at Briarwood since 2018. “With this solid structure in place, and a wonderful collection of greens to boot, we don’t need to reinvent Briarwood. What we’ve proposed is more refinement, not redesign.”

In addition to the bunker work, Mingay will adjust fairway lines and add forward tees on some holes.

Briarwood golf course superintendent Nate Bolhous and his predecessor Justin VanLanduit have been implementing a long-range tree and vegetation management strategy over the past decade, to restore the midwestern character of the property. Fairway approaches and green surfaces were also re-grassed in 2011-12, replacing poa annua with bentgrass.

“Briarwood is a beautiful golf course, but restoring the original character of the bunkers will take this property to a new level,” said Mingay. “The scale of Alison’s bunkers is legendary. He loved to decorate his courses with sand. Briarwood is no exception. But knowing how expensive bunkers are to renovate and maintain these days, Nate and I are aiming to enhance that dramatic Alison look while actually cutting down the total square footage of sand throughout the course.”

Wadsworth Construction expects to complete work in August 2022.