Champions Golf Club prepares for US Women’s Open

  • Champions
    Champions Golf Club

    Bunker work is being carried out at Champion GC’s Jackrabbit course, ahead of the US Women’s Open

  • Champions
    Champions Golf Club

    Six-inch brows have also been created to give the bunkers a consistent vertical edge

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith

Renovations are being carried out on the Jackrabbit course at Champions Golf Club, Texas, ahead of the 2020 US Women’s Open, which will be played in December after being delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heritage Links, Beau Welling Design and the club’s director of agronomy Chris Ortmeier are carrying out bunker renovations on the Jackrabbit course, which will co-host the first two rounds of the tournament alongside the Cypress Creek course.

“When the Open was rescheduled for December, there was concern about the limited amount of daylight that time of year – that it might be difficult to get a full, pre-cut field around a single course on Thursday and Friday,” said Jon O’Donnell, president of Heritage Links. “Champions has an excellent second 18, the Jackrabbit. No one had anticipated it being thrust into this major championship role – not prior to the rescheduling. But we’re thrilled to be working with Beau Welling and Chris Ortmeier to renovate all the bunkers on the Jackrabbit Course and make sure it’s thoroughly Open-ready.”

New sand and liners have been added to all 47 bunkers, which have been returned to their original size. The project has restored consistency along the grass edges, after several large rain events in the last few years had compromised their stability.

Changes have also been made to the aesthetics of the bunkers, creating a six-inch brow around the edges. The new design contrasts with the rolled-grass edges of the Cypress Creek course, with the club aiming to maintain a distinctive style for each of the layouts.

“Beau and Shane have largely maintained the high, flashed look while also creating the brow, which gives the bunkers a consistent vertical edge all the way around,” said Ortmeier. “Nothing bull-nosed, but there is a little bit of grass rolled over before you hit that vertical edge. Like the previous bunkers, we still have those long, slow, gracefully curved edges.”

The Jackrabbit course was originally designed by George Fazio in 1964 and was renovated by his nephew Tom Fazio in 2002. One of the architects on that renovation project was Shane Robichaud, who is now senior vice-president at Beau Welling Design. Heritage Links also worked as the contractor on the project.

“Shane and I have enjoyed a relationship with the team at Champions for more than 20 years,” said Beau Welling. “We were happy to help out with this expedited project. We were already working in Texas with Heritage Links on another project, so we have easily been able to provide some guidance on the bunker restoration, which has gone very well. The visual drama of the golf course is back.”

The new bunkers are scheduled to be ready for play by September.