Chris Wilczynski improves playability at Shenandoah Country Club

Chris Wilczynski improves playability at Shenandoah Country Club
Rebecca Lambert
By Rebecca Lambert

Golf course architect Chris Wilczynski has re-designed the fourth and fifth holes at Shenandoah Country Club in Michigan, US, to improve playability and resolve flooding issues, which meant that for parts of the season both holes were virtually inaccessible.

“The club was having trouble with two of its holes,” Wilczynski said. “The landing area at hole four sat in a low-lying, flood-plain area that made the hole virtually unplayable for parts of the season. To resolve the trouble, we re-designed and changed no. four from a par-five to a par-four by pushing the tees on no. four forward to get the landing area out of the wet, flood-plain area. To make up for the loss of the par-five at hole no. four, we re-designed and converted hole five to a par-five. We were able to generate the length by moving the green back and to the right at no. five.”

The fourth hole at Shenandoah had been a par-five that played approximately 495 yards, but is now a par-four that plays 400 yards from the blue tees and 255 from the red. While the fifth hole, previously a par-four that played approximately 430 yards, is now a par-five that plays 480 yards from the blue tees and 360 from the red.

“No. four was a real problem for us,” said Nick Johnson, who has been the superintendent at Shenandoah for the last four years. “It had elevated tees that played down to a wet area that virtually took the hole out of play. We weren't even able to mow the fairway on no. four until about June.”

Shenandoah's fourth hole also features new tees, fairway bunkers and rebuilt greenside bunkers. And the fifth has new tees, a redesigned fairway, and an entirely new green complex with five bunkers.

“There is no more wetness issue,” Johnson said. “The problem was fixed rather than just putting a Band-Aid on it. The bunker renovation has been an important key to the change too. The aesthetics, playability and maintenance of these two holes has definitely improved.”

Despite a relatively wet spring, the number of rounds played at Shenandoah has increased significantly this season. “It is a 100% improvement,” said Shenandoah PGA pro Guy Samples. “The fix of the water problem was a godsend and the playability is great now. The landing area on no. four was almost non-existent, but now we don’t have to shut that hole down.”