Craig Haltom restores original design intent to bunkers at Lawsonia Links

  • Lawsonia
    Dan Moore

    Craig Halton has completed another phase of restoration work at Lawsonia Links in Wisconsin

  • Lawsonia
    Dan Moore

    The sixth hole features a massive 60-yard-long grass bunker

  • Lawsonia
    Dan Moore

    From left, the greens of the par-three fourteenth, par-five thirteenth and par-three tenth

  • Lawsonia
    Dan Moore

    The project is expected to be complete in 2024

Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers

Craig Haltom has completed another phase of a bunker restoration project he is leading on the Lawsonia Links course in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Haltom began work in spring 2022 and is restoring bunkers on the course, laid out by William Langford and Theodore Moreau in 1930, to their original design with help from golf historian and researcher Dan Moore.

“Lawsonia is widely considered to be the best Langford-Moreau course,” said Moore. “This is primarily due to the fact it is the best-preserved Langford Moreau course in the country. Apart from the first tee, which was moved in the 1980s to accommodate a new clubhouse, the routing of the course is entirely intact. All green pads are original and there is no evidence that any of the green surfaces have been changed or altered in the 93 years since the course opened in May 1930.”

The only significant change over the years has been the grassing over of fairway bunkers, which has resulted in narrower fairway lines than what Langford and Moreau originally intended. The club has also removed trees from the property in 2010.

“Given this extraordinary level of preservation, it simply makes sense to bring the course back to what it was originally in terms of the bunker scheme, fairway widths and mow lines,” said Moore. “We are looking at some new tee boxes to maintain the strategic integrity of several holes.”

Moore has used original full-size blueprints of the course, dated from 1928, as well as a plan from 1930 and a 1938 aerial image to provide guidance for the restoration. “My research also uncovered magazine and newspaper articles that provide some early photos of the course,” said Moore. “I have also studied the career of Langford and Moreau and compiled material from many of their other courses. This research, and the fact I have played hundreds of rounds on their courses, allows for a deep understanding of their architecture.”

Moore has also prepared a detailed hole-by-hole historical evolution report showing the original course and how it has changed over time. His work is intended to help Lawsonia restore bunkers and other course features to be as historically accurate as possible.

“There is a deep similarity in the bunker shaping work of 1920s Langford and Moreau and that of Seth Raynor; I consider them both to be from the ‘National School of Golf Course Architecture’,” said Moore. “This is probably due to their engineering backgrounds and use of similar equipment.

“To my eye, however the work of Langford and Moreau is more natural with efforts made to blend the shaping into the immediate surrounds and even the distant views of the landscape. Their approach to strategy is more elastic as well providing original ideas instead of reliance on reinterpreting template concepts.

“There is always a balance in Langford and Moreau’s work between their shaping work, the surrounding landscape and the strategic requirements of a hole,” added Moore. “This is best seen at Lawsonia where the wide-open views are on full display. The sixth hole, for example, showcases the scale, shaping and strategy, highlighted by the blending of a massive 60-yard-long bunker into the landscape that reveals the green while hiding a whimsical take on the principal’s nose bunker lurking in the landing area.

“From there, the approach shot confronts a beautifully sited and crafted green incorporating an ingenious diagonal tier. A stunner among eighteen well-crafted original holes.”

Haltom said: “Ron Forse got Lawsonia back on track with a tree removal and green expansion plan in 1998. We are pleased to have been able to continue the tree work, and to now take the project in the direction of a full restoration over the next couple years funded by regular golf course operations. We are improving drainage and adding sand to the bunkers, but in realty there is very little work to do. An equally exciting part of the project is restoring the original width and mowing lines. Dan Moore has helped us tremendously in getting this right, and golfers are going to love it. The closer the course gets to the original 1930 design, the better it gets every year.”