Glen Oak Golf Club near Buffalo, USA, has approved a new master plan for its golf course, developed by Chris Wilczynski of C.W. Golf Architecture.
The course was originally designed in 1969 by Robert Trent Jones and has been owned by Tim Fries, former golf professional at nearby Transit Valley Country Club since 2018. “Over the years, the course has lost many of its RTJ traits and Chris’s plan strikes an excellent balance between the need for enhancing and updating the course aesthetics and infrastructure while keeping the original design intact,” said Fries. “It’s been a fun experience working with Chris to develop this plan and I’m hopeful we can bring it to life in the near future.”
Wilczynski’s plan for the course includes the clearing of several trees to re-establish the original playing corridors and strategy of Jones’ design. Several acres of wetlands and native grass areas will also be created to diversify the environmental habitat and enhance the natural beauty of the property.
“Every hole sits within its own enclave while various creeks and lakes meander throughout the property which gives the course a true sense of place,” said Wilczynski. “These environmental features enhance the beauty, challenge and strategy of each hole, creating many interesting risk/reward features.”
The renovation will also improve the drainage infrastructure. “The property is relatively flat and when it was first constructed the course relied on drainage ditches and swales to move the water,” Wilczynski said. “We have proposed the addition of drainage pipe and catch basins to move the water more efficiently.”
Four greens – seven, twelve, fifteen and seventeen – will be rebuilt and the remainder will be restored to their original sizes and shapes. “The RTJ greens feature interesting wings that create challenging pin locations,” Wilczynski said. “We want to maintain those qualities as they are part of the original design.”
New tees will allow the course to be played from a total distance of 3,500 to 7,200 yards. “We used the Longleaf Tee System as the model for the new tees and even proposed the addition of a short tee that would give players an option to play every hole as a par three,” said Wilczynski. “The short tee would be accessible from the cart path so that the course can be played outside of the traditional golf season in Buffalo.”
Wilczynski’s plan also involves overhauling the bunkers. “The bunkers have not been rebuilt since they were originally constructed and as a result, they have significantly deteriorated lending to poor drainage and aesthetics,” he said. “We also want to reposition most of the fairway bunkers to add more challenge and interest. Most of the fairway bunkers lie too close to the teeing areas and are easily carried by today’s skilled golfer.”
The plan also includes work on the practice range, a new 25,000 square foot putting green and a short game complex.
“My client now has a vision and roadmap to improve his golf facility while doing so in a manner that can be completed as the financial resources become available,” said Wilczynski. “The master plan is a valuable tool every golf facility should have to guide course improvements and remain competitive in the marketplace.”