Jeff Stein’s renovation of the golf course and practice facilities at Brookside Country Club in Macungie, Pennsylvania, is on track to finish in June.
“The aim of the project is to update the look, feel and functionality of the entire facility,” said Stein, who was hired in November 2021 to work on the course, a 1929 design by Frank Meehan. “Primarily we have designed for a more efficient maintenance operation that has been driven by smarter use and placement of bunkers and reducing the amount of regularly mown rough by creating out of play areas for native grasses.”
Stein is reducing the number of bunkers from 53 to 39 and creating three additional acres for native grass. “There were previously a few very large bunkers which were somewhat out of place for Brookside and have since been eliminated, removing around half an acre of sand areas that the club no longer needs to maintain,” he said. The remaining bunkers are being filled in with white sand from New Jersey-based Mitchell Products.
The first phase of work began in September 2022 and focused on the practice facilities and holes one, two, eleven, thirteen and sixteen. The second phase began in March 2023 – the course has remained open throughout the entire project with the club using an extra hole to allow it to shut down individual holes while they are worked on. The project team has comprised Stein, fellow architect Brian Ross, shaper Daniel Loveridge, Brookside’s new superintendent Justin Reith, as well as additional staff from Stein Golf Design and Brookside.
A big part of the project has been the removal of over 200 mature trees that are overcrowding the land and impacting the health of the club’s oak, maple and chestnut trees that Stein says are a hallmark of Brookside. “The tree work has been transformative to several holes, opening up long vistas to the surrounding Lehigh Valley, while also offering additional strategic width off the tee,” he said.
“Equally as important is the expansion of the greens and adjustments to fairway grass lines that tie into the putting surfaces. We are taking the fairways out to the full width of the green pads so that running shots can bound up to the greens or into adjacent hazards without being buffered by rough. Essentially, we are allowing Brookside’s classically designed small targets to play a bit bigger while also offering more options to chip and putt around the greens. Brookside will begin overseeding much more bentgrass into their collars and greens now that we have expanded the green surrounds.”
Stein is also reworking the eighteenth with the aim of enhancing the end of the round. “The rebuilt eighteenth will be highlighted by a dry stacked wall built from fieldstones that came from the property,” he said. “It will wrap tightly around the edge of the pond to challenge the best players who are aiming for the pin on this small finishing green. Players of lesser ability will have plenty of fairway space to play away from the pond to chip and putt for their par.”
The project has included the levelling of tees and driving range work, carried out by George E Ley Company, which is also installing the irrigation on the driving range; the drainage components are being supplied by Turf Drainage Company of America.