Golf course architect Keith Foster is nearing completion of renovation work at Coldstream Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The club initiated the project having recognised the need for improvements to bunkers and cart paths. Around the same time, it hired Jon Williams as golf course superintendent, who highlighted other areas that needed work, including tree management.
“When I started at Coldstream, I quickly realised how great the golf course and property was,” said Williams. “But just like many great courses out there, it was heavily treed through the 1970s and 80s, which has now become the biggest challenge that many superintendents face: getting clubs to recognise how trees have slowly altered the way the holes play, the impact they have on maintenance costs and the challenges they cause to the quality of playing condition. The best course of action to combat these issues is to hire an architect to help the club build a master plan.”
The club also sought input from the USGA, who visited and agreed the club needed a master plan to include tree removal, reseeding of fairways and rough, new bunkers, drainage and cart path work.
Williams convinced Foster to visit Coldstream. “Keith saw a golf course that not many of us could have imagined,” said a club spokesperson.
“The club knew Keith would honour Dick Wilson’s original design and help guide them throughout the process,” said Williams. “Keith’s first visit to Coldstream was on 2 January, which was a blistering cold day with a high of minus seven degrees. Without any hesitation, Keith insisted that he walk the course a couple of times. From that day on, he was able to build the right master plan for the club and present further enhancements that would position the club for the future.”
A club spokesperson said: “From the very first meeting with Keith we recognised we had someone special. We truly placed our trust in him. I recall a comment from the USGA visit where they said that every private club has well-meaning professional members with various skills and backgrounds, but none have a true professional golf architect, so, ‘listen and support the recommendations of your architect’.”
Contractor McDonald and Sons began construction in July 2020, with Foster’s plan paying respect to the original 1959 design by Wilson.
“The program at Coldstream was focused on producing a worthy and honouring effort by reintroducing the original broad and sweeping scale,” said Foster. “This was accomplished by select tree removal and then substantial fairway expansion. This allowed us to then reintroduce Wilson’s bold and iconic bunkering back into the course, which is the most compelling part of the program. The subtle tee repositioning and softer style will nicely set up each hole while the increased fairway width will create enhanced strategy for all levels of play.”
One hole that captures the essence of the Coldstream renovation is the fourth, which now has wider and bolder fairways, a return of Wilson’s deep bunkers and a seamless connection between the green and the fifth tee.
“Our work also included cleaning up green shapes at each hole and adjusting surface contours where appropriate, notably at the second, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth and sixteenth holes,” said Foster.
With new and repositioned tees, wider and unobstructed fairways, and repositioned fairway bunkers, longer hitters will have to think more about their tee shots than they previously did.
“Members will appear to have more options with wider, less obstructive lines to the greens, yet reading the hole for the proper approach angle will be important,” said a club spokesperson. “The views from the more open course will be new and there will be no more putting out of the old shallow bunkers. We will all need to sharpen up our bunker play!”
“The master plan, which is now called the Guardian Project, has been a collaboration of many fantastic contractors, along with Coldstream’s staff,” said Williams. “Pre-construction work included tree removal and installation of mainline drainage pipe. Once the heavy construction work began, the membership was gracious enough to allow us to close down the course and execute work to the fullest.”
The irrigation system was updated by Michael Kuhn Irrigation Consulting and Thielen Turf Irrigation. Work also included the construction of more naturalised cart paths and Golf Preservations Inc has added additional fairway and rough drainage piping.
“My hope is that the membership will appreciate the elegance of the property and the work itself as it was placed seamlessly into the land,” said Foster. “The broader scale that has been reintroduced is also a notable element that the membership will enjoy.”
“I couldn’t be happier with every contractor that has played a significant part in making the Guardian Project such a huge success,” said Williams. “We plan on finishing up all the details over the next six months. Come early 2021, Coldstream membership will have a course that has been updated, that showcases the fantastic property it was originally built on and it truly honours Dick Wilson’s work. What Keith Foster has done for Coldstream is ‘nulli secundus!’”
The club will hold a reopening ceremony in June 2021.