Clearing work was started this past winter on the Kendale course at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, the first step in a renovation plan created by golf course architecture firm Fry/Straka.
The project was prompted by the need for a new irrigation system for both the Kendale and Kenview courses at Kenwood CC. “But before the irrigation system went in the ground the club wanted to explore what other improvements should be done ahead of time, or in concert with the irrigation installation,” said Jason Straka, a principal of Fry/Straka. “Refurbished bunkers were on their list, as was improved drainage and removing overgrown trees. That said, no one else really knew where the planning would lead to once we got started.
“We gathered a plethora of material from the club’s historic archives, including the original 1930 William Diddle routing and green drawings, old photos, writings, and brochures from the 1933 US Amateur Championship, the 1963 US Women’s Open, and the 51st Western Open.”
Download: A hole-by-hole guide of the original No.1 course at Kenwood CC, from the programme for the 1933 National Amateur Golf Championship.
“We went through a rigorous interview process and were fortunate to be selected for the project,” said Straka. “I live less than an hour and a half from the club by car, so having a project of this calibre so close to home is especially appealing to me.”
Since the original courses were laid out by Diddle, the expansion of Interstate 71 has seen several holes being removed and relocated. The impact to Kenview was especially dramatic. Kenview now has some original holes, some which are few decades old, and even others which are just a few years old. In contrast, Kendale is a composite of all original holes, so the club decided to focus its first effort on Kendale.
“The design to be implemented is largely restorative, but with some modernisation to be sure,” said Straka. “Some historians may cringe at my statement, but there is a need, for example, to add new tees to accommodate a greater diversity of skills of both low and high handicaps.”
“While a lot of focus will be on putting back the old look and play, there will be a lot of new technologies utilised,” said Straka. “Two-wire irrigation system, Polylast bunker liner, 007 bentgrass greens surrounds, and LIDAR-scanned and reverse-engineered softening of green slopes are just a few. These technologies will aid superintendent Kent Turner and his staff to maintain the course to a high level which, combined with the design improvements, will allow the course to reach its full potential.”
Greens scanning was conducted using GreenScan 3D technology, followed by slope analysis and comparisons to the original sizes. “Many interesting pin positions have long since been lost due to increased green speeds, and since no one is going to return to higher heights of cut, we are going to replicate every little bump and valley on the greens, but at slightly softer grades via the use of laser scanning,” said Straka.
“Current members will have restored pin locations they have never known to this point. There are so many interesting, fun and challenging pin locations that have been lost over time. For many members, it will be like learning a new course, even though it’s been right in front of them this whole time.”
Fry/Straka also reviewed original fairway widths and angles, strategy, bunkers sizes and locations, tree impacts, sightlines into landing areas, and drainage. “Fairways are being widened to their original widths, trees removed to assist with width and open up long vistas throughout the course, intruding cart paths will be relocated, drainage added to improve surface conditions, lines of sight restored on several holes which were lost due to course lengthening, and more,” said Straka.
“Further, some bunker placements needed to be altered from the original so that the intended strategy could be restored.”
“Kendale is on a great piece of ground and is certainly a course that should be on equal footing with the best Ohio has to offer.”
As Wadsworth Golf Construction progresses with the work, nine holes will close in September, and the other nine a few weeks after that.
The course is scheduled to reopen by early summer 2020.