Kevin Norby has completed a renovation of the AW Tillinghast layout at Golden Valley Country Club in Minnesota, USA.
The project goals were to improve playability and ease maintenance, while also restoring the vision of Tillinghast, who redesigned the course, which opened in 1914 as a nine-hole layout by Thomas Bendelow, in 1925. Some of his design had been lost over the years as greens shrank, fairway corridors narrowed, trees grew and several bunkers were filled in to minimise maintenance during the depression of the 1930s.
Norby was hired in 2020 to implement the first phase of the project and for the past 18 months has been working in collaboration with golf consultants Brad Klein and Philip Young, both Tillinghast experts.
“My goal in working with Brad Klein and Philip Young was to modernise the course and reinforce Tillinghast’s design philosophies and his original intent for Golden Valley,” said Norby. “This was not a restoration but instead a renovation directed at modernising the course. We relocated fairway bunkers, installed bunker irrigation and expanded fairways.”
“We also constructed 13 new forward tees,” said Norby, which means the overall course length now begins at 4,700 yards. “If approved by the membership, future improvements will involve the softening of putting green slopes, the further reinstatement of lost putting surfaces, reinstatement of lost bunkers and re-grassing of the greens and fairways.
“Our primary reference was Tillinghast’s 1926 plan which shows what he originally intended. The plan shows fairways that are considerably wider than those that exist today. It also shows bunkers that are somewhat irregular in shape and in many case the fairways run directly into the bunkers rather than being surrounded by rough. We are also using historic photographs and a 1937 aerial photograph of the golf course.
“Two things that are particularly unique to Golden Valley Country Club is the extreme depth of the bunkers and the somewhat quirky mounding constructed from the original spoils of construction. The greenside bunkers range from four to 11 feet deep with steep slopes on all sides. By lowering the leading edges of the bunkers, we are able to make them more accessible, more visible and easier to maintain.”
Construction started in early September and was completed in early November.