Lohmann Quitno has completed the final phase of renovation work at Schaumburg Golf Club, a 27-hole public facility in northwest Chicago.
The purpose of the project, which began in 2017 and was completed in three phases to keep 18 holes in play throughout, was to renew the course’s infrastructure and improve its long-term sustainability.
Playing surfaces have been re-grassed, greens have been rebuilt and new tees introduced. Some design changes have been made, with an effort to re-establish several elements of William Langford’s original 1928 layout.
This year’s work focused on the Tournament nine, with the Player’s nine completed in 2017 and the Baer nine in 2018.
A largely blind tee shot on the second hole of the Tournament nine has been removed by lowering a hill several feet. The fairway has been doubled in width and a central bunker added. “From the right side of the central bunker the green angle is straight at you so it’s easiest to hold a longer shot, but you have to carry the pond,” said architect Todd Quitno. “From the left side of the fairway, the front of the green is more open, but the approach and green surface slant from left to right towards the water, and there is a bunker guarding the left side that cuts into the green a bit, so it’s a demanding shot. Positioning off the tee will be paramount to scoring.”
Quitno said the par-three third hole now has a Redan feel to it. “You can use a kicker slope at the front-right to access the back-left, around the greenside bunker, but the entire back side of the green is also flanked with containment mounds, which can be used to draw a ball back onto the putting surface. So, there are a variety of ways to access a tucked pin.”
Some of the most significant design changes made during the renovation were to the Player’s nine – the shortest of the three loops.
“We basically took two very difficult and under-performing holes [the seventh and eighth] and created two really fun holes by flipping them from a par four and three, to a par three and four,” said Quitno. “This also allowed us to move an existing lake and solve a major drainage issue while expanding the range. All of this occurred in phase one, so we’ve seen and played the results and it has been a huge hit.”
“We receive positive comments daily about these holes,” says Jon Parsons, general manager of golf operations at the club. “The changes that were made to increase playability and user-friendliness have actually made impacts on our overall pace of play as well, which is huge in regard to customer satisfaction and user experience, but I think a lot of people just like something new and different as well.”
The rebuilt greens have been grassed with Pure Distinction. Golf course superintendent Shane Ritchie says that they are already showing greater consistency and improved playability despite two wet summer seasons. Tees and fairways have been re-grassed with Crystal Blue Links.
Ritchie said: “From an agronomic point of view, the greatest impacts of the renovation are certainly the re-grassing to new varieties of bentgrass along with the transition to rhizomatous tall fescue on the range’s practice tee and the re-sodding of greens complexes and bunker surrounds to new varieties of rough turfgrass.
“Our tee complexes and fairways are also thriving, with the new bentgrass providing stronger rooting and drought tolerances and savings in fungicide treatments.
“This year the Player’s nine has yielded its first signs of maturing, giving us the ability to present the firm and fast conditions we are aiming for. It will get even better along those lines in the next couple of years.”
Bunkers were rebuilt using the Better Billy Bunker liner and white sand from ProAngle. Ritchie said the bunkers now have more visual impact, playability has improved, and has saved the club money in terms of maintenance.
“The new bunkers are a huge hit, with minimal maintenance, especially after storms,” said Parsons. “Customers love how the bunkers look and how easy they are to recover from.”
“The new practice putting greens and the improved layout at the first tee of the Tournament course will be a highlight for next year that I am really looking forward to, as it will complete the package, offering our patrons every aspect of the game to play and practice.”
With each phase of construction bid separately, Golf Creations completed the first two phases and Wadsworth the third. “I was concerned about consistency, primarily in the final shaping of bunkers, but both of these groups are professionals who know what they’re doing, so the final phase went on without a hitch,” said Quitno. “They were sensitive to what had been completed prior and delivered a product that fits seamlessly with the first two phases.
“This has been a very rewarding project for me, and everyone involved, because three years — plus initial planning — is a long time to stay focused and consistent. I think we did a pretty good job of this, learning and adjusting with each consecutive phase, but maintaining a common goal and style throughout.
“The Park District staff and our firm worked together really well throughout the process. Our goals and lines of communication were open and consistent throughout, and that collaborative mentality is what kept the project in check over the three-year period.
“During this last phase, I got to see the use of our ‘Life Tee’ program. The local high school’s girls’ team was playing from our very front tees in the fairway. The coach said it matched their abilities well and gave them the chance to hit some of the greens in regulation where they ordinarily couldn’t. That was cool to see, our efforts paying off to maximise fun and relevance for all skill levels.”
Schaumburg expects to reopen the Tournament nine by August 2020.