Abbey Springs, a semi-private golf facility in Fontana, Wisconsin, has appointed Lohmann Quitno Golf Course Architects to begin renovation work in August 2021.
The project will include an overhaul of green complexes and bunkers, plus the addition of fairway drainage and expansion of pond retention areas.
“The club approached Lohmann Quitno to prepare a master improvement plan,” said Todd Quitno. “Our analysis included mapping the existing green slopes while assessing the course’s infrastructure. This revealed that the golf course is no longer performing at a level that is sustainable or acceptable for today’s quality standards, so a renovation plan was drawn up to address these concerns.”
Lohmann Quitno’s plan includes rebuilding and regrassing 16 green complexes. “The greens mapping analysis we prepared indicated extreme slopes on many greens, with some having less than 20 per cent of the surface falling within a reasonable range for pinning. In fact, some don’t have any viable pins at all,” said Quitno.
“The greens also have no internal drainage or sand rootzone structure and the existing turf struggles to maintain deep roots. For this reason, the greens have always been maintained at an increased height of cut to make them playable, but resulting in slow, sometimes bumpy, inconsistent conditions. To fix that, we have to rebuild, which means installing new drainage and all new sand and gravel materials. All green surfaces will also have modern bentgrass, which will allow for greater consistency in terms of roll and speed.”
The green surrounds will feature updated bunkering and expanded short grass areas. “The greenside and fairway bunkers have reached their effective lifespan,” said Quitno. “They no longer drain, due to contamination or lack of internal drainage, with several flooding due to their positioning. They currently require constant maintenance, and when in the best of conditions, they are not up to par with competing high-end golf courses in the area. Modern bunker construction methods will be employed to reduce daily maintenance inputs, provide consistent conditioning, and reallocate labour elsewhere on the course.
While addressing these infrastructure issues, the design of numerous holes will be transformed.
“The bunker rebuilds and the incorporation of short grass roll-ons and roll-offs will create interesting shotmaking options around the greens, where you can use a side slope to kick or funnel a ball to a tucked pin location.”
“On the seventh, we’re expanding the open water of the pond around the back side,” said Quitno. “This will help to fix drainage issues, but also create a dramatic peninsula effect to the green. The aggressive player can still go for the green, but they will have to be precise. And those laying up will also have to pick their spot for the best angle to the pin on any given day.
“Another interesting change is on the tenth, where we’re basically going to turn the green inside out, taking the domed surface and lowering it while making it more cupped like a punchbowl. So, any miss now along the edge will be directed inward rather than rejected down the steep hill.
“One of the more dramatic visual changes will be the eighteenth, which has always lacked a bit as a finishing hole,” continued Quitno. “Our concept is to move the green back and to the right, where it will be more visible from specific points in the fairway, requiring proper positioning from the tee to take advantage. We’ll also expand the pond towards the green, with bunkers benched in between, providing an outstanding new setting for the final hole as well as an impressive first view as golfers enter the course near the guard tower.”
Director of golf Jack Shoger said: “The product our team puts together for our members on a daily basis is tremendous, but providing that product has become a lot more difficult as of late. The game of golf has changed a lot since I’ve started here, as has the climate, and both have affected the viability of the golf course. I think the time is right to make a change and bring the course up to today’s standards, the standards that golfers expect, and to what our members deserve.”
The project is expected to be completed by May 2022.