Mike DeVries and Frank Pont complete restoration project at Bloomfield Hills

  • Bloom
    Mike DeVries

    The first hole (pictured) at Bloomfield Hills CC has been shifted to create a joint fairway with the eighteenth

  • Bloom
    Mike DeVries

    Trees have been cleared to emphasise the rolling terrain and reclaim course width

  • Bloom
    Mike DeVries

    Bunkers have been rebuilt to an early Colt style

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Mike DeVries and Frank Pont of golf architecture firm Clayton, DeVries & Pont have completed a Harry Colt restoration project at Bloomfield Hills Country Club in the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan.

Having unearthed documents that attribute the original design of the course to Colt, the club hired DeVries and Pont in 2017 to develop a long-term course plan. LaBar Renovations were appointed for construction work and began in July 2020, with DeVries on site throughout and Pont largely contributing via video link, given the travel restrictions of 2020.

The project included rebuilding four greens (one being the practice green), renovating bunkers to a Colt style, expanding the practice range, and returning the third and fourth holes to a long par three and par four respectively, to re-establish the original Colt routing.

New greens were designed to match the ‘push-up’ style seen elsewhere on the course. XGD drainage was installed, and the greens were turfed with Pure Distinction bentgrass sod that was grown on site. Some greens have been expanded to restore the original perimeters and pin locations and surrounds were expanded to bring back a wider variety of recovery shot options. These recovery areas have 007 bentgrass for playability and maintenance.

The relocation and elimination of some bunkers was undertaken to promote a more asymmetric defence of fairways and greens. All bunkers were built to an early Colt style with Better Billy Bunker liners installed throughout.

By shifting the first hole, a joint fairway with the eighteenth has been created. This has allowed the practice range to be widened – and it has been rebuilt with new drainage, target greens and new tees.

Most tees were also rebuilt, and several new ones introduced, with the par-71 layout now playable between 4,841 yards to 6,831.

The project also included selective tree removal to help emphasise the rolling terrain and reclaim the course’s original width and strategy.

“The restoration of Bloomfield Hills has been a wonderful project from start to finish,” said DeVries. “I am most thankful to the club for embracing our ideas and allowing Frank and me to reintroduce Harry Colt’s original composition as well as revisions to the course so as to embrace his key design principles. I hope that the members enjoy their restored course for years to come.”

“I enjoyed working with Mike on Bloomfield Hills’ long-term course plan and am only sorry that I was unable to be on site during the works themselves due to current travel restrictions,” said Pont. “Now that we have formed our collaborative partnership together with Mike Clayton, I look forward to working with Mike on other projects in the future.”

Work on the course’s irrigation system is under way and will finish in March. The course is expected to reopen in May 2021.