Pine River Country Club in Alma, Michigan, has reopened its original nine holes following a renovation by golf course architect Chris Wilczynski.
The original nine holes were designed by the Chicago Landscape Company in the 1920s, with a second nine added in the 1960s by Jerry Matthews.
Randy Lewis, a member of the club and winner of the 2011 US Mid-Amateur championship, consulted with Wilczynski in the creation of a renovation plan in 2020.
“The first time I visited the course I fell in love with it… I could clearly see what was needed to transform the property and create a great golf course,” said Wilczynski. “Given its relationship to the nearby Pine River, the course topography has a natural roll, but its beauty was disguised by too many trees.
“The renovations, along with the removal of over 250 trees, were required to improve playability and open the sight lines to unveil the property’s natural beauty and panoramic views. These enhancements have given the course an even greater sense of place that I hope members will enjoy for years to come.”
Four sets of tees were added at each hole to widen the range of yardages at which the course is playable; all fairways were realigned and regrassed with low mow bluegrass; every green was rebuilt and recontoured; and bunkers were repositioned, cutting into the site’s natural landforms.
The project began in June 2020 with the work executed by Great Lakes Golf Construction, Thielen Irrigation, Mavis Agronomic Consulting and golf course superintendent Warren Burhans.
“Working with Chris and all the contractors was a pleasure,” said co-owner Alan Kommel, who initiated the project. “They were a great team and worked together to achieve our goals which were to bring back some of the original design features of this 100-year-old gem and improve aesthetics and playability. I’m amazed by the transformation and the members are loving it too.”
Other work includes drainage and irrigation updates, the establishment of 15 acres of native grass areas and a sustainable feature that serves as an environmental habitat for birds and wildlife.
“We are thrilled with the results of the golf course renovation project,” said Wilczynski. “We had a great canvas to use for the renovation and a client that entrusted the team to get the job done. We are all immensely proud of what we created!”