Robert McNeil completes Ross-inspired renovation at Kernwood

  • Kernwood
    Northeast Golf Company

    Robert McNeil has restored the fourth tees as part of his renovation work at Kernwood Country Club in Massachusetts

  • Kernwood
    Northeast Golf Company

    The architect has also restored Ross’s plateau green at the ninth

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Golf course architect Robert McNeil of Northeast Golf Company has completed renovation work at Kernwood Country Club in Salem, Massachusetts.

Work at the club began in 2006 after a gas line was installed, directly through the path of several holes. McNeil has since provided design services, including short- and long-range master planning, for several projects.

The main focus of work during McNeil’s time as the club’s consulting architect, with support from Kernwood’s greens chair Frank Cole and club professional Frank Dully, has been to recapture the Donald Ross character of the course that, according to McNeil “had gotten tired, or lost, over the years since the course’s inception in 1914”. This has included the reintroduction of various course elements that had been lost due to the overgrowth of trees, new planting and “wandering” mowing lines.

“Over 800 trees were removed to open sightlines throughout the property and to capture the vista along the Danvers River running along holes five to seven,” said McNeil. “The tree management programme has resulted in the opportunity to develop framing turf, expanded fairways, new lines of play, bringing the playing experience at Kernwood back to its origins.”

McNeil studied aerial photography from the 1930s and original Ross sketches to inform his design decisions, including his recent work on bunkers, which involved restoring the Ross style.

“We’ve brought back original grassing lines in the fairways, expanded green perimeters to their intended edges and introduced grass catchment and tightly mown pitch areas,” said McNeil.

“Along with the restorative work, new tees have been constructed – including a new first tee complex – and a new putting green. The vision for the work was shaped and executed by Country Golf Inc, led by Jerry and Jim Demers, and the incredible maintenance team at Kernwood, led by golf course superintendent John Eggleston.”