Golf course architect Samuel Beckman is under way with the second phase of a renovation project at Glen Flora Country Club in Waukegan, Illinois.
Dean Chudy purchased the club in 2015 with plans to renovate bunkers once a certain membership threshold had been reached. Beckman, who became a member in May 2019 was quickly hired to develop a plan. “He pretty much hired me on the spot after I showed him a concept for the twelfth,” said Beckman.
“The first phase involved rebuilding the greenside bunkers on the par-four fourteenth, adding a walk-off area and new back tee to the par-five fifteenth, and rebuilding the par-three sixth’s bunkers,” said Beckman.
That work began during Illinois’ Covid lockdown, while the club was allowed to continue maintenance activities. Construction is being completed by an in-house team led by course superintendent and shaper Ross Page.
Beckman said: “On the sixth, we removed a front-right bunker that was next to the pond – which was created in the 1980s and led to the bunker constantly holding water – with the result being a 208-yard par three with a pond short left, a bunker deep left, and a bailout bunker short right.”
Construction for the second phase began in mid-October on holes two, three, four and seventeen. “We will be returning the second hole to its Redan-style roots – it is too short to be a true Redan, but it has obvious characteristics,” said Beckman. “The fairway bunkers between the third and fourth holes will be reshaped to a style more in line with the original form. While the seventeenth will see the removal of a 1980s fairway bunker that blocks views of the creek running along the length of the fairway and over penalises the higher handicap players. The greenside bunkers will be rebuilt and slightly reshaped into a more classic style.”
The second phase will also include some select tree removal, mostly due to agronomic issues or because they are dead or dying, but also in some cases with regard to strategy. “The course is just one-and-a-half miles from Lake Michigan and its ever-changing wind pattern,” said Beckman. “The tree removal will expose the winds a little more. The course was never designed to be without trees though, so we will keep to that intent.”
This phase of work is expected to take six weeks with the project team aiming to complete renovation work on just over 50 bunkers, at a rate of approximately ten per year.
“I am not sure there is an ‘end date’ for when everything is complete,” says Beckman. “There are many other changes that will be worked on slowly, such as bringing the original green sizes back. We aren’t going to rebuild any greens, but through maintenance practices there are some areas that we can restore. I am happy to continue to support the club as long as it takes.”
The architect says the part of the project he is most excited about is the historical aspect. “The club actually dates back to 1900 – not 1911 as previously thought – and moved to its current location in 1922,” said Beckman. “While it is not a true restoration – it’s more of a historical renovation – I love the research aspect and bringing a course back to its classic intent. Players should realise that Glen Flora has a similar lineage to some of the more famous neighbouring clubs.”