Shake-up at Sportsman's Country Club

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The 18-hole course at Sportsman's Country Club in Northbrook, Illinois, reopened this summer after being restored by architect Rick Jacobson.

"Rick did a fantastic job of restoring the original Donald Ross-style character of the golf course while improving its infrastructure and updating its strategic elements to the standards of today's golfer and golf equipment," said Mark Miller, PGA golf operations director for the Northbrook Park District, which owns the 27-hole complex located in the northern Chicago suburb. "We couldn't be happier with the job Rick and his team did." Perhaps the most noticeable changes have affected the bunkers. Several older fairway bunkers that once came into play primarily for high handicappers have been grassed over and replaced with strategically relocated sand bunkers situated farther down the fairway in tee shot landing zones.

According to Jacobson, the purpose is to challenge better players who hit the ball longer off the tee with today's high-tech clubs and golf balls, while not punishing higher handicappers more likely to hit tee shots into the shorter bunkers.

"Many of the existing bunkers were irrelevant to today's better player but penal for casual golfers and average players," Jacobson said. "Golf is supposed to fun.

Challenging for good players, yes, but also enjoyable for the vast majority of people who shoot in the 90s or higher." Jacobson regrassed all 18 greens with A4 bent grass, regraded a number of greens in order to facilitate drainage and provide more challenging putting surfaces and expanded most of the greens to their original size and shape in order to recapture pin placements. Jacobson also added chipping aprons adjacent to several greens. In addition, several new forward tees have been added or relocated.