Theodore Wirth reopens course following Norby renovation

  • Theodore Wirth

    Theodore Wirth reopens following renovation project

  • Theodore Wirth

    The renovated bunkers now have a ‘Golden Age look’

  • Theodore Wirth

    The Minneapolis club constructed three new holes

  • Theodore Wirth

    The original nine-hole course was opened in 1916

  • Theodore Wirth

    The new 360-yard par four eighteenth

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Theodore Wirth Golf Club in Minneapolis, USA, has reopened, following a Kevin Norby renovation project jointly funded by Loppet Foundation and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

The nearly $12 million project has seen the construction of three new holes, a complete bunker renovation, and the installation of a new irrigation central control system. The par-four seventeenth hole has been replaced with a new 360-yard par four that becomes the eighteenth. The hole doglegs slightly to the right with four fairway and greenside bunkers.

Elevated greens and renovated bunkers have been designed to echo the course’s 1920s styling. “We spent a lot of time working on the shaping of the greens and greenside surrounds, so they would match the style and character found throughout the rest of the course,” said Norby. “We also renovated all of the existing bunkers to reduce their size and to provide a consistent Golden Age look throughout the course.”

Norby said: “There was a lot of discussion and debate about losing the par-three eighteenth hole. It was a beautiful example of a short Golden Age par three.” Aerial photographs of the original course showed another par three hole which had been abandoned in the 1960s. That hole was a short uphill par three with a blind approach and surrounded by bunkers. Norby said: “We reinstated that hole but lowered it slightly to increase the green size and to improve visibility. The resulting hole is a really nice replacement for the par-three eighteenth that was lost.”

Herford Norby Golf Course Architects first looked at the project in 2011 when the Park Board asked them to explore alternatives for reducing the impact that winter activities were having on turf quality. In 2014, the Loppet Foundation approached the Park Board with the idea of expanding cross country skiing trails and constructing a new adventure and welcome centre which would offer mountain biking and a variety of winter activities. In 2017, Herford Norby completed work to add two new holes to the course.

The original nine-hole course opened in 1916 as Glenwood golf course and was later expanded to 18 holes in 1919. The course was renamed to honour Theodore Wirth, who was director of parks for the City of Minneapolis from 1909 to 1935. The course is one of five courses owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Construction work was completed by Duininck Golf.