Town & Country Club in Saint Paul, Minnesota has approved a comprehensive renovation masterplan developed by architect Jeff Mingay and the club’s long-time course superintendent Bill Larson.
Mingay and Larson’s plan includes expanding greens and fairways, as well as tee and bunker work.
The short par-four fifth, which Mingay says is “out of balance” with the rest of the course, will be rebuilt.
“The fifth is a pretty dull hole for better golfers, with a tee shot into a narrow valley followed by a steep uphill approach to an invisible green surface,” says Mingay. “It’s too difficult for short hitters and higher handicappers. Our plan is to preserve the inherent character of this historic hole but lower the green and raise the fairway just enough to create a more equitable hole that will present a more interesting challenge to better players and, simultaneously, do a better job at accommodating everyone else’s enjoyment.”
Mingay and Larson had already made initial alterations to the course, including removing hundreds of trees and restoring the size of greens. The work to bring their masterplan to life is scheduled to begin in August 2024.
“Bill and I have been chipping away at the course, doing the shaping and construction work in-house,” said Mingay. “That’s been fun, but I’m really excited to finish what we’ve started in one fell swoop next year with a great partner in Duininck Golf. We have an opportunity to genuinely restore the integrity of some wonderful, historic golf architecture at Town & Country along with the true nature of the site in its distinctly urban setting.”
Town & Country Club is one of the oldest courses in America still playing golf on its original site. The club hosted the first ever round of golf in the state in 1893. The five-hole course was expanded to 18 in 1907 by club member Ben Schurmeier. Scottish-native Robert Foulis also had a hand in the course’s development, serving as the club’s resident professional in the late 1890s. Schurmeier’s 1907 layout was modified in the 1920s and remains largely intact today.
“We’re definitely not aiming to strictly restore the course to a certain period in its history,” Mingay explained. “However, we’re certainly inspired by history. Town & Country Club has a treasure trove of historical materials that’s allowed us to study the course’s unique evolution and provide aesthetic inspiration. In the process of developing our plan, we’ve effectively determined what’s worked over the years, what hasn’t and why. As a result, the plan respects the course’s heritage but will also serve the club in a contemporary manner, well into the future.”
Duininck Golf will carry out construction work during a three-month project beginning in August 2024 and all 18 holes are expected to reopen for play in spring 2025.