Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

TEE BOX 30 Course prep work lays foundation for Knollwood renovation Drew Rogers is renovating the Hugh Alison-designed golf course at Knollwood Club near Chicago, Illinois. In 2017, having renovated tees and bunkers and regrassed greens, Knollwood hired Rogers to develop a master plan for future work. “Our primary and immediate focus was directed at the site itself… the setting for the holes,” said Rogers. “To us, that stood as the key missing piece from earlier efforts – and those elements would ultimately make the difference in how the course should be restored.” Rogers studied old plans and aerials. “We sized up Alison’s early design touches, assessing the effects of scale and proportion and, of course, the plant materials that would best fit the intended design expression and complement the pastoral site,” he said. In September 2018, Rogers began working with superintendent Drew Barnett to implement the plan, including the addition of forward tees and some initial work in restoring Knollwood’s prairie-like landscape. That winter, tree removal and thinning of invasive buckthorn undergrowth began opening hole corridors that were more aligned with Alison’s descriptions and intent. “We removed all the lower quality trees that disrupted views and covered up higher quality trees,” said Rogers. “We also took steps that would allow for better playability and visibility within most hole corridors, and across the site as a whole – this essentially paved the way for future course improvements, including the rebuilding of bunkers and regrassing fairways, plus their widening and realigning. “When we could finally feel the holes, presented again in full scale, we then started to address some of the spacious void in a different way, by introducing native fescue spaces in out of play areas. So now, along with the thinning of trees, including retaining old specimen elms, oaks and hickory, we also have another layer of texture and colour with the grasses – all balanced with the new fairway lines and grand bunkering.” Barnett said: “The work has been positively accepted. The slow maturation process of the fine fescue did cause heartache for some members, but with full maturity of Photo: Andy Johnson/The Fried Egg Initial work has focused on restoring Knollwood’s prairie-like landscape