BROOKFIELD, Wis. – The ninth annual American Society of Golf Course Architects Design Excellence Recognition Program honorees have been named. These golf facilities have been cited for their work with ASGCA members in addressing unique design challenges.

Since its creation, the Design Excellence Recognition Program has highlighted the innovation and problem-solving skills required of today’s golf course designs, from new 18-hole layouts to renovations to new and updated practice facilities.

The 2020 submissions were reviewed by a panel of golf industry leaders, including representatives of the Club Management Association of America, Golf Course Builders Association of America and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The recognized courses are:
• Blythefield Country Club, Belmont, Michigan/Chris Wilczynski, ASGCA
• Cutalong, Mineral, Virginia/Tom Clark, ASGCA
• PING® Proving Grounds – Professional Demo Center, Phoenix/Forrest Richardson, ASGCA
• The Links at Sagewood, Phoenix/Gary Brawley, ASGCA
• Schaumburg Golf Club/Schaumburg Park District, Schaumburg, Illinois/Todd Quitno, ASGCA, and Bob Lohmann, ASGCA
• White Eagle Golf Club, Naperville, Illinois/Todd Quitno, ASGCA

“This may be the most diverse group of projects we have seen in the history of Design Excellence,” ASGCA Vice President Jason Straka said. “I congratulate the facilities and the architects they have worked with in proving, once again, that there is an art and a science to golf course architecture. Best of all, golfers in these communities are benefiting from this impressive work.”

• Blythefield Country Club, Belmont, Michigan/Chris Wilczynski, ASGCA

Blythefield, host to the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, was designed more than 90 years ago by William B. Langford and Theodore J. Moreau. A renovation has restored the course and Club to its original splendor.

Improvements included:
o New state-of-the-art two acre short-game practice facility
o 12,000 SF putting green and putting course
o New tees for each hole to lengthen and shorten the course
o Repositioning and rebuilding of all bunkers with the Better Billy Bunker System
o Fairway realignment and widening
o All greens expanded to their original shapes and sizes
o New internal drainage system for each green

Tree removal has also opened the site panoramas, restored a cleaner look and created the width for each hole that Langford and Moreau intended.

• Cutalong, Mineral, Virginia/Tom Clark, ASGCA

Conceived in 2000 as a 27-hole facility with 350 homes on 1,000 acres, after four owners, three environmental firms, four engineering firms, three superintendents and two golf contractors, it morphed into an 18-hole course with huge practice facilities and a 900-home development with sewer and water.

Once construction began in earnest, even though 3 holes were grown in and 5 holes rough graded, only 11 holes were finished in 2019 mainly due to the lack of available irrigation water. In 2020, the last 7 holes were completed.

The 1,000 acres was an early 20th century mining operation with abandoned vertical shafts, railroad beds, wash basins, ruins and a contaminated stream as a water source. The site was completely cleaned of debris, and reseeded to fescue and millet to form some topsoil. The water was neutralized with a separate mixing pond of well water, lime and limestone.

With the assistance of consultant Ron Whitten, the original concept was, and still remains, to create a composite course like the National Golf Links of Classic architecture from Classic designers. As Lake Anna is near several Civil War battlefields, aspects of some holes are based by19th Century fortresses and defenses. Because Cutalong rests atop a defunct mining operation, certain holes reflect that heritage as well.

• PING® Proving Grounds – Professional Demo Center, Phoenix/Forrest Richardson, ASGCA

The challenge was to develop a showcase practice green with .08-inch tolerance for 0%, .5%, 1%, 1.5% and 2% putting by PING® Tour Professionals, combined with a practice bunker capable of being emptied and replaced with specific sand type for club testing. All of this within a small, 8,000 SF space to provide highly accurate putting surface tolerances to use and test new clubs. The putting and chipping area must offer slopes and breaks with surrounding terrain that approximates real-world chipping conditions.

The design also needed to accommodate the robotic PING® Launch Monitor contained in the test building adjacent to the green area. Safety relative to this area required a layout that allowed access to the adjacent practice range while permitting security to isolate all areas when prototype equipment is being demonstrated or tested.

The design required careful integration to PING®’s testing equipment. Detailed GPS slope analysis of the finished green surface is aligned with putt tracking technology so putts can be measured and compared to cross-slope, gradient and green speed.

• The Links at Sagewood, Phoenix/Gary Brawley, ASGCA

A new putting course was commissioned as part of the Phase II expansion of the Sagewood, Senior Living Community in Phoenix, converting 50,000 sq. ft. of open space into a world-class amenity for the 600 residents. The Owner’s directive was to build the highest quality, natural playing surface putting course that would be a fun and unique challenge for the residents.

Creating a large putting surface rather than 18 individual holes lends itself to more playing options in the daily set-up. The result is an 18-hole layout that can also be played in reverse. In addition, golfers have a 9-hole routing and a superintendent’s choice routing so that over a four-week period the golf course will play different each week. Residents are also encouraged to explore the putting green and have fun with whatever way they choose to play the course that day.

• Schaumburg Golf Club/Schaumburg Park District, Schaumburg, Illinois/Todd Quitno, ASGCA, and Bob Lohmann, ASGCA

Celebrating 25 years under Park District ownership, the golf course infrastructure was inadequate and needed upgrading.

Challenges included: layering built up on greens above original construction constricted water and air flow; bunkers 20+ years old suffered from contamination, poor drainage, and lacked strategic value; desire to enhance forward teeing system to build new clientele; major flooding/drainage issues on several holes resulted in extended downtime and loss of revenue; and inadequate practice facilities.

Solutions have been well-received by the Park District and golfers, including:
– Work completed in three, 9-hole phases (18 always open) to maximize revenues.
– Two holes rerouted to alleviate flooding, which also allowed for practice range expansion.
– The expanded driving range grass tee (fescue) regenerates quickly due to its strong roots, minimizing divot damage and allowing regrowth within days.
– Re-built greens (USGA construction) and new bentgrass are providing much greater resiliency.
– New bunkers, with aggregate liners and premier sand, require minimal maintenance and have greatly improved strategic options.
– Tee complexes and fairways are thriving with the new bent providing stronger rooting and drought tolerances and savings in fungicide.

• White Eagle Golf Club, Naperville, Illinois/Todd Quitno, ASGCA

The number, size and position of bunkers across the 27-hole facility led to a renovation project focused on sand reduction and repositioning. Bunkers were expansive and cumbersome to maintain, plus often contaminated following years of storm damage. Several greens were also an issue, either sporting slopes that were too steep to manage reasonable pin positions, too small and in need or expansion, or having internal drainage issues. New bunkering program and expanded bentgrass areas have made the course interesting for members of all playing abilities while adding a needed spark for membership recruitment.

Solutions included:
– Bunker square footage reduced from 160,000 sf to less than 80,000 sf.
– In areas where bunkers were removed, bentgrass was added to expand fairway landing areas and create dynamic roll-off and roll-on features around the greens.
– Bunker maintenance labor has been reduced dramatically requiring minimal daily work (touch-ups) and virtually no storm cleanup.
– With bentgrass expanded to bunker edges, and rolling faces flashed high with sand, the final look is unique to the area and has resulted increased member recruitment opportunities.