Some projects take on greater meaning for a golf course architect. That may have been the case for Drew Rogers, ASGCA, and the renovation work he just completed at the Champion Trace course, Trace Golf Club, Nicholasville, Kentucky.

The renovation from JDR Design Group included a greens regrassing, bunker refinements, fairway alignments, collar and approach extensions, tree removal and drainage work.

Rogers watched the Arthur Hills-designed course as it was first being built in the 1980s while he was a UK student, then found himself working with Hills during a 19-year relationship.

“I remember driving out to the site, sitting there and on a traditional black horse-farm fence and watching the design take shape, week by week. It honestly inspired my decision to pursue a career in course architecture.

“So, it was an honor to come back and play a role in fine-tuning the course with its new ownership. The greens were a big issue and I respect that the owners chose to address that need first and foremost. They re-grassed with V-8 bent — the same variety we used at Old Elm in Chicago. But we also made a number of thoughtful and strategic adjustments around the greens to allow the original design vision to effectively evolve.”

Champions Trace owner Evan Mossbarger said that “thoughtful” doesn’t begin to describe Rogers’ approach. “What I loved about Drew was, he made suggestions but he also really listened to us,” he said. “It’s my impression that most architects come and say, do this, do that. Drew had ideas, of course. But he listened to our ideas, too.

“For example, Drew gets the fact that we can’t grow this game unless we make these courses fun to play. I don’t want some 15-handicapper out there shooting 110. He’s got to feel good about playing here — and Drew made this happen. He made Champion Trace more fun for the double-digit handicapper. For the single-digit handicapper, well, he probably won’t even notice the changes because they don’t affect him at all.”