The newly renamed Atkins Golf Course, Urbana, Illinois, is undergoing a full-course renovation led by Drew Rogers, ASGCA (J. Drew Rogers, Golf Course Architect). The former Stone Creek was donated by the Atkins family to the University of Illinois, and will become the new home for the Illini men’s and women’s golf teams.
“You must really survey the needs of the facility and user to establish a proper vision to follow,” Rogers told the News-Gazette. “That never changes even though the site and client does. This opportunity was a a bit unique from some others, given the goals of the university and specifically the golf teams, but the overall process was in lock step with most any other project we typically undertake.
“Our intent here, from the beginning, was to simply make thoughtfully inspired adjustments that would allow for the course to simply become more of an improved version of itself while serving the more acute needs of the university and the facility operator,” he said. “The course will certainly have a very similar feel and appearance to what has always been there, but the specific details will be more fine-tuned and the playing strategies will be much more apparent and impacting and that was the intent from the beginning.”
Rogers’ work will also benefit the community, as Atkins will rename a public golf course.
“That’s what we’ve talked about since day one,” Illinois men’s golf coach Mike Small said. “We’re going to get this playing firmer, faster and more the way it was designed to be played when it was designed over 20 years ago. … We’re designing the golf course to play in a way that will be beneficial to my players, challenge them in a correct manner and also be a fun experience for the public. That’s the intent of the renovation.”
The updated course will play to a length of 7,500 yards, a marked increase from the previous 7,100 yard maximum.
“Every hole has been touched in some way,” Rogers said. “All of the bunkers have been addressed, either reconstructed or newly constructed. All of the greens have gone through a thatch removal process and are being completely re-grassed while retaining their original contours and character. Some tees have been adjusted as well, including quite a few new back tees that we’ve added to more effectively stretch the course out for the golf teams.”
The plan is for limited play at Atkins Golf Course in fall 2021, with a full re-open in Spring 2022.
The complete News-Gazette article may be seen here.