Golf Course Architect Rick Jacobson Restores Another Classic Course
LIBERTYVILLE, Illinois (March 6, 2006) – Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Ill. has won Golf Inc. Magazine’s 2005 Renovation of the Year award in the private club category for a project planned and directed by nationally known golf course architect Rick Jacobson.
"The membership at Sunset Ridge understood the goals and objectives of the master plan we developed and was very supportive during its implementation," Jacobson said. "The members are very deserving of the Renovation of the Year award. "
The renovation of Sunset Ridge was driven by aesthetic, maintenance and strategic concerns, according to Jacobson.
"Sunset Ridge is a traditional parkland style golf course, where our challenge was to maintain the integrity and classic character of the original design while adapting the strategic design elements of the course in an effort to challenge today’s players, who are utilizing modern equipment technology," Jacobson said. "The goal was to improve the golfers’ overall experience from the standpoint of challenge, aesthetic beauty and playing conditions."
According to Golf Inc. magazine, entrants were evaluated anonymously on four criteria: how well the renovation achieved its overall project goal (50 percent), whether or not the aesthetics were improved (20 percent), whether course playability was improved (20 percent), and whether the course’s maintainability was improved (10 percent).
Originally designed in 1924 by the prolific William H. Diddel and renovated a short time later by Charles Wagstaff, Sunset Ridge is regarded as one of the Chicago area’s top clubs. Construction of Jacobson’s comprehensive renovation took 10 months and the club reopened for play May 28, 2005
The renovation included all new and expanded teeing areas aimed at accommodating players of various levels; the "visually stunning" redesign and reconstruction of all 72 existing bunkers; the addition of several new bunkers aimed at creating strategic challenges for low handicap players; resurfacing of all greens with A-4 bentgrass; removal of non-strategic trees to improve turfgrass growing conditions; construction of a new putting green and short game practice area; pond dredging; a new drainage system; new cart paths and curbing to facilitate golfer circulation, and fairway contouring. Greens also have been expanded and restored to their original shape to recapture strategic pin placements.
Jacobson also performed a major overhaul of the par 3 15th hole to improve the playability and aesthetics of the hole. A new USGA green was constructed to provide strategic yet playable pin placement locations and a rock wall was built to enhance the aesthetics of an existing water hazard.
Don Wallace, the club’s grounds and greens chairman, who worked closely with Jacobson on the project, said the most obvious change in the aesthetics of the course is Jacobson’s re-working of the bunkers.
"The look of the bunkers now is visually stunning," Wallace said.
Although the landlocked club could not add length, its post-renovation slope rating from the championship blue tees increased to 134 from 130, presumably because the new bunkers were strategically relocated to catch errant shots of long hitters.
The course plays 6,752 yards from the championship tees and 6,529 from the regular white tees. A senior tee (6,180 yards), women’s tee (5,301 yards) and women’s championship tee (5,850 yards) also were added. The goal of the new tee complexes was to attain a balance for all levels of golfers and provide flexibility in course set up.
A protégé of Jack Nicklaus, Jacobson founded Jacobson Golf Course Design, Inc. in 1991 as a full-service golf design firm specializing in new course designs as well as master plan renovations and additions to existing facilities. The company is celebrating its 15-year anniversary this year.
Jacobson’s renovation work is nationally renowned. He renovated Pete Dye’s Des Moines G&CC for the 1999 U.S. Senior Open and has renovated a number of the Chicago area’s classic private courses, including North Shore and Bob O’ Link country clubs. Bob O’Link is a Donald Ross original and North Shore is a Colt/Alison creation. Last year, North Shore came in second in Golf Inc.’s Renovation of the Year rankings.
Golf Inc. Magazine also recognized Jacobson’s complete renovation of the Blackhawk Trace course at Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Ill. as one of the top public course renovations in 2004.
In recent years, Jacobson has opened a number of successful original designs, including Vista Links in Buena Vista, Virginia (2004); Makefield Highlands GC in suburban Philadelphia (2004), and Patriot Hills GC in Stony Point, NY (2003).
In 2004, Golf Magazine named Jacobson’s Spirit Hollow GC in Burlington, Iowa one its "Thrifty Fifty" – i.e. one of the nation’s top 50 courses costing less than $50 to play. Golf Digest rates Spirit Hollow among the top 10 courses in Iowa.
Jacobson’s first 18-hole project in North America – Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, Virginia – has been ranked among the nation’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses by Golf Magazine and was ranked among the best new upscale courses in 1996 by Golf Digest Magazine.
Golf Magazine ranked Jacobson’s Bull Run Country Club in Haymarket, Virginia – located approximately 35 miles west of Washington, D.C. – the top new public course in Virginia in 1999. Jacobson’s Bear Trap Dunes opened to rave reviews and the 27-hole complex was honored by Golf Inc. Magazine as Development of the Year for 2002.
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