ALMA, MI – Golf Course Architect Chris Wilczynski, ASGCA, has completed a Master Plan for the original nine holes of Pine River Country Club, a private, 18-hole golf course in mid-Michigan. The original nine holes were designed by the Chicago Landscape Company in the 1920’s while the second nine was added in the 1960’s.
Developing a master plan for the original nine was a project initiated by longtime club member and co-owner of the 18-hole course, Al Kommel who hired Wilczynski after a recommendation from the Golf Association of Michigan. “The design and routing of the course was well thought out,” said Wilczynski. “Over time, many of the natural elements of a course begin to fade and exceed their life cycle. The master plan is a comprehensive road map that will lead to improved conditions and a better golf experience.”
Kommel always appreciated the design and history of the original nine holes. Now, five years after he and another member purchased the course, he felt compelled to initiate necessary improvements. “Pine River Country Club is one of the oldest courses in the state. Existing for nearly 100 years, this beautiful piece of land has been and will continue to be, a special place to play golf for all our members and guests. My dream is to enhance the course and Chris Wilczynski’s plan is exactly what we needed,” Kommel said.
Club member, Randy Lewis, has also consulted with the architect to help evolve the plan. Lewis, who captured the coveted U.S. Mid-Amateur championship (2011) as well as an exclusive invitation to the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National, has walked the course with Wilczynski on many occasions to discuss the unique aspects of the original architecture.
The renovation is scheduled to begin this summer with the removal of 250+ trees to expose the beautiful landscape and enhance playability on every hole. Furthermore, the addition of four acres of native grass areas, a natural and diverse habitat for wildlife that will require limited maintenance, is also part of the plan.
Other key enhancements include the expansion of greens back to their original size and building new tees on every hole. “There will be four sets of tees that range from 3,300 yards to 1,950 yards. By adding forward tees, we are creating a shorter course that invites players of all ages and skill levels to the game,” Wilczynski said.
Wilczynski’s vision also includes new bunkering throughout, featuring his signature style of steep grass faces and slightly concave sand floors. “We’ll focus on strategic bunkering and repositioning them at more appropriate angles to the line of play which is an essential design element in creating challenge and interest,” said Wilczynski. “The course will have a very natural and timeless feel as the bunkers will be placed within the property’s existing landforms and ridges.”
“The master plan is really the first step to unveiling the inherent beauty of the course and restoring it to its original design intent, but in a modern way,” Wilczynski added. “I’m honored to be part of this transformation.”