Orchard Lake Country Club Approves Major Golf Course Renovation; Golf Course Architect Keith Foster to Oversee the Project

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Orchard Lake Country Club members have approved a major renovation of the classic, rolling course originally designed by Harry S. Colt and Charles H. Alison. Keith Foster, who only works on classic course renovations, has been retained to redesign the bunkers and recommend additional improvements that will bring the course up to current standards. Renovations begin this summer.

Our goal is to bring out all the greatness that Colt and Alison originally intended, while making the course fun to play for all levels of golfers and economically and ecologically sustainable.

The members of Orchard Lake Country Club have approved a major renovation of its classic, rolling course originally designed by Harry S. Colt and Charles H. Alison. Keith Foster, who only works on classic course renovations, has been retained to redesign the bunkers and recommend additional improvements that will bring the course up to current standards.

“Orchard Lake is a truly unique course with all the fantastic design elements that Colt and Alison brought to their projects,” stated Foster, who has worked on several Colt and Alison courses in his career. “Our goal is to bring out all the greatness that Colt and Alison originally intended, while making the course fun to play for all levels of golfers and economically and ecologically sustainable.”

There are three key elements to the Orchard Lake renovation. First and foremost is the reconstruction of all the sand bunkers on the course using state of the art drainage systems and materials. “Keith Foster recently redesigned the bunkers at perennial PGA Tour stop Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas,” said OLCC Green Superintendant Aaron McMaster. “Colonial had serious infrastructure issues with their bunkers but, since the renovation, they rank among the best on tour and the drainage is so good they can be back in play within an hour of a heavy rain storm. We expect to match that kind of performance.”

The second key element of the renovation is the resurfacing of all the greens with one of the latest strains of hybrid bent grass. New bent grasses have been engineered to withstand the hot Midwest summers while also being much more resistant to disease. These new surfaces will also allow Mr. McMaster and his crew to deliver consistent green speeds every day throughout the golf season and to use less water and fertilizer in the process.

The final element is the conversion of large areas, which are typically not in play, from Kentucky blue grass to tall fescue grasses. The blue grass areas required significant water, fertilizer, and maintenance, while fescue requires virtually no water and limited fertilizer and maintenance.

“We are so proud of the Orchard Lake members,” said OLCC President Craig Valassis. “They recognized that we had infrastructure issues with the golf course and they stepped up to not only fix those issues, but also create a course with improved playability, lower maintenance needs and a more ecologically responsible design.”

Early preparation for the project has already begun, but the work begins in earnest on July 31 when the golf course closes for the season. The project team expects the course to re-open in late May or early June of 2013.

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Lori Bahnmueller
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