Pine River CC, Walnut Creek CC, Birmingham CC Investing in Golf

  Pine River Country Club in Alma reopened its original nine holes this summer following an extensive renovation directed by Chris Wilczynski of C.W. Golf Architecture in            Saline.

  Warren Burhans, the golf course superintendent, led work crews. The master plan renovations were funded by Alan Kommel, a club member and owner of the property.

  “Working with Chris and all the contractors was a pleasure” Kommel said. “They were a great team and we worked together to achieve our goals which were to bring back some of the original design features of this 100-year-old gem and improve aesthetics and playability. I’m amazed by the transformation and the members are loving it too.”

  Wilczynski worked closely with Kommel as well as Randy Lewis, a Pine River member, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion (2011).

  “The first time I visited the course I fell in love with it, Wilczynski said. “Given its relationship to the nearby Pine River, the course topography has a natural roll, but its beauty was disguised by too many trees. The renovations along with the removal of 250-plus trees were required to improve playability and open the sight lines to unveil the property’s natural beauty and panoramic views.”

  The renovations also included the establishment of 15 acres of native grass areas as a sustainable feature requiring limited maintenance while serving as an environmental habitat for birds and wildlife. Four sets of tees were added at each hole to better serve players of various skill levels. All of the fairways were realigned and re-grassed with low mow bluegrass, every green was rebuilt and recontoured to add interest and variety and bunkers were also reset at strategic angles and cut into the natural landforms. Major improvements to the drainage and irrigation systems throughout the course were also completed.

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  Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon has completed what General Manager Kevin Frantz estimated as 85 percent of a $3.5 million renovation project at its 27-hole facility.

  “The entire course, in touch with our Master Plan, is getting new irrigation and drainage work and we redid our No. 1 and No. 8 greens,” he said. “We closed all nine on what we call our West course in August. We are also doing some new grassing. It is a significant renovation, probably just one step shy of bulldozing and going from there.”

  Frantz said late summer and fall weather did delay some things, but if all goes well form this point the course should be reopened entirely in June of next year.

  Ohio-based architect Brian Huntley is overseeing the renovation with Frontier Golf leading the construction.

  “The excitement for it among the membership is off the charts,” Frantz said. “The West was our oldest nine and no work and been done on it in eons. It would get scorched in the summer because of the irrigation, and it had drainage issues the rest of the year. Part of this was work on two holes on the North and now we are investigating if the club might have the appetite to do more on that course.”

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  Birmingham Country Club’s new 18 greens are beautiful according to Dan Dingman the club’s golf course superintendent.

  “We closed the golf course Aug. 1 and finished reseeding all the greens on Aug. 31 and they look great,” he said.

  Members will get to play the new greens on the Tom Bendelow-design for the first time since Aug. 1 in the spring on Memorial Day weekend.

  “There was a total reconstruction of all the greens and now all of them have been rebuilt to USGA specifications,” he said. “We had 12 original greens that were 105-years-old and the old bent grass on our native soil has been struggling on all of our greens. We had to do something about it.”

 Holes 6 and 15 were newly designed greens from a 2016 renovation headed by architect Bruce Hepner and even those were reseeded as Hepner came back to work on the green reconstruction with MacCurrach Golf. The 12 original greens that remain are exactly as they were but with new grass. Four other holes were redesigned to add more pin locations.

  The club used a 3-D laser scan to get the unique greens at Birmingham within one inch of what they were when the digging started. Dingman said the club also went one step further by using a varied depth green construction method developed by the turfgrass experts at Michigan State University.

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