The membership of Olympia Fields (IL) Country Club has voted overwhelmingly to endorse a comprehensive restoration and upgrade of the club’s historic South Course
The plan, developed by golf course architect Andy Staples, ASGCA, includes drainage improvement, bunker renovation, fairway expansion, tree work, more naturalized areas of native rough and the introduction of more short grass surrounds by greens. Teeing grounds will also be reconfigured to provide more equity to accommodate the full range of golfers, from elite championship players to beginners and families. The work is budgeted at $4 million.
Olympia Fields‐South Course, originally designated Course No. 1, dates to a 1916 routing by Tom Bendelow, subsequently revised by Willie Park Jr. During the 1920s Olympia Fields CC sported four 18‐ hole courses for its 1,200 members. It had its own train stop on the Chicago commuter rail and a regular crew of 1,000 caddies. When the club consolidated its grounds down to 36‐holes in the 1940s and sold off some land, the current configuration of the South Course was derived from 16 of its original holes and two holes taken from the Willie Watson‐designed Course No. 2 that was closed.
The master plan that Staples has prepared will be implemented in two phases, starting in the fall of 2021 and picking up again in the fall of 2022. When the work is completed, the South Course will sport a look and feel more conducive to the ground game, with a firmer playing surface and quicker recovery from the flooding that occurs from the creek that traverses the golf course.
Staples’ work at Olympia Fields‐South Is based upon careful study of historic imagery and design plans in the club’s archive. It’s also based upon his extensive study of classical design elsewhere. Staples’ previous restoration work includes the Willie Park Jr.‐designed Meadowbrook Country Club in Detroit. He is now at work on the Park Jr.‐designed Mt. Bruno Golf Club in Montreal and the Donald Ross & Dick Wilson‐designed Delray Beach Golf Course in Florida.