The 9 best course renovations of the last five years (plus 4 more on the way!)

November 9, 2019
Sleepy Hollow CC

Ross, Tillinghast, Macdonald — who dares mess with their masterpieces?

These guys.

Here are the best course renovations of the last five years.

1. SLEEPY HOLLOW CC, BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. (GIL HANSE)

“Sleepy Hollow accomplished more by making some bold changes. Hanse made changes to make the course more cohesive, and each time the course improved dramatically. Amazing to say, but his choices were better than Tillinghast’s.” (See featured photo above.)

Seminole is among golf's most exclusive clubs.
GOLF

2. SEMINOLE GC, JUNO BEACH, FLA. (COORE/CRENSHAW)
Trump Turnberry has hosted four Open Championships.
Getty Images

3. TURNBERRY (AILSA), SCOTLAND (MACKENZIE/EBERT)
A majestic view of 2019 Open host, Royal Portrush.

4. ROYAL PORTRUSH GC (DUNLUCE), N. IRELAND (MACKENZIE/EBERT)
A view from the first tee at Yangtze Dunes.
Gary Lisbon

5. YANGTZE DUNES, CHINA (OCCM GOLF COURSE DESIGN)

“They turned an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.”

The first hole at Cedar Rapids CC.
USGA/Kirk H. Owens

6. CEDAR RAPIDS CC, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA (RON PRICHARD)
Frighteningly contoured, pear-shaped greens, cavernous bunkers and a procession of rugged par-4s define the trouble here. On a 'difficulty' scale of 1 to 10, Jack Nicklaus once rated this a 12.
RUSSELL KIRK

7. WINGED FOOT (WEST), MAMARONECK, N.Y. (GIL HANSE)
A view from behind the par-3 6th green on Pinehurst No. 4.
Max Marcovitch

8. PINEHURST NO. 4, PINEHURST, N.C. (GIL HANSE)
Bel-Air CC has long been a hot spot for celebrity sightings.
Jon Cavalier/@LinksGems

9. BEL-AIR CC, LOS ANGELES, CALIF. (TOM DOAK)

“Doak got rid of the costume-jewelry stuff that had been added over the years. The holes are better. The views are better. And it’s really not by adding things but by taking things away.”

***

Now that we’ve looked back at some of the best design work in recent years, let us also look ahead to some coming attractions. Here are four A-list courses in the midst of significant renovations.

Baltusrol Golf Club, Upper and Lower Courses
Springfield Township, N.J.

The golf course equivalent of a power couple, Baltusrol two layouts (Upper and Lower) have a lot in common. Both were designed by A.W. Tillinghast. Both have hosted the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. And both will be renovated by Gil Hanse. First up: the Lower Course. Work began this month and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.

Congressional Country Club, Blue Course
Bethesda, Md.

Long-term planners, take note: the Blue Course is scheduled to host the 2031 PGA Championship and the 2036 Ryder Cup. But it will start looking different well before then. Numerous architects have touched up the layout since it opened in 1924, including Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Rees Jones. It will now fall to Andrew Green (who is also working on renovations at Scioto Country Club, in Ohio, and Wannamoisett Country Club, in Rhode Island) to restore the look and feel of the original Devereux Emmett design.

Jack Nicklaus is revisiting his work at Muirfield Village.

Muirfield Village Golf Club
Dublin, Ohio

One month after the final putt drops at the 2020 Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus and his team will begin work on his beloved design. The Golden Bear will oversee an overhaul of Muirfield Village that bring minor design changes on several holes and a redo of all the greens. The new-look course will be ready for the 2021 Memorial. (Nicklaus Companies and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.)

Oakland Hills Country Club, South Course
Bloomfield Township, Mich.

Fewer trees, wider fairways and expanded greens (the better to reclaim some original pin positions) are just some of the changes pending in the overhaul of this Donald Ross design, which has hosted six U.S. Opens, three PGA Championship, two U.S. Amateurs, a Ryder Cup and, well, you get the idea. Gil Hanse is handling the redo, with completion targeted for spring 2021.