(Romeoville, IL) - Mistwood Golf Club, one of the premier public golf facilities in Chicago, is undergoing a major renovation project, which will include substantial changes to the Ray Hearn designed golf course, the addition of a new learning center, and plans for a future clubhouse. The renovations are already underway and the course will re-open in May 2012.
Mistwood's owner, local Chicago businessman Jim McWethy, made the decision to completely revamp the facility, which was not an easy one during these trying economic times. McWethy opted to renovate what was already a well-respected course, add the new learning center and begin plans to build a new clubhouse in order to create a destination golf experience for golfers in Chicago and the Midwest.
"A big part of this renovation is due to my love of the game," McWethy admitted. "By expanding, we are running counter to the rest of the golf world.''
McWethy closed the course on August 22, to allow Michigan based architect Ray Hearn to begin the renovation, and he has had no regrets as work continues. His plans call for the 5,000 square-foot learning center to be under construction late this fall and to be ready when the course re-opens next May.
The remodeling of Mistwood is being done in three phases. The first phase is the golf course construction, which includes lengthening the course to over 7,000 yards and making improvements to every hole.
The second phase will be the construction of the learning center. The original clubhouse and cart barn will be torn down as soon as the learning center is completed. It will feature spacious indoor and outdoor hitting stations, a practice putting green, state of the art computer analysis and golf simulators. Initially though, it will double as Mistwood's clubhouse when play resumes until the new clubhouse opens.
The third phase is the construction of the 32,000-square-foot clubhouse, which they hope to start sometime in 2012.
"At first we thought we would do everything at once, but then realized it would make more sense to do it in phases to avoid any construction problems along the way,'' said McWethy. "Deciding when to start the clubhouse is difficult. We would like to break ground by fall 2012, but we have to get the course changes and learning center out of the way first."
The Mistwood Golf Club that Hearn originally designed, which opened in 1998, earned the respect from players of all levels, but he still believed the renovation was needed.
"As time goes on, the technology monster, with golf clubs and golf balls going further, every course should be analyzed and tweaked every 10 years or so, and Mistwood was no exception,'' said Hearn, who is credited with five other Illinois projects most notably Mistwood and the Flossmoor Country Club.
His renovation at historic Flossmoor Country Club in Flossmoor, Illinois was cited as the 2009 Renovation-of-the-Year by GOLF Magazine.
Hearn, based in Holland, Michigan, has a portfolio that includes courses in Michigan, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Idaho, Oklahoma and Kentucky. His design career has also expanded internationally in Russia, France, Croatia, Vietnam, Egypt, South Korea, Mexico, India and the Bahamas.
When Mistwood opens in 2012, it will be held to a higher standard.
The end result will not come across as an altogether new layout, as the routing will not change. Going hole-by-hole however, the changes will be visually subtle but strategically significant.
"Re-calibrating a golf course for shot values is where a golf course architect earns their money," said Hearn. "Strategic improvements for all levels of golfers is the name of the game. I really enjoy improving my courses over time in terms of shot value, strategy, beauty and playability, which I believe we have now accomplished here at Mistwood Golf Club."
The "strategic improvements" involve improving each of Mistwood's 18-holes. The most noticeable is at the par-5 third hole. The green has been relocated to create space for the new clubhouse. The creek that used to be in front of the green is now behind it-and it has been expanded to a pond. In addition, new beautiful Lannon stone walls were added along hole No. 3 and behind the par 3, 9th hole adding some stunning visuals for golfers to experience.
Also included in the changes was the addition of high-end Waupaca Steep Face sand in all the bunkers, a light tan colored sand that is among the most expensive in the industry. Complimenting the new sand in the bunkers is the creation of attractive sod wall bunkers scattered through the layout from holes two to seventeen.
Many of Mistwood's lakes have also been expanded making water a strategic factor on more of the holes. Yardage also increased, from 6,727 yards to 7,020 from the new back tees, but that's only a minor consideration to accommodate a big tournament if needed.
The other more noticeable changes come at No. 2, where two new stacked sod bunkers and two new tees make for a more challenging and longer par-4 (the length is up from 362 yards to 376), and No. 11, which gets a more elevated back tee. The strongest of the par-3's, No. 14 over water, will have eight teeing options after the renovation.
One hole that won't get much tweaking is the much-photographed No. 8, the par-5 honored by Golf Digest Magazine as one of the top par 5's among U.S. public courses in 2002. It will play longer, since a new dramatic back tee will expand the challenge from 566 yards to 596 for the longer hitters.
Mistwood is also the home of one of Chicago's top tournaments, the Phil Kosin Illinois Women's Open. By completing these course improvements, Mistwood will be among the top tournament golf courses in Illinois.
Director of golf Dan Phillips believes top players in the Women's Open, will be very excited by the new alterations.
"The top ladies in the state will now get to experience one of top courses in Illinois -- one that's more challenging and fun to play,'' said Phillips. "It will have the same flavor as the old Mistwood, but it will be more exciting with improved shot values."
When all is said and done, owner Jim McWethy is looking forward to having one of the best public courses in the Chicago area.
"If you believe you have an exceptional product, market it well, and take great care of your customers, I do believe that, even in this market, you can be successful,'' said McWethy. "I am very excited about the project and believe when we are done we will have one of the top golf experiences in the Chicago area."
For more information about Mistwood Golf Club, visit www.mistwoodgolf.net.