Deerpath Upgrades a Success

Natural wetlands, an abundance of waterfowl, and the sound of water trickling over ledge rock are features that long-time members of Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, Ill., enjoy. Now well into their first season of play since a major renovation, most members seem to have already forgotten that regular play was at times compromised by a soggy fairway or two, particularly hole 14, where Deerpath’s aging drainage system could simply no longer keep up.

In search of a long-term solution to its water-storage problems, Deerpath turned to Lohmann Golf Designs. Working with Lohmann’s original master plan, the project was expanded to create an entire wetlands system designed not only to store the course’s excess water, but to clean it as well. The upgraded layout also called for the expansion of existing wetlands near hole 14, and the addition of two beautiful new ponds.

Because these renovations would directly improve water quality in the area, Deerpath was able to secure grant money for the renovations by applying to the Stormwater Management Commission. “It was a small project,” explains Fred Jackson, Director of Parks and Recreation for Lake Forest. “But it was an opportunity to receive some outside funding to help with the overall concept of water management within our system.”

And the money didn’t go to waste. Although the $120,000 Best Practices Grant covered only a portion of the course’s total renovation costs, the funding contributed to the creation of a clever new route by which water now flows through the area. The water, which originates off-site, now meanders through a series of new wetland plantings and into a large holding pond along Deerpath’s 12th fairway. From there, it funnels through a storm pipe into a second pond. After continuing through another wetlands area, the water flows over a ledge-rock weir into the Skokie Ditch. The result is an expansive water feature that now graces hole Nos. 5, 12, and 14.

“The response from our golfers has just been overwhelming,” says Jackson. “It’s a pleasure to go out to the golf course to hear the comments.” Although the new element has drawn raves from players and non-players alike, perhaps no one is more impressed than the season pass-holders, who appreciate not only the beauty of the course but the agronomics of the solution. In addition, the city of Lake Forest has the option to utilize water from this system to irrigate the course if they decide to switch irrigation infrastructure in the future.

The new water feature is not the only change to the 6,255-yard course. In response to member suggestions, Lohmann rebuilt all 56 of Deerpath’s bunkers. The new traps are flatter with steep grass sides. They’re a big hit with golfers who enjoy the traditional look, which fits the overall design of the course.

As a result of the renovation, Deerpath has revitalized its playing conditions while preserving – and enhancing – the beauty of the land, solidifying its status as one of the finest municipal tracks in the Midwest.

In addition to more than 60 renovation projects for golf courses across the country, Lohmann Golf Designs, based in Marengo, Ill., has created over 35 original golf courses, including Mattoponi Springs Golf Club in Ruther Glen, Va., and Canyata in Marshall, Ill. – both recipients of 2005 Golf Digest Awards in the categories of Best New Public Courses and Best New Private Courses, respectively. LGD can be reached at 815/923-3400 or