Hills/Forrest Starts on First Canadian Design & A Major Renovation of Naperville CC

Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates have broken ground on two major projects this summer, an original design at Garden River Golf Club near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Canada, and a major renovation of historic Naperville (Ill.) Country Club.

The Garden River project, the firm's first original design in Canada, held an official ground-breaking on June 27. The 18-hole resort layout is being developed by the Garden River First Nation and project-managed by Caledon, Ont.-based Penguin Golf Associates, whose past projects include Blackhorse G&CC in Kincardin, Ont., and Palgrave Golf Club in Caledon.

Penguin's Jim Firth indicated that no housing or casino are yet planned as complements to Garden River, but the golf course will be the foundation of further development from the First Nation. "The golf course is extremely important in that regard, and we did a very thorough search as to who would design the course," Firth said. "We invited 11 firms to submit bids and we interviewed five. Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates [AHSF] was the clear choice. They have a great name and reputation, especially in Michigan, which was obviously very attractive to us."

AHSF partner Chris Wilczynski will direct the project. "The site that we've been given is an excellent palette for a golf course," he said. "The panoramic views of the property within the Garden River reserve are remarkable. Each hole will be framed with mature vegetation and the occasional rock outcropping. What's more, the golf course could one day serve as a case study as to how other First Nation groups in Canada can provide additional economic benefits."

Firth and Wilczynski expect the first nine at Garden River to open for play in fall 2007.

At Naperville CC, which opened in 1921, the course and practice facility have closed down for the remainder of 2006 to accommodate a comprehensive renovation directed by AHSF partner Steve Forrest. Ground was broken July 10. If all goes well, the club is planning to reopen the golf course on June 16, 2007.

Originally designed by Tom Bendelow, Naperville is well known perhaps notoriously so for its collection of blind holes. At the club's behest, Hills/Forrest will address these issues by reconfiguring 11 holes while bringing all 18 greens up to USGA specifications. The $7 million project will also include lengthening the course (from 6,456 yards to more than 6,800 yards) installation of a state-of-the-art irrigation system, and creation of a new practice facility double the size of the original, with seven target greens and a new short game area.

"We're bringing our golf course up to today's standards with more memorable holes," said David Tierney, a longtime Naperville member and the club's project coordinator. "You'll have trouble picking a favorite hole with this new re-design."