Raymond Hearn Restoring Historic Flossmoor Country Club

By: Mark Leslie

Flossmoor Country Club, which a half-century ago consistently hosted major golf tournaments, has embarked on a $1.8-million remodeling plan crafted by golf course architect Raymond Hearn. The project, which began after Labor Day 2006, will be carried out in three six-hole phases, finishing in the fall of 2008, according to club president Nick Zagotta.

Famed for its connections to five Western Opens, five Western Amateur Championships, two USGA National Amateur Championships and a PGA Championship, the 105-year-old Flossmoor CC in Flossmoor, Ill., has seen its course design compromised over the last century. Greens have shrunk, bunkers have lost their shape and hundreds of trees have been planted, tightening the fairways.

Hearn, who teaches design abroad each year and who has restored numerous classic golf courses, is working with golf course builder Jerry Deemer of Country Golf to restore lost shot values and add a number of playing options at every hole. While retaining the routing and greens first designed by H.J. Tweedie, Hearn is moving bunker complexes further into the fairways; expanding a number of holes to create multiple attack angles; removing many trees to open up vistas and play; eliminating bunkers in front of greens to allow the “bump-and-run” game; and replacing thick rough behind the greens with 80- to 100-foot bentgrass areas to introduce the chipping game.

Hearn said the property has an extraordinary amount of internal acreage, astonishing him with opportunities to take “a great golf course and even improve it another notch or two.”

As a Chick Evans Scholars, Hearn is also excited to be working at the golf course where the famed Chicagoan won his first amateur event, in 1916. “The Evans Scholars Program gave me a full college scholarship, connected me with number of wonderful Evans alumni, and I will be forever grateful for that honor,” he said. “I think it’s great that the Flossmoor members have remained closely connected with the Evans Scholars Program.

“My hat’s off to the Flossmoor members to agree to these changes,” Hearn added. “I have never in my 22 years met a membership like this that is so committed to a project.”

“When all this work is done, it’s going to be phenomenal,” said Flossmoor CC Greens chairman Mark Egge. “It will provide additional teeing area for more course flexibility and allow for more strategy for golfers of all levels. I think the view from the south lawn will simply be unmatched in all of Chicago. It’s already a special place but it will be better. Ray Hearn did a magnificent job.”

“Ray’s done a wonderful job of bringing in an old classic golf course back to an old classic golf course,” Zagotta said. “People are already thrilled with what he’s done.”

Zagotta credited five previous club presidents – Tom Gillie, Dennis Gillie, Bob Blum, Taylor Cope and Greg Palumbo – for laying the groundwork to get the long-range plan done.

Phase 1 encompasses holes 14 through 18. Beginning this fall, Phase 2 will include holes 1 to 3 and 10 through 13. Work on Phase 3, holes 4 through 9, will be carried out in 2008.