Renovation of Edina CC Nearly Complete

Edina Country Club, a private club located 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, completed a $3.4 million restoration of its historic golf course in September 2010. Depending on weather conditions, a June, 2011 reopening is anticipated.

The Revitalized Edina Country Club

Founded in 1923, Edina C.C. was one of the first clubs built in the Minneapolis suburbs. Its centerpiece is a vintage design credited to Tom Bendelow, one of America's pioneer golf course architects. While the sequence of holes at Edina C.C. has changed numerous times through the years due to clubhouse relocation, the layout has remained basically the same.

The gently rolling layout has numerous but subtle elevation changes and is framed by specimen hardwoods. Known as one of the finest courses in Minnesota, Edina C.C. has hosted many state and national championships, including the Men's and Women's Trans-Miss, Minnesota State Open, Minnesota PGA Championship, Minnesota Men's & Women's amateur and Western Junior Championship.

According to club president Scott Thiss, a renovation completed in 1995 was not properly executed. "We've been playing on a golf course with serious issues for 15 years," he said. "In 2009, 80 percent of the membership voted to fix the course once and for all, an unheard-of mandate for a proposed change involving a year-long closure."

Brandon Schindele, who was Edina's assistant superintendent during the project (he now has the top job), said that Minnesota native and PGA Tour veteran Tom Lehman, head of Lehman Design Group, caught wind of the fact that Edina's membership was committed to a major course overhaul to fix its systemic problems.

Lehman presented a detailed hole-by-hole description of the proposed changes to the members last year. "Lehman added his own vision of requiring golfers to use thoughtful shot strategy and to use every club in the bag," Thiss said. "The main idea was to re-establish the look and feel of the original 1923 layout, address safety issues, and create a fun and playable experience for all members."

Last May, Lehman Design Group embarked upon an extensive makeover intended to restore the classic appearance of Edina C.C. The greens, which had suffered drainage setbacks in the past, were dug up, cored out and rebuilt to USGA specifications. Tees were rebuilt and in some cases repositioned to create mild doglegs at straightaway holes.

After the soil fumigant Basamid was applied to the fairways to eliminate poa annua, they were resurfaced with the latest strain of bentgrass as per the recommendations of Dr. Brian Horgan, professor of horticultural science at the University of Minnesota. In addition, the layout's refurbished bunkers, increased from 60 to 90, are now smaller, grass-faced and strategically positioned.

Thiss noted that the club went through an extensive process of background and reference checks before deciding on Duininck Golf as the construction company for the project. "We selected Duininck Golf because of Tom Lehman's unqualified recommendation," he said. "The firm is Minnesota-based and has a consistent record of high-quality work."

Jeffrey Bohlig, a former club president and chair of the club's restoration task force, said, "The two best decisions we made were hiring Tom Lehman and Duininck Golf." Of Duininck Golf, he said, "They did everything they said they were going to do and more. When severe rainfall created several wash-outs, Duininck Golf staffed up to get the job done. They also proved to be flexible and resilient when the design team made changes in the field."

According to Schindele, Duininck Golf was faced with high expectations coupled with a tight deadline. With 21 rain days last summer, "It took a lot of work and a little luck to complete the job," he said. "In the past, the club's makeover efforts had no clear direction in the field. Thanks to Duininck Golf, this time we got it right. The members will finally get the golf course they deserve."

Chris Brands, Lehman's design partner, said, "Duininck Golf's ability to work through adversity, achieve the desired results on time and meet or exceed the club's goals was the key to our success. Duininck Golf was able to interpret exactly what we wanted. Because we were trying to emulate the look of a 1920's golf course, the shapers had to match the era's character by deepening the bunkers, creating sharp slopes and conjuring a certain look of unevenness common to the period. The Duininck Golf team was able to accommodate all that. They did a really good job of creating the look and feel of an antique golf course. It's as much a mental exercise as a physical one, and they were up to the task."

For his part, Lehman said, "Duininck Golf has worked with our firm on other golf course renovation projects, notably at North Oaks Country Club in St. Paul. During what had to be one of the wettest three-month periods we've ever experienced (in 2007), Duininck not only finished on time, but finished their work with quality, enthusiasm and great cooperation with both the club and with us.

"One of the impressive traits of Duininck Golf is that they understand exactly what I am looking for," Lehman continued. "On renovation projects, the design styles we are trying to create may change from project to project, but they adapt well. We appreciate their ability to fast-track projects while still upholding the highest quality standards."