CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs has launched a new bunker renovation project at the heralded Lincolnshire Fields Country Club in Champaign, Ill.
Hearn, an award-winning Michigan-based golf course architect, was contracted in August of 2022 to prepare construction drawings for a significant sand bunker renovation through the course, which is an original 1976 design of the late E. Lawrence Packard, a celebrated and prolific architect from Illinois. Hearn previously created a Master Plan for Lincolnshire. Verdes Sports Construction is the golf course contractor on the project.
“My goals and objectives with a great club and course like Lincolnshire are very simple,” Hearn said. “As I do with all my projects, I want to make sure the renovations reflect what the club desires for their course and that they are strategic and fun for golfers of all skill levels.”
Hearn said the green and fairway edges had drifted away from the bunkers as the course has evolved over the last four decades.
“We’re tuning that up, bringing the bunker edges closer and we are also making some significant design changes to certain bunkers,” Hearn said. “They were originally constructed in the mid-60s (first nine) and mid-70s (second nine) and that was the era of big capes and bays in the design of bunkers. The club now aspires to a more Golden Age look, as if they were constructed in the early 1920s by the legendary architects of that period.”
Hearn said following the bunker work the course will have a historic look and feel.
“A lot of clubs are gravitating to the historical look with their bunkers because of the great classic appearance, one, but also because the capes and bays have proven to be higher maintenance items,” he said. “I’ve given Lincolnshire a design with beautiful bunkers that I feel are more strategic, very challenging for the lower handicap golfer but also very fair because of positioning for the higher handicap golfer.”
The club hopes to have the bunkers completed next spring. Hearn said General Manager Rob Walls and Superintendent Paul Sermershein are wonderful to work with, and that he feels a special connection with Lincolnshire through a long friendship with former superintendent Scott Werner, who last year lost a battle with cancer.
Walls said Werner engaged with Hearn on behalf of the club in 2012 to create a Master Plan.
“The project has been on hold for about 10 years but we reengaged with Ray in the fall of 2022 since he knows the course and had interacted with Scott as the work was considered,” he said. “Ray has a tremendous track record of success, and we were excited to work with him. Scott sadly passed away last March, but he was excited we were going to work with Ray.”
Walls said Hearn’s Master Plan is wonderful work that will make the golf course better and add tremendous shot value.
“We aren’t able to fully execute the plan at this time, but the bunkers are the first step,” he said. They will be Golden Age in shape and shrink the size but have a greater impact on play. I am very excited about the bunker work I have seen so far.”
Hearn called Lincolnshire one of the great golf clubs in Illinois.
“We want to keep their golf course wonderful for its members,” he said. “I look forward to a continued relationship with a tremendous club.”
ABOUT RAY HEARN: Learn about Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs at www.rhgd.com. Based in Holland, Mich., Hearn’s company has earned a national reputation for their award-winning restoration, renovation, and remodeling. The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) has acknowledged the firm with Design Excellence Recognition Awards five times since 2012.