in northern Michigan announced construction has started on a 10-hole par-3 course.
The short course will be located between The Loop and Forest Dunes courses and feature holes measuring between 50 and 155 yards. Forest Dunes owner Lew Thompson considered a handful of top architects before entrusting the par-3 course project to Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb, who partnered on the renovation at Florida's Winter Park Golf Course. Johns and Rhebb have also worked together on design projects with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
The, duo, both still in their 30s, met in 2014 while working for Coore and Crenshaw on the construction of Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia. Johns also assisted Tom Doak in the initial design and construction stages of The Loop. Also playing a major role in the shaping of the course is Michigan-based golf construction, design and shaping expert Joe Hancock.
“We were thrilled at how quickly this project came together this year and with the huge amount of trust Lew has given us,” Johns said. “He wants a course that will be fun and playable for his grandkids and any golfer of any skill level, so that’s the main goal we’re keeping in mind as we build holes where you can play a variety of shots and trajectories and take different angles to get to the hole.”
To facilitate a firm, fast ground game, the 957-yard course will feature fescues from the tees to the edges of the receptive bentgrass greens where golfers can use strategic slopes and banks to feed shots toward the hole. Rhebb said the greens will take on a variety of subtle shapes, many being bowl-shaped and some resembling catcher’s mitts or tabletops.
“When you come to Forest Dunes, we want you to have a good time,” Thompson said. “What Keith and Riley are building is going to bring a new life and energy to the property. It’s going to bring people together and make their time more enjoyable.”
Of the view visitors will see upon entering the golf property, Johns said, “you’ll see some nice shadows, some gently rumpled ground on this course, but playability is our main focus versus trying to make any bold design statement. Because the course is in the middle of property and so visible, it’s really going to raise the level of enjoyment at Forest Dunes. There will always be a gallery of some sort nearby to cheer you on, especially from the pavilion.”
Grassing commences in August and the course is scheduled to open for play in the summer of 2020.
Golf Course Industry profiled Johns and Rhebb's work at Winter Park 9 in 2017. CLICK HERE to read the story.