The refinishing touches
Courtesy of Kevin Norby

The refinishing touches

Minnesota's Golden Valley Country Club returns A.W. Tillinghast nuances to its course.

Golf course architect Kevin Norby, ASGCA, has been engaged to complete the renovation of Golden Valley Country Club in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Golden Valley Country Club opened in 1914 as a 9-hole Thomas Bendelow course and was later expanded to 18 holes by Bendelow. In 1925, the club hired A.W. Tillinghast to renovate the course. Since that time, the course’s routing has remained intact, but some of the nuances of Tillinghast’s original design have been lost. Greens have shrunk, trees have grown and fairway corridors have narrowed. 

Norby has a deep appreciation for classic golf course design and a strong reputation for his renovation work. He recently completed major renovations at Eau Claire Golf & Country Club (Tom Vardon, 1928) and Meadowbrook Golf Club (J. Foulis, 1926).

The bunker and tee renovation project at Golden Valley Country Club is intended to make the course more playable and easier to maintain while at the same time restoring and enhancing the Tillinghast’s vision for Golden Valley. Norby has spent the past 18 months working with Tillinghast historian Philip Young and golf architecture consultant Bradly Klein sorting through the details of renovating the course. 

Most of the bunkers at Golden Valley Country Club are deep grass-faced “sand pits,” with some as deep as 11 feet.  The renovation includes adjusting the location of fairway bunkers, improving the visibility of the bunkers and reinforcing Tillinghast’s “master bunker” philosophy. 

Norby is using a variety of resources including historical photos of the course, an aerial photograph from 1937, the 2017 course master plan and Tillinghast’s original plan from 1924. 

“Our goal here is to modernize the course by adding forward tees, softening slopes to increase pinnable area, reinstating lost green square footage and renovating bunkers as Tillinghast might if he were here today,” Norby said. “To reinforce the characteristics and subtleties that were important to him here at Golden Valley Country Club, we are relying heavily on his 1926 plan.” 

Construction started in early September and is expected to be complete in November.  The work is being completed by Duininck Golf, a certified golf course contractor who has worked on numerous projects with Norby, including the recent renovation at Eau Claire Golf & Country Club in Wisconsin and Paako Ridge in New Mexico.

David Phillips is the club’s superintendent.