Yale Golf Course set for epic restoration
Bradley S. Klein

Yale Golf Course set for epic restoration

Gil Hanse will lead work at highly regarded course originally designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor.

September 23, 2021

One of the Gothic masterpieces of 1920s golf architecture is getting ready for a major restoration. Golf Course Industry has learned from multiple sources that Yale Golf Course, a university-owned and -operated property designed in 1926 by Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, is going to be the focus of a well-funded new operational plan funded by Yale alumni and restored by architect Gil Hanse.

The comprehensive plans, funded to the tune of some $25 million, include a complete restoration of the golf course, updating of the clubhouse interior and expansion of the driving range.

The golf course has long been heralded as a Golden Age design gem but had deteriorated in the 1970s and 1980s. Recent efforts to reclaim its massive fairways and greens had been undertaken on a piecemeal basis and had included tree work and turf renovation. But until now the course had not been provided with an overall long-term plan, nor with funding adequate to the task. 

Hanse told Golf Course Industry that the plan is “to restore as faithfully as possible, the massive greens and fairways of the golf course. We want to get the scale back in the corridors, putting surfaces and bunkers.”

Yale has recently undertaken several key personnel changes. A new general manager, Peter Palacios Jr., formerly of Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Golf and Country Club, took over in September 2020. The facility has also recently announced the appointment of a new superintendent, Jeff Austin, formerly of Quail Hollow Country Club in Concord, Ohio. This follows the departure of Scott Ramsay to Farmington (Connecticut) Country Club before the 2020 golf season after 17 years at Yale.

Detailed terms of the Hanse restoration are unavailable. They will include extensive fairway drainage work, greens expansion and reconstruction to USGA specifications, bunker reclamation and installation of liners, and tree management. Among the goals of the plan, beyond recapturing the grand scale of the original design, will be to recapture more runoff water on site and less reliance upon outside, city sources of water for irrigation. A detailed schedule for construction has yet to be worked out but will likely entail 20 to 22 months of work, meaning that at some point the course would have to be closed for an entire golf season, with work likely beginning toward the end of the 2022 season and including all of 2023.

An accompanying operational plan will ensure a level of maintenance, staffing and budgeting adequate to sustain the fully restored grounds.

Yale GC is operated as a university asset open for play by the campus community, alumni and course members. The golf course reopened April 13, with some tee times available to Connecticut residents on a public basis.