After a months-long roller coaster ride, Olympia Fields Country Club has selected golf architect Andy Staples to create a master plan for the renovation of its South Course. Although Staples has been recommended to the membership as the architect for both the North and South courses, there are not at present plans for any changes to be made to the North course, which is set to host the BMW Championship in 2020.
According to sources within the club, the selection of Staples was made based on the strength of his communication skills as well as his knowledge and understanding of the work of the Golden Age architects responsible for designing and building all four of the original courses at Olympia Fields, two of which remain. The selection committee explained, “Andy has a background which is well suited to work on our courses. He has restored a Willie Park, Jr. course outside of Detroit, and is currently restoring a Tom Bendelow course outside of Milwaukee. He has also restored a William Watson course in California. This is interesting since Watson was the architect of the two courses at OFCC that are no longer in existence, and collaborated with Bendelow on the current South Course.”
The 3rd at Meadowbrook, post renovation - Photo Credit: Brian Walters
Andy Staples’s recent work at the Willie Park Jr. designed Meadowbrook Country Club, among other successful projects, has received universal praise for its Golden Age sensibility, creativity and focus on playability for a wide range of players. He has been a vocal champion of the reimagining and revival of community golf in America, while concurrently building a strong resume of restoration and renovation projects at classic courses. The membership at Olympia Fields is hoping that he can channel similar energy into the South Course, which previously had work done by Steve Smyers in ‘07-’08.
Although the North Course gets the attention for its championship pedigree, among the membership at Olympia Fields and their guests, favoritism between the North and South is split right down the middle. The South Course has interesting and varied topography, playing over gently rolling hills, around a lake, through stands of oaks, and criss-crossing Butterfield Creek. It is home to some of the most interesting holes on the property and in all of Chicagoland, including the brilliant Knoll par-4 6th.
The approach to the par-4 6th at Olympia Fields South
Interesting times lay ahead for Olympia Fields, with recent member angst shifting back to excitement for the future of their historic club. Andy shares that excitement, but in typical fashion for him keeps the focus where it belongs. “This isn’t about me, it’s about OFCC. I’m a Midwestern guy – born and raised outside of Milwaukee. As exciting of an opportunity as this is, this is about doing the right thing for (the) club, and its long-term future.”