Wilmette Golf Club reopening after face-lift

WILMETTE — The Wilmette Golf Club is scheduled to open Saturday for public play for the first time since last July after a $2.5 million renovation project.

Mike Matchen said the work done over the last 11 months will benefit future generations.

“It’s special,” the general manager and course superintendent said. “This will continue to be an asset in this community.”

The primary purpose of the biggest undertaking in the club’s almost 100-year history was to improve drainage and reduce flooding. Greg Martin, the architect in charge of the venture, also reconstructed 51 bunkers and reconfigured all 18 greens as a way to enhance playability at the course, which opened in 1922.

“We needed to update the property,” said Adam Kwiatkoski, the club’s business manager.

So far, Matchen and Kwiatkoski are pleased with the results. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in Wilmette in June, more than twice the average for the summer month, and Matchen said the course passed the test.

“We will never stop flooding, but we are now able to manage the water better when it does,” said Matchen, the superintendent since 1973 and general manager since 2004.

To prevent water collection on the course, which resulted in lost rounds and lost revenue, Matchen said the underground water mains were replaced, fairways were regraded and a bioswale was installed. The back nine’s bioswale, otherwise known as a dry creek, now allows a place for excess water to go.

Matchen said the Wilmette Park District course, which plays 6,363 yards and is a par 70, averages about 40,000 rounds a year. He said a series of storms over the past couple of years prompted the club to undergo the face-lift.

“It’s something we’ve thought about doing for a long time,” Kwiatkoski said. “We had to improve our irrigation. What we did also will ease our maintenance costs.”

A ribbon cutting and rededication ceremony is set for Thursday at the club. The first rounds will be played Friday for a private tournament outing before the public gets its first look Saturday. Kwiatkoski said he expects the weekend to be fully booked.

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