Golf Course WebsitesGolfRevText Golfer

Jacobson Renovating East Course at Indian Lakes


Golfers everywhere know about the island green on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. Each year during the Players Championship TV viewers indulge in the not-so-guilty pleasure of watching frustrated PGA Tour pros dunk their tee shots into the drink around the putting surface.

It won't be long now until Chicago-area golfers have an opportunity to challenge an island green, too. Golf architect Rick Jacobson is including an island green as part of his renovation of the East Course at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort in west suburban Bloomingdale outside Chicago.

The new No. 8 hole is Jacobson's new 150-yard par-3 original whose 9,000-square-foot green sits in the middle of a large pond. "It's the kind of hole that will really get people's blood going," Jacobson said. "And it will be a great hole during competition whether it's a professional event, high school tournament, junior golf competition, or a friendly foursome, because on that hole one tee shot can change the match."

Jacobson's new eighth is just one aspect of his overall re-design of the East Course, which will go from the current 18 holes down to a nine-hole championship caliber course.

Jacobson knows his way around Indian Lakes. It was he who transformed the resort's West Course into the highly acclaimed Blackhawk Trace, which re-opened all 18 holes in 2003. "We are very excited to have the opportunity to return to Indian Lakes Resort and complete the transformation of its golf facilities," Jacobson said. "Our goal is to integrate the new nine holes and the practice area with the existing 18-hole Blackhawk Trace course and to provide golfers with a fun, challenging, and aesthetically pleasing experience."

The net result of the current renovation will leave the resort with a top-flight 27-hole golf course and practice facility.

Jacobson said the island green hole, which will play into the prevailing southwest wind, will feature a wood retaining wall and a front greenside bunker.

In order to accommodate Indian Lakes' substantial outing business, Jacobson said the aesthetic look of the new nine holes will be consistent with the character of Blackhawk Trace, which features bunker complexes with dramatic slopes and fingers of turf that "bleed" into the sand. These "Alister Mackenzie-style" bunkers will replace the original 1965-vintage, saucer-shaped bunkers installed by legendary golf course architect Robert Bruce Harris.

The project also includes:

* Four separate teeing areas on every hole to accommodate various levels of play and provide elasticity in course length. The separate tee areas will replace the original tee box design, which consisted of one long tee box with room for three sets of tees, one behind the other. All tees will be squared-off in order to give them a "classic design" appearance.

* All old greens will be re-graded and re-grassed to recapture original pin placements or create new ones. The existing poa annua greens will be converted to G-2 bentgrass to provide high-quality putting surfaces.

* Adding fairway bailout areas not in the original design.

* Dramatically upgrading all playing surfaces. Original bluegrass tees and fairways will be converted to bentgrass.

* Incorporating fescue to provide contrast, texture, and wildlife habitats throughout the course. "Eyebrows" of fescue lining and defining bunkers will provide continuity with Blackhawk Trace.

* Installing new irrigation and drainage systems to improve overall course conditions.

"During our renovations at Indian Lakes, our goal has been to raise the golf courses to the highest standards of conditioning, challenge, and aesthetics demanded by today's golfers," Jacobson said. "One of the ways to make golf more fun and more interesting is to create holes that are memorable both visually and strategically."

For those familiar with the East Course, Jacobson plans to save hole Nos. 2, 6, 8 (which will be the new 7th), 9, 10, 11, 16, and 17. As mentioned, the island green will be on No. 8 - or No. 26 in the context of the entire 27-hole track.

The new practice area will feature:

* A 10,000-square-foot putting green
* A double-sided driving range with an area for private instruction on the far side of the range
* Five target greens
* A short game practice area for chipping, pitching, and sand bunker practice
* Nearly an acre of turf teeing area on the driving range along with artificial turf tee areas.

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort is located at 250 W. Schick Road in Bloomingdale, about 25 miles west of downtown Chicago and 12 miles from O'Hare International Airport.

Jacobson is known for such heralded 18-hole designs as Augustine GC in Stafford, Va., Bull Run CC in Haymarket, Va., Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View, Del., and Morningstar Golf Club in Mukwonago Wis. Bayside Resort and Golf Club was named among the top new courses for 2006 by Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines. The course was a collaboration of Jacobson and his former mentor and employer, Jack Nicklaus.