The historic Hamburg, N.Y., property has not seen a major renovation since 1925, with intermittent tweaks over the years by a variety of architects. The second phase of the project began in summer 2012, with updates to holes 10, 14, 15 and 16.
Architects are wrapping up Phase Two of a multi-year renovation project that is transforming the golf course at historic Wanakah Country Club in Hamburg, N.Y.
Formed in 1898 as a summer retreat for Buffalo businessmen, Wanakah is a traditional private club. Its existing layout was likely built in the early 1920s by architect Willie Watson.
“The ‘vision’ that was outlined within the master plan and committed to by the Wanakah Country Club membership is evolving with great success,” said Chris Wilczynski, the course designer who formed C.W. Golf Architecture. “It’s been a real privilege to work on a course with such a great golf pedigree.”
Course Superintendent Gale Hultquist has tended to Wanakah’s turf for 25 years.
“It’s kind of like getting a heart transplant,” said Hultquist about handing over his course to Wilczynski. “You’ve got to trust the surgeon. Chris and I get along almost like twins, meaning we share the same thought processes. The difference is, Chris can articulate the goals and processes much better than I can. It’s a great working relationship, because we both want what’s best for the club.”
The property is separated from the lakefront of Lake Erie by a strip of residential lots, with relatively flat terrain.
Wilczynski began working with the course by completing renovations to four holes during the summer and fall of 2010, which entailed re-grading fairways to improve drainage, and upgrading and repositioning bunkers and tees. No work was done in 2011. The $630,000 Phase Two began in summer 2012; changes to the 14th, 15th and 16th holes are now complete, and the No. 10, 361-yard par-4 will be finished before winter.
Extensive tree removal is part of the master plan. “There were way too many trees, and bad varieties of trees,” said Wilczynski. “They were impeding playability and maintenance. We’re trying to get the corridors back, so people can enjoy the game more.”
Wanakah’s last major renovation was in 1925, Hultquist said, with intermittent tweaks by a variety of architects over the years, resulting in a disjointed presentation of the layout.
“Working with Chris on a master plan is bringing continuity to the course,” said Hultquist. “Everything is starting to gel now. In the areas he’s done, Chris has just brought the course to life.”
Future phases on the work will focus on improving drainage, and enhancing the course’s playability and aesthetics.
“The membership is very happy with the course improvements,” said Wilczynski. “They want to continue to improve their wonderful golf course and implement the master plan.”research