private club news
behind the gates at the country's top clubs
Merion Golf Club has just completed the final phase of extensive renovations on its clubhouse. The work, which started back in 2000, included redecorating the ballroom and expanding the golf shop and the women's locker room, but the principal focus of the project was to overhaul the main dining room. The new "Trophy Room," as it's called, was designed as a tribute to the sixteen USGA championships that have taken place at the private Pennsylvania club (the seventeenth will be this summer's U.S. Amateur). Working with a former USGA museum curator to procure artwork and memorabilia, Merion constructed a new (albeit historic) dining room that features a trophy case displaying replicas of Bobby Jones's four grand-slam trophies. In August, when the Amateur returns, the room will also showcase the Atlanta Historical Society's Bobby Jones exhibit, which will be traveling the country this year to commemorate Jones's fab four. And yes, Calamity Jane—his famed putter—will be there.
In the first round of this year's Masters, Tiger Woods putted his ball right off the thirteenth green and into Rae's Creek, probably expecting that the rain-soaked surface would be slower than usual. What he might not have considered was something under the green: a new aeration system by SubAir Systems that drains greens in stormy weather and cools them during heat waves. It was installed at Augusta National after last year's fiasco at Shinnecock Hills, when smoldering greens became the story of the U.S. Open. Other top-tier clubs are also jumping on board: Pebble Beach, the Estancia Club in Arizona, Riviera Country Club in California and Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club (host of the Tour Championship in November) have added similar systems; Colonial Country Club in Texas and Shadow Creek in Nevada are in the process. Costs vary, but East Lake's ran about $19,000 per green—money well spent, according to course superintendents, who say the new technology (which can be installed without tearing up any grass) not only drains and cools greens exceptionally well but also ex-tends the life of putting surfaces. Best of all, perhaps, from members' perspectives, it eliminates the need for greens to be periodically punched. Contact SubAir Systems at 866-641-6663 or Ad-vanced Aer at 516-625-3301 for more information.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research golf tournament will take place on September 19 at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, New York. Foursomes are $10,000; individuals $2,500. Contact Megan Reitzel at 212-509-0995. The Cadillac Invitational at Los Angeles's Sherwood Country Club to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California is on October 31. Foursomes are $5,000; contact David Hartmire at 661-799-7940. . . . Two luxury golf cottages for member rental have opened at Shelter Harbor Golf Club in Rhode Island, with plans for an additional three. Each 1,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath house is located between the tenth and eighteenth fairways. Membership at Shelter Harbor starts at $150,000; weekly rentals for the cottages, which are available year-round, will begin at $5,000 per week. . . . Augusta National has announced plans for a new practice facility to open by 2010. It will be constructed on land currently occupied by a parking lot in front of the clubhouse. While still tight-lipped on course renovations, Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson has said that the club is seriously looking at lengthening the layout again. The last major course renovations were completed in 2002.
The Peninsula Golf & Country Club (Jack Nicklaus, 2006), Millsboro, DE; 866-736-3352; $50,000 equity membership.