Ray Hearn Tapped To Redesign Inn At St. John’s Golf Course
The 27 hole golf facility at the Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth, Michigan will undergo major changes in 2022 under the direction of award-winning golf architect Ray Hearn.
Hearn’s master plan includes a championship course stretching to 7,007 yards, a nine-hole par three course and an 18-hole putting course.
St. John’s three nines will be closed for all of 2022, with a grand re-opening in the fall of 2023.
The Inn At St. John’s is a former Catholic seminary campus that was converted to a hotel, conference center and 27-hole golf course in the 1990s. The property was purchased from the Archdiocese last August by the Pulte Family Foundation. William Pulte had originally helped finance the property’s transition from a seminary campus to conference center.
The property is also home to Carl’s Golfland and its state-of-the art practice facility.
Profits from The Inn at St. John’s will be donated to the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation to support their mission.
The championship course will new greens, remodeled bunkers with top-of-the line sand and liners, reshaped fairway contours, advance cultivars of bentgrass for the putting greens, collars and fairways, a new state-of-the-art irrigation system, extensive new drainage, a new irrigation reservoir, new and remodeled asphalt cart paths as well as tree removal and a few tree additions.
A nine hole family friendly par three and 18 hole putting course will add additional options for golfers, whether just there for the day, staying for a conference or wedding, or visiting Carls Golfland.
In addition to reworking the golf facilities, the Inn at St. John’s plans exterior landscaping and parking lot projects, upgrades to existing ballrooms and the addition of a 15,000 square foot ballroom to go with a new outdoor four-season pavilion. A new pro shop and seasonal restaurant for golfers also are in the plans. The goal is to turn The Inn at St. John’s into Detroit’s destination resort.
Hearn, whose Holland-based firm is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, has built an international reputation, with five American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Design Excellence Awards since 2012.
Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs has worked on more than 150 courses. Hearn has said that 40% of his projects involve restorations rather than new course design. Among other projects Hearn currently is working with Washtenaw Golf Club in a restoration of its 120-year-old course. You can read about the Washtenaw Golf Club restoration at the link. He also is working on several projects with Boyne Golf in Northern Michigan
Hearn comments on the project in general:
On the eighteen, every single hole is going to be changed somewhat. Some more than others, and there will be some entirely new holes.
On all the holes, we will have five to seven different playing yardages. That’s what I like most about this design. It is at 7,000 yards and that’s about a thousand yards longer than any pair of the original nines. This will have something for players who hit it a little longer and want to keep their driver in their hand. But it has a lot of flexibility on the yardages. On many of the holes, though, there are more angles than yardage options.
With remodeled bunkers with new liners, and signature series spec sand; new irrigation and drainage; new grass; and laser leveled tees, you will see private club quality in terms of the final product. It will give guests a private club experience for the day.”– Ray Hearn
Below is Hearn’s commentary on each of the new holes in the design:
The hole fairway to green is all new grass. The swale that goes through holes south of the parking lot will be cleaned up and be made a feature. It will be regraded and made into a strategic feature on the hole. It will be rock lined. It will be a feature, whereas right now it’s a bit of a mess. On the green we will work with the contours and develop a couple more zones. The bunkers will be completely remodeled.
Number two adds a new tee box and a remodeled green. The swale here will be a strategic and beautiful feature.
This is the old number four will be completely remodeled, adjusting the grades and the approach.
This was part of old hole number five. We are going to lengthen it and widen the fairways. The creek running down through holes 1, 2 and 4 becomes a beautiful and strategic feature on those holes. Golfers will have a big decision on their second shot on this medium length par five — whether to lay up or go over the creek. Depending on the choice, the risk reward is proportionate to their playing ability.
On this, we did the thing that you see around the country. I don’t mind when the land calls for it doing back to back par fives. This one is completely new, but touches three different old holes. The teeing areas give high handicap golfers the chance to play the hole very fairly. The fairways are enlarged, greens and bunkers are completely redone.
Hole number 6 is a new golf hole. There are five tees, but the third and fourth tees are so large there are really two additional teeing areas in terms of yardage, so there are really seven teeing areas here. It’s a downhill hole and we made the fairways extremely wide. You will get a lot of roll. We created landforms on the southern outside edge that will kind of kick your ball back to the fairway. The second shot will go over a beautiful ravine with a stream at the bottom and play to an slightly elevated green that will seem higher because of the 16 foot deep ravine between the landing area and the green. It will be an optical illusion. I think this will be an exciting hole.
Hole number seven originally had severe valleys and ridges throughout it. We added a back tee and then completely regraded the fairway to make it more fair. The hills and the valleys as originally designed played havoc witht he midrange and higher handicap golfers. We created a new green to the northeast. It will be like a catchers mitt in baseball; it will be very receptive. It is a long par 4, so the land forms needed to be more receptive and there are no fairway bunkers.
Number eight has some unique landforms on the run into the green. The hole doesn’t need any bunkers. We added tee to offer all kinds of angles and options.
On this hole, we’re doing a tribute to the church pew bunkers. The green is being completely remodeled. It will be a nice finish to the front nine.
Number ten has the Cardinal’s Tree in the fairway. As an architect, I’m not a big tree in the fairway designer, but I respect history. We will trim up the tree a bit. The green will be remodeled. It will be a wonderful hole.
Everything on this hole is designed to give golfers a chance to either go for the green or lay up. We have adjusted the contours
This is a big par five. We have taken out trees on the hole to make the fairways wider, especially between the second landing zone and the green. I was careful not to take out too many trees, so you still have the double dog leg. We’ve remodeled the bunkers and added another tee.
On the original design, this hole received some criticism because of the extreme ridges and valleys. So what we did was soften them a bit without changing the way it flows. It will still have a beautiful roll, but will be more fair.
Fourteen is an attractive par 3. We spent a lot of time adjusting the anatomy of the approach into the green. We took out the bunker that was closer to the pond and added a backdrop bunker ot the back left of the green.
On fifteen, we remodeled the bunkers and added a new forward tee. We added some needed drainage. But there is not a whole lot of change on that hole, but maintenance-wise, the hole will be a lot more firm.
What we have done is expand the green on the left side to give another couple of cup areas. The original tees had a crown, so we will laser level them. The front right bunker will have a new shape.
Seventeen is a hole that — based on feedback — was a hole that people either really liked or did not. From a long hitter’s perspective, we tried to give them a larger landing zone. We added a new back tee and a new forward tee. It will give you a more legitimate choice rather than demanding that players lay up with a hybrid. If the tees are up, this is potentially a driveable par 4.
Number eighteen will be a great finishing hole. We have taken the back tees, which were in a sunken pit in the woods, and elevated them by four and a half feet. This gives players more a view of the landing zone. We have also added some new forward tees. There will be two levels on the green, with a nice transition between the levels. The pond will be gorgeous, rock lined starting at the first landing zone and going behind the green. There will be a waterfall that you can see from nine green and on eighteen. The pond is doubled in size from what is there now.
This is a soft peninsula green. The mid-left pin is out there, with water behind and in front.
The Par Three Course
We have added two holes to the original design to make this a nine hole course. I’m trying to have some fun, and evoke some of the flavor of some of my favorite greens on the British Isles. It will have a three tee system. The holes extend from 68 to 150 yards. There is a good variety here.
The communities in Canton, Northville and Novi as well has hotel guests will all really enjoy this. I can also see customers at Carls using this to give some irons a test whirl. It will be used by conference goers, junior leagues, date nights and so on. I think it will be immensely popular.
The Putting Course
The putting course will be eighteen holes. There will be a variety of distances. It’ll have par twos, par threes and par fours. St. John’s wants to put a food truck out there to service the par three and putting courses.
Think how fun it would be to grab a glass of wine or beer and just spend some time enjoying an afternoon.
Carls at St. Johns is already one of the busiest driving ranges in the midwest. Combining that with the full eighteen, the par three and the putting course, it will be a really cool project.
Overall, Hearn said,
I give the anatomy of the approach as much consideration in my designs as I do to the green complexes. When you combine them both, you get a powerful experience.
The anatomy of the approach is how the shot feeds into the front pin location. A golfer see the landforms and then decide how to play off of them with the ball coming into the green. I want golfers to think about that on my designs. THere are some guys who are aerial artists who will just go over them, but you have many golfers that don’t have the ability to produce enough spin, so I think that the land forms and approach should make pin areas interesting.