Within ten years of its foundation in 1915, Olympia Fields Country Club had no fewer than four 18-hole courses available to its membership, supported by the largest and grandest clubhouse in the world.
Shortly after the end of World War II, what were then known as course No. 2 and No. 3 were sold off for property development, leaving the North course (the old No. 4) and South course (the ex-No. 1) to form the new 36-hole facility.
Feature holes on the Tom Bendelow-designed South layout include the uphill 365-yard 6th, played to creek-protected green, and the tight, 460-yard doglegged par four 17th.
A Steve Smyers upgrade in 2008 – when he reworked greens and bunkers, as well as adding more than 500 yards of extra length – sharpened the teeth of the South layout to the extent that it’s now one of the best “relief” courses in the country.
After the club unearthed images dating back to the 1920s, Andy Staples drew up a master plan for the South course which also addressed drainage issues and tree growth. “We’re going to compare the current course to those original course photographs to see where we can bring back the best parts of Bendelow’s original design,” said the architect during an interview with Golf Course Architecture.
“Bendelow placed much of his attention on the approaches to the green, and how the slope and contour of the putting greens can give a hole its strategy, and we’re hoping to reintroduce much of this philosophy.” Construction is due to begin after the 2020 BMW Championship, which takes place on the North course.
The South Course at Olympia Fields is much different than the North. If I were a member, this would be my choice for daily play. The layout features a variety of holes across heavily undulating terrain. The routing is done so well, as you move up, down, left, and right for the entire 18 holes.