URBANA – The newly renovated Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois is about to open, but now it’s up to Mother Nature.
“We hope it’s June 1st,” said Golf Director Jim Buyze. “We hope that the U of I teams will be there at the beginning of next season, like in April or May. If all goes well we will open it to the public afterwards and if Mother Nature is cooperative we will push for an earlier date, but you cannot predict what will happen and so we can only hope for the best. “
Atkins Golf Club, formerly Stone Creek Golf Club, is located in southeast Urbana and has served as the home of the Illinois golf programs for men and women for several years. In June 2020, the university announced the Atkins Group’s donation of more than 300 acres, which included the course and a subsequent $ 5 million renovation.
The total amount of the gift was estimated at $ 15 million.
“It’s a premium product and it’s becoming a championship golf course again and being maintained at championship level,” said Buyze. “Not only will it be the best-conditioned public golf course in the area, I would compare it to any public golf course in the Midwest.”
The course remains closed this year. Earlier this month, the university held an opening event to open the Pro Golf Shop, practice greens and practice facility.
“It went well, and the good thing is that many people in the Stone Creek community have seen what we’ve achieved,” said Jackie Szymoniak, UI’s assistant athletics director. “They really wanted to come and see it. It was great to see a few faces again and to show what we have achieved. “
The Pro Shop will carry a variety of companies and styles. Merchandise will include a variety of logo options including the Atkins Golf Club logo at the University of Illinois, Block I logo, and the Illinois Golf logo. The Proshop opening times for autumn / winter are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The opening times of the driving range are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to sunset and Sundays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The driving range offers a continuous range with a tee. Bags of 50 range balls start at $ 8 with exercise packages available. The 8,500 square meter putting green next to the driving range is available for putting.
A new restaurant, Homegrown, will open in December, announced the DIA on Wednesday. Homegrown is managed and operated by the owners of St. Joseph’s Wheelhouse, Abbie and Ryan Rogiers. The opening of the Homegrown for the complete dinner service is scheduled for the beginning of December, the exact date will be announced later. The menu includes tasty dishes like Marcoot Creamery Herb and Garlic Cheese Curds, buttermilk chicken wings, Cuban beetroot, grass-fed beef stew, and a 16-ounce ribeye.
During the renovation of the square, the yards, tea boxes, bunkers and greens were renovated and bridges and lakes improved.
“We have the only product that can play up to 7,500 yards, which is the norm with today’s student athletes,” said Buyze. “I’m an ’80s product and Craig Stadler, who didn’t look like an athlete, was on the PGA Tour. But you won’t find someone like that in the ranks of our fellow students today. You exercise, eat well, and can do things with a golf ball that we couldn’t imagine 30 years ago. Before, a 6,800 or 6,900 yard course was enough for everyone, but even with the old 7,100 yard configuration, that wasn’t enough. “
Buyze said the “latest and greatest” technology was used on every green and bunker on the course. The greens have been re-coated, which leads to better playability, disease resistance and heat and cold tolerance
“There is still a lot to do in the winter months,” added Szymoniak. “We still have our maintenance team who will continue to work on getting the track ready in winter. We need to remove some tree stumps and complete some general drainage work. Some cart paths and bridges have to be completed before we are fully operational, but we are proud of the work we have done and can’t wait to get them up and running next year. “
Buyze said some greens are almost ready.
“We still have a lot to do and we need time to do it. We need at least 100 days of growth on a green to be ready. “
The renovation was done with private funds, Buyze said. “There was no state money and no tax money. For this money was donated to the university, but everything from private donations. “
DIA will own and operate the golf club and will remain the home of the Illinois golf teams. Troon Golf Course Management, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been appointed to manage the club.
While the opening date for the Atkins Golf Club golf course is tentatively set for June, a special Atkins Players Card is now available for golfers making plans for next summer. Through December 23, those who purchase the Atkins Players Card for $ 300 will receive $ 50 Pro Shop Credit. Atkins Players Card holders get discounts on all rounds of golf – a saving of $ 34 on weekend rounds, $ 19 off weekday rounds, and $ 4 saving on twilight rounds. 18-hole rounds for cardholders are $ 45 with a cart and $ 30 for hikers, and nine-hole rounds are $ 25 with a cart and $ 20 for hikers.
Atkins Golf Club also announced discounts for UI faculty, staff, and students, as well as alumni association members, the military, seniors, and homeowners in the Stone Creek subdivision. Season tickets will be available in 2023, the first full year of the course opening.
The closing of the course came at an interesting time. Many recreational activities suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but golf was not negatively affected.
“The game itself has seen a boom during the pandemic,” said Szymoniak. “It was brought to a makeover at a time that brought so much pain, heartbreak, fear and financial hardship to so many. However, being an external activity, it was one of the first to recover and the game has seen a huge increase in new golfers. We are delighted that so many new golfers will see such a fabulous course. “
In January, groups can book banquet and meeting rooms. Spaces available include rooms for small groups of 20 to 30 people for meetings and private dinners, and space for large gatherings of up to 200 people in the upstairs ballroom.