Blythefield Country Club, 5801 Northland Drive NE, is building out its existing facilities with plans to be complete in time for the 2023 Meijer LPGA Classic. The multiphase project began last summer, according to Tim Koster, incoming board president at Blythefield.
The renovations involve the entire facility, while construction also includes improvements to the aquatics and racquet sports facilities. Wolverine Building Group is the general contractor on the project, with Hendrickson Architecture as the architect and Construction Simplified acting as the owner’s rep.
“We’ve torn down a lot of what we had — aging buildings dating back to 1913 in some cases,” Koster said. “The repair and maintenance for many of these buildings was starting to be a bit much. We wanted to consider the investment for the next 50 to 100 years as we’re approaching the century mark as a club.
“Our membership supported it wholeheartedly.”
The improvements include added dining space, a new pro shop and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Blythefield opened in 1929, and the private country club has a membership of 430 members, including 325 golfing members. Blythefield was recently featured in the movie, “Phantom of the Open,” about golfer Maurice Flitcroft.
The membership is paying for the project.
“This process is a process we’ve been working on short term and long term over the past five years, and ultimately one of the things we’ve focused on as a board is working to make sure we’re investing the capital in the long-term future of the club and an investment for future members,” said Jack Skoog, past president of the Blythefield board. “That’s been the real focus the past two years is how to come up with the capital and what can we offer the members and guests.”
Skoog also said the country club board “does not take lightly” its partnership with the LPGA and Meijer. The Meijer LPGA Classic began in 2014, and the annual tournament is in a two-year contract, with an extension likely, according to Skoog.
This is the second significant renovation project for Blythefield in the past five years, as the country club wrapped up a $3.5 million golf course renovation three years ago.
The golf course renovations included a new short-game practice area, 12,000-square-foot putting green and putting course, multiple new tees, building of bunkers, realignment and widening of fairways, and expansion of greens.
With the golf course renovation, Koster said there was a nice uptick in membership, which is now full and includes a waiting list.
Golf nationwide surged in the U.S. during the pandemic as people looked for ways to get outside. Golf rounds played in 2020 were up 13.9% compared to 2019, according to Golf Digest. The growth continued in 2021, up 5.5%.
Prior to the pandemic, 25% of U.S. country clubs had full memberships, with that number growing to 50% and climbing this year, according to a March Golf Digest article about the rise in country club improvements.
While Golf Digest noted the importance of the actual golf course, it noted the growing importance of amenities, like an upgraded club house, pool and racquet sport area.