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June re-opening of Kenwood Kendale Course

Kenwood Country Club

Thirty-six-hole Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati has planned a June 2021 grand re-opening for its Kendale Course, a Golden Age layout where Dublin, Ohio-based Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design has completed a comprehensive $5 million renovation.

Ground was broken here, north of downtown, in the Autumn of 2019 Following three years of careful preparations and master planning. The renovated Kendale layout had been poised to fully re-open last summer, but Covid-19 intervened. Members enjoyed some limited play in the fall of 2020, but June 2021 has been slated for an official reopening.

We experienced just enough of a sneak preview last fall to knock everyone’s socks off,” says Kenwood Chief Executive Officer, Dylan Petrick. “Still, the Board, our Course Superintendent Kent Turner, and our new Director of Golf Shawn Costello all agree the renovation won’t be fully realized until the Spring 2021 growing season is over. “ think the members always knew we had the bones of a world-class, vintage golf course here. But what Fry and Straka have uncovered, revived and created here is pretty extraordinary. We can’t wait to show it off.”

A Bill Diddel design

The original 36 at Kenwood Country Club was designed by architect Bill Diddel and opened in 1930. The club had retained Donald Ross two years prior. He is, in fact, responsible for identifying the 341-acre property on which the club sits today.

“But Ross wasn’t hired to design the course. No one is quite sure why., Petrick says.

Big tournaments

No one is complaining. Diddel’s work proved quite spectacular: The Kendale Course hosted the U.S. Amateur just three years post-opening, followed by the 1954 Western Open and the 1963 U.S. Women’s Open. 

Diddel is, in fact, one of the unheralded heroes of golf’s Golden Age of Course Design. A period roughly bounded by the two World Wars that produced an outsized number of American masterpieces.

Starting in 1924, the Indiana native laid out more than 250 courses across the Midwest. Including the celebrated Woodland CC in Carmel, Indiana; The Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas, host of the 1952 U.S. Open; and The Summit Course, the original 18 at the Shanty Creek Resort in northern Michigan. He was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), in 1947. And also a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

The most critical agronomic/aesthetic improvement at Kenwood CC likely stems from Straka’s removal of more than 1,000 sweet gum, oak and spruce trees.

This ever-proliferating forest had, over the course of 85 years, obstructed or otherwise compromised lines of play in ways Diddel never anticipated. The trees also shaded rough areas and competed for nutrients with surrounding turf, severely compromising that turf, for decades.

The brain trust behind the Kenwood renovations could not have come better prepared. Turner is one of only four superintendents ever to preside at the club. No one understands the soil, the growing and climatic conditions better.

Straka is an Ohio native whose firm is considered among the industry’s leading interpreters of Golden Age design. Even its original work — including 2019 U.S. Open and 2025 Women’s Open site Erin Hills, the Wisconsin design completed with former partner Michael Hurdzan and architecture historian Ron Whitten. It exudes an authentic, vintage aesthetic. 

Petrick, for his part, had arrived directly from Coldstream CC, a private club across town. But he first traveled to Ohio from Baltimore Country Club, where he was party to the renovation of A.W. Tillinghast’s celebrated Five Farms course.

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Photos courtesy of Kenwood Country Club