Atkins Golf Club unveils new renovations, set to host Illinois golf teams for practice and matches

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Sidney Malone

The Atkins Golf Club, presents itself to the CU community on Saturday. The formally Stone Creek Golf Course and now Atkins Golf Club donated by the Atkins Group to Illini Athletics had its opening debut on Saturday morning.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

Two years ago, Stone Creek Golf Course closed to the public for an unprecedented renovation project. Saturday morning’s unveiling of the new and improved course marks “a new era” in Illinois golf programs, according to athletic director Josh Whitman.

The project began in 2020, when The Atkins Group donated over 300 acres of real estate, including Stone Creek Golf Course, to Illinois Athletics, a donation estimated at $15 million in value. Due to the large value of the donation, the course has been renamed by Illini Athletics as Atkins Golf Club.

Atkins Golf Club will host both Illinois golf programs moving forward and was specifically renovated to aid in the success of both teams. The course has been lengthened to around 7,500 yards, from its previous 7,100 yard length, which allows for better and more fulfilling practice. 

The men’s team was so excited to get practicing that they played a round behind closed doors on Wednesday, trying out the course for the first time

“When they were done, they were floored,” Illinois men’s golf head coach Mike Small said on Friday. “They were so excited about the challenge that this golf course is going to present and the condition it’s going to be kept in.”

Another renovation that the golf teams are excited about is the new team lounge in the clubhouse, which is exclusive to the men’s and women’s teams. A touch that wasn’t there before, the dedicated lounge may go further than people realize.

“We’re going to host a Spring event here next year, and to have a place where we can hang out and host team meetings; it’s a big deal,” Small said. “It’s going to help the present players, but also the future players in recruiting.”

Additionally, the course’s renovation has also brought forth a new look. Replacing the old sand from bunkers, there is now bright white sand surrounding the fairways and greens, giving the course a luxurious touch.

The greens are also set to look even brighter with a new irrigation system installed on every hole, which helps create more consistent play and the continuation of this world class facility.

Saturday’s official opening marks the start of this new chapter in Illinois golf programs’ histories. Being able to host events opens up new opportunities for both practice and competition moving forward, as one of the premier college courses now exists in Urbana 

“We were not interested in a C-level golf course,” Whitman said. “If we were not able to do this at a high-high-level, then there really was no benefit to them.”

 

@DrewFriberg9

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