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Highland Heights, OH

StoneWater sounds like a name that some big-bucks ad agency created. But truthfully, the name just evolved. Everywhere on this golf course site where we found water, we also found stone - lots and lots of stone. This was a bit of a surprise because soil-testing on the site generally showed four to six feet of soil overlying bedrock. But like so many things in golf course architecture - and life - you must be prepared for unexpected problems and come up with logical solutions. So the stone at StoneWater not only provided us with a course name, but also another course feature. Our golf course plan that originally had very few stone walls on it, now has thousands of feet of them.


Normally, rock is irregularly-shaped and of random sizes, while stone is more predictable and  uniform. The stone at StoneWater naturally fractured in flat slabs about four inches thick and broke into rectangles a foot or two across. It was perfect for stacking and as there were thousands of cubic yards of it, we used it to line lake and stream banks, the sides of tee boxes, the fronts of some greens and wherever else the look of stone would add to the aesthetics of the golf course.

StoneWater is located on the golf-rich east side of Cleveland, not far from The Country Club (William S. Flynn), Canterbury (Herbert Strong), Shaker Heights (Donald Ross), and Beechmont (Stanley Thompson). All those courses are on wonderful rolling land with babbling brooks, magnificent trees, and little or no adjacent housing. By comparison, the StoneWater site was flat and wet, with insignificant trees, more wetlands than we could babble about, and lots of adjacent housing. But unlike our predecessors, we had powerful earthmoving equipment, a fairly large construction   budget, and the modern technology of improved grasses, automatic irrigation and sophisticated drainage to produce a course of superior design and maintenance. 

We also had a well-to-do industrialist for a client who made one of the club pros in the area his partner in the venture. It was a great team and the golf course wasn’t denied anything we felt it needed. It was a story that ended sadly with our client selling his interest in the course to settle a domestic matter and the new owners replacing the golf pro. Despite those setbacks, the golf course remains as testament of an involved and spirited team of friends working towards a common, beautiful goal.

The golf course plays in a big figure 8 of a routing, so no holes are noticeably parallel and adjacent holes are separated by sufficient space and trees to give each hole a sense of isolation. We were able to do sufficient earthmoving to create the illusion of rolling ground, with many tee shots playing downhill to wide fairways. Water and stone comes into play on most of the holes, but in different ways. On some holes, they’re a wide, shallow, flat bottom brook. On others, it’s a deep, still, narrow stream, or a rock-edged lake, or a backwater, or a manmade wetland or detention basin. Overall, StoneWater is a study on how to blend water and stone as naturally and artistically as possible within the necessary artificiality of a fine golf course and is exemplary of case study in crafting a golf course that stands proudly among some of the best works of the best designers to ever work in Ohio.

On a side note, when the original team of developers was going strong, they came across a larger- than-life-sized sculpture of an old Scotsman in early 1900s dress, with a bag of wooden shafted clubs, his hand raised to shield his eyes as he peered into the distance for his golf ball. That sculpture was the work of Brad Pearson, a golf course superintendent from Holdrege, Nebraska who does this kind of golf art during his long winters on the Great Plains.  Brad’s sculpture so captured the spirit,  tradition and love of the game that the partners not only bought the piece to serve as a focal point to the clubhouse, but used it as their club logo. The logo persists today, and we were so impressed with Brad’s work, that a copy of that beautiful work of art now serves as a focal point of our office.

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