Front of Atkins Golf Club

Changing Course… And Quickly

To be the best, you must challenge the best.

That’s the mindset at the core of the University of Illinois men’s and women’s golf programs.

F&S Capital Programs helps to execute that vision.


The Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois is here, well ahead of schedule, thanks to the “design-build” delivery method.

  • Donor-financed
  • Donors contributed at least 51%
  • No public bidding, saving time

Jon Hasselbring, project manager for the Atkins clubhouse and restaurant renovations, estimates that about 1% of capital program projects take this form. Brent Lewis was project manager for the course itself, and is the university’s landscape architect.

On the Course

The course designer J. Drew Rogers teamed with a common partner as a builder, the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company.

“What I really liked is the JDR and Wadsworth have done many courses together and had great chemistry,” said Lewis. “As golf course design is less of a science and teeters into more artform. Having that connection and understanding between the designer and the contractor was invaluable.”

One well-known decision bestowed a new opening hole and new ninth hole on the course. Two of the course’s “feature” holes now bookend the front side. The par-5 fourth hole became the first, making the long par-3 third hole the new ninth.

From the feasibility study also found it helps “control and management” for club staff.

The “Home of Illini Golf”

“Overall in my discussions with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) and Fighting Illini golf, they want the property to be in line with other athletics projects and renovations,” said Hasselbring. “We brought in a high level of finishes and athletics branding. Added graphics make it another championship-level Illinois athletics facility. That attention to detail will make Atkins a place for student-athletes to take ownership. It’ll help with recruiting to be able to say, ‘this is the home of Illini golf.’”

Fairways, greens, and bunkers differentiate from classrooms, hallways, and desks.

“Working on this golf course is unique,” said Lewis. “As a previous regional golf course, the players and coaches understood its limitations for collegiate play. This gave DIA the opportunity to take the existing course and make it longer and more competitive so that it would attract more golf talent and interest. It remains a links-style course and will be an asset to our players while continuing to be an asset to the community as well.”

An opening event on June 3 featured Chancellor Robert Jones and director of athletics, Josh Whitman.

Overall, we made this course more difficult to address the needs of today’s golfers. However, we also preserved playability for community players who haven’t made it to the skill level of our athletes. This adds value to this course, while also now allowing us to potentially host NCAA regional championships. With this gift from Atkins, DIA is poised to better support and further our already stellar programs here.   

Brent Lewis, F&S Capital Programs