THE MISTWOOD GOLF DOME, on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook is your home for winter golf. The golf dome is now complete withToptracer, and the professional staff has been rated in Golf Digests Top 100 club fitting locations in America. The Sports Bar, is now called McWethy’s Sports Bar and has been refinished and the menu has been updated. The new staff adition is longtime LPGA Professional Nicole Jeray, ladies it’s lesson time. The closing time is now 10 PM daily, see Mistwoodgolfdome.com or (630)-739-7600. Ariel photo of the Mistwood Golf Dome provided by Dave Lockhart and Golf 360. _____________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Facebook, Linkedin. Architect Keith Foster overlooks a green during renovation at the Baltimore Country Club. (photo by Rory Spears)
***A SPECIAL EDITION OF THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT***
Very rarely is there a story I don’t look forward to writing on this site, but this is one of those times.
The last time this happened was a few years ago, when I arrived at Day 1 of the convention center at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, and learned that sports and golf media writer from the Daily Herald Mike Spellman, a good friend, had been found dead in his home. That hit me like a ton of bricks, like the following story about golf architect Keith Foster.
This is me standing in the 18th fairway on the Wissahickon Course at the Philadelphia Country Club, renovated by Foster. I had just hit a poor approach shot into the green, and wasted my 302 yard drive down the center of the fairway.
I received an email on Wednesday night from a newspaper editor in Virginia, asking to use a photo from this website of Foster. I assumed it was because they were doing a story on Foster about the renovation work he is doing at Congressional Country Club.
The editor then informed me that Foster was in “hot-water” and was facing 5 years in a federal jail, and then forwarded the press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). A jaw-dopping moment then occured.
I’ve known Foster since he was at the grand opening at my former club, Shepherd’s Crook in Zion, that Foster designed in the late 1990’s. Foster made a quick impression on me when he showed up in a cart on the 6th tee box, introducted himself and said he would inform our group on how to play the hole.
At that point I suggested he show us how to play the hole, and handed him my driver, with my golfball already tee’d up. Foster lined up with my right-handed driver, and said “this doesn’t look right”, with that he stepped to the lefthanded side of the ball, inverted the driver face and crushed one about 280 down the center of the fairway. Applause all-around, as Foster said,” that’s how you play the hole.” I didn’t know he was left-handed.
Keith Foster sits in his antique store the Outpost, now closed.
When Foster and I next crossed paths, it was at Southern Hills CC, home of the 2001 U.S. Open on media day. He had renovated the course and was discussing the course improvements with the national media. I had questions about the design at Shepherd’s Crook, so we had lunch together that day and got caught up on golf.
Shortly afterwards I was the first reporter who contacted Foster about his work at Colonial Country Club, when Annika Sorenstam was going to play in the PGA Tour event there. I ran the interview and later the Chicago Sun-Times called me asking to use his quotes, where he predicted Sorenstam would miss the cut by 2-4 shots. She missed the cut by 3 shots.
As Fosters work list continued to grow, I would visit his courses around the country when I traveled. I have played over 20 Keith Foster original designs, renovated golf courses, and courses he is scheduled to work on, all of them are very well done. I have greatly enjoyed every Foster golf course I have ever played. In fact, one PGA Tour caddie, who works for a major championship winner, and has caddied all over the world on every continent, said he has seen courses designed by every known designer in the game. The caddie told me that there is not a better bunker guy, in golf course architecture than Keith Foster. I agree 100% with that.
The Pittsburgh Field Club, first hole.
In fact, when I rated courses for a national publication, I often suggested that other raters come for a visit and see the great work he was doing. As a result, some courses got more rater visits, and jumped up higher in the Top 100, or even made it into Top 100 lists.
When I last looked, Foster had some 11 courses he had worked on, on one Top 100 list. Whether you played one of the classic course restorations he did, or some of the new construction course he designed, you played some pretty good golf courses.
(L) The 18th hole at Sands Point on Long Island, (R) The par 3,12th hole at The Knollwood Club in Lake Forest Illinois, are both Foster renovations.
The South Course at Olympia Fields (L), and the par 3, 4th hole at Baltimore Country Club (R). Baltimore CC was a recent Foster project, and OFCC South is an upcoming scheduled project.
Fosters work in Illinois really started at Shepherd’s Crook, it continued in Elgin with the first phase of the Highlands of Elgin, that was finished years later by Foster’s former assistant Art Schaupeter. Highlands of Elgin is a Top 10 Municipal Course on Golfweeks Top 50 list.
Foster returned to renovate the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest. Foster convinced the club to go with the now popular white “tour edge” pro-angle sand, almost before any club in area was using it. After the Illinois PGA held a section event at Knollwood, the pro’s left calling Knollwood “Mini-Augusta”, and went back to their clubs suggesting that white sand could be the way to go. If your now enjoying the white sand in the bunker craze that’s been sweeping the area, thank Foster.
More recently, Foster was just hired this fall by Olympia Fields Country Club to renovate or do restorations on both the North and South Golf Courses (OFCC-just awarded WGA PGA Tour event in 2020 on the North Course). It’s my understanding that Foster would be doing more work on the South Course, and his plan for the South Course is outstanding, and loved by the restoration committee and the clubs board. Now the question is, will he get to do it. I don’t know if Olympia Fields will stick with Foster or not at this point, but here’s hoping they wait until the judge makes his ruling first.
Foster has been cooperating with federal authorties and plead guilty in a plea-deal for violating the Lacey Act, of selling and transporting between $250,000 and $500,000 dollars worth or products made from endangered species, and other wildlife. Records of imports of the products were falsified to bring them through customs. A “client” Foster was dealing with, turned out to be an undercover agent wearing “a wire” for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Foster has forfeited over $275,000 dollars made from sales of the items brought into the country in 2017, and over 100 items were seized by authorities from his store, The Outpost, now closed. No part of his golf design and architecture business is under investiagtion by authorities, or will be.
Foster will be sentenced on March 9th, 2019 in federal court in Virginia. How much time he might serve is a good question. Normally in federal cases offenders do not get the maximum time possible, especially first time offenders like Foster. Apparently Foster has been cooporating with authorities all along since being charged, and it’s expected that the judge invovled, will take that into account.
Foster invited me on several occasions to come visit him in Virginia to see his design studios, and see the Outpost. I never made it there due to some last minute changes in travel plans during a trip out east. I was disapointed when he told me earlier this year the Outpost was closing due to his golf business, that again was getting extremely busy.
The Outpost was active in supporting a variety of area charities in the 6 years it was open. I picked Foster up at O’Hare airport one day in route to a site visit in the area, and we talked as much about the Outpost as we did golf course work. Foster told me stories about the golf antique’s that were for sale, acquired on trips through Scotland, Ireland and other parts of Europe.
I have reached out to people who know Foster very well, and they are all surprised by this turn of events. While Foster obviously made some bad decisions with this part of business, overall he is a good person. I’ve known that for 20 years. Rumors are flying on what courses will still work with him, and what courses might walk-away from doing business with him. I hope they wait until the judge drops down his ruling. I’m hoping for Probation in this case, and come March, hopefully this case will have run it’s course. RS