UI Stone Creek10

Spencer Atkins

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URBANA — The former Stone Creek Golf Club in southeast Urbana received a new name earlier this year — the Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois.

And a new owner in the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

On Thursday morning, the DIA announced it had received a $5 million anonymous donation to fund renovations and enhancements at the facility.

"We are incredibly grateful to this generous donor for making continued investment in our nationally ranked golf programs," Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. "These funds will allow us to fulfill our vision of making the Atkins Golf Club a championship-caliber home course for our men's and women's golf teams, while at the same time providing an inviting environment and an entertaining experience for our local community — golfers and non-golfers alike."

The DIA is in the process of hiring a golf course architect to design to the course renovations, which are expected to lengthen the course, tighten fairways, renovate bunkers and improve lakes, creeks and bridges. The facility will also receive upgrades to its irrigation system, drainage infrastructure, course markings and practice areas.

The clubhouse will be rebranded with an Illini-themed pro shop, while also creating lounges and recruiting areas that the Illinois men's and women's golf programs can use.

"The financial support that Illinois golf has garnered over the years continues to humble our program, and this gift is just another example of how generous and supportive the Illini golf family is," UI men's golf coach Mike Small said in a statement. "This enormous gift will allow the Atkins Golf Club to transform itself into a nationally recognized collegiate golf facility, while also giving the local community access to a first-class golf experience."

"The generosity of Illinois golf supporters is profound and genuinely appreciated," UI women's coach Renee Slone added in a statement. "We are extremely excited about the impact this significant gift will have on the renovation process at Atkins Golf Club as it becomes a championship level college facility while providing area golfers with an outstanding venue. This gift demonstrates continued unwavering support by the Illinois golf family in our student-athletes and the future of our programs."

The Atkins Golf Club became a reality in late June when The Atkins Group, a real estate developer based in Urbana, gifted the golf course to the DIA. Stone Creek, which The Atkins Group had owned, closed in late January 2020 and was expected to be redeveloped into a nature area before the DIA and The Atkins Group pulled off their purchase this summer.

The renovated course is set to open in the spring of 2021.