URBANA (WCIA) — More than two years after Stone Creek Golf Course was closed, it’s now renovated, renamed and ready for public play. The new Atkins Golf Club will officially open for business on Saturday morning with the first tee times, following a $5 million facelift to better suit the facility for the Illinois men’s and women’s golf teams.

“We’re extremely excited about this opportunity, to be able to call this place our home, a championship venue,” Illinois women’s golf coach Renee Slone said. “We’re excited about the future and what that holds for us. And just another phenomenal opportunity for both our men’s and women’s programs to have an exceptional facility to practice at.”

The project got started in June 2020 when The Atkins Group donated more than 300 acres of real estate and Stone Creek Golf Club to the University of Illinois. Three months later, the renovation gift got the process in motion. All of the bunkers were renovated and strategically repositioned with new white sand. The greens were also redone, including an added practice green by the pro shop. Additional tee boxes were added to allow the course to play more than 7,500 yards from the back championship tees. The extra distance will allow the Illini men’s team the ability to practice shots they can’t execute any other place in town.

“For us, we need a better place to train and prepare for some of these longer type golf courses that we play in college golf and right now the courses in town are great to play, but they’re 64, 65, 66-hundred yard golf courses, which are fine, but under today’s standards that’s not quite going to get it done,” Illinois head coach Mike Small said.

The starting hole was changed, with the new No. 1 the old fourth hole, a par five. That was done in part to enable the first and tenth hole to be right outside the renovated pro shop. In addition to the on course changes, an Illini team lounge was created for the men and women’s golf teams.