Olympia Fields fires Keith Foster

Writing from Chicago

Sunday, December 23, 2018

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced golf course architect Keith Foster had pleaded guilty to smuggling endangered species, which carries up to a five-year prison term on top of a $275,000 fine he agreed to pay and turning in all the illegal goods he’d imported.

On Friday, Olympia Fields Country Club fired Foster. The club announced its action at 12:04 p.m. Sunday, saying in an announcement to club members it “has severed all contracts and its relationship” with the 60-year-old architect, who ran an antique store in Virginia, and, it’s now known, an illegal business within that, on the side.

“We have done our best to mitigate the club’s damages resulting from his admitted offenses and are proceeding to formulate a plan to move forward with another architect,” the club told its membership.

Foster had been hired by Olympia to create master plans for upgrading the North and South courses, and had completed at least the South Course plan. What will happen to that plan is now unknown.

He had been selected from three other finalists: Tom Doak, Jim Urbina and Andy Staples. The club could circle back to one of those three or start a new round of interviews. The timetable called for no work to be done until the fall of 2020, which now comes after Saturday’s awarding of that year’s BMW Championship to Olympia’s North Course.

Foster, whose design for Shepherd’s Creek in Zion is one of the Chicago area’s most popular courses, has become known for his restoration work in recent years. His restoration of Philadelphia Cricket Club won raves and helped lead to more work, including a contract with Congressional Country Club near Washington.

Congressional fired Foster on Saturday. He also has contracts to renovate Omaha Country Club in Nebraska and Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, Tex. Their status is unknown.

Tim Cronin

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