John Fought, ASGCA, has begun work at Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, Wilmington, North Carolina. He is restoring the work of ASGCA founding memeber Donald Ross.
The project marks the first total restoration of the course, which opened as a five-hole facility in 1926. This includes the restoration of every green – for the first time since their development in the 1920s – as well as all approaches, fairway bunkers, new tee boxes and practice putting green. Irrigation and drainage improvements also are planned.
“We interviewed some really good architects, but with John we just felt he had a sixth sense about what we wanted to accomplish here,” said David Donovan, PGA director of golf at the municipal course, home to a robust 60,000 rounds per year. “We knew John would be able to see this course with a ‘player’s eye’ and give it the ‘wow’ factor we wanted.”
Fought, the 1977 U.S. Amateur champion, said the restoration presents a unique challenge because the greens were not converted from sand to grass until 1953 – five years after Ross’ death – when irrigation was finally installed.
“This is a really fascinating project,” said Fought, who won the U.S. Amateur title on another Ross course, Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia. “With minor adjustments, we’re going to build the greens to their original size and stay true to the intentions of Ross and what he envisioned. We’ll be fitting all the pieces together in a Ross mode, all while accounting for the modern game.”
Fought has access to sketches and notes for nearly all of the Wilmington course’s greens to serve as a guide for his plans.
The length of the par-71 layout will climb nearly 250 yards to 6,800 yards.
Wilmington Municipal Golf Course is tentatively scheduled to re-open to the public on Oct. 1.