John Fought, ASGCA, is set to provide a “brand new classic feel” as he renovates Carmel Country Club’s North Course in Charlette, North Carolina. General Manager John Schultz said the project will give the course a more traditional and strategic character, as exemplified by classic design styles developed during the “Golden Age” of golf course architecture.
“This course has so much potential with its great topography, elevation change, and beautiful trees,” Fought said. “When completed, it will be made to look like a Donald Ross layout, giving it nearly a brand-new classic feel. There will be subtle contours to the greens, many different types of tee shots, and improved shot values for the modern game. Plus, with the new grass bunker faces, the design of the golf holes will be aesthetically spectacular.”
“As we evaluated our options, it was determined that John would be the ideal architect to bring out the best in the course and its terrain,” Schultz said. “John’s classic design will be an ideal complement to the more modern style of our South Course, renovated four years ago by Rees Jones (ASGCA Fellow).”
The North Course, a George Cobb design, debuted in 1950 and was redesigned 20 years ago by Tom Jackson. Fought is tasked with redoing the fairways and greens with Bermuda grass, rebuilding the bunkers, and improving and expanding the club’s existing practice facilities. Installing Champion Bermuda grass on the greens will let them better accommodate the warm Charlotte, summers and provide a firmer feel. As many as five of the North Course’s holes will be re-routed to compensate for building out the practice facility, which will include a new short-game area.
Explaining the emphasis on strategy, Fought said, “Players will have to think their way around it, and we’re also building in a risk-reward element that’s missing now. When it’s completed, Carmel CC will have two great golf courses that will get noticed well beyond the Charlotte area.”
The classic design style of the course will evoke the era when architects such as Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas and Dr. Alister MacKenzie were creating their masterworks. Between 1910 and 1940, 26 of the top 50 golf courses were constructed, arguably a “Golden Age,” and one Schultz said Carmel CC looks forward to evoking with this Fought-led renovation.
The North Course will close in October with work expected to begin Nov. 2. Construction is being handled by Medalist Golf, and supervised by Brannon Goodrich, Carmel CC Director of Greens. Schultz said the course is expected to reopen for play in September 2016. Upon reopening, it will play at par 71 and at slightly more than 6,850 yards from the back tees. The newly designed forward tees, from which the course will play at 4,000 yards, are expected to add variety and an option for juniors and beginners that, Schultz said, will appeal to the club’s diverse and avid golfing membership.
“As we’ve progressed through the planning stages and near the start date,” Schultz said, “we’ve become increasingly excited about the final product.”
The Carmel CC project returns Fought to the state of North Carolina, where in 2004 he completed the widely praised restoration of Pine Needles Golf Club, an original 1928 Donald Ross design. Three years after Fought’s restoration, Pine Needles played host to the U.S. Women’s Open.