A major renovation project from David Whelchel, ASGCA, at Carolina Trace Country Club’s Lake Course, Sanford, North Carolina, is “coming into vision” according to a recent article in the “Sanford Herald.” The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed course is targeted to re-open by September.
A key aspect of any new or renovation project is the anticipated life of the various elements on the course. The article discusses this Life Cycle in detail.
The renovation’s including taking out trees. There are scenic and strategic purposes, but it’s also for the health of the course, along with putting in new drainage lines and re-contouring some of the fairways. More airflow and sunlight, originally there when the course opened more than 40 years ago, helps the turf.
“Golf courses have a life cycle just like anything else,” Whelchel said. “At the ASGCA (American Society of Golf Course Architects) we’ve put together a life cycle chart which shows how often everything on a course needs to be replaced.”
For sand bunkers, it’s every 25-30 years that major work will be due. Irrigation systems begin to go at around age 30.
Additional article details include the club’s hope that a newly-renovated course be viewed as a possible host to future U.S. Open qualifier events.
The club’s members will appreciate new wide, concrete cart paths. Then there’s the goal of bringing a men’s U.S. Open qualifying tournament to go alongside Trace’s traditional hosting of a U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifier each spring.
When the Lake Course reopens, scheduled for September with the 3rd annual Lee County Amateur Championship on the calendar for Oct. 16-18, there will be shorter tees and longer tees, stretching the course to more than 7,200 yards.
On No. 8, the scenic, downhill par three which greets golfers before the shaded path to the clubhouse, staggered tee boxes ranging up and down the slope are currently dirt and clay terraces. When open again, the hole will play from 100 to 225 yards.
On the closing hole, a par five alongside Lake Trace which provides an opportunity to end a round with an eagle or an eight – even without losing one or two balls in the lake – a new back, way back, tee box will make it near-impossible, or at least a crazy risk, to reach the green in two.
“We’re adding length, yes, because these younger players hit the ball so far these days,” said Whelchel.
More the point though, whether for Trace’s members, the best area amateur players, U.S. Open hopefuls or Sandhills tourists, a course goes from good to great when a golfer, many times around the course, says, “Wow. It was worth it just to play this hole,” Whelchel said.
“Changing anything about a Robert Trent Jones Sr. course is something you do very, very lightly,” Whelchel said.
Work on a hole is more about returning it to how it was intended to challenge a golfer versus change for change’s sake.
Original aerial photographs of each hole, which Whelchel keeps in a large binder, were used in planning the renovation and are checked and rechecked, such as while Whelchel and Hart discussed a new, shorter ladies/senior tee for No. 4.
“David, with his knowledge of, and respect for the history of the Robert Trent Jones designs, it’s our goal, and we know it’s his goal to protect the integrity of the original design,” said Escalante vice president of communications David Matheson.