Bobby Weed, ASGCA (and Bobby Weed Golf Design), is renovating the Championship Course at Grandfather Golf and Country Club, a private member-owned club in Linville, N.C. The work is part of a 10-year master plan the design company assembled.
“This storied course continues to offer improved aesthetics and playability,” Weed said. “Golfers can make shot decisions based on enhanced visibility on the first hole, while appreciating many of the layout’s unique features which have re-emerged with the ongoing improvements.”
Weed Golf Design helped the club restructure a short-term and long-range plan to preserve and enhance the classic Ellis Maples layout. Following some substantial improvements several years ago, Weed and his team have worked in a creative and incremental fashion, each autumn and early spring, so as not to disrupt play. Extensive tree removal, installation of subsurface fairway drainage and construction of open rock-lined streams are some components of the renovation. The club’s objective is to continue with Bobby Weed Golf Design for additional improvements in the future.
Over 40 years’ tree growth in the corridors necessitated removal efforts to bring many of the holes back to their original lines. The green and tee complexes, and then the fairways, were the beneficiaries of the widespread tree removal, which nonetheless is nearly undetectable to players accustomed to the lush beauty of the course.
The renovation work has encompassed, in part, the following:
The first hole, a par 5, was widened and its approach refined. A pond to the right of and below the green had caused players either to go for the green or lay up; neither shot was compelling. So a decision was made to reconstruct and lower the green complex, thus widening the approach. The fill material generated from this initiative went to the practice tee, more than doubling its size. A series of plateaus, rock walls and terraces was to soften the grade change between the practice facility and the first tee.
On the par-4 16th hole, a fairway bunker was relocated and trees were removed adjacent to the headwaters of the Linville River to lessen the angle of the hole. This resulted in the exposure of the water feature, which had been overgrown with trees on both sides, negating its visual impact. Now golfers must hit over the water on this L-shaped hole, where the corner was beveled off to create an angle. With the newly-opened sight lines, players must make a strategic decision off the tee how they want to play this hole, with the option to carry the corner if they choose.