Golf course architect David Whelchel is leading a renovation of the Lake Course at Carolina Trace Country Club.
Work is well underway at the Robert Trent Jones Sr. design in Sanford, North Carolina, with a view to reopening the course in time for October’s Lee County Amateur Championship.
GCA spoke to Whelchel, a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, to find out more about the work.
“Major components of the update to the course include the rebuilding of all the bunkers with new drainage, liners and whiter sand,” Whelchel said. “A few bunkers have been removed that are out of play or irrelevant, while some of the bunkers are being re-positioned as they are no longer in play for the better players with today’s club technology. At the same time you have to be careful and not make them more in play for the higher handicapper.”
The course’s fairways are being stripped, levelled and re-grassed. Drainage is also being added to the course in order to make maintenance easier.
“We are adding some length to the course, as mentioned in the article you read, because the club and owners would like to attract new members, many of whom are likely to be younger and can drive the ball farther, also in hopes of attracting some higher profile tournaments,” said Whelchel.
Several hundred trees have been removed from the course, allowing for better growing conditions and opening up sight lines for players.
Whelchel admitted that one of the biggest challenges he has faced is convincing the club’s membership that the course’s design legacy will be respected and maintained during the ongoing project.
“Probably the biggest challenge is convincing the members that they will still have a Robert Trent Jones Sr. course when the work is through,” said Whelchel. “This is a beautiful course on a great piece of property, and they are rightfully proud of their facility, so we have been very careful to keep them up to date on what is happening through meetings, providing renderings of the finished product and course tours during construction. So far, this seems to have alleviated their fears. As I have told some of them, think about the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst. It has been‘remodeled’ several times, but it is still a Donald Ross course. So this work is no different.”