Kris Spence to add Raynor flavour to four holes at Blowing Rock


  • Nemu2

    The original nine holes at Blowing Rock opened in 1915

  • Nemu2

    The new twelfth green at Blowing Rock

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Golf course architect Kris Spence is leading a new project at the Blowing Rock Country Club in North Carolina.

The original nine-hole course at Blowing Rock was designed by Seth Raynor in 1915, but for a long time was credited to Donald Ross.

“The first time I visited Blowing Rock I mentioned what appeared to be many Raynor features rather than Ross features, and I felt we needed to consider that possibility,” Spence told GCA. “During the historical research for the renovation masterplan, evidence did lead us to Raynor having designed the course.”

A number of new holes have been added since 1915, with the course today comprising a full 18.

As part of the current project, Spence is aiming to bring the style and flavour of Raynor’s design work to four holes at Blowing Rock not originally designed by the architect.

Holes ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen will be reworked by Spence and his team. The par three tenth hole is described as ‘a textbook Eden’ by Spence, and plays just over 150 yards. The eleventh, a 485-yard par five hole, features a ‘Bears Mouth’ bunker fronting on the green – something similar to Raynor’s own ‘Lions Mouth’ concept.

The twelfth hole is a 380-yard, par four dogleg left. The hole features a redan style approach to a slight punchbowl green, which will be moved back 30 yards as part of the current work.

Perhaps the most dramatic change will be the elimination of a blind tee shot and small pond on the fairway of the thirteenth hole. This will transform the hole into a drop shot par four at 330 yards, with a small but prominent plateau green just beyond an old stream bed. This will radically alter what was often considered to be one of the course’s weaker holes.

Ground was broken in late September, and shaping and heavy construction work is expected to be completed this December. The fairways will be seeded in the spring of 2017, and it is hoped the new holes will be opened for play next summer.

“The work will include new greens, reusing the old poa bent mix sod from the old greens,” Spence explained. “We will also be creating Raynor-style grass faced bunkers, adding new irrigation and extensive drainage, removing trees, and adding bentgrass fairways and bluegrass and fescue roughs. We’ll also remove two ponds and restore vast amounts of natural stream bed.”

Spence added: “We are proceeding in phases that will continue over several years during the clubs down time in late fall and winter.”