Mooresville GC course reopens following Kris Spence redesign


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    An aerial of the reworked course following Spence’s work

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    Donald Ross's plans for the original nine holes at Mooresville GC

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The redesigned course at Mooresville Golf Club in North Carolina has reopened for play following a project led by golf course architect Kris Spence and his design associate Jim Harbin.

The original nine holes at Mooresville Golf Club were designed by Donald Ross – one of his final projects before his death in 1948. A back nine was added in the early 1970s, designed by J Porter Gibson.

Spence has vast experience of working with original Donald Ross designs, but at Mooresville Golf Club, he wasn’t able to restore the course as he’d have liked. 

“My initial approach was to try and restore the old Ross nine as closely as possible and bring a Ross motif to the back nine,” said Spence. “However, due to financial restraints, safety issues, road expansion needs and limited hole separation where Ross had to route around an old industrial pond, it soon became apparent saving the old Ross nine was not possible.”

Due to this Spence’s plan called for the development of a new front nine, with the removal of the 16-acre pond allowing for holes to routed across and through this newly available area. Some holes would be moved away from a busy intersection and road, and there would also be greater hole separation throughout the front nine. 

“The old site had too many restrictions and safety issues for restoration to work,” said Spence. “While the solution we came up with did not preserve Ross’ old holes, it required me to take off the restoration cap and design new holes as I felt Ross would based on my years of working with and studying his courses.”

Construction commenced in January 2015, with grassing taking place before the autumn. Turf establishment began in the spring of 2016 and continued over the summer ahead of the course’s reopening.

The reworked holes feature raised and low profile greens, depressed grass faced bunkers and follow the lay of the land – all features of Donald Ross’s work. The course’s greens use TifEagle ultradwarf, while the tees feature Zorro Zoysia. The fairways and roughs use 419 bermudagrass, and there is approximately 20 acres of natural fescue low mow area throughout the course. 

The project also added 10.5 acres of practice area with defined target greens, short game area and expanded putting green. 

“I wanted to create something truly special for the municipal player so they could enjoy the brilliance of Mr Ross design philosophies and his vision for golf,” said Spence. “I think the local players are going to be extremely surprised when they return to discover they have a brand new ‘old school’ course with the look and feel that Ross is prominently known for.”