Providence Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, is nearly ready to reopen following renovation work by golf course architect Kris Spence.
The club was purchased in 2016 by McConnell Golf, which owns 12 eighteen-hole private clubs in the Carolinas and Tennessee, and the golf course renovation is part of over $5 million invested in the facilities from the new owners.
Work on the course, which was originally designed by Dan Maples and opened in 1989, focused on bunkers, new and expanded irrigation, transitioning the greens from bentgrass to Champion bermuda, as well as providing new, dramatic looks from the fairways.
Spence, who has already completed renovation projects for McConnell at Sedgefield CC in Greensboro and Brook Valley in Greenville, said of the Providence renovation: “This project is a great example of how using a unique old school approach to architecture and construction can greatly improve the design, playability, character and style of a more modern concept without completely reconstructing it.”
In converting the greens to bermuda, the top four inches of old turf and mix were removed, replaced with a new 70/30 material and recontoured “to give the green more interest and character with subtle twist, turns and strategic hole locations out near the edges and in the corners,” said Spence.
“The major work occurred around the greens, where we removed modern symmetrical support mounding and extra material to create an old-school fill pad-style green with well-defined shoulders dropping down to natural grades. The greens appear very natural, now forming a raised pad with a slightly irregular horizon line formed by the green edge, a common trait among the Golden Age courses built by the likes of Ross, Tilly and Raynor.”
Bunkers were rebuilt using the Capillary Concrete liner and premium white sand from Material Sales. Spence said: “The previous bunkers were flat, low to grade, producing little in the way of angles, side to side or vertical movement and didn’t require much thought on the players part. My goal was to encroach the bunkers closer to the centreline or direct route to the hole making the fairways sweep from side to side, this produces angles and shaping options, and requires decision-making whether to go over or around.
“Stylistically, I flashed the bunker faces with subtle irregular edges well above the flat fairway grades to better reveal locations, produce a stronger presence and show stronger angles of play,” said Spence.
The renovation has introduced more variety, including the five par threes, which all played between 180 and 200 yards from the back tees. “Previously they all played a similar distance and looked somewhat the same,” said Spence. “All five now have a radically different appearance and shot requirement: the fourth was stretched to 235 yards, the sixth shortened to 155 and relocated to a new angle.”
Spence said the greatest challenge of the project was the heavy soil. “When wet, it resembles a slimy goo and dries out very quickly into what resembles something closer to cement. This posed a great deal of extra work in shaping the fine details around the green edges but in particular getting the small irregular details in the bunker shapes,” said Spence.
The irrigation installation was completed by Al Lackey of Irrigation Systems – “a phenomenal job under difficult conditions,” said Spence. Golf Agronomics provided green rootzone materials and Buy Sod supplied TifTuf sod around greens, bunkers and approaches.
Construction began in February 2018 and is expected to be fully complete by mid-August, with the course set to reopen, slightly ahead of schedule, at the end of August.