Vintage Carolina course is updated


Sean Dudley

Architect Kris Spence has completed his extensive renovation and redesign of the Country Club of Spartanburg, one of the oldest courses in South Carolina. Although the course had a soft opening in December, Spence and his crews remained on site until early May at the historic layout, which originally opened with nine holes in 1908 and was expanded to 18 in the early 1950s.

“Now that we've had a healthy grow-in period, golfers are able to experience the true renaissance of this classic course,” Spence said.

The project’s scope included the reconstruction of all greens, tees and bunkers, plus the installation of a new irrigation system. Substantial drainage improvements were implemented, coupled with a tree removal program to improve playing corridors and turf health.

Spence retained the layout's overall routing. However, golfers will notice several green sites in new locations, while the angles of tee boxes have changed. “This was one of the most enjoyable courses I have worked on,” the architect said. “The lay of the land is just incredible, which eased the task of creating great holes. The members were supportive of new ideas for the course and embraced our concept of creating a course with strategic options and the character and feel of the classic era of golf architecture.”

Changes include repositioning the second, third and fifth greens to integrate and expose a lake that existed on the property but was not in play. The seventh hole now begins from one of the property's highest points and plays downward to the lowest point, while back-to-back short par fours at holes eleven and twelve allow golfers to play over dramatic landforms and elevation changes.

Although the number of bunkers remains modest, each was placed to challenge the golfer along the preferred lines and best angles into the greens, which are comprised of a new A-1/A-4 bentgrass blend, designed to perform well in the heat and humidity prevalent during the South Carolina summer.

“No two greens are alike. I like to give each its own personality, which makes it memorable,” said Spence. “In addition, this concept requires the player to learn the nuances of each green, thereby requiring greater imagination to execute the variety of shot options required.”

The new course measures 6,648 yards from the back tees. “This project should position the CC of Spartanburg with the best country club courses in the state and region,” Spence said. “I think the membership will enjoy the course on a daily basis and it will hold its own in the face of top-notch competition.”