Course renovations commence at Balsam Mountain Preserve

  • Nemu2

    The seventh hole at Balsam Mountain Preserve

  • Nemu2

    The course lies deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Arnold Palmer Design has been appointed to lead a renovation project at the Balsam Mountain Preserve near Sylva, North Carolina.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Arnold Palmer Signature Course will be worked on by the firm’s current vice president and senior architect Thad Layton.

Much of Layton’s efforts will focus on bunker design, configuration and placement. The original design included particularly deep bunkers with steep walls, which have proved expensive to maintain and very challenging for players over the ten years the course has been open.

Many bunkers will be made shallower, while others will be relocated. This will help boost the course’s playability, and help the club save money on maintenance costs.

“This will mean a better use of funding,” Layton said. “The maintenance budget won’t be cut, but money saved on bunker management will be spent on greens, the area that receives the most concentrated play on any course.”

Work commenced in mid-March on the course’s eleventh hole, which will be initially treated as a ‘test hole’. This means club members will be able to play the hole and offer feedback on any alterations, allowing Layton and the project team to make any necessary adjustments based on player responses. The focus will then move onto the course’s other holes.

Balsam Mountain Preserve has recently seen new owners take the helm, and going forward, their plans include the creation of a new golf park practice facility at the preserve, which would also be designed by Arnold Palmer Design.