Golf course architect Kris Spence has broken ground on a renovation of the Oaks course at the 36-hole North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The project sees Spence returning green and bunker complexes closer to their original style, as well as modifying some fairway landing areas and removing trees to address shade issues.
The club has two courses – Oaks and Lakes – originally designed by George Cobb and Gene Hamm. They both designed 18 holes each, nine on each course, following the natural lay of the land with minimal earthmoving on fairways.
The first phase of work began in mid-March. Green complexes are expected to be complete and sprigging under way by mid-July.
Greens will be converted from bentgrass to Champion G12 Ultradwarf. “We will adjust and soften surface contours to better accept faster green speeds expected from Ultradwarf turf,” said Spence. “All old turf will be stripped to remove an inch on greens and collars. Greens will be expanded along the edges and into the corners to add strategic hole locations and produce a squared-off classic style, reminiscent of courses designed in the late 20s.
“Prior renovations followed a more modern concept with raised containment mounding around greens requiring aerial approaches,” said Spence. “We are removing or diminishing the mounding, adjusting surface contours and returning the complex surrounds to a more natural low-profile concept.
“In contrast to the previous work, this renovation will produce greens with irregular horizon edges, shoulders that drop away or flow off and out onto short cut surrounds. We are also widening the approach widths to encourage and or allow the less experienced golfers to utilise the ground game more often.”
All bunkers will be redesigned to a more natural style, repositioned and constructed with new drainage and the Capillary Concrete liner system. “Greenside bunkers are being moved closer to the edges, and fairway bunkers shifted into more strategic locations creating better side-to-side movement along the corridors,” said Spence. “All bunkers will have better visibility revealing the angles and suggested shot shapes.”
Fairway landing areas on the sixth, seventh, twelfth and fourteenth are being regraded closer to the original landforms and widened to provide more options and variety off the tee. The new twelfth hole will feature a split fairway opportunity for tee shots.
Extensive tree removal will open up sight lines and increase sunlight to the new green complexes.
A new Toro irrigation system will be installed throughout the course, overseen by Al Lackey of Irrigation Systems.
“Returning members and guests are going to be really surprised at what we are creating on the Oaks course,” said Spence. “They will find a truly unique and much more interesting course with tons of variety. Players will discover more diverse and creative shot options into and around the greens.”
The second phase of the project – fairway bunkers and landing areas – will be completed by late-August, with a projected reopening of the course in mid-September.