ANDY MICKELSON stripes the new Callaway Rogue driver in the Mistwood Golf Dome. The dome has new putting and chipping area’s and is the place to practice with outdoor golf season coming up. Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook Mistwoodgolfdome.com (630)-739-7600.
THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation for Golfers on Golf. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, or connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. On the 11th tee at the Southern Pines Country Club.
ROSS RESORTS is comprised of Mid-Pines, Pine Needles and now the Southern Pines Country Club, is one of the extremely few places you can find three Donald Ross courses under one roof.
Ross Resorts owner Kelly Miller made the purchase of the struggling Southern Pines Country Club just before Covid announced itself to the world.
So for a brief moment Miller had to wonder if the timing had been right to purchase Southern Pines. But as it turned out, Miller’s timing could not have been better.
Welcome to Southern Pines Golf Club, (formerly Southern Pines Country Club) designed by Donald Ross and first opened in 1906.
Once golf reopened from a short pandemic pause and golf courses had full tee-sheets again, golfers were out in force on what was now all three of Ross Resorts golf courses.
With golf now rolling, Miller went back to the well and called on his course designer Kyle Franz to work his sandhills magic at Southern Pines.
Franz now viewed as one of the hottest young architects in the golf business, took his talents about two miles down the road from his office at Pine Needles in the town of Southern Pines, rolled up his sleeves, and went back to work for Miller for the third time.
The par 3, third hole at Southern Pines Golf Club.
Franz started his golf career in his native Oregon, by driving down to Bandon Dunes and convincing Tom Doak to hire him during the building of Pacific Dunes.
From there Franz then went east and convinced Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw into hiring him to work on the restoration of Pinehurst #2.
But it was during the Pinehurst #2 project, that Franz met Miller. So after a stint with Gil Hanse in South America to work on the construction of the Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro. Franz headed back to America and set up shop in Southern Hills.
Architect Kyle Franz has restored all three Ross Resorts courses, including Pine Needles home the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open coming in June.
Miller first turned Franz loose on his Mid-Pines course, an old Ross course that was showing it’s age.
When the reviews came in, Miller didn’t waste much time putting Franz back to work at Pine Needles.
Pine Needles had hosted three U.S. Opens and was looking for another. Because the U.S. Senior Women’s Open was now part of the USGA’s championship schedule, it gave the resort a chance for two women’s opens. With Franz reworking of Pine Needles, the USGA awarded Pine Needles the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open. But then added this June’s U.S. Women’s Open.
The par 4 392 yard, sixth hole at Southern Pines.
During this time Franz did restoration work on the Charleston Country Club in South Carolina that hosted the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.
Because Franz was hitting home runs with his work in the Sandhills. There was never a doubt who Miller would use to bring the Rodd look of 1906 back to the Southern Pines Golf Club.
“Kyle’s work at Southern Pines has exceeded our expectations, but it is not done,” said Miller.
The par 3, 168 yard 7th hole.
Even with the golf course officially reopened since last October, there is still some work to be completed.
Because there is still a little grow in needed in a few areas, cart path and washed out area’s to be cleaned up. The site that formerly housed the Elks Lodge at the golf course, will become an 18 to 20,000 square foot putting green. With the first hole being the backdrop according to Miller, who added, the current pro shop and grill will see improvements before long.
The par 11th hole, saw more change than any others during the restoration.
Miller made it clear he would like to expose a few more of the scenic vista’s the course has to offer. So tree removal done in phase one of the project, will continue in a few areas.
What’s really amazing is the elevation change golfers notice early in the round. By the second hole comes a stretch of holes with rolling hills, that create both uphill and downhill shots. As a result the course plays longer than the current yardage wound indicate.
During the restoration the lost hole a par 3, located between holes 4 and 5, was restored. It’s location gives golfers the option of a nine hole round. Because golfers can then short-cut over to the 15th hole after playing holes 1-4 and the Lost Hole. The regular 18 hole routing does not return to the clubhouse after nine holes.
“I wanted to give golfers a chance to have a fun course and enjoy a Donald Ross golf course the way Ross designed it to play,” said Franz. “The fairways are a little wider so the course is more enjoyable to beginning golfers.”
The par 3, 175 yard 14th hole, has a small water carry.
When Miller was asked about the course hosting a United States Golf Association (USGA) Championship, he didn’t shy away. Saying when the USGA is here for the women’s open this June, they will tour Southern Pines.
Miller added that he expects to have more talks with the USGA, regarding hosting USGA championships in the years ahead.
Southern Pines has five sets of tees with the back tees at 6,354 yards, front tees sitting at 4,015 yards. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Franz added a few more back tee’s in the future.
The uphill dogleg left 350 yard, 18th hole.
So work is continuing on Southern Pines. But Franz most recent restoration is really good pure sandhills Donald Ross style golf, renovation of the year for 2021 awards should be coming.
When asked if golfers might like Southern Pines even more than the other two resort courses. Miller and Franz acknowledged that golfers have their own idea about what their favorite courses are. But they didn’t rule out the recent restoration of Southern Pines being some golfers favorite course, of the three Ross courses the resort has to offer.
To book your next play and stay, visit southernpinesgolfclub.com/packages or call the resort at (800)-323-2114.