Fred Couples Involved in New North Carolina Golf Course

While not winning a ton of skins during golf’s “silly season,” Fred Couples has his hands involved in consulting on the design of new golf courses. Now under construction in Pittsboro, N.C., is Couples’ latest effort, Chapel Ridge. The player known as “Boom-Boom” attended a ground-breaking ceremony in late October to inaugurate construction of the layout.

The semiprivate course is being built within a 700-acre community on Old Graham Road, heading to the city of Chapel Hill. Besides the golfing grounds, the project in Chatham County by BlueGreen Golf involves 580 homes and recreational amenities. Architect Bob Moore is the course’s designer of record, but Couples is lending insight into areas that Moore may not see.

“This is my third course with BlueGreen,” Couples told reporter Eliot Duke of the Chatham News. “To do this, you have to have a lot of visualization out there. It doesn’t take a lot to see what kind of golf course this could be. The holes will be challenging, but very playable. There will be a lot of downhill shots and there will be greens that will be very receptive. The input I have is all vision. The main thing when I come is to pay attention to detail. Like what this bunker is going to look like or whether a fairway needs to be tightened.”

Moore, a resident of Chapel Hill, values Couples’ expertise and cites an example. “On the 11th hole, there is a hickory tree that is in play on the fairway,” Moore said. “I went back and forth on whether or not to keep it. We asked (for) Fred’s input, and he thought the tree should remain. So, if you’re faced with that tree on a daily basis, you know who to call.”

Tom Powers, the director of golf for BlueGreen, also understands the importance of utilizing Couples’ vast knowledge. “He’s very close to Davis (Love) and brings a lot of insight into the plan-ability from his perspective and the guys who are going to come play the course on a Saturday afternoon,” Powers told Duke.

Like his other design-consultant work, Couples takes a hands-on approach when lending his name to a golf course. “I drove around and looked at nine or 10 holes, and it took about two to realize that this is very special property because of the terrain,” he said. “This site is incredible from the standpoint of the terrain being up and down. For me, there are a lot of shots going up- and downhill, and I think that makes golf a challenge but fun.

“Every course I do is extremely special to me, and I want it to be good,” Couples told Duke. “If you get the right team behind you, it’s hard to fail.”

Couples is also pleased with the progress of his latest project. “We feel like we are running on all cylinders,” he said. “I am not the type of person to go halfway through something, see it’s a failure and pull out. I don’t think anyone else on this team feels that way either.”

If the weather cooperates, the Chapel Ridge track should be ready for play in fall 2005, with the clubhouse opening the following year.