Spence Involved in Three Projects

The new year is picking up where the old one left off for golf course architect Kris Spence. He's broken ground on two high-profile Donald Ross restorations in Charlotte - Myers Park Country Club and Carolina Golf Club - and is entering the final stages of a complete redesign of Lake Toxaway Country Club in the mountains of North Carolina.

All this follows a busy 2007 in which Spence earned high marks for a pair of restorations to the Ross-designed Sedgefield Country Club (Greensboro) and Forsyth Country Club (Winston-Salem), plus a major remodel of Mount Airy's Cross Creek Golf Club. Spence's work at Sedgefield facilitated the return of Greensboro's PGA Tour event this August to the historic layout.

"Our team had the good fortune to work on three quality projects last year and fortune has smiled upon us again in 2008," Spence said. "This year's projects will allow us to stay in the forefront of the Ross restoration movement, while simultaneously showcasing our own design ability with the remake of Lake Toxaway Country Club."

Carolina Golf Club was designed by Ross in 1929 and began as a public course before going private in 1958. The course has been altered several times over the years, presenting Spence with a unique opportunity. "There are very few people alive who experienced the original design. It didn't last long enough," Spence said. "But upon discovering drawings and doing field research, it was like many Ross designs - all about strategy and angles of play and the distinct look of his bunkers and raised greens. The golf is going to be spectacular when we're done. It's going to shock people."

Spence said the Carolina project will both restore the course and update it for modern play. Work will include new green complexes, bunkering, irrigation system and tee boxes. When finished, the par-71 course will measure just over 7,100 yards.

"With the additional 30 acres that have been purchased, we've eliminated the cramped feeling. It's really opened up and there are probably some of the best golf holes in the state of North Carolina," Spence said. "The third hole, without a doubt, is one of the most architecturally significant golf holes in the Southeast. In fact, it's one of the most impressive holes I've ever seen Donald Ross design."

Myers Park Country Club was not originally designed by Ross. In 1945, the legendary Scotsman was commissioned to thoroughly redesign and remodel the course. Unike many Ross courses, the routing and field drawings of each hole still exist and will be used extensively by Spence. "This project is going to completely reclaim and reinstate the Ross character and routing of the golf course," said Spence. "Some revisions to the course over the years will be left in place, but for the most part we will reclaim the Ross design that once existed."

The scope of the work at Myers Park involves significant work to the green complexes and bunkering, plus new tee boxes and a new irrigation system. Spence is also creating an irrigation lake that will eliminate the need for city water to maintain the course. "I'm very excited about Myers Park," Spence explained. "We will be reclaiming that distinct, sharp appearance of a classic design. And, we're going to instill a lot more strategy off the tee by bringing fairway bunkers into the hitting zones.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful piece of property with dramatic elevation changes. We've identified some interesting areas that haven't been utilized in years that will be brought back into play."

Construction at both Myers Park and Carolina will finish in early May. Fairway grasses will be sprigged from mid May to early June, with expected re-opening dates in September.

"The city of Charlotte is going to be blessed with some of the best Donald Ross courses in the state when we're finished with both these projects," said Spence.