Learn more about the course restoration and opening months in the latest Q&A with Kelly Miller and Kyle Franz.
Southern Pines Golf Club, a vintage Donald Ross-designed course dating to the early 1900s, is now under management of the company that owns and operates Pine Needles and Mid Pines in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The course has undergone an 18-month improvement plan that included design tweaks from architect Kyle Franz, who has supervised restorations at Mid Pines (2013) and Pine Needles (2018.) The restoration started with tree removal and bunker work in December 2020, before moving on to work on the greens, cart paths, and other areas of the course to restore Donald Ross’ original design.
On every hole of the course, we widened the fairways to make them more inviting for the beginning level players, but also allow more advanced players to strategize. Removing the maintained rough around the greens and making it all clean fairway height will encourage players to be creative and have more fun. To improve the course’s irrigation, we installed all new piping around the greens with new wiring in the fairways, and tackled a great deal of bunkers. Our goal was to make the golf course feel as much like a Ross original, staying true to the well preserved routing and trying to remove the superfluous elements that have been added over the decades.
There are currently no plans for the “Little 9” at this time, as management’s focus is on perfecting every detail on the main course.
Southern Pines is unique among most American courses in that the ninth hole does not return to the clubhouse. Franz had access to aerial photos of the course dating to the early 1950s that shows a par-three hole positioned to the left of the fourth green and and connecting with the 15th tee. That hole would have allowed golfers to play one through four, this par-three and finish a nine-hole round with 15 through 18. The par-three was abandoned at some point in the mid-1900s, but we are building a new par-three hole to replace “the lost hole” from Donald Ross’s original design.
Slide the arrows on each photo to see the before/”after” of each part of the course, or click on photos to enlarge.
Overview from the 1st Green
Work has already begun to restore the original fairway bunkering pattern on the opening hole, and we are restoring and recontouring some of the edges of the green to make it feel like Ross’ original and encourage ground game shots on this hole.
Moving back the 2nd tee has allowed us to restore the original length of Ross’ hole. We have readded mounding and bunkers in the 1st half of the hole, and are restoring the crossing feature. We will also be removing the right front greenside bunker, which was not part of Ross’ original design.
Moving the tees to the right will make for a slightly more angular approach into the 3rd green.
We are restoring the bunkering on the right hand side of the 4th fairway, and improving the severe slope on the front of the green.
We filled in the left green side bunker on the 5th hole and moved the left fairway bunkers further down so they play as Ross originally intended.
Work has begun on hole 6 to restore the foreground bunkers off the tee and the lefthand features and bunkers next to the landing zone. We will also be modifying the greenside bunkers to reestablish the blood-pumping shot that Ross intended.
Hole 7 features one of the best terrains on the course, and we are restoring Ross’ bunker pattern around the green. Two of these bunkers had been filled in over the decades.
We will be lengthening #8 to play like Ross’ original hole and restoring the back and left bunkers.
Work has started to remove the 3 left front bunkers surrounding the 9th green in favor of Ross’ original style.
Tree removal has started on the 10th hole to restore the meandering nature of fairway.
We are restoring the left to right kicking feel to the 14th green and improving the severe bottom tiers, as well as adding in a new back tee on this iconic Southern Pines hole.
Notables on the 15th hole include restoring the iconic crossing hazard and the creek and washout feature on the righthand side. Re-establishing the front right bunker location from the original course, which had been moved over time, will create a walk-the-plank greensight effect.
On Hole 16, we’ve started the process of restoring the grand left hand greenside approach bunker and filling in the right greenside bunker which was not original to Ross’ plan.
Restoring the diagonal nature of the landing zone and the big, beautiful back greenside bunkering on Hole 17 has already made a huge visual impact from every angle.
On the finishing hole at Southern Pines Golf Club, we’ve been restoring the diagonal nature of the landing zone by adding a bunker in place of trees that had grown in, improving the severe bottom tiers of the greens and restoring the big bump on the front left of green, that is both a hazard and a helper.
Golf Course Architecture
Kyle Franz is nearing completion of a restoration project at Southern Pines Golf Club in North Carolina
Investment into the historic Carolina Sandhills course includes restoration work by architect Kyle Franz
Course architect Kyle Franz is restoring Donald Ross’ “Lost Hole” as part of an extensive restoration of Southern Pines Golf Club, which was acquired by Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in July 2020 and will reopen in September 2021.
Home of American Golf
Franz says the golf course will evoke the feel of a Ross original, staying true to the well-preserved routing while removing elements that have been added through the years.
New ownership acquired the Donald Ross-designed Southern Pines Golf Club last year, and they are nearly finished with an overhaul that will return the North Carolina course to its former glory.
The latest project of note was announced early last year and is now under way at the Southern Pines Golf Club, a Donald Ross design that was operational as an 18-hole course starting in 1923.