Pine Needles to Convert Greens to Bermuda in Summer of 2016
Project is second phase of plan to restore resort’s courses to original Donald Ross design
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – The 1928 Donald Ross-designed course at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, the venue of three U.S. Women’s Opens, will be closed in the summer of 2016 to convert the greens from bent to ultra-dwarf bermuda, course officials announced.
Kelly Miller, president and CEO of the company that owns and operates both Pine Needles and Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club, said the successful conversion of the greens at Mid Pines in 2013 is part of the motivation to do a similar greens resurfacing at Pine Needles. The historic resorts (Mid Pines opened in 1921) are located across Midland Road from each other.
“We believe that bermuda greens are an integral part of helping us achieve the overall design philosophy of Donald Ross as it allows for firmer surfaces on a year-round basis,” Miller says. “While the winters are a bit more challenging when extended low temperatures require us to cover the greens at night, we feel the benefits of having outstanding bermuda greens in the summer far outweigh this winter inconvenience.”
The preliminary plan calls for Pine Needles staff, headed by course superintendent Dave Fruchte, to begin work in late June 2016 and have the new greens ready for play around Sept. 1, 2016. Miller and Fruchte have not decided yet which of the new ultra-dwarfs (Champion, MiniVerdi or Tifdwarf) to use but will make that decision in the coming months.
Mid Pines was restored in 2013 under the direction of architect Kyle Franz, with the greens resurfaced, bunkers rebuilt and relocated in some cases and many of the areas of hardpan sand and wire grass bordering the fairways restored. The result was named the “Best U.S. Course Restoration for 2013” by GOLF Magazine. The Pine Needles project will be limited to the greens and will be less intrusive than the Mid Pines restoration.
Miller notes that since the greens will be converted next summer, there will be no need to close the course and aerate the greens this fall and during the spring of 2016, allowing for better conditions and more tee times for members and resort guests during the resort’s most popular playing seasons.
During the greens conversion in 2016, the course will be completely closed for only one week. The rest of the time, temporary greens will be used and the course will be available for play at a reduced rate. Pine Needles operates youth and adult golf camps for four weeks every summer, and those will go on as usual.
“We’re really excited about this project,” says Miller. “The old stigma on bermuda greens is that they were grainy and slow, but that’s not true anymore with the new ultra-dwarfs. We’ve had nearly 50 days with temperatures in the 90s this summer, and it’s a struggle to keep the bent healthy. Meanwhile, the greens have really thrived at Mid Pines. After watching them closely for two years, we thought it was time to pull the trigger at Pine Needles.
“We have two pristine Donald Ross courses and now they’ll play even more like he designed them—with open fronts on most holes, allowing you to run the ball onto the green. You need firm, quick greens to appreciate the nuances of the Ross designs. Now, we’ll have that on both courses.”
Pine Needles and Mid Pines both remain in essentially the same routing and configuration as when they opened nine decades ago, the only difference that the hole numbers at Pine Needles have changed to allow for a new beginning and ending to the course when the Bell Family bought the property in the 1950s and built a new clubhouse and lodge.
Pine Needles has been the site of numerous USGA and regional competitions, most notably the U.S. Women’s Opens in 1996, 2001 and 2007.
About Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club / Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club
Nestled in the fragrant pine forest of North Carolina, you will find an experience unlike any other. For nearly a century, golfers have reveled in the serene ambiance of Pine Needles and Mid Pines Resorts. Two 18-hole Donald Ross designed golf courses have earned us our place among the country’s best golf resorts – and one to which our guests and USGA Championships return to time and again. We deliver brilliant golf paired with southern hospitality in a casual atmosphere right here in beautiful North Carolina. For more information, visit http://www.pineneedles-midpines.com/.