(FORT MILL, S.C.) -- Fort Mill Golf Club, a cornerstone of golf in the southeast for six decades, has unveiled the dramatic results of a comprehensive $3 million renovation program, according to Gene Roper, director of golf operations for course owner Leroy Springs & Company, Inc.
The unveiling of the course renovation marks a pair of milestones at Fort Mill; the 60th Anniversary of its Donald Ross-designed front nine which opened in 1948, and the 50th Anniversary next year of its George Cobb-designed back nine dating to 1959.
"Fort Mill Golf Club is the product of two of the country's most storied and prolific golf course architects, Donald Ross and George Cobb," says Roper. We're thrilled today to share the restored luster of their original designs with golfers around the region."
Fort Mill Golf Club is owned and operated by Leroy Springs & Company, a non-profit company dedicated to supporting the recreation, education, and community needs of citizens in Chester Township, Fort Mill Township and Lancaster County in South Carolina.
The company operates golf courses in all three communities and oversees operations of the Anne Springs Close Greenway and Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, both in Fort Mill, as well as the Leroy Springs Recreation Center in Chester.
The Fort Mill course, which gracefully rolls through venerable stands of live oaks and pines, was brought to impeccable standards for playability, agronomics and aesthetics under the direction of golf course architect Clyde Johnston, who in 2001 designed Springfield Golf Club, a sister course to Fort Mill located just a few miles away.
Johnston, a former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and member of The Donald Ross Society, relied on a 1947 course master-plan drawing from Ross to plan renovations to the Fort Mill front nine.
Although Ross's drawing did not provide a legend for design elements of mounds, slopes, hollows and rough, all of which he indicated by a varying series of hash marks, Johnston used his previous experience and design plans from other Ross courses of that era to assist in interpretation of the Fort Mill master plan.
Less specific design drawings were available for the George Cobb back nine, so only modest design changes were made there, with just two bunkers being added and four removed across the nine holes.
The renovation of the Fort Mill course included the rebuilding of all tee and green complexes, and the conversion of the greens from bent grass to the heartier and more heat tolerant MiniVerde™ grass, a Bermuda hybrid that retains the smoother and quicker putting characteristics of bent grass.
Additionally, all the bunkers on the course were rebuilt, with several on the front nine being repositioned or eliminated to match Ross's design drawings for the original nine holes. The bunkers on the back nine were redesigned to reflect the look of the Ross-style bunkers on the front.
Measuring 6,801 yards from the back tees, the renovated par-72 Fort Mill Golf Club now actually plays 25 yards shorter than the original layout, evidence to the stoutness of the design from a half-century ago.
"We understand that at one point the original Fort Mill nine holes had the second highest course rating (difficulty) in all the Carolinas after Pinehurst #2, Ross's acknowledged masterpiece," revealed Roper. "It is a testament to the design balance and strategic shot values of the original course that it didn't require lengthening in an era of rapid technological advancements in golf equipment."
The $3 million renovation program at Fort Mill Golf Club also involved the clubhouse, with a major remodel of all public areas and redesign of the exterior and deck area to take advantage of commanding views of the course.
Located in Fort Mill, SC, Fort Mill Golf Club is a semi-private facility open to daily-fee play and annual memberships. For further information or to book a tee-time at Fort Mill call the golf shop at 803-547-2044 or visit online at www.playfortmill.com.