Carmel C.C.’s South Course Sparkles With New And Refurbished Holes
Charlotte, N.C. club’s membership ranks swell in wake of major makeover
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Following a complete overhaul by Rees Jones, the South Course at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. has taken its place among the finest courses in the Carolinas since its reopening in April, 2011.
John Schultz, general manager of Carmel C.C., said, “We sat down with Rees at the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and told him, ‘We want the best golf course you can put on our land.’ He has done that and more. Rees has greatly improved the golf experience at our club and made the new South Course more playable for everyone.”
Schultz noted that Carmel C.C. has attracted 158 new members over the past three years despite the flat economy. “We’re expecting even more applicants next year based on the strength and appeal of the new South Course, he said.
“We had a good golf course,” Schultz said of the previous layout. “We hosted the 2006 U.S.G.A. Girl’s Junior Championship on the old South Course. But what we have now is an entirely new design. Most of the members barely even recognize what’s here. Other than the fact that it proceeds from wooded uplands to a valley bisected by a stream, it’s so much different and better than what had existed previously.” The makeover, he added, has cemented Carmel C.C.’s reputation as one of the finest clubs in the Queen City.
Carmel C.C.’s original South Course, an Ellis Maples design that dates to 1962, had received a cosmetic refurbishment by Jones in the 1980’s. “This time, Rees was given a bigger budget and a blank slate,” said Bill Anderson, the club’s superintendent. “He basically built an entirely new golf course on top of the old one. He flipped some holes – Nos. 1 and 18 were reversed – created new ones and eliminated others. The basic routing and hole corridors are mostly intact from the original design, but we had some adjacent land available that was utilized to expand the layout,” he related, adding, “Rees built a beautifully designed course with exceptional drainage and irrigation that will enhance playing conditions for many years to come.”
The holes have been changed, and so have the aesthetics: Following a tree thinning program, the club replaced the mulch and pine straw that had framed the fairways with turfgrass. The irrigation system and cart paths were also replaced.
Because the climatic and subsoil conditions in Charlotte resemble those in Atlanta, two strains of zoysia grass were chosen for the tees and fairways. The rough is primarily Bermuda grass, while A1 bentgrass was used to surface the greens.
“We’re very excited about the new South Course,” enthused Ted Barnes, club president. “Rees created four new holes at Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 18. On the remaining 14 holes, the rehab work is significant, with new green complexes, repositioned tees and a new bunkering scheme at each hole. It’s just fabulous.” He noted that Jones was given a free hand to superimpose a new course over the old one. “Other than the fact that we wanted the first and 18th holes oriented to the clubhouse, Rees had carte blanche to build the best course possible.”
Jones added roughly 500 yards to the South Course, which can now be stretched to 7,503 yards. With its multiple sets of tees, Barnes noted that the revamped course has “graduated challenges for all of our members to enjoy.”
In addition to the championship markers, four sets of tees ranging in length from 7,165 yards to 5,562 yards are rated for men. Three sets of markers stretching from 6,297 yards to 5,265 yards were placed by Jones to accommodate women at different ability levels, giving the revised South Course exceptional versatility.
Jeff Nichols, Carmel C.C.’s director of golf, said Jones made the South Course “more playable for our high handicappers and more challenging for the better players.” He noted that the previous course and slope ratings from the red tees (72.2/123) have been reduced to 70.9/121. Conversely, the new ratings from the championship markers – 76.5/142 – far eclipse the previous back tee ratings of 73.8/133.
According to Jones, “Our work was a comprehensive renovation which has been eagerly welcomed by the members and by the new members it has attracted. We built a shotmaker’s course fully capable of hosting a championship, but we also wanted a flexible course that everyone could enjoy. The ‘new’ Carmel South Course has proven to be enjoyable for all caliber players. The multiple tees, changing hole locations and various shot options allow the course to play in a different fashion from day to day. This golf course has something for everyone.”