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Thanks for the update, A.G. 17 was my favorite hole and brought to mind The Road Hole at The Old Course. Make sense?
I have played there twice in the past few weeks and enthralled with the place.It is so much fun to play, is it your normal golf course, hell no, but what a thrill ride.The par threes are amazing and I agree with the #17 Road Hole comparisons , but even more difficult.I found the finishing hole a bit of a let down after the previous 17, but other than that I loved it.Great welcoming staff, good conditioning but I agree not sure how effective the business model will be.I think the green fee is good value but its location will make it difficult.Hopefully the Pinehurst travel packages that include TR will start to include Tot Hill as well.A very much thumbs up for me
I played Tot Hill yesterday for the first time since it reopened a few weeks ago, after being closed for a restoration/renovation project by the new owners. There is a pretty good summary of what they did on each hole on their website, btw, but it is a true restoration, working from Mike Strantz's original drawings, which they collected from several sources, including Mike's widow, Heidi Strantz Mortimer. I first played Tot Hill right after it opened in 2000 and more or less regularly ever since, so my interest in seeing what an infusion of money could do was pretty high. Here's my take on the good and the bad (or at least questionable..)The good:1. Great upgrade of the range and the clubhouse. The old double-wide that had always served as the clubhouse is gone, and the original farmhouse just to the right is now the clubhouse. The work they've done inside is really nice, and it's just a much better facility in every respect. The range has been completely regrassed, and there are rolls of hay out on the range as targets, which is kind of a cool look on an old farm. In the past, the range balls were pretty much whatever turned up as lost on the golf course, and they were often in miserable condition; that's been changed to decent range balls, which is a nice upgrade, and long overdue.2. 1200 trees have been removed, with more to come, though on a property like this, it's hard to tell at a glance. I don't think there was much, if any, change to the playing lines, but I'm sure that air circulation and turf health will be greatly improved. The only place the tree removal was even noticeable was in between the 13th green and the 14th tee, and then only because the stumps were still there; none of the huge hardwoods that were taken out there were in play, but for both the 13th green and 14th tee, it should make a big difference.3. Way back in 2000 when I first played there, the par 3 13th was a three tier green that was more than 50 yards deep. I was playing by myself that day, and there wasn't anybody behind me, so I putted up and down from the three levels; it was a really unique green. When I came back a couple of years later, the upper tier was gone; after my round, I asked why, and was told that when the pin was on the top level, players were hitting lob wedges from the bottom tier to the top. That didn't really ring true then, and I was please yesterday to see the third tier back. I mentioned it afterwards, including what I had been told about it's removal, and the guy I was talking to told me that was never true; that the super at that time just didn't want to mow a 50+ yd green and thought two levels were enough of a challenge anyway.So I was REALLY happy to see the third tier restored, and the green looking and playing the way Strantz intended. For those of us who are Strantz fans, it's pretty close to sacrilege to make a change like that in the first place, and GREAT to see the damage undone.4. The 17th, which is the #1 handicap hole and one of the hardest holes you will EVER play, has a "false side" on the left that rolls down toward a hazard; originally there had been a small collection bunker there, and for some inexplicable reason, it had been removed, so that balls rolled all the way to the hazard and were often lost or at least unplayable. They are now putting that bunker back in, and making the hole play the way it was supposed to. Again, a great change back to what Strantz intended.5. Several other bunkers have been reclaimed, and some others that had been added have been removed, and several back tees that had been abandoned have been restored, though I doubt there is much play from the back tees at Tot Hill.The bad, or at least questionable:1. They have regrassed the greens with a new strain of Zoysia that has been developed specifically for use on greens. I want to be fair here; they LOOK fantastic, and the turf on the greens is by far the healthiest I've ever seen at Tot Hill. This grass looks NOTHING like any Zoysia I've ever seen; very fine bladed, almost like Bent, and VERY dense and firm, like Bermuda, and we didn't make a ball mark all day. However, they were painfully slow (maybe 7 or 8?) and perhaps the grainiest greens I've ever putted on. None of the things that we do to read the grain on Bermuda worked on the Zoysia; there was no shiny side, and there wasn't a chewed up side of the cup. Literally, your first clue about which way the grain ran was when your putt started to slow down, and THEN the effect was startling. These are brand new putting surfaces, and I'm hopeful that they will gradually get faster and more true with time, but I just don't have enough experience on Zoysia greens to know. I think one BIG issue for the Superintendent going forward is likely to be the inability to call other supers to see what they are doing; you're sort of on an island when you're the only course around with those greens. Add to that the fact that Tot Hill is likely more of a micro climate than most; it's in the Uwharrie Mts., with a lot of elevation changes, and a ton of shade, even with the tree removal.2. Pricing...We paid $110, plus $20 for a cart. (I walked Tot Hill the first time I played it in 2000; I'll never do that again! So effectively, the rate is $125.) As best I can tell, that is the ONLY 18 hole rate they currently offer; all ages, all times of the day, 7 days a week. That's a LOT higher than the old rates, and though the course is in far, far better condition than before, it is VERY hard for me to see that as workable long term. Tot Hill is pretty remote, and not only were we on an almost empty golf course yesterday, but looking online today, the weekend tee sheet is almost completely open on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. I want to give the new ownership credit for due diligence, and I'm hoping they have a pricing strategy that is workable. But I have a hard time imagining me going there more than once a year at that rate.If you haven't seen it, it's worth a trip and the price. If you are a fan of the work of Mike Strantz, it's worth the trip and the price. If you've never played it, but you've played Tobacco Road or True Blue and didn't like them, then it's very possible you'll feel the same about Tot Hill. I think it's a cool golf course, and I hope all of this works for the new owners.
I have not played TH but I have played Tobacco Road (TR) a few times. I believe I can say that most people who have played TR have a very strong opinion of how they view the course and I had heard that TH had a similar vibe. Do you guys feel that TH is unique enough that it will also generate strong opinions and will it be likely that those who have a strong opinion about TR will also have a strong opinion about TH?
I believe I can say that most people who have played TR have a very strong opinion of how they view the course
Played today.Just incredible.None of the changes since the renovation smacked me in the face, but the place "felt better."New back (Black) tees have been (re)claimed and the silver-6300 yds-are a handful.Trackbacks and terrain make it almost impossible to walk. That was always the case."Waterfall" reclaimed behind 15 green. A.G. The back portion of 13 is grassed but I think it'll be a few months till they put a pin there.The bunker on 17 is still planned. I forgot to ask its exact location/size.The greens were still on the slow side but fine.After today, I'm more likely to take guests to THF rather than TR for value when we're in Pinehurst.I'll try to post photos when I get home.
The bunker on 17 is not visible except from the left side of the green itself; not at all until you are on the green. Itís been dug out, and they were putting in the drainage system when I was there. It pretty small, almost a pot bunker, but not that deep. Itíll collect balls that miss to the left; the green on that side has a V shape that runs off to that bunker. I think that in addition to be a reclamation of hat Strantz built, itíll also improve playability at least a bit; balls will be less likely to run into the high grass and penalty area on that side.
Jerry, I've played both 6-8 times each. Never thought I'd say this, but I now consider TH a tick above TR.The extensive tree removal did not affect any of the playing corridors...but their removal certainly revealed the width that is present at TH. THAT was striking to me today.I think TH would be more polarizing for the above average golfer. Boulders ain't as forgiving as sand to an average strike.Both have their fair share of blind shots. I should tally them up.I've never met anyone that strongly despises Caledonia. I've met countless players who either love or hate TH and TR (applies to True Blue, as well). Never played Bulls Bay and haven't talked to enough golfers to gauge an opinion.
Quote from: A.G._Crockett on October 11, 2023, 09:38:30 PMThe bunker on 17 is not visible except from the left side of the green itself; not at all until you are on the green. Itís been dug out, and they were putting in the drainage system when I was there. It pretty small, almost a pot bunker, but not that deep. Itíll collect balls that miss to the left; the green on that side has a V shape that runs off to that bunker. I think that in addition to be a reclamation of hat Strantz built, itíll also improve playability at least a bit; balls will be less likely to run into the high grass and penalty area on that side.Thanks AG. I actually landed in that exact area. You are spot on with your report. I initially thought the bunker would run the length of the spine that dictates the falloff to the left but you're right. It looks it will be a "pottish" bunker. My picture makes the area look larger. I can attest to your assertion the "V" will filter shots into the bunker. I chunked my wedge and it rolled back to my feet. Hopefully, I figured out the picture thing to illustrate the point. If so, there are also a couple pictures of the restored back section of #13 (which I've been told many times actually extended a little further to the left than my pictures captured).https://www.flickr.com/photos/194357794@N03/albums/72177720311882768/with/53251976417AG, do you remember what tees you played from on your last two visits? I played the "silver" this time (listed at 6203 on current scorecard) which I think is akin(yardage-wise) to those I've played in the past, but many teeing areas were new to me. Particularly, the fourth. Was that your feeling?
Quote from: Peter Sayegh on October 11, 2023, 07:05:16 PMJerry, I've played both 6-8 times each. Never thought I'd say this, but I now consider TH a tick above TR.The extensive tree removal did not affect any of the playing corridors...but their removal certainly revealed the width that is present at TH. THAT was striking to me today.I think TH would be more polarizing for the above average golfer. Boulders ain't as forgiving as sand to an average strike.Both have their fair share of blind shots. I should tally them up.I've never met anyone that strongly despises Caledonia. I've met countless players who either love or hate TH and TR (applies to True Blue, as well). Never played Bulls Bay and haven't talked to enough golfers to gauge an opinion.I don't think Bulls Bay is polarizing the way Tobacco Road/Tot Hill Farm (and True Blue, to a lesser extent) are.I'd say it's closer to them than Caledonia in terms of overall design, but it doesn't have the blind shots etc. that they do. I know a couple of people who wouldn't play Tobacco Road or Tot Hill Farm for free but really like Bulls Bay. I personally think Bulls Bay is fantastic.
How do they compare to Stonehouse? I thought it was over the top as opposed to Royal New Kent which was fun. Only two Stranz I have played.
I have really enjoyed this thread!I last played THF in April, 2019. It was my third time there. Based on what I've read here, I need to head back to give it another look. I will confess, I am in the "hate it" camp. Tobacco Road is controversial, and not my cup of tea, but I do agree that anyone interested in GCA should see it. I would not say the same about THF. In fact I gave THF the lowest score I've ever submitted to GolfWeek as a rater (remember, only the top 1000 or so courses in the US are even on the ballot, so a low score means it scores poorly among the Top 1000 courses in the country -- there are plenty of "worse" places to play).I struggled with site, the routing and the general "over the top-ness" of the whole place. I agree the greens are interesting, but to me, THF flew right past "quirky" and landed squarely on "goofy." Perhaps the renovations, and particularly the tree removal, will help with a fresh look at it.Surely the course is about as close to un-walkable as it gets. I remember not only extreme elevation changes, but also several long green to tee walks. I'll give it another look next year.