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Ally Mcintosh

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Old Town Club, NC
« on: October 01, 2023, 08:40:49 AM »
I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Old Town Club in North Carolina yesterday. Aside from a great day with my host, I also bumped into Dunlop White (not sure if he still hangs about these parts).


Couldnít find a recent thread on the course so here are a few high level thoughts to hopefully kick-off discussion:


1. The course immediately reminded me of the front nine at Crystal Downs. Given the first half at CD is widely considered as superior to the back half; and all 18 at OTC felt more like the front nine at CD, why shouldnít OTC be considered a better course than CD?


2. The green shapes are second to none (in that I canít think of a better set anywhere). I donít know if they are all Maxwell or whether C&C took any creative license in their resto / reno butÖ wow.


3. The rollicking topography and the way the routing uses it is absolutely first rate.


4. The detailing is perfection, whether it be the bunker shaping and positioning; or the short grass running everywhere (particularly tying greens to tees), there is not a decision in the re-do that appears to have been misplaced. This includes the tree-clearance choices, opening up the huge long views (big scale) whilst leaving notable specimens.


5. All of the above would make great holes by themselves; but then add the ravine / stream / barranca that weaves its way through half of the holes to create different choices / strategies; and you have an unbelievable collection.


Iím only one day removed from my game so will need to contemplate further; but right now, I canít see any reason why Old Town Club shouldnít be talked about as one of the very best courses (Top 30) in the world. For those of you that know the place better than me, tell me why I might be wrong? Or right?


(I played awfully by the way).

Matt MacIver

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2023, 11:34:02 AM »
I would add that the very rolling fasiways lead to hang lies where in some cases helps move your next shot closer to your target and others counter-act it.  I havenít seen nearly enough courses around NC, the US or world but Iím with you Ally - I canít imagine there are many better courses out there.

Tim Martin

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2023, 01:18:20 PM »
I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Old Town Club in North Carolina yesterday. Aside from a great day with my host, I also bumped into Dunlop White (not sure if he still hangs about these parts).



Dunlop White is a terrific ambassador for Old Town Club. He couldnít be any more gracious in arranging for people to come in addition to showing them around and explaining all the work that was done by C&C. GCA poster and OTC member Will Spivey is no less less passionate about the golf course and is also extremely knowledgeable. Finally Allyís original post and impressions seemed spot on.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2023, 01:21:34 PM by Tim Martin »

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2023, 02:00:47 PM »
Ally...you are correct and perspicacious.
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Cal Seifert

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2023, 03:04:52 PM »
I absolutely loved Old Town Club. Itís one of the places that seems to do everything right. Tremendous work by Dunlop White and C&C. When compared to Pinehurst #2, I find OTC to be in the same tier of quality.

Joe Hancock

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2023, 09:11:47 PM »
The most recent work was to implement Better Billy Bunker, expand greens and improve the tie-ins to external grades, re-shape many of the tees and an added fairway bunker on #9. There was also many trees removed, which helped Dave Axland and I enjoy OTC Hickory smoke when cooking.


Bryant Evans was the course super during the project, and did a great job of keeping everything moving along. He will be moving on to another Maxwell course back in Tulsa. Dunlop was a wealth of information on the history of the course, as well as keeping a loving, watchful eye on the work being done. Dave Axland was the architectural foundation, as he was involved back in 2012 when C&C did work there initially.


Iím happy to hear Allyís impressions after the work. OTC is indeed a special place.
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Michael Chadwick

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2023, 11:55:10 PM »


Ally,



Glad you had such an enjoyable experience at Old Town, and thanks for wanting to spur discussion with some good questions/observations. I agree that OTC is on a shortlist of clubs that should be recognized for fully maximizing their courseís site and designís potential on the basis of its presentationónot only for its playing surfaces, but for how the course ties into its surroundings. I know Mr. White has had a key role bringing that about!


OTC has a terrific, intricate routing. Although the land doesnít feel that big, when I played I was quite surprised by the amount of undulation. There are spots where the heart rate can get up while walking (16!), but it remains a sporty, compact yet well utilized piece of ground. My own opinion, however, is that its scale is on the more diminutive end of the spectrum when compared against other highly ranked courses (Merion being an exception).


You brought up Crystal Downs, and the two courses pair well against each other. I wouldnít argue with someone suggesting OTC has the better set of par 3s, and Maxwell nearly replicated the same par 4 5th! I do find the courses operate on different orders of magnitude, though, when it comes to the sense of scaleónot just within the course but its greater surroundings. The front nine at CD strikes me as far more expansive; fairway widths may be similar, but at CD the holes have more space amongst themselves, more acreage of native/fescue areas, longer range views, and when top-flight designs are closely matched, those elements have tie-breaker appeal at least to me. I also appreciate the MacKenzie eccentricity of a green like CD 7. If anything, I wish CD had more MacKenzie style bunkering per his drawings. If only Robert Hunter had been keeping an eye on construction as well!


I myself have Old Town as a Doak 8, albeit towards the bottom of my personal grouping of 8ís (that includes Swinley Forest, Somerset Hills, Prairie Dunes, Cal Club, Maidstone, etc.).


Crystal, for me, is the most borderline 8 or 9 Iíve played, yet I canít help but give it a 9 on account of how special the setting and scale of the front 9 is, plus its stunning collection of strategic short par 4s. Itís also a score that I think is upheld by the quality of a handful of back 9 holes, like 13-15 and 17-18. Though I think CD is the superior course, I agree that the rankings delta between the courses is likely not as wide as some publications have it.


In terms of rankings, Old Town appears to still be ascending. Why it took so long, since the resto/renovation has been around for a decade, Iím not sure. It was a new entrant in the current version of GOLF Magís World 100 at 92, and I donít think it has reached its ceiling there. On Digestís US 100 it rose somewhere around 40+ spots recently. GolfWeek is the most bullish at 22 for Classic, ahead of a number of pedigreed designs (Maidstone, Brookline, Cal Club, etc.).
 
Golf Magazine US 100
Old Town: 38
Crystal Downs: 20


GolfWeek Classic US 100
Old Town: 22
Crystal Downs: 13


Golf Magazine World 100
Old Town: 92
Crystal Downs: 29
 
Golf Digest US 100
Old Town: 54
Crystal Downs: 14


I havenít played Southern Hills yet, and while I think thereís more creative ingenuity at Old Town than at Prairie Dunes, I nonetheless still hold PD in slightly higher regard. Even though I know, for my own game, Iíd much rather have OTC as a home club than PD!


As for the greens, thatís high praise! My visit was during an early spring aeration, so I look forward to revisiting their surfaces again. What other sets come to mind that would be in the mix for you after OTC?
Instagram: mj_c_golf

Sean_A

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2023, 03:09:16 AM »
The routing uses the severe terrain brilliantly on the front nine at Crystal Downs. The property is exposed on the back with some severe transition walks and the 17th. Plus the routing ends nowhere near the house. OTC has less overt drama, yet its compact routing moves over the hills in fine fashion. Some of the drama is set with the use of water. One of the most impressive aspects of the routing is how well water was kept out of direct play. It's a classic case of OTC's highs don't reach that of CD's, but CD pays for the front nine with a mixed back nine. OTC simply delivers elegance throughout. It reminds me much more of Merion than Crystal Downs.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Minehead & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2023, 05:04:33 AM »
Thanks for the responses.


Joe - I hadnít realised you had been part of the recent work there. Great job!


Michael - picking up on a couple of points / questions you asked, itís exactly the adjacent nature of the holes that I like. I would guess that the fairway widths are at least the equal of CD, if not wider. But Iím really taken with the connectivity of the landscape. Generally speaking, I choose that over isolation of holes. Thatís purely a preference.


(I havenít played Merion but OTC is on a significantly bigger parcel of land. It only seems compact because of the scale of the holes)


To your question on other great sets of greens, the ones at OTC werenít like other Golden Age courses Iíve seen. Granted, Iíve not seen any Maxwell work aside from CD, but the shaping was more reminiscent of a modern minimalist in many places, maybe because of the use of central mounds to form bowls and tilt. Thatís why I asked if C&C had taken creative license? If not, then Maxwell is clearly a huge influence on the current crop.

Jon Sweet

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2023, 09:11:45 AM »
Was lucky enough to play it a few times.  Always the best course nobody talks about it or least it was.  I am looking forward to seeing the greens redone although they were some of the best I have played on when I did initially prior.  Tons of fun out there.  Hard to play a bad Perry Maxwell.

Michael Chadwick

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2023, 02:13:51 PM »

To your question on other great sets of greens, the ones at OTC werenít like other Golden Age courses Iíve seen. Granted, Iíve not seen any Maxwell work aside from CD, but the shaping was more reminiscent of a modern minimalist in many places, maybe because of the use of central mounds to form bowls and tilt. Thatís why I asked if C&C had taken creative license? If not, then Maxwell is clearly a huge influence on the current crop.


I can't speak to how different OTC's greens may be now from what Maxwell had originally shaped. I will say there's a striking amount of similar characteristics between Old Town's set with what I've seen at Prairie Dunes and Maidstone. Two Maxwells and one Park Jr., yet all three restored/renovated by Coore & Crenshaw. Each is among the finer green sets I've played, though the resemblance of the bunker edging aesthetics and mowing patterns between Maidstone and either Maxwell course might be a little too analogous?       
Instagram: mj_c_golf

ward peyronnin

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2023, 12:29:22 PM »
OTC is a wonderful place in many ways; the men's grill for instance is very cosy and welcoming with spot on club food and drinks available.One of my favorits aspects of the routing is that I undserstand the Reynolds family presented Maxwell with 1200 acres and no constraints such as a clubhouse destination predetirmined. This allowedhim  to drape holes across the grain and not slavishly follow down and up hole profiles like so many other course do. One thus lands balls on every imaginable tilting surface one can imagine and then play a shot that also has to accoiunt for other unique contours ahead. Truly more of a ramble around a course that a march.C&C , for instance on two green, supposedly removed many feet of bunker surface sand installed over hte years to return high faced bunkers to their original plaing character. This would indicate that they would have tried to return the greens to a similar condition but Will or Dunlop no dobubt knows.As far a s aMerion comparison htis may be picky but the housing surrounding Meroin is a negative vs the minimal presence of such at OTC.
"Golf is happiness. It's intoxication w/o the hangover; stimulation w/o the pills. It's price is high yet its rewards are richer. Some say its a boys pastime but it builds men. It cleanses the mind/rejuvenates the body. It is these things and many more for those of us who truly love it." M.Norman

Joe Hancock

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2023, 09:17:36 PM »
The current greens are, for the most part, a USGA profile/ interpretation implemented by Bob Cupp around 1995. The double green of 8 and 17 is C&C. There isnít any original Maxwell greens any more, but theyíre still very good.
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2023, 03:28:22 AM »
The current greens are, for the most part, a USGA profile/ interpretation implemented by Bob Cupp around 1995. The double green of 8 and 17 is C&C. There isnít any original Maxwell greens any more, but theyíre still very good.


Thanks Joe,


It was particularly that double-green that had me thinking of a more modern shape with internal mounds / rolls.


But a few of my favourites (whether Maxwell, Cupp or Coore) were 2, 6 and 16.

V_Halyard

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2023, 12:48:39 PM »
Nice! How long are you over here?
"It's a tiny little ball that doesn't even move... how hard could it be?"  I will walk and carry 'til I can't... or look (really) stupid.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2023, 01:09:21 PM »
Nice! How long are you over here?


Was over for 5 days at Duke University but arranged 2 rounds before jumping back on the planeÖ. Also saw Tobacco Road which was quite an amazing place. Seeing some Strantz was a priority!

Will Spivey

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2023, 04:32:42 PM »
Ally, thanks for the thoughtful post. Iím glad you enjoyed your day at OTC; Iím only sorry I was out of town and didnít get to meet you.
As a long time member at OTC, I can provide some commentary on this thread. I will start with the general, then move to more specifics.

We are exceptionally fortunate to have a such a wonderful place to play golf. Perry Maxwell was given his pick of over 1500 acres to site the course. Remember, Wake Forest University wasnít there when the course was built. Maxwell chose wisely, and crafted a masterful routing, which is the heart and soul of the course. The site is relatively small (about 150 acres, a touch bigger than Merion), but with terrific landforms to utilize.  Many consider OTC to be one of the very best routings in golf. Very little earth was moved in construction, and the two creeks (which merge right of the 17th fairway) create added texture, and provide hazards to cross, without ever requiring a penal forced carry.  Part of what makes OTC feel ďbigĒ is that all of the course is contained within a nearly oval perimeter. No roads (save for the parking lot) or homes enter into the perimeter of the course. One of my favorite things with guests is to see their reaction to the reveal once they crest the top of the 4th fairway. One has clear line of site all the way to the 13th green, which must be 900 yards away. From certain parts of the property 8 or 9 of the greens are visible. However, the playing corridors are never cramped; it feels broad and brawny.
Part of the magic of Old Town is that the better the player, the harder the course. A golfer of only modest skill can work his way around the course, making ďeasy bogeys,Ē and likely never lose a ball. However, for the player hoping to post a score and looking for birdies, peril abounds.

I appreciate your comparison to Crystal Downs, one of the greatest courses in the world. To be in the conversation with CD is both testament to Maxwellís brilliance, and to the excellent stewardship of our course by C&C, under the careful and informed guidance of Dunlop White. I do agree that OTC feels more like the front 9 @ CD than the back.

You reference ďdetailing,Ē and aside from converting the greens from bent to bermuda, this is where most of the latest effort was placed. The results are amazing. As good as it was before, it is even better now. The new ďteeing areasĒ (a departure from the former ďtee boxesĒ), which flow naturally and seamlessly in to the exits from the greens and other surrounds are terrific. And this is to say nothing of the newfound flexibility, both in distance and angles, they provide. The course is far more elastic than it was only a year ago.

The commentary on the greens has been interesting. We are blessed, not only with a world class architecture partner in C&C, but also solid historical information in the hands of a well-informed and careful greens chairman.  The greens as they exist today, while not identical, are very similar to what Maxwell originally built on the site. It is true that the double green (8/17) is vastly expanded from the original, though the core of the green still holds true to the original design. In fact, when Cupp did his work he actually mapped the greens for replication using a tight grid. Bill Coore thought Cupp did a great job in this respect.  Architecture historians consider the 18 greens at OTC to be among the best preserved set of Maxwell greens in existence.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2023, 04:35:07 PM by Will Spivey »

Joe Hancock

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2023, 05:32:29 PM »
Will,


I hope my comments on the greens have been factual and accurate. If I missed something, my apologies!


I am very pleased to hear the new tee areas are being well received and adding value to the course.


Joe
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2023, 01:46:10 PM »
I had the good fortune of visiting a certain tract of land recently. If you are an instagrammer and follow @buffalogolfer, you've probably seen a few vistas. I'm going to begin reviewing my images, and plan to put up a few more over the coming weeks/months. It is even more extraordinary than when I saw it, 8-10 years ago. There's not a boring, unenjoyable hole out there.

UPDATE: Just dropped ten quirky images. See if you can figure out their point of origin. 
« Last Edit: October 23, 2023, 06:57:24 PM by Ronald Montesano »
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2023, 07:56:56 PM »
I was also there last week and had the privilege of spending some time with Dunlop.
What a fine Gentleman and to me is truly The Curator Of Old Town.
I agree 100 % from the moment I stepped  into the course arena , I was stunned to the similarities to Crystal Downs visually.
The impact that Mr Maxwell must of had on CD is there for all to see after playing Old Town.
Several holes on the far side of the courseÖ12-14 clearly have a Prairie Dunes feels as well and the recently uncovered escarpment adjacent to 16 greens has that Dornick  Hills look.


All meant to enhance my thoughts of what a terrific golf course Old Town is ,I am in total agreement with Ally that  is Top 50 in the world worthy , and for me could be the finest course restoration I have  witnessed.
Probably the most stunning feature , and there are many, is the marvelous array of teeing sites.
No longer teeing grounds , but teeing locations that can vary from day to day all,in close proximity to the preceding greens.
Stunning work , no better highlighted than on #11/12.
I cannot wait to go back.
Ally, how about that centre line bunker on #9 that also comes into play on #17, absolutely brilliant.
Apparently that was a Dunlop White idea 💡 👏👏

Philip Hensley

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2023, 08:26:10 PM »
Played there today. Hard to believe OTC could get any better, but this recent renovation took it up a notch.


The new bermuda greens play so firm and fast.

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2023, 08:49:09 AM »
I would swear on graves that the double green has always been there. I foggily recall it from my tryout round in fall 1983. I remember thinking, this is the sort of thing that they have at St. Andrews.
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Kevin_Reilly

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2023, 03:13:11 PM »
I've never been, but I'm most struck by the C&C changes to the par 3 second hole, which was horrible looking in hole-by-holes from way back.  This picture is from Mark Saltzman's tour about 10 years ago.


"GOLF COURSES SHOULD BE ENJOYED RATHER THAN RATED" - Tom Watson

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2023, 05:10:57 PM »
Kevin...does it remind you of how the 16th at Sleepy Hollow used to look? Amazing that guys come in and have such massive egos that they think they know better than the original master. Thank goodness we live in an era when folks appreciate what was originally in the ground, rather than creating monsters or courses in their image.
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Kevin_Reilly

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Re: Old Town Club, NC
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2023, 05:38:43 PM »
RM, I have never been to Sleepy Hollow.  But seeing what was done at Olympic Club 10+ years ago (recently replaced by Hanse & Co.), nothing surprises me about the decisions made at courses.  This is a bunker at Olympic that was done by Capillary Concrete...does it look like something from the 1920's?


"GOLF COURSES SHOULD BE ENJOYED RATHER THAN RATED" - Tom Watson

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