Fort Mill Reopens After Year-Long Renovation


South Carolina's Fort Mill Golf Club has reopened following a $3-million renovation. The unveiling of the remodeled course 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, built in 1959.

Overseeing the project for course owner Leroy Springs & Company, Inc. was Gene Roper, director of golf operations. "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," said Roper. "We're thrilled today to share the restored luster of their original designs with golfers around the region."

Leroy Springs & Company is 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 the 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 remodel of Fort Mill, which weaves through stands of live oaks and pines, was directed by architect Clyde Johnston, who in 2001 designed Springfield Golf Club, a sister course located 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 master-plan drawing from Ross for the front-nine renovations.

Although Ross's drawing did not provide a legend for design elements such as mounds, slopes, hollows and rough - indicated by a varying series of hash marks, Johnston used his experience and design plans from other Ross courses of that era to assist in interpreting the master plan.

Even less specific drawings were available for Cobb's back nine, so only modest design changes were made there, with just two bunkers added and four traps removed on the nine holes.

The renovation included the rebuilding of all tee and green complexes, and the conversion of the greens from bentgrass to the heartier and more heat-tolerant MiniVerde™ grass, a Bermuda hybrid that retains the smoother and quicker putting characteristics of bent. Additionally, all bunkers on the course were rebuilt, with several on the front nine repositioned or eliminated to match Ross's drawings. The bunkers on the back nine were redesigned to reflect the look of the Ross-style bunkers on the front.

Now measuring 6,801 yards from the tips, the renovated par-72 layout actually plays 25 yards shorter than the original course. "We understand that at one point the original Fort Mill nine holes had the second highest course rating in all the Carolinas after Pinehurst No. 2, Ross's acknowledged masterpiece," said 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 project also involved upgrades to the clubhouse, with a major remodel of public areas and a redesign of the exterior and deck area to enhance views of the course.

Fort Mill Golf Club is a semiprivate facility open to daily-fee play, with annual memberships also available. For more information, call 803/547-2044 or visit www.playfortmill.com.


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