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Nicklaus Advises Upgrades at National GC


National Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., has embarked upon several course enhancements, many of which were recommended by architect Jack Nicklaus during an inspection last year. "Overall, Mr. Nicklaus liked what he saw, but did recommend some improvements," said director of golf Tom Parsons. "We're determined to set our sights high and meet the standards that he expects of his signature courses."

One of the key aspects involves bunker work. Several bunkers are being renovated, while three bunkers have been removed. Nicklaus suggested taking out two bunkers near the first green, and a fairway bunker on the third hole. Superintendent Dave Bowbliss is also in the process of redefining the perimeters of several greens that have gotten smaller. The goal is to return the putting surfaces to the sizes originally designed by Nicklaus in 1988.

Trees and underbrush affecting turf quality are getting attention, as well as waste bunkers that have washed out or have become filled with pine straw over the years. A revamping of the cart path system, which began in 2002, will be completed in March when the path on the par-5 fourth hole is converted from sand and gravel to white concrete. At that point, work will begin on adding curbing to the paths around select tees and greens.

"The process we have taken is a hole-by-hole evaluation to make each one more playable and aesthetically pleasing," said Parsons. "Dave Bowbliss and our general manager, Ken Crow, have a very good vision of how far this course can evolve. It may take a year or so, but everything is on paper and we know what we need to do."

National is a private club that allows a limited amount of outside play. For tee times or stay-and-play packages, call 800/471-4339 or visit www.nationalgolfclub.com.