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Remodel Completed at Bald Head Island Club off North Carolina's Coast


A renovation of Bald Head Island Club in North Carolina has been completed and the course has reopened for play.

The $3.9 million project was overseen by architect Tim N. Cate. The course on Bald Head Island opened for play in 1974. Cate used drawings by original architect, George Cobb, as his blueprint for preserving the routing of the course as well as Cobb's style of "low grounds and high surrounds."

Cate widened 10 fairways so players could better see water hazards from the tees and eliminated most blind tee shots over water. Greens with insufficient depth or too much slope were modified, while more undulations were added to some greens to create more pin placements. After reviewing Cobb's drawings, Cate built double-tier greens on Nos. 12 and 14 that had been planned by Cobb but never built.

"After more than 35 years of strong ocean winds, intense summer suns, and thousands of rounds of play, the Bald Head Island Club course was getting a bit tired," said Robert Norton, general manager of the Bald Head Island Club. "Our greens had outlived their useful life and, as time passed, some elements of the course had begun to present unfair challenges.

"Tim not only addressed those issues, he brought an aesthetic sense to the reconstruction, elevating tees to create stunning views of the Atlantic and placing new grasses and palm trees inside massive waste bunkers that line the fairways. He made a wonderful design into a spectacular golf experience."

The course now offers views of the dunes and the ocean beyond. Lagoons come into play on 14 holes. Elevations changes range up to 35 feet throughout the course, and some holes have 20-foot-high dunes as backdrops to greens. The layout includes new, laser-leveled tees that have been re-grassed with Celebration™ Bermuda grass, and large and undulating greens re-grassed with MiniVerde™ Ultradwarf Bermuda grass.

"It's so gratifying to have golfers tell us that they think our course could earn a spot on top 100 lists," says Norton. "But it's easy to see why it has that kind of impact. Few courses on the Carolina coast can boast views of the Atlantic Ocean from seven tees. From the back tees, with the ocean winds swirling, it's more than enough challenge for even the best players.

"From all the other tee boxes, it's both enjoyable and challenging. It tests golfers, yet gives them a chance to shoot a good score. Cate has pulled off a true collaboration with Cobb and melded the classic and modern into a seamless layout that is at once breathtakingly beautiful, challenging and fair."

Cate's added more natural and native sand areas, which reduced the amount of grass that needs to be mowed and simplified routine maintenance. Installation of a new irrigation system has resulted in a course that requires substantially less irrigation water and fewer fertilizers.

"Now the course is an even better natural habitat for all kinds of wildlife - and that adds to the enjoyment of golfers out there playing," says Norton.

"During a round, you'll see fox, deer and alligators, and a wonderful assortment of birds including osprey, eagles, red tail hawks, ibis, great blue heron, and white heron. We're hoping that all this re-naturalization effort will help with our efforts to be designated an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf course."

About Bald Head Island Club

Bald Head Island Club is the only golf course and club on Bald Head Island, a barrier island located two nautical miles off the coast of southeastern North Carolina. The 12,000-acre resort island is accessible only by ferry from Southport, N.C. or by private boat. Transportation on the island is limited to golf carts, bicycles and pedestrian traffic. The island has 14 miles of beaches, tidal creeks and an ancient maritime forest. Equity memberships in Bald Head Island Club are available with the purchase of real estate or a boat slip. Golf packages are available and limited playing privileges are extended to those leasing properties through Bald Head Island. In addition to the golf course, the Club offers a 10-acre practice facility.

For more information about Bald Head Island Club, call 910/457-7300 or visit www.bhiclub.net/club/scripts/home/home.asp.