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Tot Hill Farm to Host 1st Annual Mike Strantz Memorial Tournament

By: Jay Flemma


Tot Hill Farm Golf Club in Ashboro, N.C., is hosting the first annual Mike Strantz Memorial golf tournament. The club's annual "Customer Appreciation Tournament" has been renamed in Mike's honor and will be contested November 21 as a three-player, Texas-style Scramble/best-ball hybrid designed to also pay homage to the colorful spirit of the late, great architect who designed not only Tot Hill Farm, but Tobacco Road, Bulls Bay, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course), to name a few.

"We've received terrific support from all of Mike courses, and with their help, this event's proceeds will go to the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, S.C., where Mike was treated and developed many friends," said C.C. Pharr, one of Mike's closest friends and one of the principles in Tot Hill Farm.

"Additionally, I have been organizing hours and hours of video that I took of the development and building of Tot Hill Farm from 1997 through opening day in June 2000," Pharr said. "I have interviews with Mike as we progressed in interviews with all the people who made Tot Hill happen. I was on-site daily taking pictures and video, which I plan to show at our tourney on the 21st."

The 10:00 a.m. shotgun start will be preceded by a breakfast sponsored by Bojangles, a lunch sponsored by Tina's Famous Chili, and a ribs and chicken BBQ for dinner.

Although he only has nine original designs to his credit, Strantz's contributions to golf course architecture are powerfully moving and intellectually significant. On four different occasions, he designed a course in an area already well known for excellent golf. On each, his design skyrocketed to the top spot in each region. His work at Monterey Peninsula Country Club is a wonderful compliment to the adjacent gems at Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. Strantz's Tobacco Road has provided stiff competition to the Pinehurst Resort, and his twin designs in the Myrtle Beach area, True Blue and Caledonia, have taken over the top two spots in the region since opening in the early 1990s.

Strantz's fun personality, burly frame, bushy moustache, and folksy charm earned him the moniker "The Maverick."

"Mike was a pulsar, and everyone not only gravitated to his work but to his warm, caring, and fun personality as well," said Strantz fan Jack Howell. "When he passed away from tongue cancer at 50, it was the entire golf world that felt the loss, as well as his friends. He was at the vanguard of the sea change in golf course design that sought to bring back more strategy into the game instead of penal, center-line architecture, but his work also is visually arresting. There is something in it for everyone, and that's just how he wanted it. That was his great gift to share with all lovers of golf."

His penchant for making players see the fun in "something different, something they'd never seen before" lives on not only at Tot Hill, but many of his courses. Tot Hill was flooded a few years ago, so they rerouted the course to finish with a long par-7. Several players loved the temporary re-routing so much they hoped to have a one-day tournament where the flood-prompted routing is reestablished.

At Bulls Bay, Mike's oil portrait as he sits atop his horse Degas and is flanked by family dogs Greta and Sophie hangs proudly in the clubhouse. Many members have shrines to his memory in their homes.

For more information about the event, visit www.tothillfarm.com/mstrantzmemorial.html.



Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, http://www.jayflemma.thegolfspace.com, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 220 nationally ranked public golf courses in 37 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer (www.golfobserver.com), Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.