A Place To Play: Legacy Golf Links Gets National Note
Chad Derusseau was feeling a little proud. Couldn't blame him, really.
It was the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and Derusseau, the director of golf at Legacy Golf Links, felt he had plenty to be thankful for.
Like other golf courses in the area and the state, Legacy is feeling some effects of the sluggish economy. But Legacy isn't looking for a bailout. In fact, things are going pretty well for the Jack Nicklaus II design located in Aberdeen. And being chosen in a Golf World Magazine Readers' Choice survey as one of the best places in the country to play isn't a bad way to get ready for a new year.
"It's a huge accolade for us," Derusseau said of Legacy being named No. 25 on the magazine's list of Best Public Courses to Play.
"We didn't even know Golf World was putting the list together. It's a Reader's Choice Award, but we didn't do any campaigning because we weren't even aware of it."
The criteria voters were given when voting included quality of course, condition of course, speed of play and service among several others.
"We think quality, conditioning and service were our highest marks," Derusseau said. "It makes us feel -- well, satisfaction is a good word, I think.
"It's one thing if you just receive a random award for something, but over the years we've been honored by a lot of different publications, including the Best of Moore and the Best Finishing Hole in the county.. It does become satisfying because it means we must be doing something right.
"It's nice to get mentioned because it's recognition for our staff and maintenance crew. We're blessed to have a good group of people with longevity and there isn't a lot of turnaround here. Our superintendent, Mike Norton, has been here for 15 years. His assistant is Shawn Kerr and they do a fantastic job. Our head pro, Brad Poplyk has been here for almost five years. We know each other and work well together. There's a strong sense of loyalty.
"Craig Current, president of Legacy Golf Management which also has a 36-hole facility in Atlanta, does a great job of training our management people and helps create a stable environment. That frees us up to relax and make decisions without walking on eggshells and being afraid of losing our jobs."
Legacy isn't resting on its laurels, however. Maintaining and improving the course is a year-round effort.
"We have put some money into a small renovation project," Derusseau said. "We cleared some trees from around some of the greens. Those trees weren't big enough to create problems when the course was built in 1991, but they were impeding the growth of the grass. We've sodded around the greens in the rough areas and when the grass grows in next spring you'll really be able to tell it."
Another change is the tee area of the par-3 ninth hole.
"We've got a whole new set of tees on No. 9," Derusseau said. "It's created more space and a new angle to the green. The green hasn't been changed, but this angle changes it from a long, narrow green to a wide, shallow one. Tee shots now have to carry over the water. It's really a neat hole now."
Legacy has also gone permanently green.
"We're now using wall-to-wall rye grass instead of just over-seeding the fairways," Derusseau pointed out. "People come here from the north and they want to see green grass. The rye creates a green, plush look that the golfers like. This is our third year of doing that and it's enhanced the course a lot."
The 18th hole at Legacy is definitely a talking point. It plays to more than 400 yards from the back tees, demanding a good tee shot and a daunting approach over water to the green by most players.
"The 18th is nicknamed 'The Bear'," Derusseau said, "but it's just a good golf hole. You know if you make a birdie there, you're going to win it. I think it's a perfect finishing hole because it can make or break your round. Par it and you feel great, but there's a lot of pressure to hit good shots.
"On some courses you almost know what you're going to shoot when you start the last hole, but here you'd better not add it up until you've finished. When we have outings here, the golfers who finish first like to gather around the green to see how their buddies finish. There's a lot of hooting and hollering."
Although Legacy is weathering the poor economy fairly well, Derusseau says expenses are carefully evaluated.
"We're trying to be smart with expenses," he said. "We're evaluating everything. But we're really confident in our course and this entire area. It's tough on everybody in the short term, but we're still putting money in the course and building for the future. We're bullish on this whole area. We're confident we're all going to do great."
Legacy is holding its annual food drive again this month, giving golfers a chance to donate some food that will be given to the local food bank and get a bargain on playing golf.
"Through December 22, people who bring two cans of food items or non-perishable food can play the course for $25," Derusseau said. "If they have a military ID, they can play for $20 and that includes carts."
For tee times or information, call 944-8825.
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