19TH HOLE: Maples, Spence Draw Praise for Renovations
Renowned golf course architects Dan Maples and Kris Spence have drawn praise for recently completed renovations of two of the South's landmark sites.
Maples is a Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame architect who has designed, built and renovated dozens of courses in the Carolinas and Virginias. His latest contribution is the renovation of Olde Mill, an award-winning resort in Laurel Fork, Va., which has undergone a $12 million makeover that includes an 850-acre master-planned community convenient to the Virginia-North Carolina border.
The golf course, an original design by the late Ellis Maples, Dan's father, is rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. It features reconstructed tee boxes and sand traps as well as installation of a new wall-to-wall irrigation system.
The extensive property enhancements include the addition of affordable luxury condominiums, manors and single-family custom cottages and estate homes starting at $200,000, as well as the re-establishment of Maples Restaurant at Olde Mill and the Tavern at Olde Mill.
The Olde Mill golf course was designed in the tradition of iconic golf-course architect Donald Ross and renovated by third-generation Pinehurst residents Dan and Bradley Maples. The 18-hole, par-72, 6,833-yard championship layout has four sets of tees, with water coming dramatically into play on 16 holes.
Scenic elevation changes and undulating greens provide additional challenges for players, but remain a fair test for all skill levels. The signature No. 10 hole presents a daunting downhill shot to a peninsula fairway, split by water, and an uphill approach to the green.
Spence has completed his extensive renovation and redesign of the Country Club of Spartanburg, one of the oldest courses in Upstate South Carolina.
Although the course had a soft opening in December, Spence and his crews remained on site through early May to enhance certain areas of the historic layout, which originally opened with nine holes in 1908 and was expanded to 18 in the early 1950s.
"Now that we've had a healthy grow-in period, golfers are able to experience the true renaissance of this classic course," Spence said.
The project's broad scope included the reconstruction of all greens, tees and bunkers, plus the installation of a new irrigation system. Substantial drainage improvements were implemented, coupled with a tree removal program to improve playing corridors and turf health.
Spence retained the layout's overall routing. However, golfers will notice several green sites in new locations, while the angles of tee boxes have changed. The result is a more strategic course that takes full advantage of existing vistas, lakes and topographic features.
"This was one of the most enjoyable courses I have worked on," Spence said. "The lay of the land is just incredible, which eased the task of creating great holes. The members were supportive of new ideas for the course and embraced our concept of creating a course with strategic options and the character and feel of the classic era of golf architecture."
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