1968 Revisited: Foxfire Turning Back Time
The East and the West have met and they are becoming one. For a while, anyway.
It has been 42 years since Gene Hamm designed the original Foxfire golf course. Since then, Hamm has been named to the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and Foxfire has been turned into a 36-hole complex with old and new intermingled.
Times change. People change. Foxfire became the East Course and the West Course. But memories remain of what a delightful layout that original 18 was.
Howard Cannon, the Foxfire general manger, has only been at the course since 2002. But he’s one of those who had experienced the original 18 that Hamm built and he often longed to play it again. Now he, and anyone else who desires, will have that opportunity.
The “Old Course” is being revived. Beginning this Monday, golfers will be routed to the 18 original holes. The other 18 will be maintained but won’t be played again until Feb. 16.
Foxfire, although a member’s club, is a popular destination for “package” players. And, according to Cannon, those are the dates when packages change.
The Old Course consists of holes 1-5 and 15-18 of the West Course, and holes 1-8 and 18 of the East Course. Those holes will make up the back nine and the course will play to a par of 71.
Just the way Gene Hamm designed it in 1968.
“It’s somewhat of an economic move,” Cannon said, “but it’s really just to give our members and visitors the opportunity to play the original course. We discussed it with the members and they’re looking forward to playing it.
“Both courses are quality layouts and the original 18 is one of the best courses in Moore County. Gene Hamm designed both courses.”
New scorecards with “The Old Course” printed on the front will be used.
“We’ve wanted to do this for three or four years,” Cannon said, “but the timing was just never right. If it goes well, we may do this every year. We’ll see.”
Even though the slow economy has hurt all golf clubs in the Sandhills, Cannon insists that costs aren’t the driving force behind the experiment.
“We will save some money, but that will mostly be on the wear and tear of carts,” he said. “We’re still going to keep the other 18 in good shape. We’re definitely not closing it down. We just think the original 18 was a great layout and we want people to be able to play and enjoy it.”
Cannon raves about course superintendent Brook Vickery, who is also in charge of maintenance for the two courses at Whispering Pines and Southern Pines Golf Club, both under the umbrella of Avestra, the company that owns Foxfire.
“Brook is the absolute best,” Cannon said. “He’s been here since 2002 when we came and he’s the best superintendent in the world. He loves this golf course.
“We only have about 140 members, and most of our play comes from outside with golf packages. There seems to be a perception that we’re too far out for some, but the truth is we’re only six miles from Pinehurst.”
The Old Course features two holes that everyone who plays will remember, according to Cannon.
“The second hole is a par-4 dogleg left with water all the way down the left side,” he said. “If you’re a long hitter, it’s a 270-yard carry over the water to cut the dogleg. We have a lot of high schools playing here and you’d be surprised at the number of kids who just take it right over the water. They have no fear.
“The 10th hole is one of the best holes around. It’s a par-5 that serves as the No. 1 hole on the East Course and it’s a dogleg right with a second-shot carry over water. It’s a beauty.”
Cannon is also excited about the wall of the clubhouse that’s being designed in memory of the days when Foxfire hosted the Atlantic Coast Conference golf championship.
“The ACC held its tournament here in 1970, 1973 and 1975,” he said. “Wake Forest won it all three times with Lanny Wadkins winning the individual championship in 1970, Jay Haas in 1997 and Curtis Strange in 1975.
“We’re doing the wall in memory of Dick McCleney, one of our longtime members who recently died. Dick played baseball for Wake Forest and we’re going to have a picture of him in his uniform on the wall.”
Memberships are available at Foxfire at $169 for a family or $129 for a single.
Cart fees are $20 and members may purchase golf cart packages at $150 per month with unlimited play.
For information or tee times, call (910) 295-5555.
Contact Howard Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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