It's Baaacckkk: Legacy Links Reopening
There’s a lot of anticipation building for the reopening of Legacy Golf Links next weekend. And for Legacy general manager Chad Derusseau and head professional Brad Poplyk it’s probably like waiting for Christmas morning.
“I can’t wait,” Derusseau said. “I’m really excited. I’m more excited than I’ve been since it opened in 1991.”
He has reason to be. The 20-year-old Jack Nicklaus II design has been an area favorite for years and will celebrate its 20th anniversary shortly after reopening with new green complexes, three new bunkers and a complete replacing of sand in all bunkers.
Legacy has been closed since June 13 and will reopen Saturday, Sept. 17. The greens have been converted from bentgrass to the new Mini Verde, an Ultradwarf Bermuda that is known for heat tolerance and resistance to disease during the blistering Sandhills summers.
Although the course has been closed, the course employees have been operating full bore.
“It’s been busy,” Derusseau understated. “We had a lot of projects to get done.”
“We thought we’d have some time to play golf,” Poplyk said, enjoying one of his final days at the course when he could wear shorts. “But we’ve actually had less time.”
That’s easy to understand as the entire project has been handled in-house, headed by superintendent Mike Norton and assistant Shaun Kerr. “This project started nearly four years ago with tree removal, green surround work, a test green and lots of research and advice,” Derusseau said. “This represents a significant capital investment, but one we’re excited about making in order to solidify our position as one of the best courses to play in the Sandhills for another 20 years.”
Legacy has been named one of the top 50 public courses in the country by Golf World and rates 4.5 stars from Golf Digest and Top 50 for customer service. It is also ranked among the state’s Top 100 Courses by the North Carolina Golf Panel
The course hosted the USGA’s Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 2000, which featured 10-year-old Michelle Wie as a contestant.
“Our main focus has been on the restoration of the greens,” Derusseau said. “We were fortunate that our green complexes were in really good shape and we only had to dig them out about eight inches.
“The greens had shrunk over the years and we’ve restored them to their original sizes. That added about three feet all the way around in size. This will enable us to have more pin placements because of the area gained and give us some different rolls on long putts.”
Poplyk thinks golfers will enjoy a more consistent putting surface throughout the year with the new grass.
“Bentgrass can be a little better during its peak seasons of spring and autumn,” he said. “But year round, the Mini Verde is better.”
Despite the popularity of bentgrass, Derusseau feels the MiniVerde will make converts of golfers who experience it.
“This gives us the best putting conditions throughout the year,” he said. “We looked at new grass types for four years before making the decision. Our company, Legacy Golf Management out of Atlanta, has Ultradwarf Bermuda on its two other courses and is very pleased with it.”
For several years after bentgrass was introduced in the south, Bermuda was shunned by golfers because of a less than smooth putting surface. But new strains introduced in recent years have taken care of that perception.
“The image factor is not a problem anymore,” Derusseau said. “If you have a great putting surface, I don’t think golfers care what kind of grass it is. Some great courses such as East Lake in Atlanta and TPC Sawgrass in Florida have gone to this strain.”
Derusseau admits that there will be some added manpower needed during cold stretches of winter days when temperatures drop below freezing at nights.
“We’ll have to cover the greens in certain situations,” he said, “and I’m not sure how long that will take. There will be some labor costs, but we think it will pretty much even out over the year.”
Another factor is that the Bermuda goes dormant during the winter months and the surface turns brown.
“Two things we’ll do during the winter will be to raise the mower blades so that the putting surfaces don’t get too fast,” Derusseau said, “and paint the greens. This paint doesn’t look fake at all and if golfers don’t know it, they probably won’t even think about it.”
Derusseau is eager for golfers to experience the new greens and is going to help that happen by offering a bargain rate of $20 from Sept. 19-22 for local golfers. Legacy fees normally range from $49 to $109 depending on the season.
A Grand Reopening and Media Day is planned for Oct. 4, which includes an 18-hole event and a catered lunch. To learn more about this, call Derusseau or Poplyk at (910) 476-2733. Space in the event is limited.
Contact Howard Ward at email@example.com
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