Calabash, North Carolina (October 2, 2017) - Crow Creek Golf Club will showcase reshaped greens with a grass that is new to the Grand Strand market – V8 creeping bentgrass – when it reopens next Monday following a four-month renovation project.
The course now has a longer back tee yardage and shorter forward tee distance with the addition of 11 new tee boxes, and several additional improvements have been made since the course closed on June 5.
“We’ve wanted to do some projects like this for awhile, obviously it’s always scary to take the step to stop making money and spend it,” Crow Creek head pro Jimmy Biggs said. “Our owner, Mr. [Henry] Bennett, has gone above and beyond taking on projects I didn’t think we were going to tackle.
“He wants to put the best product out there. I think we’ve got a great product now, we’re just waiting for the golfers to come back.”
The course on the North Carolina-South Carolina border in Calabash, N.C., is bucking the market trend to replace bentgrass with a form of ultradwarf Bermudagrass.
Once a prevalent and preferred putting surface on Strand courses, bentgrass has consistently been replaced by ultradwarf Bermudagrasses over the past 15 years, leaving less than 10 Strand courses with bent greens. Bent is a cool-weather grass that can weaken in the summer heat.
The 17-year-old Rick Robbins design had its original L93 bentgrass greens and course operators used a nursery green to test seven different strains of bent before settling on V8, which was recently installed at The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC, which hosts a PGA Tour event.
V8 is believed to be more disease resistant and more tolerant of heat and short cuttings than some older bent varieties.
“We think we can get more playable months out of bent than Bermuda and we know we’ll be in terrific shape during our peak seasons of spring and fall,” Biggs said. “That was a big part of the decision. These things have already got some deep roots right now so they’re ready to go. We’re just cutting them down to the correct speed. They should be rolling pretty good for opening day.”
Every green was reshaped, and Robbins brought his original designs to get the undulations close to his initial specifications. Biggs said undulations will be more severe in spots but generally shorter in length to create more defined tiers and flat plateaus.
“A lot of the reshaping we did do on the greens, I’d like to say we trimmed the fat,” Biggs said. “We left the ridges but they’re not as steady and long. We tried to make more pin positions available so we tried to make more flat areas. So the shelves are more severe. Being on the proper tier is going to be much more of a factor than it used to be.”
Most of the new tee boxes are forward tees, shortening the distance of the shortest of the course’s five tee boxes to about 4,700 yards from 5,060. “Some of our senior ladies thought the course was too long, and after looking at it we agreed,” Biggs said.
A new back tee on the par-3 eighth extends that hole from 190 to 210 yards that is nearly all carry over water, and a new back tee on the par-4 14th hole extends it from 440 to 475 yards. The changes stretch the tips yardage to 7,184 yards and give the course a formidable course rating of 74.9 and slope of 138. Robbins assisted with the placement of the new tee boxes.
“Crow Creek has never been intimidating from tee to green,” Biggs said. “There aren’t a lot of intimidating tee shots, you can pretty much swing away. The challenge is distance and the greens.”
Areas of cart path have been repaired, carts have been detailed, walkways around the clubhouse have been resealed, and a clubhouse that opened in 2008 has new paint inside and out and new carpet in the restaurant area.
Drainage has been improved in areas by thinning thatch and changing the slopes to some drains. “We should have fewer days on the cart paths,” Biggs said.
Flowers and plants are being added to landscaping and some minor repair work and pressure-washing on wooden bridges will continue after the course reopens.
All of the course’s bunkers were redone two years ago.
Superintendent Joe Jamison, who has been at Crow Creek since its opening, oversaw the renovations, and Bennett, who is president of Jerry McLamb Construction, played an active role in the improvements. “There wasn’t a day [Bennett] wasn’t out here,” said Biggs, who said Crow Creek’s entire staff is returning. “He knows how to operate every machine out here, so he was out there digging holes and ripping stuff up as much as anyone else.”
Crow Creek will join Tiger’s Eye Golf Links, which reopened on Sept. 22, and Arcadian Shores Golf Club, which reopened Monday, as area courses reopening with new greens early this fall.
Johnson leads rout
After going 4-0-1 to lead a dominant 19-11 victory by the United States over the International Team in the Presidents Cup on Sunday, Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson has emerged as one of the U.S.’s most relied-upon players in team competitions.
Johnson now has a winning record in both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup after winning two alternate-shot foursomes matches with Matt Kuchar, winning two best-ball fourball matches with Brooks Koepka and halving his singles match with Branden Grace that finished after the Cup was already decided.
Johnson has competed three times in each of the biennial international team matches. His performance this past week at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J. boosted his Presidents Cup record to 8-4-2 including an impressive 5-0-1 foursomes, which is arguably the most challenging format.
Johnson had been 0-3 in fourballs in the Presidents Cup, including a pair of losses with Tiger Woods in 2011 and another with Jordan Spieth two years ago in South Korea, before winning twice with Koepka.
Johnson has six points in 11 Ryder Cup matches over three appearances in 2010, 2012 and 2016, going 6-5-0 overall. He is unbeaten at 3-0-0 in singles, 1-1-0 in foursomes and 2-4-0 in fourball matches.
He is 5-2-0 overall in the Ryder Cup, however, since going 1-3-0 as a rookie in 2010 in his first professional team competition.
Johnson is a combined 14-9-2 in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competitions.
He was also part of a winning U.S. Walker Cup Team that won on foreign soil in 2007 shortly after he completed his four-year career at Coastal.
In order for the U.S. to consistently win the Ryder Cup, it will likely need a strong performance from the world No. 1, which it looks like it will be able to count on.
One reason for the U.S.’s struggles against Europe for nearly two decades was the poor performance in the competition of Tiger Woods during his years as the world’s top player. Woods holds a 13-17-3 Ryder Cup record.
Locals begin Q-School
Patrick Lundy of Little River hopes to advance this week for the third consecutive year to the Second Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament.
He is entered in the First Stage at Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland, Fla., where he has advanced in each of the past two years. Last October he tied for sixth, and the top 25 and ties advanced.
The number of qualifiers this year from the site, which has 72 players, hasn’t been announced. Lundy tees off at 9 a.m. Tuesday on Grasslands’ 10th tee.
The Second Stage runs from Oct. 31 through Nov. 10 at five sites, and the Finals is Dec. 7-10 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz. All final stage qualifiers will have at least partial status on the 2018 Web.com Tour.
Lundy has reached the final stage once, when Q-School still offered a direct route to the PGA Tour prior to 2013.
The top 25 players on the Web.com Tour money list each year, along with an additional 25 players through the four-event Web.com Tour playoffs, earn PGA Tour status for the following season.
Former Coastal Carolina player and Socastee High student Easton Renwick of DuBois, Pa., is also entered in the First Stage at Grasslands. Myrtle Beach resident Dan Obremski, who played at CCU from 2006-10, is entered at the First Stage from Oct. 10-13 at The Breakers in West Palm Beach, Fla., and CCU alum Andrew Dorn is entered at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., from Oct. 10-13.
Dorn, who played in the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort prior to his senior season at CCU, unsuccessfully attempted several Web.com Tour Monday Qualifiers this year, finished fifth and seventh in a pair of recent tournaments on the GPro Tour based in North Carolina and finished second in the Toledo Open.
“So the game feels good and I’m ready to make a run at it during Q-School this year,” said Dorn, an Ohio native who spent the summer in Cincinnati before moving for the winter to Orlando this past weekend.
Dorn said former CCU player Alfredo Ruiz is also entered Web.com Q-School.
Obremski said his game is in good shape. He has been working with instructor Ted Frick at Legends Resort, practicing at TPC Myrtle Beach and playing recently on the GPro Tour. He finished fourth in a 45-player field on Sept. 14 and is coming off a final-round 65 in his last event on Sept. 21, when he tied for 26th in a strong 118-player field at 9-under 207.
CCU alum Zack Byrd of Murrells Inlet is already through the first of three stages of the European Tour Q-School.