Wyndham Championship makes this traditional Donald Ross course its dwelling – CBS Pittsburgh
(CBS Baltimore) – Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, hosts the Wyndham Championship, the final PGA Tour event prior to the FedExCup playoffs. Sedgefield has been a regular tour stop since 2008. But its relationship with professional golf, not to mention its rich history, goes back much further.
Sedgefield Country Club was founded in 1925 when the famous golf course architect Donald Ross was sketching his next masterpiece. Ross’ courses use natural topography to determine the course’s path and play on it. They work on some kind of risk-reward system, challenging players to be a little aggressive and then offering scoring opportunities if they are successful. Sedgefield was no different. (Ross also designed Pinehurst No. 2, Aronimink Golf Club, and East Lake Golf Club, among others.)
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Sedgefield, which Ross created to blend into the rolling landscape of the North Carolina countryside, opened for gaming the following year. Golf was a completely different game back then, with shorter courses played with less sophisticated equipment. When Sedgefield debuted as a tournament ground in 1938, it played at 6,680 yards.
His first professional tournament was called the Greater Greensboro Open and was played at both Sedgefield and Starmount Forest Country Club. Legendary golfer Sam Snead won the tournament, the first of eight victories he would have at the tournament over the next 27 years.
The Greater Greensboro Open split the rounds between clubs for a while and then rotated events for a while. Starmount hosted the event until the 1950s. After Snead won the tournament in 1960, he joked about the poor condition of the course. His comment angered the owner of the place and earned him a lifelong ban. As a result, the tournament was moved back to Sedgefield, where it remained until 1976.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the course was adapted and changed so much that it bore little resemblance to the original Ross design. The fairways had changed shape; newer bunkers made little strategic sense. Sedgefield played like so many other average courses that have been modernized with mediocre results.
The course has undergone major renovations, closed for 10 months, and spent more than $ 3 million. The goal was to rebuild the course and at the same time restore the original Ross feeling. The golf architect Kris Spence, who specializes in the renovation of classic courses, used 80-year-old aerial photos and original plans.
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With this look into the past, Spence managed to remember the earlier era of golf while also bringing the course up to date. He added 400 yards in length, repositioned the bunkers and brought the greens back to their original size. The course reopened in 2007. The PGA Tour soon returned to Sedgefield after over 30 years with the renamed Wyndham Championship.
Sedgefield, playing on a 7,131-yard par 70, remains the only Ross-designed course in the tour’s regular rotation. The course places great emphasis on placing the ball in the right place, i.e. keeping it on the fairway and finding the right angle to the green. The small, undulating greens allow interesting pin placements. The greens tend to lean forward, with some sloping away from the edges.
The course plays into the hands of ball strikers as well as big hitters. Distance always helps when it comes to accuracy. Low scores are possible, with the last five champions all shooting better than 20 under par for the tournament. Brandt Snedeker, who won the event in 2018, set the course record with 59 in the first lap this year.
With scores this low, it’s no surprise that scoring opportunities prevail and Sedgefield. The 513 yards par 5 on the fifth hole offers many birdie (and even eagle) opportunities. Long, straight riders can reach the plateau green in two strokes. The rating really depends on where the hole is.
The sixth hole with par 4 is one of the most demanding on the course. It’s 427 yards long and plays its way downhill to a creek and uphill to a rolling green. It’s a good example of the risk-reward equation that Ross incorporated into his courses. Most players are satisfied with par here.
The 12th hole is the most difficult of the par 3. A stream also bisects this fairway. The accessible two-tier green is protected on both sides by deep bunkers. Again, a par is acceptable again, although the players have only found a few birdies in recent years.
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Watch the Wyndham Championship on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. ET on CBS.