Having grown up around Mid Pines GC and played it hundreds of times in the 1970s, I was a bit worried when I heard extensive work began late last year.
Boy, were my fears unfounded.
I was at Mid Pines, the Donald Ross course in Southern Pines, N.C., that opened in 1921, last week working on a feature about the eGolf Professional Tour, which held the Mid Pines Classic there.
The tournament was a coming-out party of sorts for the classic design, which was exquisitely restored by thirtysomething architect and shaper Kyle Franz, who was a key team member during the recent restoration of nearby Pinehurst No. 2 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
Mid Pines has truly been reborn, both playability and visual interest greatly enhanced in the par 72, 6,723-yard layout that is the sister course of Pine Needles across Midland Road.
Franz took out rough in many places, replacing it with sandy areas of pine straw and wire grass -- but the transformation isn't wall-to-wall or overdone. Trees were taken out in some areas, creating attractive vistas particularly on the 16th hole and around the second, eighth and 12th tees. The bunkers have been tweaked to give them more natural, less rounded edges. MiniVerde Bermuda grass was installed on the greens, which were enlarged a bit and the interesting contours restored on some. They already roll beautifully.
It's hard to believe Ross wouldn't love what has happened to one of his fine works.