We are just past the quarter pole in a comprehensive greens, bunkers and clubhouse restoration project at Pawleys Plantation Golf Club, so we figured it was time to talk to architect Troy Vincent, a design associate for Nicklaus Design, about the progress that has been made at the storied course.
First impression: Wow.
Completing the restoration effort in four months is an ambitious task, but Vincent and his team have made substantial progress. After a quick chat with the veteran architect, who is tasked with
revitalizing the Jack Nicklaus design, here is a quick look at some of what has already been accomplished.
– Pawleys’ greens have been stripped and the front nine has already been “floated,” meaning the proper soil mix is in place and the new layout of each complex has been staked out. Vincent is also examining green pitches and grades, restoring the complexes to their original specifications and maximizing pinnable areas.
– Golfers that have an even passing familiarity with the course will immediately notice the changes when Pawleys reopens this fall. This isn’t a situation where there are only a couple greens with significant changes. Every putting complex is being substantially expanded and upgraded with some having shrunk as much as 10-12 feet over the years.
– Options is the word Vincent used most often when talking about the project. He was referring to options for course setup – i.e. pinnable locations – and for players in deciding how they want to attack a hole. Vincent singled out No. 10, which prior to the project had an enormous bunker that necessitated tee shots be played to the left side of the fairway before attempting an approach over water. That bunker has been replaced by three smaller traps, one in the middle of the fairway that serves as an aiming point while the others, one on the left and the other on right, alert players to the looming water. Going forward, golfers will have a choice as to which side they want to
approach the pin from and how close they want to get to the water. It’s an exciting preview of what is on the horizon.
— Changes to the par 5 fourth hole will be equally dramatic. A large waste bunker that previously ran up to the left side is being replaced by a native sandy area that will occupy a smaller footprint and make recovery easier for high handicappers. Throw in more bailout room left of the green and No. 4 will be easier for the average player without impacting the challenge for low handicappers.
Founders Group International has commissioned substantial renovations at Grande Dunes and Pine Lakes in recent years, both of which have enjoyed rave reviews, but the work at Pawleys is far more substantial. The bones of this Jack Nicklaus are as good as any along the beach and when Vincent completes this project, expect to find Pawleys at the top of every must-play list.