It’s estimated that Donald Ross had a hand in the design of more than 400 golf courses across the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Some call him the “Michelangelo of Golf.”
Born in Scotland, Ross learned much about the game from Old Tom Morris, a golf pioneer as a player and course designer who was born in St. Andrews, Scotland, also known as the home of golf. After serving as Morris’ apprentice in 1899, Ross moved to the U.S. Within a year he was hired as the club pro at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, and within seven years he designed Pinehurst No. 2, a course that went on to host a PGA Championship, a Ryder Cup, two U.S. Opens, and a U.S. Amateur, with the 2014 men’s and women’s U.S. Opens to come.
Last week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill – also a Ross design. And this week’s PGA Tour Wyndham Championship is played at another one: Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. It’s the only regular PGA Tour stop played on one of Ross’ courses.
It’s also the last “regular season” event of 2013. Following the Wyndham are the FedEx Cup playoffs, a series of four tournaments that starts next week with The Barclays at Liberty National. So this week is the last chance for guys to get into the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings, thus securing a playoff berth.
A 7,117-yard par-70 course that’s hosted the Wyndham for the past five years, Sedgefield features four par 3s and two par 5s. Seeing as how those latter two holes are relatively short – No. 5 is 529 yards and No. 15 is 545 – they rank as the easiest on the course. The fifth hole allowed 28 eagles last year and boasted an average score of 4.38 (0.62 below par); the fifteenth averaged 4.65 (0.35 below par).
The par 3s come at Nos. 3, 7, 12 and 16, and the 12th, at 235 yards, is the toughest among them. It’s the longest par 3 and features a green with two tiers. The goal is to land the tee shot right in the center, as balls that come up short are likely roll back off the green. No. 7 (223 yards) isn’t a breeze either, as a creek protects the front half of the green.
Sedgefield’s back nine is the tougher half, with the three toughest holes coming at 18, 14 and 11. The 11th is 486 yards with a sloping fairway that often pushes tee shots into the left side’s rough. The 14th is 501 yards and features a dogleg left, forcing players’ drives to clear a fairway bunker sitting about 275 yards out.
Then there’s the finishing hole, which is 507 yards and averaged a score of 4.25 last year, the 0.25 above par being the course’s highest. Players can get good distance out of their drives as the fairway slopes downhill, but the approach shots have to come back uphill to a green that’s anything but flat.
It’s a tough hole to finish a round. The players can thank Donald Ross for that.
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