Got to play the newly restored Mike Strantz gem Tot Hill Farm in the season opening event for TheGrint Tour NC. The course looks to be back to its former glory. The conditions were very good and the greens, while slow for now as the new Prizm Zoysia grows in, were very consistent. I struggled to get the ball to the hole early and often. So make sure you hit putts confidently and aggressively.
This is a love it or hate it course for most people. I’m more towards the love it side, but I wouldn’t play this course too often. It is tough! It’s a very unique layout, with dramatic elevation changes, visually intimidating tee shots and approach shots, and sometimes downright goofy multi-tiered greens. A round here becomes an adventure very quickly.
The layout features 5 par 5’s and 5 par 3’s, with back to back par 5’s on the front side. The closing stretch includes a short, risk reward par 5, a long par 4 road hole, and a tricky, severely uphill par 5. Common features on nearly every hole: rocks, boulders, streams, bunkers and severely sloped or tiered greens. These make for some very tight, target golf tee shots and approaches. On some holes, you need to hit a 5-10 yard radius target or you will find trouble. It’s exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.
The new owners took great care to restore the course to Strantz’ original design intentions and it’s a visually stunning course. With the renovations, which also included a revitalized clubhouse, lounge, porches and “Strantz Room”, the price to play increased and is now around $110. The further in advance you book your tee time, the better deal you can get. I recommend looking ahead several weeks for a $70 tee time if you know you want to play here.
Tobacco Road is still my favorite Strantz design by far, but I’m happy to see Tot Hill Farm restored and worthy of the Strantz name again.