Facing greens that were last redone in the 1960s and some brutal North Carolina summers, Pine Needles and Mid Pines Resort president Kelly Miller knew he had to pull the trigger sooner than later on his struggling putting surfaces at Mid Pines.
Miller met young architect Kyle Franz a few years ago while he was working for Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw on the Pinehurst No. 2 restoration project. What Miller didn’t know was Franz had been sifting through files in the Tufts Archives in his spare time, waiting for the right moment to approach Miller about his plan to not only work on the greens but to restore Mid Pines to its original Ross ideals.
“Kyle came in and quite honestly wowed me,” Miller said. “I’ll give him a lot of credit, because it was a surprise. He’s a huge student of Ross. I kind of became enamored with his knowledge and what he wanted to do. So, I said ‘OK, let’s give him a shot.”’
The 32-year-old Franz, who began his first solo project Nov. 26, is restoring about 25 percent of the original Ross greens that were lost to the riding mower over a 50-year period and has cut down 300-400 tall pines to open up the course’s corridors. He’s also adding dramatic flashes and massive waste areas that Ross once displayed at Mid Pines and transplanted wire grass from on the property for that “old feel” look.
“There is a bunch of cool looking holes and some cool looking shots out there now,” Miller said. “You compare it to the old 1921 layout and what it is now, and it is pretty close.”
Exactly zero dirt or sand was trucked onto the 250-acre property, and right before his eyes Miller has been presented with virtually a new golf course for less than $1 million.
Miller says Franz will return in late May to complete the project and the course will be closed for a period of time, reopening in August. – by David Droschak