This article first appeared in Elegant Island Living, February 2015. View the PDF
A Treasure Rediscovered
The term “hidden gem” is used often to describe our little barrier island region and the many treasures that people find here, ranging from rustic resorts to historic ruins and everything in between. On the mainland, however, a true “buried treasure” was discovered in late 2006 when the Love Golf Design team unearthed the turf at the Brunswick Country Club to reveal the original “black soil layer” that had been used by Donald Ross to construct the greens of the course in the late 1930s.
Ross, a Scot who spent most of his life in the U.S. is considered by many to be one of history’s greatest golf course architects. He was a founding member and the first president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, established in 1947. In 1977, he received the honor of being one of the rare members admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame for anything other than success in playing the game. Ross is also known for revolutionizing greenscaping practices and the introduction of Bermuda grass on putting surfaces. The trademark of Ross’ courses, which include Pinehurst, Sedgefield, Hope Valley and Aronimink, is their “naturalness.”
Dubbed a “sentimental project” for Mark Love and Davis Love III, because the brothers grew up playing the course, their work has been likened to an archeological discovery. When the original green pads were unearthed from the layers of topsoil under which they had become buried over time, it then was possible to see Ross’ original ridges and knobs intact and almost no restructuring of that initial design. Over the twelve months of the renovation project, the Love Golf Design team was meticulous in restoring the surfaces to their original sizes, remaining faithful to Ross’ 1938 design and the classic character of his courses.
“Over the twelve months of the renovation project, the Love Golf Design team was meticulous in restoring the surfaces to their original sizes, remaining faithful to Ross’ 1938 design and the classic character of his courses.”
The club reopened for play in 2007, and now, almost a century after Brunswick Country Club was established and nearly seven decades since Ross completed the 18-hole course, the greens have been returned to their original size, shape and elevation. In addition, tee complexes were rebuilt and, to meet the standards of today’s game, several holes were lengthened and bunkers were reconstructed. General Manager Dan Hogan says Brunswick Country Club is now considered by many to be one of the most authentic Donald Ross designs in existence today. With a 73 USGA rating and 6 sets of tees for different skill levels, the course has great appeal for those who truly appreciate the game. Not only is Brunswick Country Club proud of its association with PGA Tour veteran Davis Love III, and other recognizable golf names like Steve Melnyk and Andy Bean, they have also been the hosts of the Golden Isles Invitational Tournament since its inception in 1949. The club is one of six national host sites for the Pre-Qualifying Tournament for One Q-School for the Web.com Tour and is also the host site for both Qualifiers for the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic. Last year, the Club hosted the 2014 Georgia Junior Championship.
A new clubhouse was also opened in 2009. The 16,000 square foot facility was designed by Barnard Architects of Savannah has an open and airy atmosphere and is perfectly situated to take advantage of the sweeping views of the golf course and the swimming pool. In addition to the locker rooms, swimming pool and fitness center, it offers a golf shop, bar and grill, spacious dining areas and a meeting room. Flexibility built in to the floor plan allows for accommodation of large member functions, reunions and special events, and is also the ideal location for a wedding reception. Local civic clubs, like Rotary and Kiwanis, call the clubhouse “home” for their weekly business meetings. The Club also provides a welcoming venue for annual dinners and events for organizations such as The Coastal Symphony of Georgia and the Republican Women, and the Georgia Bar Association.
“All of the hard work and effort involved in the restoration and revitalization projects at the Club are certainly paying dividends now,” says Hogan. The Brunswick Country Club has been polished and now shines brightly. Club membership is up and member-guest events are popular and well-attended. If you haven’t been out to rediscover this particular “hidden gem,” you should. You might be surprised by the treasure that awaits you.