Fresh off a $3 million renovation, the course at Providence Country Club debuts to rave reviews.
In Late August 2018, McConnell Golf unveiled the renovated golf course at Providence Country Club in Charlotte just seven months after work began and ahead of schedule.
To the original Dan Maples layout, Kris Spence Golf Design moved and added sand traps, reconfigured several holes, and transitioned the greens to Champion Bermuda. Kevin Reardon, director of golf at Providence, says Spence took a previously flat, straight golf course and “really put some character into the place.”
On the par-3 sixth hole, the Greensboro-based architect altered the direction from the tee to bring a lake into play. On the par-5 10th hole, a bunker in the center of the fairway near the green was eliminated in favor of other traps to the side, which Spence named “principal’s nose” and “catcher’s mitt.”
Spence maintained the delegation of holes — five par-3s and five par-5s. In addition, he added about 30 yards to lengthen the course to slightly more than 7,000 yards.
McConnell Golf’s goal with the renovations was to create a course that would please its membership.
“The members have a course that they can be proud to show their friends and guests that is significantly different than their neighbors in the Charlotte market,” says McConnell Golf founder and CEO John McConnell.
Providence members are enjoying the recent course facelift.
Patrick Reynolds has been a member of Providence for 15 years. He is a 5 handicap and has played every one of McConnell Golf’s properties. Reynolds calls the renovated course “familiar, yet refined.”
“No one will come to Providence and not recognize the course, but the new green complexes and the bunkers are a fantastic upgrade,” says Reynolds. “The course is like an old Ping putter that has been updated and refined. Spence and McConnell Golf changed it from an old Anser, to a shiny Scotty Cameron Newport. The course is definitely more difficult than before. The driving lines are easier, but you must maneuver around the bunkering. The green complexes can be diabolical with the numerous pin placements. The shop has been kind to us, but there are some pins that you just can’t get to if you miss the greens. There is a much higher premium on hitting greens in regulation.”
The fact that Providence Country Club is a member of the McConnell Golf portfolio also assisted in elevating its status among local golfers. Its roster now boasts 800 families, and club membership is in high demand.
“The membership roster swelled while we were closed,” says Reardon. Providence member Tom Richards says that overall, the renovation is quite an improvement on what he felt was a good golf course before the renovation — but one hampered by small issues beyond just the maintenance problems that prevented him from telling folks it was a great golf course.
“I used to tell people, it was the easiest hard golf course you’ll ever play,” says Richards. “Now, it truly is a harder course, but still fair. I now have to look at the course from the green backwards versus just blindly hitting a tee ball. It’s important to know where the pin is on the green, as that will dictate the placement of the tee shot in some cases. I’m not saying I’m skilled enough to do it, but I do think about it. On the par 5s, the second shot used to be a no-brainer decision with any club you wanted to hit. Now, your second shots into holes 8, 12, and 18 require distance control and accuracy — or you can put yourself in a really bad situation.”
Richards adds that visually, the course is much improved. He admires the way Spence’s team built and remodeled the bunkering, which has enhanced the look of each hole from every tee.
“This new strain of Bermuda is very playable with less grain than the older styles,” he says. “Putts roll very true and chipping requires a whole new level of thought and strategy versus just flying a chip to the hole and stopping it on the old greens. The new contouring of the greens is subtle enough that they can be cut to roll incredibly fast. Next summer should be very interesting.”
In September, a group of Charlotte-area sports journalists and avid golfers tackled the freshly restored layout and came away with rave reviews.
“Kris Spence has done exceptional work in the Charlotte area recently, most notably at Cedarwood and Carolina Golf Club, but I was especially impressed with the changes he made at Providence,” said Taylor Zarzour of Sirius XM Radio. “The green complexes fit the layout of the course perfectly. I particularly like what he did on the par-3 fourth hole. There is now a speed slot on the right portion of the green that can carry your ball to the hole or send it over the green. And the fall-off areas surrounding the greens are significant. The par-5 eighth hole has a steep ridge on the left portion of the green that now requires more accuracy. The entire golf course requires as much precision as any in town, and now the greens complement the rest of the course perfectly.”
Longtime golf writer and editor Mike Purkey, now a regular contributor to Business North Carolina magazine, said the group played from 6,600 yards and found the golf course to be “manageable, but you had to hit good shots.”
“I’m sure from the back tees it’s a test,” said Purkey, a single- digit golfer. “The results are striking. Spence has created a course with instant character. It was a pleasure. The staff was terrific. The golf course is much, much improved. Golfers of every level will find Providence a good test while still being fun to play. It is a terrific addition to McConnell Golf.”
Longtime Charlotte Observer columnist and Global Golf Post contributor Ron Green Jr., said of Spence: “He understands the artistry and challenge inherent in quality golf courses, and his work on Providence Country Club has elevated the course across the board. Spence saw what Providence Country Club could be and he’s taken it there, giving the course a new look and feel while accomplishing the most important goal — making it more fun to play.”
Reardon and his staff are helping members adjust to the new course. “We’ve emphasized members working on their short-game as chipping, pitching, and putting has become very different than it was before the renovation,” he says.
More fun to play, indeed.