The University of the South held a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the renovation of its historic golf course on Friday, Nov. 4, as part of the university’s Homecoming Weekend festivities. Gil Hanse, architect of the new course, spoke to approximately 70 gathered alumni and friends about the renovation plans. After the groundbreaking, Hanse led the group on a tour of the golf course and described the planned changes. The redesigned course is expected to be ready for play next fall.
Hanse has taken on the challenge of restoring the Sewanee course, which will include rebuilding greens complexes, bunkers, and cart path systems; the installation of efficient single-line fairway irrigation; and the removal of declining trees and planting of new ones. The modifications to the course will strengthen its role as a practice and competition venue for intercollegiate golf at the university, while incorporating environmentally sustainable features that will both enhance the challenges of the course and preserve the delicate ecosystem of the Cumberland Plateau.
Hanse, founder and president of Hanse Golf Course Design, Inc., has earned a reputation for artistry, craftsmanship, and giving personal attention to a limited number of projects at a time. A knowledgeable student of the history of the game, he was Golf magazine’s 2009 Architect of the Year. His work can be seen at some of the nation’s and the world’s finest courses, including Taconic Golf Club of Williams College, Castle Stuart Golf Links in Scotland, the Capstone Club at the University of Alabama, and the Los Angeles Country Club. Two Hanse courses are recognized on Golfweek’s Top 100 Modern Courses.
The Sewanee Golf Course is approaching its centennial anniversary, and is the only course in the U.S. to have been designed in part by a bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Rt. Rev. Albion Knight, seventh vice-chancellor of the University of the South, in 1915 carved out nine holes, with sand greens and tees, on a northwest-facing bluff. Students on the football team and from the university’s Department of Forestry worked to clear trees and prepare the course.