(CBS Baltimore) — Sedgefield Country Club, in Greensboro, North Carolina, is home to the Wyndham Championship, the last PGA Tour event of this abbreviated season before the FedExCup Playoffs. Sedgefield has been a regular Tour stop since 2008. But its relationship with professional golf, not to mention its rich history, dates back much further.
Sedgefield Country Club formed in 1925, around the time famed course architect Donald Ross drew up sketches of his next masterpiece. Ross’s courses use the natural topography to help dictate the path of the course and play on it. They work on a sort of risk-reward system, challenging players to be a little aggressive and then offering scoring opportunities if they succeed. Sedgefield was no different. (Ross also designed Pinehurst No. 2, Aronimink Golf Club and East Lake Golf Club, among many others.)
Sedgefield, which Ross created to fit in with the rolling landscape of the North Carolina countryside, opened for play the following year. Golf was a much different game then, with shorter courses played with less sophisticated equipment. When Sedgefield debuted as a tournament course in 1938, it played at 6,680 yards.
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Its first pro tournament was called the Greater Greensboro Open, and was played at both Sedgefield and Starmount Forest Country Club. Legendary golfer Sam Snead won the event, the first of eight wins he would have at the tournament over the next 27 years.
The Greater Greensboro Open split rounds between the clubs for a time then alternated events for awhile longer. Starmount hosted the event through the 1950s. After Snead won the 1960 tournament, he joked about the poor condition of the course. His comment angered the course’s owner and earned him a lifetime ban. As a result, the tournament was moved back to Sedgefield, where it remained through 1976.
By the early part of the 20th century, the course had been adjusted and altered so much that it showed little resemblance to the original Ross design. The fairways had changed shape; newer bunkers made little strategic sense. Sedgefield played like so many other average courses that had modernized with middling results.
The course undertook major renovations, closing for 10 months and spending upwards of $3 million. The goal was to rebuild the course while also restoring the original Ross feel. Golf architect Kris Spence, who specializes in refurbishing classic courses, relied on 80-year-old aerial pictures and original blueprints.
With that view into the past, Spence managed to recall that earlier era of golf while also bringing the course up to date. He added 400 yards in length, re-positioned bunkers and returned the greens to their original size. The course reopened in 2007. The PGA Tour soon returned to Sedgefield after 30-plus years with the renamed Wyndham Championship.
Sedgefield, which plays at a par-70 measuring 7,130 yards, remains the only Ross-designed course in the Tour’s regular rotation. The course places a premium on putting the ball in the right place, meaning keeping it on the fairway and finding the right angle to the green. The small, undulating greens allow for interesting pin placements. The greens tend to slope forward, with some falling off the edges.
The course plays as much into the hands of ball-strikers as big hitters. Distance always helps, if it comes with accuracy. Low scores can be had, with the last four champions all shooting better than 20-under par for the tournament. Brandt Snedeker, who won the event in 2018, set the course record that year with a first-round 59.
With scores that low, it’s no surprise that scoring opportunities are prevalent and Sedgefield. The 522-yard par 5 on the fifth hole delivers plenty of birdie (and even eagle) chances. Long, straight drivers can reach the plateau green in two shots. Scoring will really depend on where the hole is located.
The par-4 sixth hole is among the course’s more challenging, At 408 yards, it plays downhill to a creek and uphill to an undulating green. It’s a good example of the risk-reward equation that Ross worked into his courses. Most players settle for par here.
The 12th hole is the most difficult of the par-3s. A stream bisects this fairway as well. The reachable two-tiered green is protected by deep bunkers on either side. A par is once again acceptable here, with players finding few birdies in recent years.
Watch the Wyndham Championship, Saturday, August 15, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET and Sunday, August 16, 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET on CBS.