Home Course Features What a difference a year makes at Quarry Hills

What a difference a year makes at Quarry Hills

by TG_Admin01

By BOB SUTTON

Quarry Hills Country Club has gone through countless changes in the past few years, not to mention a rebirth under the Tri-G Group.

Yet co-owner Geoff Gulick says he’s far from finished.

“Every year there will be a change people are going to notice,” he said.

Gulick and his group celebrated the first anniversary of their ownership in early November, fully realizing it has been a whirlwind of sorts for the Swepsonville facility.

If nothing else, an element of stability is in place and that should bode well for the club’s future.

The course has had different names and various managements since the Ellis Maples-designed layout opened in 1970 under the name Piedmont Crescent Country Club. It hasn’t been fully private since 1985, when it took the Quarry Hills Country Club name. A few years ago it was changed to Cedar Forest Golf Club before the Quarry Hills name was re-attached, though all the signage has yet to be reconverted.

The most significant development since June is the reopening of a green for the first hole. That had been off-limits as part of a territorial issue with land owners that resulted in a class-action suit stemming from former management and ownership.

“It’s just normal golf now,” club professional Jason Averill said, pointing out the domino effect that has allowed for more tournaments and other outings now that the course has a traditional set-up. “(This) just provides stability. There are a lot of loyal members who have come back. … Play is getting back where it needed to be.”

So now with a rebuilt green, the course offers a full 18 holes – with 18 greens.

“Seventeen greens is kind of a hard thing,” Gulick said. “We’re getting rid of the stigma that had been associated with that.”

The original bentgrass greens are holding up on the course’s other 17 holes as Gulick and his staff go about the business of restoring the course and its operations to a level that had come to be expected for a couple of decades.

The course is categorized as semi-private, but it’s open to all golfers. The green for hole No. 2 is clearly visible along N.C. 54 that runs from Graham to Chapel Hill.

The course covers 155 acres, with homes built along side 10 of the holes.

Gulick came off the course recently – after a day of work on the course. He takes a hands-on approach.

“Those are the only golf courses that survive,” he said. “We’re all hands-on. We do all the maintenance.”

The Tri-G Group is comprised of three brothers — Geoff Gulick, Greg Gulick and Steve Gulick — along with family friend Monty Corron of Ohio. The Gulicks are grading contractors so they’re familiar with some heavy equipment.

About 20,000 rounds will be played by year’s end, which made it an ideal 2010 in many respects.

“I think that’s good for this golf course right now,” Gulick said.

Quarry Hills Country Club isn’t quite the championship-level course that a course such as Mill Creek Golf Club in nearby Mebane might be categorized. But it approaches that level when in tip-top condition.

The course has shortened slightly from previous layouts, in part because of the issues involving territorial rights. The positioning of the new first green reduced the length of that hole, while the tee box for the ninth hole was moved out of necessity because of a house and so that hole is shorter as well.

The blue tees play at 6,616 yards and the white tees measure at 6,013 yards. The gold (seniors) tees are about 5,300 yards, with the red tees at 4,905 yards.

In the year since Tri-G Group took control, membership has grown to about 130 from scratch.

A Ladies Golf Association of nearly 50 members helps the cause and Quarry Hills is returning on the schedules of various senior golf associations in the area. There’s informal league play on weekends, with regulars who set up their own outings.

In October, the club reinstated one of its traditional events, a one-day couples tournament called “The Chase.” That drew 25 teams for a spirited day and perhaps provided another sign of the club’s rejuvenation.

Then on the first Sunday in November, a celebration of Tri-G Group’s first year as official owner drew about 60 golfers for a captain’s choice tournament. Averill described it as a feel-good event and a good day for the club.

Gulick said the latest ownership has been well received.

“We didn’t realize how important it was to the community,” he said. “We just want to provide a good golf experience at a reasonable price. There are so many golf courses in this general area that we’re trying to compete with.”

The course superintendent is Brett Throneburg, who came from Mill Creek. Averill arrived in the spring after working from 2001-09 at The Challenge Golf Club in Graham.

The driving range was sold along with some property surrounding the course as part of the legal issues that surfaced. Gulick said the emphasis now is to work with what the club has and to address other issues in the future.

New carts are in use with the Quarry Hills logos.

Gulick took some satisfaction in how the course withstood dramatic weather patterns, calling it a rough winter and a bad summer. “But we didn’t lose any greens,” he said.

Averill said he hopes golfers who visited during the summer give it another shot after more improvements take hold, pointing out that the summer heat took a toll as it did at most courses in the region.

This winter, there are plans to cut trees that have impeded the course’s designed setup. That project will be accompanied by a fertilization and weed control program and irrigation repairs.

Off the course, the restaurant has closed. But the 16,000-square foot facility, which houses the clubhouse, is open for banquets and special functions, such as weddings receptions and reunions.

Gulick said Tri-G Group will be patient as the club, which once had more than 400 members and drew from Chapel Hill and Hillsborough and sponsored youth swim teams and adult tennis programs, returns to prominence.

“The black cloud is no longer with Quarry Hills,” Gulick said.

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