A little bit of luck while playing golf can often make or break a round.
The same can be said for golf course managers and owners – especially when it involves potentially shutting down your operation.
That was the case recently for Luke Lambeth, the general manager of Pleasant Ridge Golf Course in Greensboro.
The course is near Piedmont Triad International Airport, and plans had been made by the Airport Authority to create new roads near the course as part of the new Interstate 73 corridor that threatened its future existence.
With several of the holes on the front nine of the course running adjacent to Regional Road, which was right in the firing line of the new construction, Lambeth struggled with the reality of what might happen to the course.
“The Airport Authority came in and showed us the original design they had and where the new road was going to go and it would have pretty much done away with the entire front nine,” Lambeth said. “They were going to take holes five through eight. We looked into maybe building some other holes on the property with the Airport Authority, but it just didn’t seem feasible to do that. We thought we would probably have to close at least the front side permanently and become a nine-hole course, and we didn’t know if it would be feasible for us to continue to lease it and run it as a nine-hole course. We didn’t know what might happen at that point.”
But good luck shined down on Lambeth and Pleasant Ridge.
When the construction work went up for bids, the winning bid had a different plan for where the new road was going to go, and it was one that didn’t take nearly as much of the golf course as the original idea the Airport Authority had presented Lambeth.
“We found out that the winning bidder had a proposal that would have moved the road away from the golf course, not towards it as we originally were told,” Lambeth said. “The road was going to miss us altogether. The only thing that will take some of the land now will be for a new off-ramp, which will tie back to Highway 68. That’s all that will affect the golf course now. I knew we can work around that.”
Lambeth got word on the final design plans of the new road in mid-August and put on his thinking cap.
Once he knew exactly how much land was going to get taken away for construction, he went to work.
Change two of the holes on the front nine.
That was easier said than done in a time crunch, but Lambeth plowed through the challenges.
Lambeth designed a new sixth hole, a par-3, and built new tee boxes and a new green for it. The green should be ready for play by mid-December at the latest.
The old No. 6 was a par-4 that played 418 yards from the blue tees. The new No. 6 will play slightly uphill and 165 yards from the blues.
“I think it’s a good par-3, and a shorter one than all our others out here,” Lambeth said. “This was just a little strip of land that was here and it ended up working out just fine.”
Lambeth built new tee boxes for the seventh hole, which will be a par-4 once the changes go into effect, and play 365 yards from the blue tees. No. 7 is currently a par-5 playing 496 yards from the back tees.
The changes to those two holes will also take the course from being a par 72 in its current layout to a par 70.
“When we found out in mid-August what the final plan was, we knew we had to get at it quick and get it done. The Airport Authority was great in letting us build the new green and the new tees. Since they actually own the land the course is on, all changes needed their approval. The Airport Authority seems to want to keep it open as long as it’s feasible to keep it open for the public. They like the fact that the public seems to enjoy playing here.”
Lambeth, who along with his wife Debra owns Crooked Tree in Brown Summit, started construction on the new green and tee boxes Aug. 20 and is pleased with the results.
“With all the courses in this area that have closed in the last 15 years, this is a win-win for everyone. Another course closing around here would have really been hurtful to the golfers in the area. It’s good for us, and it’s good for the golfers. Everybody thought that this new road was going to get us, but it looks like we will survive it,” said Lambeth, who took over management of Pleasant Ridge in March 2005.