By John Brasier
Tot Hill Farm Golf Club has reopened with new greens, upgraded cart paths and a new clubhouse, fittingly in a restored old farmhouse.
Since opening in 2000, Tot Hill Farm has received acclaim. Golf Digest has named its third hole the best No. 3 hole in the nation, and just last year, referred to its “moments of sublime brilliance.
And it’s received respect. In 2007, Golf Digest named Tot Hill Farm the seventh-hardest course in America. Though designer Mike Strantz designed only seven courses from scratch — Tot Hill was his sixth — before he passed away in 2005, Golfweek magazine named him one of the “Top 10 Greatest Golf Architects of All-Time.”
On Labor Day, the Asheboro course had a soft reopening after several restoration projects, including an old farmhouse now a clubhouse and new Prizm Zoysia putting surfaces.
Over the years, Tot Hill Farm hasn’t received enough love — not as much as the scenic, rollicking layout deserves. During a succession of owners and management companies. Since opening in its secluded setting about 10 minutes southwest of the Asheboro commercial area. Tot Hill’s level of maintenance was inconsistent, far below the standard of the layout itself.
Pat Barber, the new owner, plans to change that with a multimillion restoration project. In fact, he already has.
After buying Tot Hill Farm in December, Barber wasted little time. The course’s undulating, uniquely shaped bent grass putting surfaces were converted to Prisz Zoysia due to its tolerance of the Piedmont’s hot summers. The Zoysia seemed almost flawless last week, though a little slower than they are planned to be after they’re cut shorter.
Geoff Dail, a longtime superintendent and course manager in the Triad, led the restoration crew and stayed on to complete some remaining projects and maintain the course. Dail, whose company had managed maintenance during the past few years, helped the previous ownership get together with Barber for the sale.
The broken cart paths have new asphalt. Several tee boxes were leveled, and greens and bunkers were restored. New on-course restrooms were built and bridges were repaired. Many trees that had been encroaching on sunlight for the tees and greens were taken out.
“We kind of retouched everything,” said Barber, who was drawn to Tot Hill by Strantz’s reputation and the natural beauty of the course.
Listed at $110 everyday at all times for greens fees and $25 for cart on its website, Tot Hill’s price may be the highest among public golf courses in the Triad.
The course — less than an hour from Greensboro and Winston-Salem and a little more than an hour from Raleigh —has always been a “bucket list destination golf course,” according to Barber. Plus, the media attention and Strantz’s name have made it a common stop for golfers driving to the Pinehurst area.