Things are not as they used to be at Hope Valley. For example the white Los Angeles style house just left of the ninth tee was once owned by two men who delighted in opening their bedroom window to provide passing golfers a full view of the two of them in flagrante delicto.
More germane to the subject at hand is the dumbing down of Donald Ross’s original design. Ross’s field drawings clearly show undulations on every green, all of which have been removed over the years. My favorite is a depression that ran across the entire width of the 14th green from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock. The only other Ross course where I’ve seen this feature is at Sandy Burr in Massachusetts. Alas, #14 now looks like most of the other greens at Hope Valley, running down to the front of the green in a single uninspiring plane.
Nor is there much strategy involved before one gets to the green. The 11th hole once featured two creeks and is said to have been a Ben Hogan favorite when the Durham Open was a regular stop on the PGA tour. Both creeks have been covered over, removing the strategic challenge. There are a few tee shots where the golfer needs to think how much risk to take on for more reward (e.g. # 12 and #16) but for the most part one side of the fairway is as good as another.
The club hired Kris Spence and he produced a plan that would restore many of the challenges Ross included. It remains to be seen when, or even if, this work will be undertaken. The course could certainly use it.
Date: November 14, 2019