In 1923, Southern Real Estate purchased the enormous 3,660-acre hunting estate at Sedgefield and shortly after Donald Ross was engaged to design two 18-hole layouts for the new owners. The original course was named Valley Brook but the Great Depression prevented a second course ever being built.
The Greensboro Open was held here twenty-six times between 1938 and 1976, before the tournament moved to Forest Oaks Country Club. Following a course renovation by Kris Spence, this prestigious PGA Tour event returned to Sedgefield as the newly-named Wyndham Championship in 2008.
In the book The American Private Golf Club Guide author Daniel Wexler describes Sedgefield as follows:
“Routed over a rolling, wooded landscape, it is a strong, well-balanced test… Sedgefield serves as positive proof that a Golden Age design needn’t be mangled beyond recognition to remain tournament relevant in the new millennium.”
The phrase “storied past” might be overused to describe many golf courses, but it is exceptionally appropriate for Sedgefield Country Club. With such a robust timeline of golf tournaments, Sedgefield’s history is steeped in notable events. These include but are not limited to its hosting of the first professional competition in North Carolina, witnessing Sam Snead win a record eight times at the Greater Greensboro Open, and breaking down racial barriers by inviting Charlie Sifford to participate in its 1961 event before the PGA Tour had removed its “Caucasians only” clause.
To this day, Sedgefield remains among the favorite stops for tour players. This wonderfully preserved Donald Ross design provides more strategic challenge than many of its peer courses on the professional circuit. Frequently, classic clubs that host PGA Tour events are lumped into the “great second-shot golf courses” categorization. This moniker would be an injustice to the thoughtful tests presented from tee-to-green at Sedgefield Country Club.
Sedgefield is a great “first-shot golf course.” While holes are lined by neighborhoods, the corridors provide plenty of width for playing angles. Fairway bunkers actually lie in the fairway; on holes 1, 8, 13, and 14, those same traps completely distort depth perception. The contours in landing zones can punish the player who thoughtlessly bombs away. If the course is presented under firm conditions, the wise golfer will vary their shot shape and club selection. It is imperative to employ speed slots throughout the round to find the flattest stance possible, if one even exists. Sedgefield can only be conquered by a player with a consummate golf skillset. At the finisher, for example, Ross asks that the golfer hit to an uphill green from a steeply downhill lie.
Sedgefield is also a great “second-shot golf course.” Almost every green complex on the course is crowned, or raised from the fairway. With so many sharp ridges surrounding the putting surfaces, it can be nearly impossible to hold a green without aiming towards the center. Even with these treacherous targets, Ross provides reasonable opportunities for recovery. Most greens welcome run-ups and provide a variety of options for bump-and-runs, flops, and other creative short-game shots.
Finally, it is worth noting that Sedgefield is also a great “third-shot golf course” (or, for most of us, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, etc.-shot). The tricky undulations on these Ross green complexes are absolutely stunning and follow no distinct pattern. On some holes, the player may encounter classic templates like the Biarritz-esqe 2nd. On others, the challenge manifest in terraces, such as those found at the 18th. Features such as the wildly fun thumbprint at the short par three 16th are too underemployed in the game today. This simple green design is nearly impossible to navigate, yet it adds incredible strategic interest to an otherwise straightforward hole.
Played from the proper set of tees, Sedgefield Country Club provides a difficult, but fair test of golf. With such delightfully contoured fairways, strategic bunkering, and knobbed green complexes, no two rounds will play identically at Sedgefield. It is undoubtedly among the finest Ross designs in North Carolina.
Terrific PGA Tour site. A Ross gem. Not too long these days but a good test for the average golfer.
The course is currently hosting the Wyndham Championship on the PGA tour and it is a fine layout. There is quite a bit more elevation change than you can appreciate on television but the course flowed very well through the gentle hills. The dominant characteristic of the course, however, are the magnificent greens. The greens are well designed with interesting slopes and when I played last month they were in absolute perfect condition. Most of the holes are well designed and represent classic Ross Design elements, especially with the bunkering. I wasn’t a big fan of the par 4 6th because of the creek that transversely crosses the fairway right in the driving area. 18 was also an awkward hole that leaves you with a steeply sloping approach to an uphill green. Overall I enjoyed the course and I think it may be better than a few of the courses above it on the state rankings. Definitely worth taking a day trip to play or worth playing while you are in the area.
Sedgefield is said to be in the top 15 favorite courses on the PGA tour when ranked by tour players. As a member of the club, I can attest to this assessment. This superbly conditioned 1926 Donald Ross design is a golf course that can be played everyday and no walk will ever be the same. It features classic Ross elements; visually intimidating but playable tee and approach shots and diabolically fast contoured greens. There is not one hole on the course that is a let down. Each of the 11- 4 pars is memorable with a mix of challenging and attack-able holes. The par 5's can all be reached in two by long hitters but birdie is never a certain. The par 3's feature two shorter holes with opportunities for a 2 and two long holes with opportunity for a 5. There is a premium on keeping the ball below the hole.
I would love to hear what other Top 100 members have to say seeing there is only one other review of my club on here. If you desire to play PGA tour stops, I would strongly recommend putting this wonderfully restored Donald Ross gem on your short list.
One of my rating shortcuts is that courses one sees on television tend to be overrated. (Another is that the quality of a course is in inverse proportion to the size of the scorecard……but that’s a matter for a different day.) Sedgefield is the exception that proves the first rule. One might wonder how interesting a course might be that regularly posts one of the lowest winning scores on the PGA Tour. Course architect Kris Spence cites one reason: the Tour does not use the most challenging hole locations. In fact, they’ve been after the club to flatten out some of Donald Ross’s lovely contours. Fortunate for those who get to play here is the fact that Sedgefield and Spence have resisted.
Ross’s (and Spence’s) fine work is visible right out of the gate. Visible from the first tee are two bunkers that seem to provide little landing area for the tee shot. It’s only when one gets to the fairway that it’s clear that one of those bunkers is near the green. There’s visual challenge on the second hole as well where a sea of bunkers obscures a generous fairway and yet still asks the player to determine how much of the dogleg (s)he wants to take on. This line of charm continues throughout the round. My favorite is # 7 where Ross reprised his work at the 6th hole at Essex. A creek bisects the fairway at an angle, allowing the golfer to determine how far left to try and carry it…..or to lay up.
I’ve played sixteen of the courses on the 2017-8 PGA Tour schedule and Sedgefield is easily in my top third.