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.”
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.