The old Donald Ross design at Wilmington Municipal Golf Course has been stretched down the years to 6,784 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 71. John Fought rejuvenated Wilmington’s greensites and drainage in 2015.
Local residents are blessed to have such an affordable Ross gem sitting right in the middle of town at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Club.
In fact, for its size, Wilmington is fortunate to have two great historical Ross courses in Wilmington Municipal and Cape Fear Country Club. Most literature I have reviewed suggests that ‘experts’ feel WMGC is stronger than CFCC. Personally, I feel each has individual strengths and that in both cases, Ross’ routing expertise shines through.
The topography of the WMGC site is hillier and far more compelling than the land at CFCC, and for that reason, I think the best holes at WMGC are stronger than the best holes at CFCC, though I slightly prefer the overall package at CFCC.
For me, the most memorable stretch at WMGC is early in the round from holes 2 – 4. The 2nd is a stout par five with a natural creek bisecting the fairway; even with a great drive, going for two is challenging with woods left and OB right. The 3rd is a wild, dog leg par four with massive fairway tilt and a blind tee shot into a valley, and back up to the crest where a perched green awaits. The standout hat-trick ends on a truly excellent, intimidating Ross Volcano on the 4th. Ross’ genius to fit such compelling holes into the edge/corner of this property is marvelous.
Even without playing the course, you can tell you are in for a diverse round when looking at an aerial of WMGC. The holes run in pretty much every direction imaginable, which is important given the breezy coastal conditions. There are greens and tee shots with such fascinating cross bunkering (or no bunkering!) that call for draws, fades, run-ups, aerial shots, and more. Hole lengths vary considerably, and while I did not especially appreciate the 16th’s 260 yard par three tee shot, I was glad to hit every single club in my bag (probably twice!) throughout my round.
The conditions at WMGC are just as they should be – fitting to the natural, sandy environs of this coastal city. Personally, I think the club should adopt even more of the Pinehurst like sandscape and eliminate all rough, since the least well-maintained parts of the course were the last remaining Bermuda rough patches.
I found my greens fee as an out-of-towner to be a little steep for the overall experience. That said, WMGC is worth the stop for a relatively inexpensive Ross gem, and a fun round in an already wonderful seaside community.