Saturday, October 04, 2008

Foster Channels ANGC at Wilmington South

Keith Foster, certainly an architect to watch - easily one of the more creative of the newer crop of practicing architects - was hired by Wilmington C.C. to update, lengthen, strengthen and modernize the fabled South Course at WCC. It came out man-sized.

Now playing a million yards whilst wet even from the second set of tees it is long and hard with the "Right out there in front of you" mantra at work. I'm not so sure that RTJ's motto of "hard par easy bogey" still applies, sometimes it hard bogey easy triple if you're not on top of it.

unusual bunker spotted on ten

In actuality the newest card from the back tees is a stout 7334 yards and par 71. There's plenty enough length for the bomber in the crowd. The 6721 under no-roll conditions played at about 7000 as a number of holes have uphill approaches and drives. The routing is very luxurious, some might even say a bit wasteful in that there are great separations of the hole corridors. It easily comes to mind that grandstands and the like would fit in just nicely.

Black 7334 (71) 75.7 137
Blue 6721 (71) 72.2 133
White 6366 (71) 70.6 129
Green 5411 (72) 72.0 131

The story goes that RTJ was contracted to create a 36-hole complex, but used so much of the property for the South that he was let go and Dick Wilson was called in to craft the wonderfully charming 6300 yard beauty of the North Course. It is my architecturally favorite course of the two. Test of golf, fairness, stroke play major-ready tomorrow on short notice? South is your course.

When I say luxurious routing, there are great separations and corridors for traffic flow as one would want for a big event. The North is fall off the green onto the next tee; on South one must be careful to not fall into the rough and water.
Tough fifth (475)

Of note the lovely fourth at South channels very strongly the 16th at ANGC, and the bunkering schema also greatly evokes The home of The Masters® as well.

The greens are enormous with some greens (such as the par 3 seventh) yielding perhaps 20 pinnable locations. The back of the green being so large and subtly contoured that I think even though the bunkers up front are scary and create interesting curvy putts, some of the most difficult pins on this green must be 4-7 paces from the back edge somewhere across the enormous back shelf of this green.

Driving accuracy is a must with flanking bunkers and narrow (down to 21 paces across the brow of the par 5 [632-585] third) fairways. Fronted by a pond and playing downhill from the brow it is a very demanding hole, but to me the other two fives are more interesting.

approach to three from 21 paces wide fairway

The fourteenth has a carry bunker on the right side of a dog-leg to the right with real strategic gain in carrying it.

Then one is faced with an uphill shot to a very interesting complex with a completely blind green surface that one must have experience in hitting to even with a wedge or nine as it is so enormous that pulling the correct stick will take some serious commitment to get close.
second on fourteen

Sixteen is visually stunning and front pins not properly approached will just scream back down the hill in front. A lovely elevated tee shot begins this hole.

The par threes are stout with a range of 170 to 240 (over water!) yielding little relief there.


long 17th

Most par 4's are big and bigger with uphill in play seemingly every time.

The 496 yard ninth tops the card with the lovely and most strategic eleventh the shortest (360-336-318-274).

That last statistic brings to the fore the fact that the card only presents four tee sets - not the ideal two or three but an improvement for such a beast from the five or six routinely seen.

Wilmington, Delaware, the great unsung golf centre that it is now has its biggest beast back in play.

A few extra views:

Ten Tee

long 18th

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