While it will be the same Wilmington Municipal Golf Course golfers have grown to love during the last 90 years, they will be reintroduced to an enhanced course, true to the nature of the original Donald Ross design, in October 2014.
For those passing by the course on Pine Grove Drive, the final results of the $1.2 million renovation project are beginning to show with 32 truckloads of sod laid and 12 acres of sprigged grass nearly complete.
The greens and surrounding areas of the old Muni that often appeared bland and flat have been transformed into the undulating, complex greens and approaches that are a staple of Ross’ designs.
Wilmington Municipal Golf Course head professional David Donovan said the greens will be quick and the surrounding areas of Bermuda grass will be mown to fairway height. The result will be larger but more challenging greens with wayward approach shots funneling off into collection areas. Donovan also said many of the greens have been raised, like hole No. 17, now standing around 3 feet higher.
The only green that was physically moved is hole No. 3, now lying 10 yards closer and 10 yards to the left of where it was. Donovan said that green was relocated to move it away from the trees and backyards that were very close to the previous design.
Incorporated into those higher green elevations are the greenside bunkers, many of which have been reshaped and realigned to better guard the greens. On the par five No. 9, instead of lying inside the approach, the greenside bunker on the right is cut into the green’s front elevation.
“That used to be a gimme par five,” Donovan said. “Not any more.”
In addition to the work completed around the greens, the subcontractor Duininck Golf and City of Wilmington crews have completed work on 25 tee boxes on the course. That number includes seven new back tee locations on holes No. 3,4,5,9,13,15 and 16; and 18 realigned or relocated senior and women’s tees.
When they are used, Donovan said the new back tee boxes would lengthen the course by around 200 yards.
With Duininck’s work scheduled to complete July 31 and play expected to begin the beginning of October, Donovan said he is excited to unveil the new Muni.
“It is just cool to have a true Donald Ross course now because we didn’t have that before, we just had a Donald Ross layout,” Donovan said. “People have always wanted to play here, don’t get me wrong, but this just brings the golf course to another category.”