BY ERIC MILLINDER
Sunnehanna Country Club officially unveiled its latest course renovations with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday evening.
In an era when most golf courses are being stretched to lengths of more than 8,000 yards to challenge stronger players with high-tech equipment, the membership of Sunnehanna has instead embraced an attitude that honors tradition and history while maintaining a belief that its golf course can be a worthwhile test that calls on a player to exercise strategy, skill and finesse.
The renovations to holes 10 thru 12 unveiled on Friday represent a commitment by Sunnehanna members and staff to restore the course to the vision and design principles of A.W. Tillinghast when it was established in 1923.
Bringing this goal to fruition has been a daunting task faced by general manager Don Zolnosky’s staff and spearheaded by golf course superintendent Ben Little.
Sunnehanna engaged the services of Brian Silva Design Co. of Fernandina Beach, Fla. to create a long-range plan for renovations.
A massive expanse of pine trees has been removed from the right side of the par 4 12th. Players also will notice a fairway bunker that has been added on the right side. The left-side fairway bunker has been moved closer to the green and more into the landing area of tee shots. The green also has been expanded back to its original area and the approach returned to its rectangular shape.
On the dogleg par 5 11th, trees have been thinned on the right corner while a grass bunker on the right has been restored to a sand bunker. The angle of the fairway been shifted and bunkering at the green restored to serve Tillinghast’s original intention.
The green has also been expanded, which will offer a greater variety of potential pin positions.
The par 3 10th hole was the most involved of the renovation project. Long a troublesome task to keep healthy because of its location on the property, the 10th green has been expanded and replaced with bent grass. The gaping bunker fronting the green has been replaced with grass.
Little pointed out that the move to bent grass makes the green much healthier while still affording the same feel to a player. The expanded green will afford some new challenging pin locations.
Sunnehanna Amateur co-chairman Jim Hargreaves is excited by the renovations and hopes the restoration project will keep rolling.
“The Sunnehanna Amateur committee is very supportive of the long-range plan,” Hargreaves said. “Ben Little is doing an outstanding job and the condition of the course not just for the tournament but every day are the best I have seen in years.
“Entering our 60th year of the tournament, I think Sunnehanna proves a course can be a challenging test through design and not just by adding length.
“My hope is this renovation will build momentum for us to complete the other fifteen holes.”