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Saturday, February 26, 2005

TOUR JOURNAL VOL. 2 - DAN MAPLES AND THE PIT PT. 1

THE PIT GOLF LINKS
State Hwy 5
Pinehurst, NC 28370
800.574.golf
www.pitgolf.com
www.maplesgolf.com

Architect: Dan Maples
Par – 71/72
Excitement Level – 8/12
Difficulty – 5/12
Conditioning – Three stars
Cost - $45, excellent packages available
Yearly memberships – No
Value – Three stars

Tees Yards Rating Slope

Screw 6600 71.8 133
Spike 6138 69.9 123
Half Rail Anchor 5690 68.0/71.0 115/125
Rail Anchor 4759 68.0 115

Dan Maples smiles warmly and his eyes twinkle as he takes a bite of his ribeye au poivre in the Golf Club at Longleaf grill room. “Heck, Donald Ross tinkered with No. 2 his while life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to own the course and run the course. I can tweak it till I get it just right.” Maples is right – it is rare for a designer to get the chance to have any input whatsoever after handing the course over to the owner. Indeed, many designers have produced wonderful designs only to watch in horror as course owners, real estate developers or even public golf commissions presume to sign the Mona Lisa with a spray can and call it art. (Just look at High Pointe in Michigan for a cautionary tale). Luckily, Dan Maples did not have that problem at the Pit. Buying and owning the land, rallying friends and colleagues to be the investors and living a drive and a chip from the clubhouse give new meaning to the words “home course.”

In this case, Maples’ Ross-esque tinkering has produced a course which is not merely competitive, but revered. Even more remarkable, he did it in an area dominated by Pinehurst and Donald Ross, two names at the bedrock foundation of American public golf. In a way it is fitting. Dan’s grandfather was Ross’ shaper. Dan's father, Ellis maples designed Pinehurst No. 5 and was a pro in North Carolina. Maples used to doodle golf holes when daydreaming in grammar school. “I remember one day my mom pulled out a crayon drawing of a golf course layout I did when I was seven” he laughs with a sincere, folksy charm. “It had everything, greens, fairways, bunkers, I mean it had the works.”

Nevertheless, Maples did not figure out his path until college when he selected the University of Georgia for its excellent landscape architecture program. Since then, in a manner true to the diligence and adaptability necessary in running a family business in a hyper-competitive industry, Maples has worn many golf hats. Designer, club pro, teaching pro, long driving champion, even multiple winner of the national Golf Course Architect’s tournament, Maples has done it all. But in his case, it’s jack of all trades, master of all trades. Maples is celebrated as one of the greatest architects of the living generation. “Dan Maples is a living legend” said Fox Sports Broadcaster Steve Czaban, a long time Virginian. In fact three living generations can claim to have spent many vacations and leisure hours cherishing his courses. Marsh Harbour, Oyster Bay, Sea Trail, The Pit, Man-O-War, The Witch, The Wizard, Longleaf, Cherokee in Tennessee, Dunegrass in timeless Old Orchard Bay, Maine – the list reads like a who’s who of great, affordable and celebrated public courses. More than a dozen Myrtle Beach courses alone bear Maples name and, for many years, formed the backbone of the region’s packages.

Although Maples believes in a classic philosophy of design, (“I like people to see the landing area, see the greens,” he says) there was much about The Pit that was against the grain, indeed rebellious when it opened in 1985. While we now take expansive waste bunkering for granted, Maples’ occasional uses at The Pit drew more than a few raised eyebrows. Three heroic carries in a row at the course’s version of “Amen Corner,” ironically at 11, 12 and 13, riled some, inspired others. Nevertheless, you can’t throw a paper airplane made from a tobacco leaf in N.C. without hitting someone who recalls their experience at The Pit with a smile and who recounts at least one train wreck somewhere with its grassy corridors.

Tomorrow:

More on Dan Maples and The Pit

3 Comments:

Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:27 PM  
Blogger A WALK IN THE PARK said...

heroic mens ll or nothing erik...sink or swim...

6:23 PM  
Blogger photonancy said...

sign the mona lisa with a spray can and call it art!?! LOL! You definitely have a way with words;)

2:19 PM  

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