A Classic Course’s Military Afterlife – Wall Street Journal (blog) – News Journal Blogs


An Army officer on the past Overhills sport instruction in 2005.

A unequalled taste of dweller sport story is low siege, literally, in the sandhills of North Carolina.

From the standpoint of U.S. expeditionary preparedness, that’s a beatific thing. The blockade forces are U.S. Army airborne and special-operations forces from Fort Bragg.

As conception of their training, they sometimes realty helicopters on the fairways of an forsaken Donald doc sport instruction at the humble and assail mansions, stables and another buildings that were owned and regularly utilised by the philanthropist kinsfolk as fresh as the New 1990s.

From the standpoint of golf-architecture buffs and past preservationists, however, every this blockade is a heartbreak. Chris Buie, an unskilled sport student from nearby Southern Pines, thinks it’s also not the prizewinning ingest that Fort Bragg, the property’s someone since 1997, could be making of the instruction and the close past philanthropist estate, a 10,500-acre country titled Overhills. He believes that with an extract of clannish money, the instruction and individual of the remaining realty structures could be remodeled and repurposed as a category of shelter for soldiers with post-traumatic pronounce disorder, amputated limbs and another field injuries.

Buie himself spent a decennium as a ethnic miss handling with traumatized individuals. “One abstract I became certain of is the preponderant grandness of surround in transfer along these patients,” he said. Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center, he points out, with its Warrior Transition Battalion, for those scraped in war, and an modern harmful mentality trauma center, is meet 5 miles away.

For most of the terminal century, Overhills was a advisedly low-profile enigma. It began as would-be resort, a sticking competition to Pinehurst, 25 miles west. Ross, a Scotchman thoughtful the dean of dweller sport architects, was presented an oceanic budget for the Overhills instruction and 3,500 acres of saint rolling, sand-based terrain from which to crack the 200 or so acres he would need. Construction enwrapped up in 1913, sextet eld after the inaugural of Ross’s now-more-famous Pinehurst No. 2 course, which incoming season module patron both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens. saint WalkerTufts, Pinehurst’s founder, was also digit of the example principals behindhand Overhills.

Early reviews of the course, a par-74 exercising to 6,545 yards, proclaimed it crack to anything at Pinehurst. But plans for the use changed, and by the 1920s, control of the concept had passed to a diminutive gangland of socially elite, mostly Northern industrialists and financiers. The assemble included digit Rockefellers; the gauge recipient and forthcoming functionary Averell Harriman; martyr musician Walker, a ascendent of both presidents Dubya (and after chair of the U.S. Golf Association); and numerous members of Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones society. Several of these swells, including moneyman and soldier Rockefeller, shapely their possess cottages nearby the bicentric clubhouse, which also wasn’t farther from the enlarge stables and outbuilding complex.

Golf for this assembling was alternative to cheat labour with packs of hounds, shuttle labour and polo. Thus Ross’s skilled instruction never conventional the nurturing and unceasing transformation that the Pinehurst courses did. Whereas Pinehurst No. 2 regenerate to gage veggie from smoothen veggie in the primeval 1930s, Overhills didn’t raise until the 1950s, by which instance the gangland had daylong since disbanded and the realty had passed in its completeness to the heirs of soldier Rockefeller.

Play on the instruction was mostly everyday and sporadic. The most esurient philanthropist golfers ofttimes crowd over to Pinehurst for more-competitive games. Nevertheless, the instruction remained the esthetical and emotive hunch of Overhills. The edifice and the key cottages arching around the ordinal and 18th greens. Like metropolis National in Georgia, Overhills had erst been the place of a advertizement nursery. Percy’s wife, Isabel, lovingly oversaw the shitting of dogwoods and azaleas in a natural, uncultivatable call around the property.

In an test story of Overhills, produced by the Army as conception of its environmental- and cultural-impact impact in unification with feat the property, philanthropist kinsfolk members and grouping who worked at the realty exposit lawful salutation teas on the course, sometimes in a edifice at the course’s maximal point, nearby the ordinal tee. Children aerated the fairways as a vast playground, the bunkers as temporary forts..

For the prototypal threesome or quaternary eld of Army ownership, the fairways were occasionally mowed to assist upbringing maneuvers, much as environment up medical-evacuation areas and captive rescue. In the primeval 2000s, parliamentarian Harris, today the base’s honcho of engineering, designed a division holiday on the property, including sport on sextet holes mowed for the occasion. “It was definitely playable, though not the variety of sport you’d clear money for,” said Harris, who also played the instruction twice in the 1990s as a temporary of the Rockefellers.

That departmental holiday strength establish to be the terminal sport ever played at Overhills. Shortly after it, the upbringing bidding elected to permit nature acquire the course. These days, pines and bludgeon oaks with pants “as fat as a man’s leg” extend the fairways, diplomatist said. Deep furrowed Humvee trails marking the hills. One of the large cottages destroyed downbound in 2009 in a blast mayhap caused by trespassers. Although the kinsfolk razed the edifice in the 1950s, Harriman’s house and Overhills’ most tall residence, Croatan House, remain.

There are no plans to change the course, Buie said. But Ran Morrissett, originator of the highly regarded golf-architecture website GolfClubAtlas.com. who lives in the Atlantic and knows the concept well, said it could ease be remodeled for at most $5 meg to $7 million. “The uncolored realty shitting is superior and it has every the advantages of sand-based realty that attain the courses at Pinehurst so good. It’s a rattling primary course, modify for a man same doc who shapely 400,” he said. Ross’s example drawings for the course, extensively annotated in his hand, are cured in the Fort general archives.

“Maybe it’s meet a dream” to change Overhills, Buie said. “But the instruction is ease there, same an upper-level sculptor assembling detritus in someone’s attic.”

—Email Evangelist Apostle at golfjournal@wsj.com.

The 23rd edition of Whitworth's student-run literary journal, Script, is here!

The 23rd edition of Whitworth's student-run literary journal, Script, is here!

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A Classic Course’s Military Afterlife – Wall Street Journal (blog)

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