Tot Hill Farm Golf Club – “A Round Without A Ricochet Is A Major Accomplishment”.

I’ve said this before but a great aspect in driving between PGA Tour events is being able to travel at your own pace.

If driving and you’re in a hurry, then there’s the Interstates.  In contrast, if you’re not in a hurry it’s a mixture of the Interstates and also the ‘back roads’.

The back roads, as I like to call them, are the state roads that lead to all sorts of meetings and adventures, and if you have the golf clubs like I would also be assured to pack, then you come across some great golf courses.

A lot of my US golf course articles have been on this theme, so now to add another.

On this day in August, 2017 we were on a leisurly drive from the PGA Championship in Quail Hollow, on the outskirts of Charlotte, and exploring the countryside ahead of being present at the Wyndham Championship at Greensboro and also in North Carolina.

Somehow found ourselves on the outskirts of Asheboro and on North Carolina state road 49, and arriving at Tot Hill Farm.

First impression in stepping out of our Florida registered Jeep rental was: “Woh! What a golf course!”

It was the exactly opposite to the Sunshine State – hilly, very hilly, featuring playing long tee shots to the downhill holes, the opposite playing any uphill holes, plenty of timber either side of the fairways, serene-looking mountain streams and just natural beauty.

Straightaway I felt a quiteness, as here’s a golf course where it’s just nature and the surrounds.

Tot Hill Farm is a relatively young course, opened in 2000 so it’s now just a year away from a 25th anniversary.

The course was designed by the late Mike Strantz, who tragically passed away, aged just 50, and five years after Tot Hill Farm’s official opening for play on May 12th, 2005.

Strantz began his career working on the grounds crew at Inverness Club in Toledo where Tom Fazio was preparing the course for the 1979 U.S. Open. Fazio noticed that Strantz had a gift for the work and was invited to join his construction crew in Hilton Head, South Carolina on Moss Creek Plantation.

Strantz continued to work for eight additional years as an on-site designer for Fazio’s Links and Harbour courses at Wild Dunes near Charleston, Lake Nona, Wade Hampton Club, Osprey Point on Kiawah Island and Black Diamond Ranch in Florida among others.

In 1987, he left Fazio’s company to oversee the reconstruction of Wild Dunes and for the construction of Dunes West in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Upon completion of Dunes West, Strantz was hired by Myrtle Beach’s Legends Group as Director of Golf Design for their Parkland course.

He formed his own design company, Michael Strantz Studios in 1988 where he was free to apply his own design philosophies to forthcoming projects. His first solo project was Caledonia Golf and Fish Club on Pawleys Island, South Carolina in 1993.

Strantz’s last project before his death from cancer was the renovation of Monterey Peninsula CC. Among his acknowlegements include being listed as one of the ”Top-10 Greatest Golf Architects of All Time” by Golfweek in 2000. The certificate is signed by the magazine’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Tarde a member of both the Golf Writers Association and also the Association of Golf Writers (AGW) – your editor being Secretary of the AGW (July 2014-July 2024).

Three of his courses were listed in the top-20 of Golf Digest’s 2007 awards list of the 50 toughest golf courses in the US. Hereunder is a framed reminder of Tot Hill Farm’s award.

Image – GolfByTourMiss

Strantz was just attaining to that level of prestige when he passed away, and with Tot Hill Farm a relatively low-budget design on a central North Carolina property that was too rugged and rocky to yield a Tobacco Road-level course.

Strantz used what he had to shape some of his wildest greens, working around the site’s obstacles the best he could.

As one article featuring Dot Hill Farm wrote the course is a staggered mix of daring, often outrageous holes (the par-3 13th) dotted with moments of sublime brilliance like the par-5 eighth and the par-4 17th.

Indeed, Golf Digest named the third hole, a downhill par 3 with a green wrapped around a rock outcropping, the best third hole built in the U.S. since 2000.

The 3rd hole, Tot Hill Farm (photo by Ryan Barnett)

Another view of the 3rd hole at Tot Hill Farm – Image Tot Hill Farm GC

There’s six tees at Tot Hill Farm starting with the ‘Maverick’ or Black tees, the ‘Srantz’ or Silver tees, the ‘Fezler’ and playing off the White tees, the ‘Lil’ Man’ Gold tees while the ladies have both a ‘Women’s White and ‘Women’s Gold’.

And you gotta luv some the names on the holes:  1st hole ‘Imagination’ a downhill par-4 at 423-yards off the Strantz tees, ‘Fairway to Heaven’ and the first of five par-5s at 478-yards and then there’s ‘Easy Does It’, and the 140-yard sixth hole and the second also of five par-3s.

Heading into the back nine there’s ‘Great Wall’ and the 358-yard par-4 10th while the 141-yard par-3 13th is named ‘Strantz’s Backyard’.  You have ‘Waterfall’ and the name of the 139-yard par-3 15th while the par-5 16th, and playing at 485-yards is named ‘Betty McGee’, and who I understand was the name of the wife of the first major of Asheboro.

GolfByTourMiss has written previously about Tot Hill Farm so please, and if you have time, click on:

Anyway, it’s great to again to write about Tot Hill Farm and hereunder in a selection of course photographs is why I enjoyed this golf course so much.

All images, except where mentioned, with thanks to Tot Hill Farm GC.

‘Easy Does It’ an approprite name for the par-3 sixth hole

‘Balfour’s Ridge’ and the view from the back of the green at the par-5 eighth hole – Image GolfByTourMiss 

‘Lil’ Man – The par-4 ninth hole 

‘Mother Nature’ and the par-3 11th hole 

‘Old Dam Hole’ – the short but tricky par-4 12th hole 

‘Strantz’s Back Yard’ – The par-3 13th and a super-looking hole and what Strantz was all about in designing Tot Hill Farm.  Actually, you can just see a portion of his former abode.

The par- 3 15th is named ‘Waterfall’. Again, another hole that captures your attention in many ways.  

‘Betty McGhee’ and the par-5 16th and named after the wife of the first mayor of nearby Asheboro. 

The Road Hole’ – Not quite the same as its namesake and the 17th hole at St. Andrews but the 17th here at Tot Hill Farm is the No. 1 index hole so it is going to seek your closer attention.

The 18th hole at Tot Hill Farm – I’ve used the image off the club’s website, as you can gather, but it shows the final green in all it’s glory.



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