Stewart Cink has played a lot of golf courses in a lot of different places. So when he’s impressed with what he sees, that opinion carries a lot of weight.
And when it comes to the Pines layout at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Cink was impressed.
Cink and three other Sugarloaf members made up the first foursome that had a chance to play the renovated course, which will become a part of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in 2019. It was the first chance the 2009 Open champion had to play the course since it was updated.
“It’s fun,” Cink said. “I know a lot of these members. A lot of them will be heckling me. Just to come and see the course and see what the golf course has such potential and what all three nines are going to eventually look like … it’s something the members can be excited about.”
General manager Mike Maloney said, “It took 12 months, but it’s well worth the wait.”
The three members joining Cink were excited. Each raised $500 for the Feed America charity and earned the right to accompany Cink on the first round: Scott Ritchey, Heather Farag and Rogan Powell, a freshman at Greater Atlanta Christian. The money raised by the trio will be used to provide 16,500 meals for hungry people.
“I’m real excited about this,” Powell said before the official ribbon-cutting.
Powell was eager to play with Cink. He was the first to arrive at the tee and when it was his turn, he confidently boomed his tee shot down the fairway. Powell knocked his approach to about six feet from the hole and fearlessly rolled in the birdie putt. That drew a fist bump from Cink and applause from the crowd of about 100 who walked along.
The Pines features resurfaced greens, tees, fairways and rebuilt bunkers. It features zoysia fairways and Bermuda rough, which made quite a contrast on an early fall afternoon.
“I love the way the colors just pop,” Cink said.
Trees were taken down to create some incredible sitelines and to provide better air flow around the greens. The dramatic stacked sod bunkers were built using repurposed artificial turf that will not deteriorate and crumble.
“This turf was repurposed from school yards and ball fields,” Cink said. “I was out there looking around one day and they had pallets and you could still see some of the yard lines in the markings. It’s artificial, so it won’t degrade or fade into dust like turf does. That’s what gives it that dramatic look.”
The Pines renovation is part of three-year club enhancement program that will resurface greens, tees and fairways and rebuild bunkers. A new state-of-the-art irrigation system will be installed for better coverage and turf health.
The renovation has been coordinated to minimize disruption to the members and to the annual Mitsubishi Electric Classic, hosted by the club each April.