Springfield Golf Club: York County's

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

FORT MILL, SC – Head professional Mike Bartholomew and first assistant Len Wisniewski thought they had a window of opportunity.

As the ranking officials of York County's newest daily-fee golf course - Springfield Golf Club - it was their personal responsibility to take advantage of the rare, 70-degree February day for a quick round on the course's recently opened back nine.

Unfortunately, this same logic appealed to a number of hooky-happy golfers from Rock Hill to Charlotte. Before they could escape out the back door, dozens of Monday-defying duffers piled into the pro shop, looking to take a shot at North Carolina native Clyde Johnston's newest layout.

"We can't get upset," said Wisniewski to Bartholomew. "This is exactly what we hoped would happen."

The onslaught of players came as a welcome relief after Springfield opened its doors to the public last Thursday, only to find a heaping helping of freezing rain pelting the course's lush rye overseeded fairways.

Variable Carolina winter weather aside, Springfield is gearing up for the 2001 golf season.

As of Feb. 22, the back nine is officially open for play, and the front nine is scheduled to open the first week of April. While opening the nines separately seems slightly unorthodox, Bartholomew believes it should work to Springfield's advantage.

"We didn't think there was a need to wait until the entire course was ready," he said. "They are only going to open five weeks apart, so this gives us some time to work out some of the kinks operationally and get our personnel ready."

In the meantime, local area golfers can expect to find nine holes of pure Johnston-designed golf course, replete with elevated tee boxes, green complexes with forgiving collection areas, and generous fairway landing areas.

"I think the thing that marks this as a Clyde Johnston-designed course are his green complexes," Bartholomew said about the Hilton Head-based landscape architect who studied under the venerable Willard Byrd.

"He gives you 18 unique greens and does a great job of shaping around each green. This gives you a variety of short shots to play, and makes the course interesting."

Springfield weighs in at a respectable 6,923 yards from the back tees, but the course has no intention of beating up on the average golfer, according to Bartholomew. The course features five sets of tees that should make it a playable track for golfers of all skill levels, and there are only 44 bunkers on the entire course to negotiate.

"It will be a moderately difficult course," Bartholomew said. "It won't be considered a top challenge of golf in the area. But I don't want it to be difficult, and I don't think most players do either."

Maybe not a top challenge, but in all likelihood a top alternative for high end daily fee golf.

Springfield is located just a chip shot south of the popular Regent Park Golf Club on U.S. 21 Business - a proximity that could be quite intimidating for the average golf course.

But Bartholomew believes that when his course hits its stride later this summer, it should be able to hold its own with any of the top layouts in the area.

"We hope to be considered as one of the top three or four courses in the area," he said. "Charlotte included. That is primarily because of the design. Clyde won most of the battles with the developers on this golf course, and that is rare. The course is laid out over the land with no deference to where houses will be in the future."

Nine-hole greens fees are $22 Monday through Thursday, and $29 Friday through Sunday. Eighteen-hole rates are $29 Monday through Thursday and $39 Friday through Sunday. When the entire course is operational, 18-hole rates will rise to $38 during the week and $49 on the weekends.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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