One of the most exclusive clubs in the world, Seminole has done its best over the past 88 years to guard its privacy, keeping its highly esteemed Donald Ross course a secret except to the fortunate few. Now, however, it’s ready to share a bit, having accepted an invitation from the USGA to host the Walker Cup.
That won’t happen until 2021, but in the interest of making a strong first impression, the club has commissioned an extensive course renovation by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, to be completed over three summers (when the doors are closed even to members).
Ross’s Seminole is widely regarded as the best of his nearly 400 designs. On a generally unremarkable site—a square of sandy flatland sandwiched between a pair of dune ridges, one barricading the Atlantic, the other half a mile inland—he created two nine-hole loops that brought the dunes in play on 14 holes while constantly changing the thrust of the sea breeze. Stern yet artful green complexes combined flash-faced bunkers with Ross’s trademark inverted-saucer greens.
Over the years, however, much of that character had been sacrificed to the vagaries of Mother Nature and uneven maintenance—bunkers grew in, trees and vegetation encroached. With their first summer of work complete, Coore and Crenshaw have already made a strong statement, removing hundreds of pines, palms, and palmettos to open up vistas and create dramatic sandy areas between holes, much as they did at Pinehurst No. 2. Ultimately, their remit is to add 250 yards to the back tees while restoring the overall look to something that would make Donald Ross smile with recognition. That’s the Seminole that will greet the Walker Cuppers and the world.