The fully restored Royal New Kent Golf Club, in New Kent, Va., continue to pour in more than a year following its re-opening. This time, the outstanding Mike Strantz design, joins the medal stand with two courses currently hosting PGA Tour events, as Golf Inc. magazine announced its 2020 Renovation of Year honorees.
Golf Inc. runs the annual contest to highlight architects and contractors who have transformed aging courses, making them more playable, eye-catching and efficient. The 2020 scoring system focused on how each project achieved its stated goals, the level of improvement in playability and maintainability, and course aesthetics.
Along with Royal New Kent, the public course honorees are the Plantation Course at Sea Island, Ga., and the Plantation Course at Kapalua on Maui. The private courses honored are TPC Sugarloaf near Atlanta, La Jolla (Calif.) Country Club and Renegade at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Royal New Kent became the toast of the golf world in 1997, when architect Strantz’s masterpiece originally debuted. Now, numerous golfers from across the country are travelling to New Kent, Va. — midway between Richmond and Williamsburg — to play the layout, which was renovated by its ownership company, Wingfield Golf Management.
Larger than life in areas, Royal New Kent is sprinkled with Irish seasoning. Strantz paid tribute to the fabled seaside links of the Emerald Isle, with an emphasis on the character and feel of two of his favorites – Royal County Down and Ballybunion. Along with Tobacco Road near Pinehurst, N.C., Royal New Kent stands as Strantz’ finest work in a life cut short by cancer at the age 50 in 2005.
In mid-2018, after Wingfield Golf Management purchased Royal New Kent, the Greenville, S.C.-based firm immediately began performing a total overhaul on the entire golf complex with three primary objectives: restore the course to the original Strantz design vision; make the course manageable and maintain first-class playing conditions; and provide an Irish golf experience without the overseas travel and time expenses.
During the restoration, Royal New Kent’s green complexes were converted from bentgrass to the more heat-tolerant Champion Bermuda. Wingfield Golf trucked in 2,300 tons of new sand to reconstruct the Royal New Kent bunkers, making the golf course more playable and easier to maintain. The upgrades to the irrigation system include a new pump station, and all 120 inlets were rebuilt for better drainage. Meanwhile, substantial clubhouse upgrades were also performed.
Feature Photo: Royal New Kent (Wingfield Golf)