Golf News

Restored Tot Hill Farm in N.C. offers unique Mike Strantz thrill ride

Tot Hill Farm

Quirky. Unusual. Remarkable. Bizarre. Artistic. Surreal. Unorthodox. Wild. Weird. Polarizing. Unique.

All those descriptions and plenty more have been used in recent decades to describe the golf courses designed by the late Mike Strantz, whose layouts might best be described as fun for players looking for something completely different, classical orthodoxy be damned.

Having sharpened his pencil as a design associate to Tom Fazio, Strantz created or renovated only nine courses that bear his name as lead designer, most of them in his native Carolinas or nearby Virginia. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 50, a victim of cancer. A hands-on designer, he would spend weeks walking sites or exploring on horseback with a can of spray paint to mark features he either wanted to incorporate or build into the landscape.

Trained in studio art, Strantz would hand-sketch in great detail each hole of a course before it was built, then lead his team of shapers in making his art come to life. Those golf holes often include nearly impossible-to-reach hole locations, wild bunkering, extreme greens, eye-popping mounding and dramatic slopes – all elements beloved by a growing cadre of adventure-seeking golfers.

Tot Hill Farm

Mike Strantz’s detailed sketches of the holes at Tot Hill Farm now decorate the new clubhouse, a refurbished farm house that replaced a trailer that was the previous clubhouse. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

Imagine their despair when one of Strantz’s courses falls into disrepair, as happened with several of his layouts, especially in the wake of an industry-wide financial struggle starting in 2008.

Tot Hill Farm Golf Club in Asheboro, North Carolina, is one such example, having opened in 2000 but its former operators lacking the revenues to maintain and present the course as Strantz intended. Trees choked out fairways and strategic lines, bunker edges crumbled and playing surfaces suffered in recent years.

But that all started to change early in 2022 when native South Carolinian Pat Barber bought the course and amenities. Already the owner of two courses nearer the coast in the state – The Links at Stono Ferry and The Plantation Course at Edisto –  Barber recognized an opportunity to restore Tot Hill Farm as acclaim for Strantz’s designs continues to grow, especially with the increasing popularity of the nearby Strantz-designed Tobacco Road.

“Working with the course itself, the overall natural beauty, that really attracted us to the property,” said…


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