Sandhills Pours Double Dose

They came from across the Eastern states and even the Midwest on a crisp morning in October 2023, these aficionados of the golf course artistry of Mike Strantz.
The venue was Tot Hill Farm, the course outside Asheboro, North Carolina, cobbled a quarter of a century earlier from the foothills of the Uwharrie National Forest and just reopened after an ownership change and major renovation.

An Artist in the Dirt

Tom Fazio was working at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, in the mid-1970s on some course renovations leading up to the 1979 U.S. Open when he noticed an ambitious and talented member of the course maintenance staff named Mike Strantz.

“Mike developed a close friendship with Andy Banfield of our staff,” Fazio remembers. “He was a talented artist and drew sketches of golf holes. He showed a real desire to get into golf course design. He liked us and we liked him. After the Inverness project was finished, we offered him a job working for us.”

Act Two for Tot Hill Farm

If Mike Strantz hadn’t died from tongue cancer in 2005 at the young age of 50, would he ever have made it to Pinehurst proper to design a golf course?

We’ll never know, of course, but at least 25 percent of his remarkable but all too limited design portfolio was built within 45 miles of the Village of Pinehurst.

Twenty-five miles to the northeast is Tobacco Road in Sanford, which opened in 1998 with craggy edges, blind shots and dramatic ups and downs whittled from the site of an old sand quarry.