This sign is perhaps the most unusual sign I’ve ever encountered on a golf course and I found it at the Tot Hill Farm Golf Club west of Pinehurst in Asheboro, North Carolina.
You might have thought that they knew I was coming. Seriously, when a golf course has a sign that completely disregards the Rules of Golf, something is amiss with the design.
Tot Hill Farm is a very striking design by the late talented Mike Strantz on a dramatically beautiful piece of property. While I admire his work particularly at Tobacco Road, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, he really got carried away here. You will find all sorts of odd-ball challenges and weird shapes and angles at this very scenic layout, one that “Golf Digest” once rated the 7th toughest golf course in the US – quite a ranking for a public-access layout.
Anyway, the layout is “Strantz on Steroids” or something over-the-edge. While it is a layout that a few do love, it is simply too difficult for most, and even advanced players will tire of this as a steady diet. That said, Tot Hill Farm is a course that everyone should want to play once for its unique challenge and beauty. It’s really fun if you don’t take your golf seriously.
I met and talked with Mike before he died from throat cancer, but I had not yet played Tot Hill Farm. I would have loved to have asked him about his intentions with Tot Hill Farm. Was he instructed to build an “extreme” golf course or was the final product his idea?
Fagan Rating: C. Tot Hill Farm is a course of extremes that with its location and design will continue to struggle as a sustainable golf course. I liked it, but most people will lose too many balls and take too many strokes to want to be regular customers. While it succeeds admirably on some accounts, it fails badly on others, hence its “average” grade. That said, Tot Hill Farm is anything but an average golf course!