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Rock Barn golf course being repaired after flooding

Ron Green Jr.
Correspondent

The good news is the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn will be played Oct. 18-20 in Conover.

Exactly which 18 holes the Champions Tour stars will play, well, that remains undetermined.

Serious flooding July 27 did heavy damage to the championship course at Rock Barn Golf and Spa and the recovery process is ongoing. If everything goes perfectly, all 18 holes on the championship course will be used. Otherwise, it will be necessary to incorporate some holes from the adjacent Jackson course for the popular tournament.

“From what I’ve been told, this was not a 100-year flood. This was a 1,000-year flood,” said Jim Correll, the executive tournament director.

When the flooding occurred, eight greens on the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed championship course were underwater. The water quickly receded but two greens – at Nos. 3 and 5 – were severely damaged. Half of the fifth green was torn away by the flooding.

Also, a bridge on a main road that runs through the course was destroyed, cutting off access to a part of the property. It is also a key artery in handling spectator traffic at the tournament and it will not be completely rebuilt before the tournament is played.

PGA Tour officials were at Rock Barn last week to assess the situation and, Correll said, were confident the tournament can be played in October.

The championship course reopened for play on Saturday though there are temporary greens in place at Nos. 3 and 5.

The original greens on those two holes have been rebuilt and are expected to be ready for the October tournament weekend. The green on the par-3 third hole has been raised nearly five feet to avoid future flooding problems.

The larger issue is likely to be handling spectators and players around the area where the bridge was washed out.

“We’re trying to decide if it would make sense to blend in some holes from the Jackson course,” Correll said. “That will be decided very soon.”

SWING THOUGHTS

•  The First Tee of Charlotte is celebrating another first with Sam Wimbrow’s participation next month in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.

Wimbrow, 17, is the first representative from the First Tee of Charlotte to participate in the Champions Tour event where he will be paired with a pro throughout the tournament. Wimbrow is one of 80 First Tee members from around the country selected to play at Pebble Beach.

•  If I’m U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, I would think seriously about making 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth one of my two at-large picks for the September matches at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Spieth, who lost a playoff to Patrick Reed Sunday at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, plays with a maturity beyond his years. Rather than make a safe pick with a veteran who didn’t automatically earn a spot, Couples should make the bold move of adding Spieth to the roster.

•  The four-event FedEx Cup playoffs begin Thursday with The Barclays at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J. Tiger Woods begins with the biggest lead any player has taken into the season-ending money grab.

For all the talk about what Woods didn’t do this year – win another major – think about what he has done. He’s won five times including two World Golf Championship events and The Players Championship. That makes him player of the year at this point.

•  Trevor Immelman and Ryo Ishikawa have already said they will play the four-event Web.com finals series in an attempt to regain full PGA Tour status next year and many other familiar names are expected to join them. Among the players who lost their full status for the 2013-14 season are Ricky Barnes, Sean O’Hair, Tim Herron, Robert Karlsson, Chad Campbell, D.J. Trahan and Bud Cauley.

That means a strong field for the Chiquita Classic, the second Web.com finals event, Sept. 5-8.

The top 75 players on the Web.com money list qualify for the finals series but Charlotte’s Corey Nagy is 96th on the list despite a season-best tie for 10th last week in Knoxville, Tenn.

•  It wasn’t a good weekend for the American team in its blowout loss to the European team in the Solheim Cup. Imagine had the Americans faced an international team that included players from Japan and South Korea, which has nine of the top 17 players in the world rankings.

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Ron Green Jr. is senior writer for Global Golf Post ( www.globalgolfpost.com) and a contributor to the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at rongreenjr@gmail.com
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