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Kris Spence

One cannot delve into the realm of golf course architecture and design without coming across the revered name of Kris Spence. Hailing from a humble background, Spence has risen through the ranks to become one of the most acknowledged golf course designers, demonstrating a unique touch in restoring and renovating classic courses.

Before diving deep into his quintessential architectural implementations, it’s essential to appreciate the path that led Kris Spence to his current prominence. Initially, a self-employed landscape contractor, Spence’s love for golf and the design intrigue drew him towards a golf course in Greensboro in North Carolina. His fascination for the landscape, topography, and the rhythm of golf gameplay led to a gradual transition from landscape contracting to restoration and remodeling of golf courses—a seamless harmonization of Spence’s innate aesthetic sense and his deep-rooted passion for golf.

Kris Spence’s design philosophy hinges on preserving the traditional features of classical courses while enhancing their practicality with modern standards. Believing in the mantra that “form follows function,” his goal is to assure functional golf design that balances aesthetics and playability, tapping into the element of strategy. Pundits of golf architecture laud him for his prowess in accurately restoring vintage course elements while infusing new life via strategic implementations.

While Spence’s work could be found sprinkled across the United States, his masterpieces of restoration are predominantly located in North Carolina. His most prominent work includes the restoration of the “Sedgefield Country Club,” which dates back to 1925. Kris Spence’s work on its renovation is now considered a gold standard in golf course restoration—salvaging its original charm and character while elevating the overall playing experience. Spence has also breathed new life into Donald Ross’s creations such as the Roaring Gap Club, highlighting his ability to maintain authenticity and historical essence in his alterations.

Spence’s contribution to new golf course designs pales in comparison to his restoration work– a testament primarily to his unwavering commitment to restoring historic golf antiquities. However, his one original design, The Club at Stoney Creek, showcases his architectural prowess. Although short in length, this course is laden with strategic challenge and aesthetic beauty with elements of old classical courses, reflecting Spence’s design philosophy.

One of his emerging contributions is a novel concept he coined as “Golden Age Masterplan,” where he combines a comprehensive restoration plan targeting every green, tee, fairway, and bunker with infrastructure improvements for the entire course. These improvements encapsulate tree management, irrigation upgrades, and drainage enhancements. Rolling out this plan at protective clubs like Roaring Gap, Mimosa Hills, and Sedgefield demonstrated the practical application of his unique approach targeting the long-term sustainability of golfing facilities.

Spence’s work does not merely revolve around shovel and dirt; instead, it brings the past, present, and future of golf together in harmony. Each of his projects underlines the respect for the history and origin of the course, an understanding of contemporary trends and expectations, and a vision for the course’s sustainable and viable future. His restoration aims to recover the lost traces of classical golf artistry while effectively accommodating the modern golfer’s demands.

With the ability to blend traditional elegance and modern innovation, Kris Spence has become a torchbearer in the realm of golf course design and restoration. His work embodies the respect for the historical lineage of golf, demonstrating an art that goes beyond the boundaries of the playing field. In each of his projects, one can perceive a story unfolding, celebrating the past’s glory and embracing the future’s promise.

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