When Jeff Avant was hired as the head golf professional at Monroe’s Rolling Hills Country Club in July 2005, he said the club was already in deep discussions about converting its greens.
Those talks intensified over the next few years, Avant said, with the club forming a committee that visited multiple courses in the area that had switched their greens to bent grass or Ultra Dwarf Bermudagrass. But when it came to financials, Rolling Hills decided the assessment to members would be too much.
The deliberations didn’t stop. And after bermudagrass started encroaching on the course’s bent grass greens, Rolling Hills finally opted to make a change in the spring of 2015.
“A couple of summers ago, you could really start to see that bermuda coming in,” Avant said, “and we said, ‘Look, we’ve got to do something. We don’t know how much longer the golf course can stand it. If we’re going to grow the club, this is something we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to invest in this.’”
Avant said a research team was created and architects brought in. A short-game practice area was built just before then and MiniVerde Bermudagrass applied so the maintenance staff could see how it would react.
Ultimately, Avant said the course closed on April 18, 2016. Kris Spence Golf Design then came in, and on Sept. 1, 2016 – almost 11 years after Avant joined Rolling Hills – the club reopened and debuted its new TifEagle Bermudagrass greens.
“I think compared to what we had it’s no comparison, the quality or condition,” Avant said. “I think, really, the way they have come in the first year, how good they’ve been and the remarks we’ve had has been really encouraging.”
Perhaps an even greater development since the renovation has been the increase in guest rounds, which Avant said were previously declining.
“That number has jumped up significantly since we’ve reopened,” he said. “That tells me the members now are proud of the golf course, whereas before it was like … they didn’t even want to bring people out there.
“That, to me, is the biggest thing, that the members are much more excited about it and willing to bring people out and kind of show it off to everybody.”
Another feature that came about during Rolling Hills’ renovation was enhanced forward tees.
According to the North Carolina Golf Panel’s 2017 course rankings, Rolling Hills came in at No. 5 among the Charlotte metro area’s “Best Courses for Senior Women.” However, Avant said the panel visited the course before the forward tees were installed, making the course even more player-friendly and adding value to the ladies and junior golf programs.
“It’s been one thing to really help those ladies, our beginner ladies and our senior ladies,” said Avant of the forward tees. “And I’m even going to use those for some of our juniors as kind of an intermediate as they get bigger and stronger, and move them from the juniors tees we play out there instead of going straight to our ladies tees.”
Not even a year removed from these changes, Avant said some new projects – such as an extension to the clubhouse to create more dining and casual space, renovations to the ladies’ locker room and enhancements to the driving range – could be on the horizon.
“I’m not sure how many (projects will be done in the near future), but to create that experience where they can come to the club and have a nice family experience while they’re there,” Avant said.
“It’s going more casual in the way we’re doing things versus the formal setting people traditionally think of with private country clubs.”
Rolling Hills offers six different membership options — a regular golf membership, junior golf membership, sports membership, tennis membership, social membership and corporate membership.
A full breakdown of membership options and benefits can be found here.