Golf Writer Andy Reistetter continues his exclusive "Play-Write" series at Prestonwood CC in Cary, North Carolina which is all set to host the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour this week. With 54 holes of golf, this week's premier event is staged on a combination of the Highlands and Meadows Courses. Join Reistetter as he reminisces about his round at Prestonwood CC and the excitement that continues to build around the 12th rendition of the SAS Championship.
With a membership of 1900 families in the flourishing Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill communities of North Carolina, Prestonwood CC is the ideal setting for a Champions Tour event. This is the place where "Cary comes to play," so why not let the professionals come to play too?
All three golf courses at Prestonwood were designed by Tom Jackson, a prolific course designer in the Southeastern United States.
He also designed one of the two golf courses at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover when the Champions Tour continues in its second consecutive week in the Tar Heel State.
The routing for this week's championship makes use of nine holes each from the Meadows and Highlands courses. It is a "bye week" for the third course, called the Fairways.
The green complexes on all three courses have been renovated like clockwork the last three years; the Meadows in 2009, the Fairways in 2010 and most recently the Highlands in 2011.
Local golf course architect Rick Robbins was called upon to do the signature greens work. The greens are the heart of any golf course. Like a surgeon, Robbins went in with the latest technology, immense skill and performed the delicate operations needed.
The result is healthy greens that are consistent, challenging, yet fun to hit approach shots to chip around and putt on—truly a world-class golfing experience.
Though local in upbringing, Robbins has a world of experience and has designed golf courses around the world, most notably in China. Robbins first worked under Robert Van Hagge, Bruce Devlin and then Jack Nicklaus before venturing out on his own in 1991.
With an office in Beijing in addition to Cary, his website lists two courses completed and near opening- China Maple and Wuhan Yishan.
One of the thrills from my round at Prestonwood was teeing off in front of the massive Georgian-style clubhouse. It seems all the great courses have that sensation—the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Augusta National and Pete Dye's last creation at the French Lick Resort in Indiana.
I thoroughly enjoyed the routing and the variety of holes. The hole to look for in this week's Golf Channel broadcast is the 168-yard signature par-3 eighth hole.
The last few are a mixture of hard holes where the leader can falter with a bogey and the challenger can take the lead, finish strong and win with a couple of birdies. Look for the pivotal hole to be the reachable par-5 17th.
Tournament sponsor SAS is headquartered in Cary and is one of the largest privately-held software companies in the business. Originally the name was an acronym for "Statistical Analysis System."
The company is now known for a broad line of software products. SAS is No. 3 on Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For list in the United States, marking the ninth time the company has been ranked in the top 10, including twice as No. 1.
When the Champions Tour started in 1980 it was known as the Senior Tour and had only four events with purses totaling less than $500 thousand. Today in its 33rd year there are 24 events and the official prize money is over $50 million.
Last year, SAS recorded double-digit growth and has global revenues nearing $3 billion in its 36th year of operation. SAS and the Champions Tour are as much at home in the high-tech research and development area known as Research Triangle Park as Prestonwood is on the Champions schedule.
With only two more events before the Charles Schwab Cup Championship this tournament is key to any golfer wanting to win the season-long Schwab Cup crown.
The SAS Championship normally attracts a strong field and this year is no different. Charles Schwab Points leader Tom Lehman and his three closest pursuers Bernard Langer, Roger Chapman and Michael Allen will compete at Prestonwood CC this week.
Defending champion Kenny Perry is 10th on the points list and is trying to match Bruce Lietzke back-to-back wins in the first two SAS Championships. Perry has played in five PGA TOUR and 14 Champions Tour events this year with two Champions T3 finishes in his last three tournaments.
Prestonwood CC has a practice facility and short-game area second to none, and prides itself in a whole family approach including a strong junior program. Cary's finest and one of the Southeast's best is the home course to 41 juniors who have received partial or full collegiate golf scholarships.
Perhaps in another 30 years, in line with the success of Prestonwood CC, SAS and the Champions Tour, one of those junior golfers will tee it up in the 40th rendition of the SAS Championship in the year 2040.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. He spends time on all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.
Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and the home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
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Contact Reistetter by e-mail at AndyReistetter@gmail.com