The property in Providence Forge, Va., which features a golf course designed by Mike Strantz, was closed at the end of 2017 by Traditional Golf Properties and then purchased in June 2018 by Wingfield Golf Management. The renovation project focused on restoring the infrastructure, converting greens to champions Bermuda and revamping bunkers with new drainage systems.
After closing down more than a year ago, Royal New Kent Golf Club in Providence Forge, Va. is scheduled to reopen on March 29 under new ownership and after a $2 million restoration of its previously deteriorating golf course, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reported.
A more-than-20-year-old course designed by renowned golf course architect Mike Strantz, Royal New Kent Golf Club was shuttered in 2017 and put up for sale by its then-owner, Traditional Golf Properties, the Times-Dispatch reported.
In June 2018, the golf club was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Wingfield Golf Management, a Greenville, S.C.-based firm that now owns eight golf courses in Florida, Mississippi and Virginia, including the nearby Club at Viniterra in New Kent, Va. and the South Riding and Pleasant Valley golf clubs in Northern Virginia (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/sale-royal-new-kent-gc-reported/).
Wingfield Golf has since invested about $2 million into restoring the infrastructure at the Royal New Kent golf course that had fallen into disrepair, the Times-Dispatch reported. Last fall, it also hired a new General Manager and Director of Golf for the club: Chip Sullivan, a professional golfer with more than 30 years of experience in the industry.
“What we are trying to get across to locals and to people who have played here before is this is not the golf course you have seen the past 10 years,” Sullivan told the Times-Dispatch. “This is a special place with a complete restoration, which it needed for many years.”
The renovation project included changing the greens from bentgrass to champions Bermuda, which thrives better during the heat of the golf season, Sullivan said. The more than 100 sand bunkers on the course, which had drainage problems, have also been revamped with new drainage systems, and their high-faced lips have been restored using a cement-based technology that helps to control washouts.
Royal New Kent was one of nine courses designed by Strantz before his death at age 50 in 2005, the Times-Dispatch reported. Strantz envisioned Royal New Kent being evocative of traditional courses in Ireland. And like Strantz’s other designs, Royal New Kent is considered a challenging course, Sullivan said.
“We are not trying to make this course any tougher than it is, but we are trying to get it where Mike Strantz envisioned it. He was an artist,” Sullivan said.
Royal New Kent hopes to attract local golfers but also out-of-state golfers who may stop there on their way to other venues, Sullivan told the Times-Dispatch. “We are focused on the golfers coming through maybe on their way to Pinehurst or Myrtle Beach and stopping over in the Williamsburg area to play some great golf,” he said.
The club’s location near Colonial Downs, the horse racing venue that closed in 2014 but is scheduled to reopen this summer, may also help, the Times-Dispatch reported.
“We expect to feed off of one another,” Sullivan said. “The golfers coming here may go over to Colonial Downs after a round, and vice versa.”
The reopening of Royal New Kent, along with the planned reopening of the Stonehouse Golf Club in Toano, Va. after its sale earlier this year (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/stonehouse-gc-sold-for-800000/) are positive signs for Virginia’s golf industry, which has been through a period of consolidation, Matt Smiley, Executive Director of the Virginia State Golf Association, which has 300 member golf courses, told the Times-Dispatch.
“There is still some consolidation going on, with some member clubs closing their doors,” Smiley said. “I think we will see a bit more of that over the next few years, but it has been slowing in the last few years. You see some money going back into golf courses with renovations.”
Last year was a tough period for golf courses in Virginia mainly because of the weather, Smiley added. “The number of golfable days was way down,” he said.
However, “things like Royal New Kent and Stonehouse coming back in the fold are pointing in the right direction,” he said.