The 17th hole on the Highlands Course at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C. The club hosts the SAS Championship annually, and notable players in this year’s field include Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Corey Pavin. Photo courtesy of Caroline Broach
This will be the fourth SAS Championship for director of golf course maintenance Lee Hancock. He hopes this one — scheduled Oct. 11-13 — at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., will be different from the first three.
“We had a flood for each one of them. It would be nice to have one that is drama-free,” says Hancock, a 23-year GCSAA member.
A PGA Tour Champions event, the SAS Championship offers a format unlike most tournaments: It is played on a hybrid of two courses. The Highlands Course at Prestonwood serves as the front nine. The Meadows Course is used for the back nine.
Scott Clawson, a 31-year association member, oversees the Highlands. Holes 1-3 and 13-18 are in play for the SAS Championship, and the par-3 17th signature hole features an island green. Clawson is an avid runner who has participated in a marathon. He had a running streak that lasted 586 days until work snapped the stretch. “I suffered two pulled hamstrings during aerifying when I was showing the young boys how to push plugs. I should’ve warmed up first,” Clawson says.
Bradley Pope, a seven-year GCSAA member, is in charge of the Meadows Course at Prestonwood. Holes 1-4, 13 and 15-18 will be used for the championship. The par-4 13th is demanding. It plays at approximately 430 yards and has a sharp dogleg right, and drives off the tee face a small landing area guarded by a bunker and pond. As a 3-handicap, Pope has the game to tackle it. “I never played in junior leagues or events. I taught myself, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, and I finally figured it out,” he says.
Prestonwood Country Club actually has three golf courses, which cumulatively host more than 85,000 rounds annually. The Fairways Course features a set of family tees so it can play as a par 3.
Hancock, who guides all 54 holes at Prestonwood, has a wealth of industry experience. He interned at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, home of the Tour Championship, and worked at Atlanta Athletic Club, which has hosted major championships. For 13 years, Hancock was superintendent and then director of golf at The Greenbrier Sporting Club in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
The SAS Championship is an opportunity for Hancock’s crew members to showcase their talents. And, as of a week before the event, flooding wasn’t an issue. “We’ve been in a drought,” says Hancock, adding that his staff has been preparing for the big event with anticipation. “There’s a certain amount of teamwork that transpires all year long, and they’re excited to put their work on display.”
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.