Talking GolfGetaways, Ep 28: The Legacy of Mike Strantz’ golf design, with Tobacco Road co-owner Mark Stewart
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Talking GolfGetaways, Ep 28: The Legacy of Mike Strantz’ golf design, with Tobacco Road co-owner Mark Stewart

The short par-4 16th on the Mike Strantz-designed Tobacco Road in Sanford, N.C. (Photo by Brian Oar /

In 1998, Mike Strantz created a daring, bold new course up the road from the “Home of American Golf” in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Tobacco Road (or simply “The Road” as it’s called by its many fans) caused quite a stir 18 years ago, as many of Strantz’ courses have over the years, but it also quickly established itself as a modern classic — and a welcome addition, and alter ego, to the traditional Pinehurst golf landscape.

On “Talking GolfGetaways” Episode 28, hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch spend the first of three conversations with Mark Stewart, co-owner of Tobacco Road, talking about the iconoclastic Strantz, with Stewart weaving wonderfully personal tales of his experiences with the man Golfweek voted one of the “Top 10 Greatest Architects of All-Time” in 2000, based on just seven golf course designs.

You’ll hear how Mark and the family ownership group made the decision to hire Strantz, a virtual unknown at the time — and why it was such a controversial choice that has paid off by attracting passionate traveling golfers for nearly two decades. Mark, Darin and Mitch then spend the bulk of the episode discussing Strantz’ philosophy of design; what makes his work so unique among modern designers (with insight from Darin’s interview with former PGA Tour pro and Strantz collaborator Forrest Fezler); and the influence Strantz continues to have on the game’s top architects and players who seek a sense of adventure from the courses they play.

Along the way, the conversation also touches on Strantz’ other notable courses — including his first layout, the award-winning Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and its sister course True Blue; Tot Hill Farm in Asheboro, North Carolina; and the final project from the artist-turned-architect, the redesign of Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course on the California coast.
Stewart’s remembrances are rare look into the heart and soul of a man the golf industry lost far too early in life (Mike Strantz passed away in June 2005 at the age of 50), but not before he put his significant imprint on the game we play and how we play it, leaving a legacy of courses such as Tobacco Road and Caledonia for us to remember him with every creative shot.

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“Talking GolfGetaways with Mitch Laurance & Darin Bunch” is sponsored by and can be found on and across the Golf News Net platform. “Talking GolfGetaways” is also available on audioBoom and iTunes. New episodes post daily, five days per week (for the most part), and listeners can use #TalkingGolfGetaways to join the golf-travel conversation on social media and let Darin and Mitch know what you think of Mike Strantz’ work and whether Tobacco Road, Caledonia and Monterey Peninsula Country Club are among your favorite places to play.

About the author



The GolfGetaways crew of Darin Bunch and Mitch Lauarance have decades of golf travels and adventures to share, which they do here at GNN, on their "Talking GolfGetaways" podcast and on their social media channels. You can find them usually playing hickories and having a great time taking in amazing architecture, scenery and company.