Arnold Palmer Design to Begin Course Improvements

February 01, 2017—Balsam Mountain Preserve, a conservation-oriented retreat set on 4,400 acres in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, has engaged Arnold Palmer Design Company to design and execute renovations on the Preserve’s Arnold Palmer Signature Course. The main focus of the renovations will make the course more playable while remaining faithful to Palmer’s original design. Vice President and Senior Architect for Arnold Palmer Design Company Thad Layton is overseeing the master-plan.

The renovations will concentrate on bunker design, configuration and placement on the course’s 18 holes. When the course was built 10 years ago, it was designed with deep, steep-walled bunkers that have proven exceptionally challenging even for experienced golfers and also expensive to maintain. The new master plan will not only change the layout and location of the bunkers, it will make them more shallow, a modification that will render the overall course more approachable for all players while still challenging the skills of advanced golfers. Furthermore, this relatively simple tweak attests to the timelessness of a course that serves as a monument to the late Arnold Palmer. An added bonus: the improved design will make bunkers less expensive to maintain, allowing the superintendent to reallocate savings in maintenance funds to higher priorities.

“This will mean a better use of funding,” Layton notes. “The maintenance budget won’t be cut, but money saved on bunker management will be spent on greens, the area that receives the most concentrated play on any course.” Layton also points out that one hallmark shared by all courses ranked in the top 100 is that they have superior greens. Such changes – shallower bunkers and immaculate greens – reflect the growing trend in golf course design, so this approach will bring best-practices to the course at Balsam Mountain Preserve and position it to remain a preeminent club course well into the future.

Construction is slated to begin mid-March on hole number 11, which will serve as a “test hole” before work begins on subsequent holes. Members will be able play the hole and either approve it or offer feedback that will allow necessary adjustments to the general features before renovations are executed on the remaining bunkers.

The golf course renovation is the first project under the new owners of Balsam Mountain Preserve and the first of many under a proposed plan that will allow the construction of several improved amenities that will put Balsam Mountain at the forefront of private communities in North Carolina. Additional proposed amenities include a state-of-the-art golf park practice facility, also designed by Arnold Palmer Design Company. For more information on the progress of Balsam Mountain Preserve’s development, visit

Balsam Mountain Preserve
Balsam Mountain Preserve is a low-density, conservation-orientated private residential community set on 4,400 acres in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville. Surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, the Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Balsam Mountain Preserve was created as a “community within a park.” With an ethos centered on land-stewardship, seventy-five percent (3,400 acres) of the property has been placed in a permanent conservation easement, ensuring the preservation of its present park-like state in perpetuity. Refined amenities of the community include an Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, equestrian center, sports & wellness center, pool, nature center, tennis courts, guided hiking, fishing and camping opportunities, gathering house and food & beverage offerings. For more information or to inquire about homes, homesites or membership opportunities, visit

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