Geeked on Golf

EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES – GOLF COURSE GEEKERY

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Following is an index of my posts which chronicle my geeky study of golf courses and attendant adventures.  I am no journalist, but I do my best to share the experience of spending time at these special places, as well as give insights into their history and design. Part expression of gratitude for the generosity of my hosts, and part attempt to pay forward that generosity, I hope you enjoy.


MOST RECENT COURSE(S)

THE WELCOME MAT IS OUT AT AIKEN

There are certain clubs and courses, however, where a welcoming spirit comes naturally. Making players of all ages, genders and skill levels feel at home so that they can enjoy the game is their purpose. Aiken Golf Club is one of those places. Read more…


MORE COURSE GEEKERY

STEAM SHOVEL SCULPTING AT MAXINKUCKEE

In order to truly understand and appreciate the work of an architect, it is necessary to look at their sources of inspiration. After all, there are very few (if any) completely original ideas in art or science. Contemporary practitioners are always building upon or reacting to their forebears, and their work is therefore linked to the past. Read more…

FROM CHRISTMAS TREES TO GREEN FEES AT CHAMPION HILL

Champion Hill is a joy of a course with hand-crafted architectural feel on a piece of land that is as good as The Downs—all at a green fee that makes you feel like you’re taking advantage of the family who owns it. Read more…

LIGHT BULB MOMENTS AT THE LOOP

A golf course that can be readily grasped after a single round is not likely to ever be considered one of the game’s greats. The best courses require repeat play, and perhaps even a bit of study, to master—much like golf itself. The Old Course at St. Andrews ideally embodies this truth. The answers to the questions posed by the links are not printed on the scorecard. They are revealed to patient and persistent players over time, many of whom did not find themselves enthralled after their first loop. Read more…

COURSE WORK AT KAMPEN

As an alum of the University of Illinois, it is not easy to give praise to Purdue. The simple truth, however, is that the golf geeks in West Lafayette have a facility at their disposal that is tough to beat. The Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex sits within earshot of the football stadium and is home to two Pete Dye golf courses. Each course occupies land with distinct character and each has its own style. Read more…

THE PAST MEETS THE FUTURE AT MOSHOLU

If Ed Brockner had been alive in 1888, he would have been in the Apple Tree Gang. In the spring of that year, Scotsman John Reid and two of his friends played the first recorded round of golf in a pasture near Reid’s house in Yonkers, NY. The group would take on the ATG moniker when they relocated to a larger playing field that included a tree where they hung their coats. Spend any time with Brockner, and you will feel the depth of his passion for the game and its original pure form. It is not hard to imagine him hanging his coat to complete Reid’s foursome. Read more…

THE MIDWEST MACKENZIE – CRYSTAL DOWNS

Crystal Downs is not Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s only Midwest design, but it is certainly his most highly regarded work in the region. The greatness of the course can be linked to the interest and variety inherent in the land, and MacKenzie’s visionary ability to embrace what a site offered. He was fortunate to have as his collaborator Perry Maxwell who expertly translated ideas into reality on the ground, adding his own touches and creative flourishes as he went. Read more…

TILLY’S TALE AT SOMERSET HILLS

Somerset Hills embodies a rare opportunity for golf architecture aficionados and players alike. For the design enthusiast, it is a course to be studied closely as an integral step in the progression of one of America’s greatest architects, A.W. Tillinghast. Read more…

FAIR IS A FOUR LETTER WORD AT FRENCH LICK

The devilish designer himself greets visitors to The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. A statue of the creator of nearly one hundred golf courses over a decades-long career stands by the bag drop. He is smiling, a friendly countenance on first impression. Alongside the sculpture is a stone adorned with a quote that ends ”…so why build a fair golf course”. Read more…

ROUTING PERFECTION AT SAND HILLS

Sand Hills Golf Club is generally considered to be a modern masterpiece. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s design has been credited as the original spark that lit the fire of the minimalist movement in golf course architecture, and the club proved that players will travel to experience great golf in far flung locales. The combination of minimalism and destination golf has been nothing short of revolutionary for the game. There is a case to be made though that Sand Hills is more than just a great course—it is perfect. Read more…

WHERE ENTHUSIASM LIVES – CAL CLUB

To be clear, Cal is a golf club. The golf course is the focal point, and walking golf is the only activity of interest, at least during daylight. The beautiful land on which the course sits, and its eclectic architectural history, combine to produce an intensely enjoyable playing experience. Read more…

IN PRAISE OF RESTRAINT AT ROCK HOLLOW G.C.

“Who are you, and what do you do?” The direct inquiry by the local I encountered in the pro shop after completing an early-spring loop around the Tim Liddy designed Rock Hollow Golf Club caught me off guard. He must have noticed the befuddled look on my face, so he elaborated. “We saw you playing fast and carrying your bag. We know everyone who plays out here. What’s your story?” Read more…

TIMELESS IDEALS AT NATIONAL GOLF LINKS

The National. Two words that, especially for devotees of classic architecture, hold so much meaning. These words are not just shorthand for the club named National Golf Links of America, they carry the weight of one man’s incredibly lofty aspiration. An aspiration that history has proven to have been fulfilled. Read more…

HONORING ALISON AT DAVENPORT C.C.

Sam Snead arrived in the Quad Cities in 1951 in pursuit of a three-peat in the Western Open, staged that year at Davenport Country Club. The Western, which was first contested in 1899, was one of the early major tournaments, with a list of champions including a veritable who’s who of American golf. The only man previously to win the title three straight times was Ralph Guldahl, who coincidentally started his run in 1936 at Davenport. Read more…

BROAD STROKES & FINE DETAILS – ESSEX COUNTY CLUB

There is always something special about an architect’s home club. Think MacKenzie at Pasatiempo or Macdonald at National Golf Links. Perhaps it’s a function of the extra time they can spend on refinements, or of the freedom to take creative risks because they will be there to undo the flops. Maybe the familiarity with the land and course breeds a greater attention to the important details that separate good courses from great ones. Whatever the reasons, home courses tend to have a special quality. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

CLIMBING THE HILL – CALUSA PINES

We hear stories of people in all walks of life who chase their dreams, overcome adversity and achieve moments of triumph. These stories provide us with inspiration to tackle our own challenges. To go one large step further, what about a person who stares death in the face while simultaneously working to build something great enough to outlive them? That is the kind of example that stops us in our tracks as if to ask, “What is your excuse for not living your best life today?” Just such a story unfolded outside of Naples, FL, at Calusa Pines Golf Club, and continues today with a vibrant membership, a beautiful golf course, and a surprisingly tall hill. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

GOLF ON A STEP OF THE STAIRS – SAND HOLLOW

Where should I play golf in Las Vegas? This is a frequently asked question, especially when the northern winter is dragging on toward March Madness. It will likely come as no surprise that we think Vegas is a city where it is tough to find the architecturally interesting “bang for your buck” courses that we crave. But that does not mean we don’t have an answer to the question. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

A TRUE CHINESE LINKS – YANGTZE DUNES

Every person who has teed up a ball has experienced the complex relationship between player and game inherent to golf. We alternately love and hate our time on the course. Just when we think we’ve achieved mastery, the rug is yanked out from under our feet. In our loftier moments, the game seems to embody all of the mysteries of life itself. At lower moments, we side with late comic Robin Williams’ conclusion that golf is the dumbest activity ever invented by man. Around and around we go. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

A HELPING HAND AT MAMMOTH DUNES

Everyone likes Mammoth Dunes. It’s hard not to fall for the course at first sight. It is big, laid across stunning terrain and just plain cool. Players come off the 18th green with smiles on their faces having thoroughly enjoyed themselves, often beaming with the pride of posting their best number in years. We don’t blame them. We had the same reaction. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

MAX FUN FACTOR – BALLYNEAL GOLF CLUB

Ballyneal is a happy place. For some, it is THE happy place. An interesting phenomenon happens to every seeker who makes the trek to the Chop Hills. Telltale signs are the permagrin, the sun and wind burned skin, and the stories of victories and defeats at the hands of what some consider to be Tom Doak’s greatest creation. Something special happens at Ballyneal – a reconnection with the fun of the game that hooked us in the first place. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

OPTIONS ABOUND AT MEDINAH #1

Tom Doak and the Renaissance team did a commendable job with their renovation of Course One at Medinah Country Club. They took a course that was not particularly noteworthy and infused strategy and artful flourishes into almost every hole. The par-4s from the 11th through the 14th are a strong stretch that is a joy to play. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

TREES OR NO TREES? – PRAIRIE DUNES

Cut that tree down. When it comes to golf courses, there isn’t a proclamation that is currently more en vogue. The overplantings and overgrowth of years past are thankfully being remedied by wiser tree management programs at courses across America, and that means removals. In 99% of cases, I agree with the decision to cut. After the initial shock wears off, the improvements in aesthetics and agronomy are evident to almost everyone. The are, however, exceptions to the rule. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

LEADING THE CHARGE FOR RESTORATION AT CEDAR RAPIDS C.C.

Vaughn Halyard is a golf geek hero. There are plenty of golf tragics who can see an old course and recognize its hidden potential. Few of those tragics will try and do what it takes to bring that potential out, even at their home course. Fewer still are the champions who are willing to battle through the entire process to return a classic course to its glory. Vaughn, along with Superintendent Tom Feller, architects Ron Prichard and Tyler Rae, and a small group of members doggedly did just that with the Donald Ross designed Cedar Rapids Country Club. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

ALISON LIVES AT KNOLLWOOD CLUB

Knollwood Club has history, and we have history with it. A young Andy Johnson spent his formative years forging his game while working at the club, and can still point out the best spots for sneaking a midday nap. My first golf lesson was with legendary pro Sherm Finger. After watching for a few minutes, he gave my mom advice that any parent would do well to heed, “Just leave him alone. Don’t try and teach him anything. Let him fall in love with the game.” Simple, yet profound, guidance. Read more at TheFriedEgg.com…

THE DEPTH OF PHILLY’S BENCH – HUNTINGDON VALLEY C.C.

All apologies to other areas of the country, but a strong case can be made that Philly golf is the best. Not only did it produce John McDermott and the Philadelphia School of golf course architecturebut it seems that you can’t drive a mile without passing a world class golf course. Philadelphia’s 25th best course would be top 5 in almost every other city in America. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

BANG FOR YOUR BUCK MASSACHUSETTS

There is much more to the fascinating history of golf in Massachusetts than Francis Ouimet’s victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline. Those who have a spirit of adventure will find munis and family-owned courses throughout the state that feature interesting design, beautiful scenery, and a richness of backstories that, when contrasted against the modest greens fees, add up to incredible value. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

A TALE OF TWO NINES AT ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH

They did it. They actually built this course, and it is incredible. That was the consensus of our group standing on the 9th green at the new South Course at Arcadia Bluffs. That green, with its four plateaus separated by troughs and bowls, is the ninth straight mind-blower on the outward half. In front of that green is a spectacle bunker complex and several other bunkers positioned smartly to pose interesting and confounding strategic questions. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

HISTORY AND COMPETITION AT WYKAGYL C.C.

A historic competition staged at a Golden Age gem of a course. That combination always works for us, and that is exactly what we have with this year’s Met Open at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, NY. Such an occasion called for a Field Report. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

SHORT WORK WITH TYLER – SKOKIE C.C.

Having multiple architectural styles runs the risk of making a course feel disjointed. That is not the case at Skokie. The Bendelow hole, Ross’ ten holes, and Langford’s seven holes have distinct feels, but they flow together nicely, and they all share one common feature – bold greens. Oh my, the greens! A set as good as any in Chicago, with the exception perhaps of Chicago Golf Club. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

SO LONG KOHLER – WHISTLING STRAITS AND BLACKWOLF RUN RIVER

For several years now, a spring gathering of golf geeks has taken place in Kohler, WI.  We drive up, play 36 holes, and drive home.  It is a gloriously exhausting day with a great group of guys on courses I enjoy – and I don’t think I’m ever going back.  Read more…

DESERT FOREST DAYDREAMING WITH DAVE ZINKAND & DAN MOORE

My first visit to Desert Forest was with Dan Moore, after David Zinkand had already done the bulk of his renovation work.  I never played Red Lawrence’s original, but Dave Zinkand’s update immediately grabbed ahold of my heart.  Wonderfully routed, minimally bunkered, with interest-packed greens, the course demands strategic thought and creative execution to score.  Read more…

THE SANDBOX – CLOSING DAY AT SAND VALLEY

We made our second trek of 2017 to Nekoosa specifically to play The Sandbox (name not yet confirmed), the 17 hole par-3 course created by the Coore & Crenshaw crew.  Michael Keiser graciously took the time to play a loop with us, and then gave us the run of the place.  Read more…

BOSTON TWOFER – BOSTON GOLF CLUB & ESSEX COUNTY CLUB

With this season’s Noreaster heading back to Long Island, I found myself longing for golf in Boston by mid-summer. Work afforded an opportunity to make it to Beantown, and I was able to line up visits to my two of my favorite courses.  Read more…

5TH ANNUAL NOREASTER – BACK TO LONG ISLAND

After two years in Boston, our group was longing for a return trip to Long Island, and Friar’s Head.  Planning began over the winter, but took a detour.  Read more…

AIN’T IT GRAND – OPENING DAY AT SAND VALLEY

For what has become an annual spring pilgrimage for us, Peter K. and I set out early so that we could make a critical pit stop on the way to Sand Valley for opening day.  As I have said before, going into central Wisconsin without visiting Lawsonia Links is a mistake as big as Lawsonia’s massive features.  Read more…

EXPLORING AMERICA’S GREAT GOLF CLUBS – KINGSLEY CLUB, BOSTON GC, BALLYNEAL & CALUSA PINES

What makes a golf club great?  Certainly, in order to be great, a club must have an outstanding golf course.  A top-notch course is not enough to make a club truly great though, especially for the discerning golf geek.  Great clubs resonate at a deeper level – they evoke the spirit of the game.  Read more…

THE SAND VALLEY STORY CONTINUES…

Under Michael Keiser’s leadership, Sand Valley is already a must-visit (repeatedly).  If future plans comes to fruition, it is a legit contender for the title of best golf destination in North America.  Read more…

THE REVIVAL – COMMUNITY GOLF IN AMERICA

There is a movement afoot.  Across the country, from Goat Hill to the Schoolhouse Nine, from Sharp Park to Winter Park, there are a growing number of community golf projects getting attention and serious support.  Read more…

A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER – OAKMONT, BALLYNEAL & SAND HILLS

2016 has been yet another wonderful year of golf adventures.  The season culminated in late September with a stretch of dreams come true in this golf geek’s life with visits to Oakmont Country Club, Ballyneal Golf Club and Sand Hills Golf Club.  Read more…

AWAKENING TO ALISON – MILWAUKEE CC & ORCHARD LAKE CC

Prior to the past month, I had only played one other course credited to the design partnership of Colt & Alison, and that course had been meaningfully altered.  In playing Milwaukee Country Club and Orchard Lake Country Club, my eyes were opened to just how skilled Mr. Alison was at creating golf courses that are at once demanding and beautiful.  Read more…

ONE FOR THE AGES – A WEEKEND AT PRAIRIE DUNES

Gunch is the word that the staff and members use for the native areas that line the holes at Prairie Dunes.  The definition above is fitting.  The gunch is the sole aspect of Prairie Dunes that is not perfectly pleasurable.  Read more…

BUDDIES BACK IN BOSTON – ANNUAL TRIP RECAP

Last year’s eastern buddies trip was such a winner that we decided to return to Boston again this year to play Myopia Hunt Club, Essex County Club, Whitinsville, Kittansett Club and Wannamoisett.  The trip had a wonderful little wrinkle as we were hosted on our first day by a group of members from Myopia and Essex with whom we had casual and fun four-ball matches.  Great guys, great courses, great times.  Read more...

AS GOOD AS IT GETS – LOST DUNES & THE DUNES CLUB

Last season, I screwed up royally.  I have access to Lost Dunes, the Tom Doak gem in SW Michigan, and I did not go.  Pathetic, I know.  Read more…

DESERT DAYS – SAND HOLLOW, PAIUTE WOLF & WOLF CREEK

Las Vegas is a regular destination for me.  My work has taken me there at least fifteen times.  With the exception of one trip that I took to get a lesson from Butch Harmon, golf has not been a part of my Las Vegas experience.  Read more…

A MAGICAL DAY AT SAND VALLEY

My buddy Chuck was kind enough to include me in a visit to Sand Valley to tour the first course, which is under construction and set to open in 2017.  I expected to be in golf geek heaven, and yet what I experienced so vastly exceeded my expectations that I fear that trying to put it into words won’t do it justice.  Read more…

A 1,537 MILE DRIVE – THE FORT, HYDE PARK, CAMARGO, FRENCH LICK & HARRISON HILLS

My schedule worked out such that I had a few days to hit the open road for golf adventure.  With much appreciated help from Tim Liddy and Jason Thurman, a tour through Indiana and Ohio came together which allowed me to add to my experience of Ross, Raynor, Dye, and Langford (with a healthy dose of Liddy).  Read more…

MY BUDDIES IN BOSTON – ANNUAL TRIP RECAP

This year, we headed to Boston, where there is no shortage of world class golf.  We had the privilege of playing 4 outstanding courses – The Country Club, Boston Golf Club, Old Sandwich, Essex County – and I took enough photos to negatively impact my golf, so it makes sense to share them and offset the damage.  Read more…

GOLF HEAVEN ON EARTH – THE KINGSLEY CLUB

My discovery of the Kingsley Club was just dumb luck.  On a buddies trip to Arcadia Bluffs and Crystal Downs, we needed a third course to play.  I stumbled across the Kingsley Club review on GolfClubAtlas.com – it looked interesting, so it was added to our itinerary.  Read more…

DISCOVERING GOLF’S BIRTHPLACE IN AMERICA

In 2013, I took my first golf buddies trip.  Unlike conventional trips to resorts like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, or Bandon Dunes, we headed out to Long Island, NY.  We are fortunate enough to be able to leg out access to private clubs through our personal and professional networks.  Read more…

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