Geeked on Golf


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THE ACCIDENTAL INTERVIEWER – ALL GEEKEDONGOLF INTERVIEWS

It all started with an email exchange with photographer Evan Schiller.  I asked him for photos for my U.S. Open Venues Bucket List post, and he generously sent them to me.  I then asked him a question about photography.  He patiently answered.  I then asked him another question, and he politely suggested that I compile all of my questions into an interview.  What a concept!

After posting the interview with Evan, my curiosity was piqued.  Would others be willing to indulge me similarly.  Based on the index below, the answer has been a resounding YES.  Given the passion and generosity of people in and around this great game, it is not entirely surprising that they would be willing to share.  I am still grateful for their time, perspectives, and in some case, friendships.

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My intent with the interviews is to get off the beaten path and get to know the people who are making our game and its playing fields great.  Although this started by accident, it’s rolling forward with purpose.  Enjoy!


MOST RECENT INTERVIEW

LIVES IN BALANCE – SCOTT VINCENT OF ONWENTSIA CLUB

The past two years have seen a healthy discussion arise among golf course superintendents about the interrelation between career success and life balance. The path of singular focus and dedication can lead to greatness, but it can also end in burnout. These professionals, who care deeply about their work, are wrestling with conceiving of a practical answer to a nagging question: How can we deliver results of which we can be proud, and still have healthy and vibrant lives off the course? Read more…


MORE GEEKEDONGOLF INTERVIEWS

IAN ANDREW – THE PAST BROUGHT FORWARD

From his design blog, to his articles on GolfClubAtlas.com, to his Twitter posts, it is easy for a golf geek to lose oneself in the writings of Ian Andrew.  With his depth of knowledge, respect for tradition and pure love of the game of golf, wandering through Ian’s thoughts is like a trip around the greatest golf course you can imagine – interesting, challenging and fun.  Read more…

MIKE BENKUSKY – CREATIVE RANGE

In 2015, when I heard about the innovative planned changes to the Arlington Lakes community golf course, my interest was piqued.  When I found out that the architect responsible was also involved in the creation of one of the highest end private courses in the midwest, I was downright intrigued.  Read more…

JUSTIN CARLTON – PITCHING IN

Justin’s interests range from building traditional golf courses all the way to applying proven design principles to disc golf courses.  Our conversation eventually turned to pitch & putts, and it was evident that we had touched on something near and dear to Justin’s heart.  His enthusiasm was palpable, and I wanted to know more.  Read more…

MICHAEL CLAYTON – CLAYTS SPEAKS

If you are a golf nut, and you are not following Michael Clayton on Twitter (@MichaelClayto15) and/or listening to the State of the Game podcast, you really should be.  His perspectives are always informative and entertaining, and sometimes a little surly.  Read more…

ROB COLLINS – THE SWEETENS COVE STORY

Sweetens Cove – the course and the story behind its creation – has fascinated me for some time.  Golf geeks who make the trip to play this modern 9-holer return with the same two points of feedback.  That course bold, beautiful, and great fun.  And its creator and owner, Rob Collins, is a good dude.  Read more…

MIKE DEVRIES – HOME COURSE HERO

Anyone who has played golf in Northern Michigan knows how truly special it is.  Not only is it home to one of the greatest golf courses in the world – Crystal Downs – it is also home to some of the best golf course architects working today.  Mike DeVries is one of those GCAs.  Read more…

THE CONNECTOR – MANISH GOEL OF THOUSAND GREENS

How do you get to play all of those great courses? That is a question that gets asked all the time in golf circles. Our answer is, wait to be invited. When invited, go. When there, be polite and enthusiastic. Afterward, send a thank you note or gift. More important, always be on the lookout for ways to pay your good fortune forward. In our experience, golfers are extraordinarily generous people. They are proud of their courses, and enjoy showing them off to kindred spirits. Read more on TheFriedEgg.com…

SUPERINTENDENT KYLE HEGLAND – THE MAN, THE MYTH

Sand Hills Golf Club was more a myth than a real place for me.  Located in Nebraska, Coore & Crenshaw’s modern masterpiece sparked a golf architecture renaissance that has fueled my passion for the subject, and the game itself.  I had heard stories that one could write a polite letter to Sand Hills’s owner, Mr. Youngscap, that might result in a once-per-life invite to visit.  Not sure whether or not that was true, I hadn’t mustered up the courage to give it a shot.  Read more…

BRETT HOCHSTEIN – MULTIMEDIA, MULTITALENTD

Pasatiempo.  It doesn’t get much better than a trip around Dr. Mac’s home course.   That is, unless you receive an invite to visit another course later that same day where talented architects, shapers and supers are working their magic.  A golf geek’s dream day come true.  Read more…

PETER IMBER & QUOGUE FIELD CLUB – FIELD OF DREAMS

Our host was Peter Imber, who also happens to be a principal player in Quogue’s restoration.  We connected after my visit, and hit it off over our respective efforts to revitalize our golf courses.  Not only did he give me guidance on how to approach my efforts at Canal Shores, but he also graciously agreed to do an interview.   Read more…

DAVID MCLAY KIDD – THE EVOLVING ARTIST

Like many GCA geeks, I have followed the stories about the evolution of David’s career with interest, particularly those that have been written since the opening of Gamble Sands and his triumph in the Sand Valley bake-off.  Word out of Nekoosa, WI is that the DMK crew is creating something truly special and my recent visit to Sand Valley provided confirmation.  Read more…

JEFF MINGAY – UPHOLDING GOLF’S IDEALS

Thinker, traveler, student, writer, historian, enthusiast, commentator, and most of all builder – each of these descriptors apply to Jeff, which is why he is so interesting.  He is a must follow on Twitter (@jeff_mingay) for golf geeks, especially those who want to better understand the game’s fields of play.  Read more…

JEFF MINGAY & GEORGE WATERS – TRANSFORMING THE DERRICK

I made a point of following up with Jeff regarding his renovation of the Derrick Club.  He graciously agreed to give me even more time to discuss the project.  If that weren’t enough, we also managed to wrangle George Waters to participate in the discussion.  George pitched in on the shaping of the Derrick Club, and by all accounts, their collaboration was a smash hit with the membership.  Read more…

JIM NAGLE & BRIAN BOSSERT – POLISHING HIDDEN GEMS

Conversation about Chicago golf often focuses on the big names – Chicago Golf Club, Olympia Fields, Medinah – and fairly so.  But Chicago is also home to quite a few classic courses that qualify as hidden gems.  I am fortunate to have access to regularly play one of those gems, the Langford & Moreau designed Bryn Mawr Country Club.  Read more…

BRIAN PALMER – GROWING GRASS

“I’ve had enough of winter already. Looking forward to growing grass again.”  This text message, sent to me by Shoreacres Superintendent Brian Palmer, sums up what I love and respect about Supers.  It is rare indeed to find a profession that consistently produces such passionate and dedicated individuals.  Read more…

SCOTT PAVALKO & JIM URBINA – THE NEXT 99

This post was a long time in the making.  Like Bob O’Link’s architectural history – first with Ross, then with Alison, and now with Urbina – it involves intertwined threads.  Growing up on the North Shore and caddying at Old Elm Club, I was aware of Bob O’Link, but had never seen or played it.  Read more…

KEITH RHEBB – IN THE SEAT

At the drafting table, on a plane, or behind the controls of a bulldozer, Keith Rhebb is always right in the thick of the creative process of golf course design and construction.  As a member of the Coore & Crenshaw team, Keith is working on the highest profile and most highly anticipated projects around the world.  He and his colleagues continue to deliver mind-blowing results that are setting the standards for modern architectural greatness.  Read more…

DREW ROGERS – SOUL MAN

The call was supposed to just be a quick “hello” and “thank you” for some photos.  An hour later, I realized that I had found a kindred spirit in realm of golf geekdom.  Beyond sharing similar perspectives on the game, Drew and I are also fortunate to have spent significant time at the Old Elm Club – me as a caddie, and Drew as the architect who has recently worked to restore the course to the original design intent of Harry Colt.  Read more…

DREW ROGERS – TO HEATH & LINKS

Drew Rogers is a generous man.  I have learned this first hand in my work on GeekedOnGolf and Canal Shores.  He shares his experience and expertise freely.  So it is no surprise that he was kind enough to bring us along on his recent trip to England by sharing his experiences in daily journal posts online.  Drew and I talked upon his return and he agreed to provide a recap of the tour with us here.  Read more…

EVAN SCHILLER – GOLF SHOTS

In addition to being one of my favorite photographers, Evan is also a gracious and generous man.  After patiently responding to my ongoing inquiries about his work, he wisely suggested that we conduct a virtual interview.  Shared here with some of his photos are insights about the practice of his craft.  Read more…

SHAWN SMITH & TODD FYFFE – GOLDEN AGE REDUX

On the way from my house to the highway sits Westmoreland Country Club.  For years, I drove by and peeked through the fence at the course, with its gorgeous clubhouse overlooking the perfect green fairways.  When I finally had the good fortune to play Westmoreland, it was a treat to spend an afternoon experiencing first-hand what I had so long seen only from the road.  Read more…

ANDY STAPLES – COMMUNITY LINKS CHAMPION

Hobbs, NM is on my bucket list for golf adventure.  I’ll explain.  That is where Andy Staples created a source of inspiration for anyone associated with the Community Golf Revival in America at a course called Rockwind Community Links.  I became aware of Andy’s work while doing research for Canal Shores.  On a brief phone conversation last year, it was clear that we have the same paradigm about the spirit of the game.  Read more…

ANDY STAPLES – A MODERN THROWBACK

The past decade has seen a number of wonderful renovations of classic golf courses – Philadelphia Cricket Club, Moraine CC, Cal Club, Orchard Lake CC and others are exciting for golf geeks at several levels.  One in particular has risen to the top of my radar as I have watched it unfold from a distance.  Read more…

DAVE ZINKAND – SCULPTING THE EARTH

“Remote” is a good word to describe the location of Apache Stronghold.  Why did I make the trek through the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, past small mining towns, to an Indian Casino golf course in the middle of nowhere?  As always, I was in search of golf adventure and great architecture.  In this case, I was also lucky enough to have a chance to tee it up with architect Dave Zinkand.  Read more…


Still want more interviews?  If you really want to go down the rabbit hole of GCA, I highly recommend combing through the archives of Ran Morrissett’s wonderful GolfClubAtlas interviews.  And if you are more inclined toward audio, Andy Johnson is producing terrific interviews on his Fried Egg Podcast.

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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NOW & THEN – GREAT HOLES THROUGH THE YEARS

To paraphrase something I heard Jim Urbina say, a golf course is a living thing, and will therefore evolve.  I find the evolution fascinating, particularly when illustrated in pictures.

Every geek loves Jon Cavalier’s photos (@linksgems), and recently, Simon Haines (@hainsey76) has been adding a twist by piggybacking historical photos of some of the holes, often from the same vantage point.  Genius.  A repository to compile these one-two punches of glorious geekery seemed like the thing to do.  Jon and Simon agreed, so here they are.

Check back periodically for updates, and enjoy!


GREAT HOLES – NOW & THEN

CYPRESS POINT CLUB

HOLE #3 – Par 3 – 151 yards

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The underrated par-3 3rd at Cypress Point Club.  As I’ve said many times before, the thing that stunned me most about CPC was the quality of the less-famous holes (1-14), which are all excellent.

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Awesome hole and looked even better with the blow-out dune exposed on the left…

HOLE #5 – Par 5 – 472 yards

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The wonderful par-5 5th provides an architectural clinic on using deception as a design feature.  As MacKenzie himself said, “It is an important thing in golf to make holes look much more difficult than they really are.”  The Doctor was a veteran of both the Boer War and World War I.  During his service, he adopted and mastered techniques in camouflage, and used these skills in his golf course designs. At the 5th, he hid the ample layup landing area amid a field of bunkers.

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Mackenzie playing it in 1928.

HOLE #9 – Par 4 – 283 yards

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Options abound from the tee and on approach to the 9th, one of the best and most visually stunning short par-4s in the world.

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Alister MacKenzie teeing off on 9 in 1928…

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The 9th at Cypress Point Club, with the par-3 7th peeking over its left shoulder.  This vantage shows why this short par-4 is so maddeningly difficult: MacKenzie benched this small, sloping green into a dune and canted it almost perpendicular to the line of play.  Hit it or else.

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HOLE #11 – Par 3 – 427 yards

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The par-4 11th at Cypress Point Club plays down a fairway guarded by bunkers on both sides to a green backed by an enormous dune.  So many great holes like this at CPC, which don’t receive their full measure of credit due to the long, heavy shadow of the 15th, 16th & 17th holes.

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Alister Mackenzie attempting a large carry over sandy waste on the same hole shortly after opening.

HOLE #13 – Par 3 – 344 yards

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“A THIRTEENTH HOLE THAT WILL PROVE MORE THAN A ‘HOODOO’ FOR DUFFERS.  This great golf hole is one of the seaside holes of the new Cypress Point course.  No trouble at all for a ball driven straight.”

HOLE #15 – Par 3 – 120 yards

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MacKenzie’s masterpiece, Cypress Point is the most beautiful course I’ve ever seen and one of the best I’ve played. A day here is a magical experience and a seminal moment in a golfer’s life.

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The par-3 15th, with both the original upper tee (left) and modern cliffside tee (right) in view.  Often overlooked due to the incredible surrounding beauty is the wonderful shape of this green.  Today’s hole, cut on the front left finger, is particularly fun.

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HOLE #16 – Par 3 – 218 yards

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A peek through the forest at the 16th at Cypress Point Club.  A breathtakingly beautiful place, CPC is as magical as it gets for a golfer; a true natural and architectural wonder.

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HOLE #17 – Par 4 – 374 yard

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Astounding that a course should have such beautiful views, perfect terrain, amazing landscapes & abundant wildlife.

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“OVER THE GULF OR ROUND THE COAST? – A KNOTTY PROBLEM ON A NEW CALIFORNIAN COAST.  The 17th hole on the Cypress Point course, in California, is one of those places where discretion is at constant war with valour.  Whether to take the long way round the group of Cypress trees shown towards the left across the water, or attempt the drive straight across the gulf, with its attendant dangers – that is the question that faces all the visitors.  Cypress Point is a new course, designed by Dr. A. Mackenzie, and there is already agitation afoot for the American Amateur Championship to be played there, instead of at Pebble Beach, which is situated round the promontory in the background of the above picture.  Cypress Point is on the Del Monte peninsula, about 100 miles south of San Francisco, and was only laid out in November of last year.  It has soon settled down and already provides very fine golf.”


NATIONAL GOLF LINKS OF AMERICA

HOLE #1 – Par 4 – 330 yards

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Peconic Bay, the Home hole, the famed clubhouse, and the iconic windmill – my favorite opener in golf.

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“THE CLUBHOUSE AT THE NATIONAL LINKS.  Taken from the first tee.  The first hole is over the bunker in the distance and the eighteenth is off to the left.  In the clubhouse the dining porch looks over the eighteenth fairway.  The lounge faces the first tee.  Both overlook Peconic Bay.”

HOLE #4 – Par 3 – 195 yards

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The 4th at National Golf Links – C.B. Macdonald’s homage to the 15th at North Berwick is the first, and still the best, Redan in America.

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HOLE #6 – Par 3 – 141 yards

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No conversation about great greens is complete without mention of the “Short” par-3 6th at National Golf Links of America.

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“The fearsome 6th hole at the National Golf Links of America, Southampton, Long Island.  More than 500 bushels of Carter’s tested Grass Seed were sown on this golf course.”

HOLE #16 – Par 4 – 415 yards

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Punchbowl – the 16th at National Golf Links of America, begins with an uphill tee shot to a fairway that falls off hard to both sides.  The approach is blind over a large knob to a bowled green under the iconic windmill.  As fun a hole as there is.

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“THE SIXTEENTH HOLE FROM THE TEE.  This is the Punch Bowl and is a splendid hole – the lake replacing the old marsh will be noticed in the foreground.  The second must carry to the green as there is a whole group of mounds and bunkers in front of it.”

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HOLE #17 – Par 4 – 375 yards

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Peconic – the 17th at National Golf Links of America. Preeminent golf writer and hall-of-famer Bernard Darwin said that the view from the tee on this par-4 out “over Peconic Bay is one of the loveliest in the world.” Wise man, Sir Bernard.

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‘VIEW FROM THE SEVENTEENTH TEE.  This is a particularly fine hole of its length.  The sand bunkers and sea grass extend all the way down on the left so that the carry to get closest to the green may be chosen.  The Peconic Bay in the distance gives its name to the hole.”

Clubhouse

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The gorgeous clubhouse at National Golf Links of America, designed by Jarvis Hunt on land overlooking Peconic Bay.  The current clubhouse was built in 1911 after the original Shinnecock Inn burned down.

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PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS

HOLE #7 – Par 3 – 98 yards

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An iconic short par-3 with a truly incomparable view.  Ernie Els bogeyed the 7th in the 2000 US Open, allowing Tiger Woods to nip him by 12 shots.

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HOLE #8 – Par 4 – 400 yards

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The iconic par-4 8th at Pebble Beach – the difficulty of the approach overshadows that of the small, sloped green.

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The par-4 8th at Pebble Beach Golf Links. From the top of the cliff, players face a 200 yard approach over Stillwater Cove to a tiny, sloping, well-guarded green – the heart of one of the best stretches in the game, and one of the best holes in golf.

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PINE VALLEY GOLF CLUB

HOLE #2 – Par 4 – 355 yards

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At Pine Valley’s 2nd, one of the greatest greens in golf awaits those who navigate a church-pew-lined fairway & a wall of sand.

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HOLE #3 – Par 3 – 181 yards

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Prior to leaving for California, George Thomas was one of several architects to accept the invitation of one George Arthur Crump to lend expertise and assistance to the creation of Crump’s dream among the pines of southern New Jersey.

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HOLE #5 – Par 3 – 219 yards

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The par-3 5th, with newly cleared and bunkered areas around the green, is perhaps the greatest uphill par-3 in the world.

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‘THE FAMOUS FIFTH AT PINE VALLEY.  A 205 yard iron shot which is considered one of the finest golfing tests in America.  This is the first satisfactory picture showing the complete play from tee to green, as Pine Valley is very difficult to photograph.”

HOLE #8 – Par 4 – 314 yards

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The 8th at Pine Valley, the first of back-to-back double-greened par-4s, and a high stress half-wedge to one of two extremely small greens.

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“OUR PHOTO SHOWS THE MESA-LIKE GREEN OF THE EIGHTH HOLE AT PINE VALLEY.  A good tee-shot carries one down into the hollow with a short niblick pitch to reach the green.  But how different from the usual niblick pitch!  Here one has not only to throw a ball over a hazard but on to a green that stands out in all its loneliness, beckoning a risk of fate.”

HOLE #9 – Par 4 – 422 yards

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The approach to the famous dual-greened 9th at Pine Valley Golf Club – the left, built by Perry Maxwell, is generally agreed to be the better of the two, and with the removal of the trees behind, the shot into this skyline green is one of the best on the course.

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HOLE #10 – Par 3 – 142 yards

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This shot of the iconic 10th and the Devil’s Asshole at Pine Valley Golf Club was taken on a truly perfect day. The big, fluffy white clouds and crystal blue sky are beautifully contrasted by the greens and browns of the golf course.

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I’m not usually one for black & white photography, but the lack of color gives this hole a bit of a throwback vibe.

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Aerials

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The opening quintet at Pine Valley Golf Club begins with the par-4 dogleg right 1st followed by the heavily bunkered par-4 2nd & the terrific par-3 3rd playing bottom-to-top of frame.  Portions of the par-4 4th & par-3 5th, as well as the clubhouse, are visible through the trees.

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A look down on arguably the best 6-hole closing stretch in golf: the 13th through 18th at Pine Valley Golf Club.  The all-world par-4 13th is left; the par-3 14th is at bottom; the par-5 15th plays top-to-bottom center; the par-4 16th is to the right; 17 and 18 are top right.

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OTHER COURSES (in alphabetical order)

BALTUSROL GC (LOWER) #18 – Par 5 – 553 yards

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Built by Tillinghast and opened for play in 1922, the Lower is the club’s championship venue, and has hosted 7 majors and a host of other significant events.

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BEL-AIR CC #10 – Par 3 – 200 yards

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This brilliant George Thomas design, routed through canyons connected by a series of tunnels, an elevator and the aforementioned bridge, is being restored by Tom Doak.

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“THE BEAUTIFUL BEL-AIR GOLF CLUB AT BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA.  This is probably the most pretentious of the new Spanish Club buildings that reflect the mode of the moment in club house designs.  The course at Bel-Air is spread over hills and picturesque canyons.  The approach to the club house is via a suspension bridge which spans a fairway.”

CHICAGO GOLF CLUB #7 – Par 3 – 207 yards

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“THE SEVENTH HOLE.  A full mid-iron shot and a very fine short hole.  The back edge of the green is twenty feet high.  On special occasions the pin is placed behind the left-hand sand pit which makes a most exacting shot to get close to the hole.”

ENGINEERS CC #11 – Par 3 – 160 yards

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“Eleventh Green Engineers Country Club, Roslyn, L.I., where 1920 Amateur Championship will be played.  All materials supplied by Carters Tested Seeds, Inc.”

HOLLYWOOD GOLF CLUB #4 – Par 3 – 135 yards

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The par-3 4th at Hollywood Golf Club features huge mounding on both sides of the green with bunkers cut into their faces, a wicked false front, and the smallest green on the course. This Water Travis gem may be the most underrated course in New Jersey, and is terrific throughout.

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MANUFACTURERS’ G&CC – Aerial

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The mini-quarry par-3 8th at Manufacturers Golf & Country Club.  This 1925 William Flynn design has long been one of Philly’s hidden gems, but since being polished up by Ron Forse, Mannies truly shines.  A must play for those visiting the area.

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MERION GOLF CLUB #9 – Par 3 – 183 yards

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“ON THE THOROUGHLY TRAPPED NINTH GREEN AT MERION DURING THE EVANS-GARDNER MATCH.  New champion watching the ex-champion putt, and one of the biggest crowds that ever followed a golf game in America watching both.  And there were twice as many waiting at the next green, gone ahead to get the first place along the lines.”

MERION EAST – Aerial

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Holes 2 through 9 at Merion Golf Club’s East Course, a stretch which includes some of golf’s best holes, including the roadside par-5 2nd, the par-5 4th with huge fairway bunker, the brilliant and treacherous par-4 5th, the short par-4 8th and the beautiful par-3 9th.

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MID OCEAN CLUB #13 – Par 3 – 238 yards

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“THE CASTLE HARBOUR GOLF CLUB.  A splendid new course, designed by the late Mr. Charles H. Banks, in connection with the magnificent Castle Harbour Hotel, situated right next to the Mid-Ocean Club at Tuckerstown, Bermuda.  Well away from the more populous areas, the surroundings are most delightful by land and water.”

NEWPORT COUNTRY CLUB – Clubhouse

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Very few clubhouses make an impression or dominate their surroundings like the Whitney Warren-designed, Beaux Arts-style clubhouse at Newport Country Club.  Dubbed High Tide and resembling an oversized jewel box, the clubhouse is visible from all points of the golf course.

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OAKMONT CC #18 – Par 4 – 484 yards

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The well-defended par-4 18th at Oakmont Country Club, site of Dustin Johnson’s stone cold 6-iron to cap his 2016 U.S. Open Championship.

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OAKMONT CC – Clubhouse

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The shared 9th green/practice green and clubhouse at Oakmont Country Club.  Built in 1904 by Pittsburgh-based architect Edward Stotz, the Tudor-style clubhouse is a veritable museum of golf history, containing artifacts from nine U.S Opens and numerous other major tournaments.

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PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB #16 – Par 4 – 387 yards

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The infamous 16th at Pasatiempo drops some five vertical feet from back-to-front across three tiers.  Some love it, all fear it.

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“SIXTEENTH GREEN AT PASATIEMPO.  One of California’s famous courses.  Dr. MacKenzie, who designed the course, cites it as a shining example of what can be done to reduce the cost of golf and so greatly increase the number of people who can continue to play golf, even in times of economic stress.”

PASATIEMPO GC #18 – Par 3 – 169 yards

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There are few courses that finish with a par-3, and far fewer still that finish with a great one.

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RIVIERA CC #6 – Par 3 – 175 yards

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SAN FRANCISCO GC #18 – Par 5 – 512 yards

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Among the finest of Tillinghast’s designs, SFGC has a decidedly west coast flavor, with bunkering of a style that appears more MacKenzie than typical Tillinghast, who was expert in designing courses to suit the surrounding terrain.

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“SCENE AT THE CALIFORNIA LADIES’ CHAMPIONSHIP.  The clubhouse and eighteenth green at the San Francisco Golf and Country Club,  Here Mrs. Leona Pressler won her third consecutive state championship from a very strong field after a hard thirty-six hole match with Mrs. Roy Green in the finals.”

SHINNECOCK HILLS GC – Clubhouse

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True perfection: the clubhouse at Shinnecock Hills, designed & built by legendary architect Stanford White in 1892, is the oldest in the US.

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SLEEPY HOLLOW CC #16 – Par 3 – 155 yards

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A single sailboat enjoys an evening run on the Hudson River, between the Palisades on the west, and Sleepy Hollow Country Club on the east.

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SLEEPY HOLLOW CC – Clubhouse

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One of the biggest and boldest in golf, the clubhouse at Sleepy Hollow was built by Sandford White as Woodlea, a 140-room Italian Renaissance revival-style Vanderbilt Mansion with sweeping views of the Hudson River.  A perfect match for the boldness and beauty of its golf course.

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SOMERSET HILLS CC #2 – Par 3 – 205 yards

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Tilly’s Redan – the par-3 2nd at Somerset Hills – my personal favorite from among Tillinghast’s many designs.

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“The second hole at Somerset Hills, is a reproduction of the Redan at North Berwick.”

 SOMERSET HILLS CC #12 – Par 3 – 151 yards

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WILSHIRE CC #10 – Par 3 – 156 yards

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YALE UNIVERSITY GC #9 – Par 3 – 213 yards

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The famous par-3 9th at Yale.  Many say that the Biarritz template no longer has a place in the modern game, but I always enjoy seeing one.

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“THE FAMOUS WATER HOLE.  This is considered one of the greatest water holes ever built.  The carry from the back tee is 168 yards to the double green, divided in the middle by a trench, which, in itself, is a part of the green.  This picture, from the front tee, shows a water carry of 155 yards.”

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES – GOLF COURSE GEEKERY

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.

To explore more course related content from me, Jon Cavalier and other trusted sources, check out the ever-expanding GeekedOnGolf Global Guide.

MOST RECENT COURSE(S)

AUGUSTA NATIONAL

Bobby Jones set out, with his beloved Old Course as inspiration, to create the ideal golf course at Augusta. His collaborative partnership included Dr. Alister MacKenzie, Clifford Roberts, Marion Hollins and others—a meeting of the minds with a singular focus. In spite of the early challenges associated with stabilizing the club, the group certainly achieved the objective of designing and building a golf course worthy of acclaim. Read more…


MORE COURSE GEEKERY

SAND HILLS GOLF CLUB

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…

For more on Sand Hills, read my interview with Superintendent Kyle Hegland here.

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…

PRAIRIE DUNES COUNTRY CLUB

When the membership of Prairie Dunes Country Club decided, almost 20 years after the opening of what was described as the greatest nine hole golf course in America, to have Press Maxwell complete the course started by his father Perry, skepticism would have been forgivable. The deck was stacked against Press, but in the end he delivered on his father’s vision in his own way. Prairie Dunes is not just a great original nine with nine more. It is a unified and cohesive father and son golf adventure. It is the Maxwells’ masterpiece. Read more…

For more on Prairie Dunes, read my article on the 12th hole for The Fried Egg here, and my recap of my first visit to the club here.

NATIONAL GOLF LINKS OF AMERICA

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…

KINGSLEY CLUB

Taking into account that range of factors—the land, routing, strategy, aesthetic beauty, interesting features, drainage, agronomy, maintenance functionality, and the potential shots that any golfer of any skill level might hit—is a tall order. In fact, it is beyond the capability of a person with average mental computing power to handle. Mike DeVries is a world-class architect because he has that power and he cares to use it in pursuit of creating golf courses that will hold their interest over time and repeat play. That is what he accomplished at Kingsley Club, and that is fundamentally why I love it now more than ever. Read more…

For more on Kingsley Club, read my original article on what makes it Golf Heaven on Earth here.

PINE VALLEY GOLF CLUB

To onlookers, the man who is doggedly pursuing a dream might not appear as a visionary. Instead, he is crazy, or to the more charitable, a poor fool. Perhaps that is why those who could not see the picture in its creator’s mind labelled Pine Valley “Crump’s Folly”. And given the hardship that was endured to bring the course first to life and then to long-term sustainability, their short-sighted judgment was not entirely baseless. In the end, which George Crump would tragically not live to see, his detractors would be proven quite wrong about the course in the New Jersey pine barrens. Read more…

CRYSTAL DOWNS COUNTRY CLUB

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…

SLEEPY HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB

In The Legend, suitors Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones vie for the heart and soul of Katrina Van Tassel, climaxing in a ghostly confrontation at a crossroads in the woods. That story foreshadows the challenge Hanse, consultant George Bahto and the club’s leadership would ultimately have to face. Standing at a crossroads, haunted by ghosts of architects past, which path would they take? By committing to recapturing the heart and soul of Macdonald’s Sleepy Hollow, they laid those ghosts to rest in a fashion that can best be described as legendary. Read more…

SOMERSET HILLS COUNTRY CLUB

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…

CALIFORNIA GOLF CLUB OF SAN FRANCISCO

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…

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…

ST. LOUIS COUNTRY CLUB

By the time that C.B. Macdonald received the inquiry from the membership at St. Louis C.C. about designing a new course on recently acquired land in Ladue, his architectural collaboration with Seth Raynor was clearly ascendant. The pair had confirmed the merit of Macdonald’s concept of employing timeless design ideals at National Golf Links, which opened to acclaim in 1910. They subsequently proved themselves beyond one-hit-wonder status at Sleepy Hollow and were hitting their creative stride as the opportunities began to roll in. To that point, Macdonald and Raynor’s work had been largely concentrated in the Northeast. One can speculate that as they headed west to the Gateway City, coastal bias and curiosity might have been engaged in an internal tug-of-war. Would the ground be good for golf? Would the players be sophisticated enough to appreciate their concepts? Read more…

THE LOOP AT FOREST DUNES

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…

CEDAR RAPIDS COUNTRY CLUB

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…

SWEETENS COVE

Election Day in 2016 now seems like a lifetime ago. After watching election returns that night from an Atlanta hotel, I hit the road early the next morning to make a much anticipated jaunt to Sweetens Cove. Fellow geeks had been lauding the course—the architecture of Rob Collins and Tad King as well as the unique vibe—and my lucky day had finally arrived. What I found, making loops with Rob and Patrick Boyd, was a confirmation of the special character of Sweetens Cove, and the men who had devoted themselves to its creation and survival. Read more…

DESERT FOREST GOLF CLUB

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…

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…

SKOKIE COUNTRY CLUB

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…

CROOKED STICK GOLF CLUB

The fifth edition of this season’s Upping My Dye-Q series asserts that Crooked Stick is among the three most important courses in the history of golf architecture in America. Read more…

ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH COURSE

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…

CALUSA PINES GOLF CLUB

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…

THE PETE DYE COURSE 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…

QUOGUE FIELD CLUB

Benjamin Litman’s GolfClubAtlas article Timeless Golf at Quoque Field Club was a key contributor to the beginning of my love affair with 9-holers.  I wasn’t sure about how exactly to pronounce the name (it is “kwahg”, by the way), but I was absolutely certain that I wanted to play the course.  The chance to experience Quogue came for me during this season’s Noreaster, and as I wrote in my recap of that trip, it did not disappoint. Read more…

BLUE MOUND GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

Seth Raynor, in collaboration with both Charles Blair Macdonald and Charles Banks, belongs on the Mount Rushmore of green builders. The size and boldness of his green complexes is matched with contouring of the putting surfaces that oscillates between wild and sublimely subtle. His greens can take a lifetime to master on the approach and with the flatstick. Among the MacRaynor cognoscenti, the sets at National Golf Links of America, Chicago Golf Club and Camargo often get the nod as the best. Few will put Raynor’s work at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in that rarified company, but perhaps they should. Read more…

DAVENPORT COUNTRY CLUB

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…

AIKEN GOLF CLUB

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…

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…

LOST DUNES GOLF CLUB

Although he is steadfast in his belief in himself, his team and the principles that underlie great courses, he must still deal with reality. Such was the case with the opportunity to create Lost Dunes in southwest Michigan. Rather than be hampered by the numerous constraints of the site, the Renaissance team produced a course as creative and varied as any of their other works. Read more…

ARCADIA BLUFFS BLUFFS COURSE

Who doesn’t love chasing the sun on a golf course? As the golden hour gives way to the gloaming, the game’s most magical moments have a way of materializing. Add to that time of day a large body of water, and goose bumps rise on a golfer’s arms. In the States, with a few exceptions, that special combination of course, sea and sunset can only be found at those “single name” courses—Pebble, Bandon, Cypress, Chambers, Torrey. Here in the Midwest, we have one such course of our own, and it belongs in the same conversation in its ability to stir sun-chasers’ souls—Arcadia. Read more…

BOB O’LINK GOLF CLUB

This post was a long time in the making.  Like Bob O’Link’s architectural history – first with Ross, then with Alison, and now with Urbina – it involves intertwined threads. Read more…

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…

WHISTLING STRAITS & 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…

THE KAMPEN COURSE AT PURDUE

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…

CHAMPION HILL GOLF COURSE

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…

WESTMORELAND COUNTRY CLUB

On the way from my house to the highway sits Westmoreland Country Club.  For years, I drove by and peeked through the fence at the course, with its gorgeous clubhouse overlooking the perfect green fairways.  When I finally had the good fortune to play Westmoreland, it was a treat to spend an afternoon experiencing first-hand what I had so long seen only from the road.  The course was nice, with a few neat holes and greens, and the conditioning produced by Superintendent Todd Fyffe and his team was second to none.  Was there anything that set it apart from the numerous other terrific country clubs around Chicago?  Truth be told, not really. Read more…

MAXINKUCKEE COUNTRY CLUB

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…

MOSHOLU GOLF COURSE

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…

ROCK HOLLOW GOLF COURSE

“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…

MEDINAH COUNTRY CLUB COURSE #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…

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…

WYKAGYL COUNTRY CLUB

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…

HUNTINGDON VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB

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…

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…

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…

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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The Sandbox – Closing Day at Sand Valley

My competitive playing career was not one of any real distinction.  My career as a geeky golf adventurer, however, now includes a distinction to which only one other man (my buddy Peter Korbakes) can lay claim.  We were at Sand Valley on Opening Day, and we were the only guests to also be there on the first season’s Closing Day.

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.

The word that best describes The Sandbox is “joy”.  The first time around, we played a winner-calls-the-shot game.  On the second loop, we played with only a 7 iron.  The architecture is outstanding, with the course weaving in a figure eight through wooded, heathland, and duneland zones.  The teeing options are endless, and it begs for all manner of creative games to be played.  This is not a course for slavish adherence to the convention of stroke play.  This is a field custom made to unleash the pure joy of the game.

The weather was rugged, and the light no good, but I did get photos of all 17 holes (click on image mosaics to enlarge).  I have not bothered to include yardages, because the holes can be played from almost any distance the player chooses (especially when nobody else is on the course).


THE SANDBOX

HOLE #1 – The opener plays downhill over this center sand mound to a wavy green.  A gentle handshake with hints of what’s to come.

HOLE #2 – The 2nd plays slightly uphill to a narrow and deep green set below a dune and flanked by bunkers.  Gentle handshake time is over.  The green curves back and left close to the bunker.  Testy pin positions are available to the Super.

HOLE #3 – The 3rd is where two of the sweetest words in all of golf bring joy to the geeky heart – Double Plateau.  Macdonald and Raynor felt that the green should present its own strategic challenge within the broader challenge of the hole.  They would be proud of this beauty.

HOLE #4 – On the terrific 4th, the front right and back left sections of the green are divided by a ridge.  Shots can be played to both sections on the ground or through the air.  Upon reaching the back portion of the green, players get a first glance at the Road Hole beyond.

HOLE #5 – The green will accept running shots, but the contours gather balls to the bunker much more than it appears from the tee.  Get greedy going for the back pins and you risk a world of hurt.

HOLE #6 – There is more going on on the 6th green that it appears from the tee, and the bunkers that surround it demand a precise approach.  The devilish little bunker front center of the green is a reminder that nobody does little flourishes better than the C&C crew.

HOLE #7 – Tucked tightly against the pines, the narrow 7th green is flanked by bunkers and is meant to inspire thoughts of Pine Valley.

HOLE #8 – There are two things that I can never get enough of – biarritz and cowbell.

HOLE #9 – The 9th features one of the largest and wildest greens I have ever seen.  The central bowl was originally a bunker dividing a shared green for two holes in a prior version of the course.  One of the many benefits of short courses is that the architects can turn the creativity up to 11.  On the 9th, it might have hit 12.

HOLE #10 – The artful contours on the 10th make what is already a small green play even smaller.  Especially to the back left pin we encountered.

HOLE #11 – The tiny, elevated 11th green is fronted by one small bunker, and flanked short right and back left by two others.  A test of precision, with nowhere good to miss.

HOLE #12 – The 12th has a neat little green with front flairs left and right, which narrows toward the back, creating numerous pin positions that tempt and beguile.  Playing a one club challenge with Peter, I got up and down with a 7-iron from the greenside bunker. That is one of the many reasons why short courses are so special.  They are tailor made for memory making.

HOLE #13 – The Lion’s Mouth green on the 13th is set beautifully down among the sand barrens and pines.  So much going on here.  Bunkers front, left, right and behind, and a horseshoe green that packs plenty of challenging slope and contour.  This hole is simply outstanding.

HOLE #14 – On the Alps 14th, a large bunkered mound intimidates and obscures most of the green.  Nothing is quite so thrilling as the anticipatory walk to discover the fate of a blind tee ball.

HOLE #15 – The 15th plays downhill to an angled green fronted by a chain of bunkers.  A shallow trough through the middle of the putting surface makes the green play much smaller, especially to this back right pin position.

HOLE #16 – The Redan 16th has plenty of pitch from high front right to low back left which  makes aerial or ground approaches workable.  The green sits up on a plateau above the bunker, so whichever approach is taken must be confident.  If it ain’t up, it is in…trouble.

HOLE #17 – Playing to an elevated green, fronted by a devil’s asshole bunker, the short closer provides one last opportunity for birdie, or disaster.


We intended to grab lunch and head back out for two more loops.  Instead, we received an offer to play all 18 holes of Mammoth Dunes, and we simply couldn’t refuse.  Walking the routing in the spring, it was clear that Mammoth Dunes had scale, and an adventurous feel to it.  The open question was, would the details be as strong as the broad strokes.  I can now confidently say that the answer is, absolutely.  Cannot wait to get back and play both The Sandbox and Mammoth when they have matured.

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The boomerang green at the par-4 6th

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The cellar bunker on the par-5 7th

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From the tee on the par-3 8th

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The green on the short par-4 10th

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From the tee on the par-3 13th

For even more on Mammoth Dunes, check out Morgan Clausen’s detailed thread on GolfClubAtlas.


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf