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2016 Geeked on Golf Tour

A pattern seems to be developing.  As I watch the snow fall out my window, I reflect back and think, “It can’t get any better than this year’s golf tour.”  And then the next year comes around, and it does.  That was the story of 2016.  Just when I thought golf adventuring couldn’t get any better, it did.

I got around quite a bit this year.  First the stats: Played 51 courses (30 for the first time), including 6 U.S. Open Venues, in 15 states.  Gloriously exhausting, and tremendously rewarding.

Before getting into detail on the courses played, a few takeaways from the year:

This was the year I realized that I don’t like playing alone all that much anymore.  I would rather be in the company of a fellow geek or two.  Being able to share these adventures with kindred spirits makes the experiences richer, including geeking out about golf on long car rides or over a well-earned meal and drink.  This year, I had the good fortune of deepening existing friendships, and creating new ones around the country.  Golf is magical that way.

Golf has always been a walking sport for me.  This year, I came to realize that riding in a cart takes too much away from the experience for me to do it.  Even if it means that my game suffers a bit from fatigue, I prefer to walk.  Hiking around Sand Hollow, 81 holes in a day and half at Prairie Dunes, 45 holes at Sand Hills – sure, these walks were taxing.  But I like the exercise and the experience of the courses is significantly more vivid.  There might come a day when I am no longer able to walk and play.  On that day, I will take a cart.  Until then, it’s walking for me.

Although I did play in quite a few fun matches with friends, I did not keep score once this year.  In 2016, it didn’t seem to matter, so I didn’t bother.  It was quite liberating.  I was still plenty happy to make pars and birdies, but there was no pressure to do so.  Instead, I was freed up to attempt creative shots that, when pulled off, are the golfing memories I cherish the most.

Finally, I fell in love with the replay this year, or as my buddy Peter says, “Going around and around.”  My weekend at Prairie Dunes, and replays of great courses like Shoreacres, Crystal Downs, Sand Hills, and Boston Golf Club brought this into focus for me.  Playing new courses is great, but I find myself yearning more and more for the depth of experience that comes from the replay.

Enough philosophizing, on to the course highlights of 2016.

One course cracked my Top 5 favorites this year – Sand Hills.  Those who have been know how magnificent it is.  It is perfect.  Beautiful land, with 18 wonderful holes laid upon it.  For a photo tour, check out my September to Remember post here.

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Two additional courses cracked my Top 10 – Myopia Hunt Club and Prairie Dunes.

Playing Myopia is like stepping back in time to an era that pre-dates formal architectural styles.  It is a special place.  For much more on Myopia, check out Jon Cavalier’s course tour and my June Buddies Trip Recap.

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My weekend at Prairie Dunes was an all-timer.  After 81 holes in a day and a half, I got to know the course well, and I am grateful for the chance.  Strategy and variety abound, and those greens…oh my.  For a complete tour of Prairie Dunes, check out my visit recap here.

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Four additional courses cracked my Top 20 – Philadelphia Cricket Club, Oakmont, Kittansett Club, and Ballyneal.

Keith Foster’s work restoring Tillinghast’s Philly Cricket is off the charts.  It is breathtaking and all the right kinds of challenging.

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Oakmont is of course, Oakmont.  It was a neat treat to get to play this incredible course in a U.S. Open year.  Many hours of sleep were sacrificed for the experience, and it was worth every minute.

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Kittansett Club, with the benefit of a Gil Hanse restoration, blew me away.  This William Flynn design might be the best flat-site golf course in America.

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Like so many do, I fell in love with the Ballyneal experience.  Great golf-geeky membership, and my favorite Tom Doak course to date (yes, I have played Pacific Dunes).

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My quest to play all of the U.S. Open venues continued this year, and I knocked six more off the list – Glen View Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Oakmont, Erin Hills, and Inverness Club.  A wide variety, all wonderful courses.

(Click images to enlarge)

 

I had high expectations for most of the courses I played this year, but there were a handful that exceeded my expectations.  My biggest surprises of the year were Orchard Lake, Sand Hollow, Whitinsville, Highland Links, George Wright, and Sweetens Cove.

After coming across a photo tour of the newly renovated Orchard Lake Country Club on GolfClubAtlas, I was dying to see it.  What Keith Foster and Superintendent Aaron McMaster have done there is jaw-dropping.  For even more on Orchard Lake, check out my C.H. Alison appreciation post here.

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Sand Hollow is one of the most unique golf courses I have ever played.  The terrain is amazing, it has great holes – it is just plain cool.  I already have a return visit planned for February, 2017.  For more photos, check out my Las Vegas trip recap here.

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My golf buddies were a little skeptical when I added a 9-holer they had never heard of to our Boston itinerary.  After the first time around Whitinsville, they asked if we could stay the whole day.  They simply do not make courses like this anymore.

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The early morning trek out to the end of Cape Cod was worth the effort.  The Highland Links waits there, nearly untouched by time, and perhaps America’s only true links course outside of Bandon, OR.

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Boston has an embarrassment of riches in private golf, but it was a public track that pleasantly surprised me the most this season – George Wright.  The story of its creation as a WPA project, with Donald Ross as architect blasting holes out of the rock with dynamite is terrific.  In recent years, this gem has been getting the polish it deserves.

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Every golf geek I know who has made the pilgrimage to Sweetens Cove has come back a convert.  Count me among them – Sweetens Cove is everything that is great about golf, and golf course architecture, all packed into 9 holes.  For more about Sweetens Cove, check out my interview with Rob Collins, including his course tour.

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Toward the end of the season, it became evident that I have developed a fascination with 9-holers.  Winter Park CC, The Dunes Club, Whitinsville, Marion GC, Highland Links, Sweetens Cove, and Eagle Springs were all highlights for me in 2016.  I intend to include as many 9-holers as I can in my adventures going forward.

After another year of unbelievable golf experiences with great people, I am tremendously grateful.  Many thanks to those who have pitched in to make these adventures possible.  Time to start lining up 2017…

Happy New Year!


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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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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.

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Before getting to the courses, a side note:  My golf adventuring continues to include a social aspect for which I am grateful.  These experiences are much more rewarding when shared with other golfers who “get it”.  In fact, one of our hosts commented that he found our group to be enjoyable because we weren’t just a bunch of belt-notchers, but rather guys who loved the game and appreciated its special playing fields.

Since our trip had a twist, I am adding a twist to the recap.  I picked my favorite 18 holes from the 5 courses we played, by number, and hit Jon Cavalier up for photos.  This New England Great 18 is followed with the course photos I took, and some additional commentary.  Disagree with my selections?  Leave a comment here, or hit me up on social media.


NEW ENGLAND GREAT 18

(click photos to enlarge)

#1 – Whitinsville GC – Par 5 – 526 yards

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Hello Mr. Ross!  That was the feeling I had stepping onto the tee of the 1st at Whitinsville.  It is a grand par-5 that rolls over hills up to a big green beautifully set on a hilltop.  It is the perfect opener – it doesn’t punish, but it does require good shots to score.

 

#2 – Myopia Hunt Club – Par 5 – 463 yards

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The first at Myopia gives a preview of the quirk.  The second gives a preview of the grandeur and strategy of the rest of the course.  High on the hill of this reachable par 5, picking a route through the mounds, the player knows that thoughtful shot-making is the order of the day.

 

#3 – Wannamoisett CC – Par 3 – 131 yards

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This is the spot where the player realizes just how much Ross got out of the Wannamoisett property.  The short 3rd embodies the beauty and intimacy of the course, along with the truth that big challenge often comes in a small package.

 

#4 – Myopia Hunt Club – Par 4 – 380 yards

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Slopes and angles are the name of the game at the dog-leg 4th.  The safer play right off the tee leaves a much more challenging approach from a fairway sloped high right to low left, into a green sloped even more severely in the same direction.  This hole requires shot-making – two thoughtless straight balls in the middle won’t get the job done.

 

#5 – Kittansett Club – Par 4 – 395 yards

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The fifth heads inland to the windless area that the caddies affectionately call “The Oven”.  This two-shotter features imposing center bunkers that must be challenged to get a full view of and the best angle into the green.

 

#6 – Myopia Hunt Club – Par 4 – 244 yards

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I missed driving the green by less than ten feet on the short 6th, but found my ball on the closely mown upslope with the green running hard away front to back.  After carding a bogey 5, it occurred to me that I might not have mastered the strategy on this hole just yet.

 

#7 – Kittansett Club – Par 5 – 505 yards

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The first and only par-5 on the front nine at Kittansett is a rugged beauty with some of the coolest bunkering on the course.  Navigate that bunkering with an aggressive tee shot and second, and a birdie is there for the taking on the canted green.

 

#8 – Essex County Club – Par 4 – 422 yards

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Full disclosure – I have played this hole twice and it kicked my butt both times, and yet I love it anyway.  It begins with a blind drive to a wild split-level fairway.  It ends with a green that is both canted and contoured.  A truly unique hole.

 

#9 – Myopia Hunt Club – Par 3 – 130 yards

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A fair case can be made that this is best short par-3 on the planet.  It is at once mesmerizing in its artistic appearance, and terrifying in the narrowness of its green surface.

 

#10 – Wannamoisett CC – Par 4 – 403 yards

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This uphill par 4 features a mine field of artful Ross bunkering.  Approaches that crest the hill short tumble down to the beautifully set green.

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#11 – Kittansett Club – Par 3 – 220 yards

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MacDonald & Raynor, Langford & Moreau, and any other architects who have built crazy-bold greens would stand up and applaud the 11th at Kittansett.  Coupled with the length, this one-shotter chucks the concept of “fair” right out the window.

 

#12 – Wannamoisett CC – Par 3 – 195 yards

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The punchbowl green on this long, uphill one-shotter is fronted on the right by an enormous bunker.  It demands a confident swing with a longer club.  Those shots that are up to the challenge feed into birdie putt territory.

 

#13 – Essex County Club – Par 4 – 375 yards

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The natural beauty of this hole is off the charts.  The narrow fairway, flanked by native flowers, grass, and trees opens to a green wonderfully benched into the base of the rocky hill.

 

#14 – Kittansett Club – Par 3 – 175 yards

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Sneaky tough bunkering defends the final one-shotter at Kittansett.  A player who judges the effect of the wind properly and finds the green is rewarded.  For those who do not, a recovery crap-shoot awaits.

 

#15 – Essex County Club – Par 4 – 349 yards

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The 15th at Essex County is set out on the open field shared with the opening stretch of holes.  Wind is a big factor approaching the elevated green fronted by a large bunker.  The green is one of the boldest at Essex with a large swale creating multiple plateaus.

 

#16 – Myopia Hunt Club – Par 3 – 175 yards

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The green on the downhill 16th at Myopia looks almost unhittable from the tee.  To make matters worse, it is surrounded by nasty bunkers that do not yield sand saves easily.  If you manage par here, happily take it and run for the next tee.

 

#17 – Essex County Club – Par 4 – 328 yards

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Higher and higher describes well the penultimate hole at Essex County.  The player is asked to play a tee shot straight up the hill that anchors the back nine, and then follow it with a blind second uphill to one of the smallest greens on the course.  One of the most thrilling climbs in the game.

 

#18 – Essex County Club – Par 4 – 414 yards

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The climb on the 17th at Essex County is followed by the winding descent of the home hole.  The routing of the fairway between fescue covered hills is visually confounding on the tee shot.  Finding the fairway affords the player a reasonable approach to a subtly contoured green that will yield birdies.

 


MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

No other course is quite like Myopia.  It has a look and feel of pre-dating the Golden Era architecture, much like The Country Club.  It has a rugged, lay-of-the-land natural beauty about it.  It has plenty of quirk, of all the right kinds – blind shots, mounds, hummocks, and a variety of bunkering.

None of the above is meant to imply that Myopia is not sophisticated.  In its own unique way, it is one of the most strategic, artistic, and challenging courses that I have ever played.  It takes deep thought, confident decision-making, and solid execution to score.  I suspect that a player could spend several lifetimes joyfully trying to unlock all of its secrets.

In a word, Myopia is evocative, and I loved every minute of walking its fairways and trying to meet its challenges.

 


ESSEX COUNTY CLUB

There have been times in the past year that I have wondered if I have oversold myself on the greatness of Essex County.  This return visit dispelled any doubts – Essex County is brilliant, and the back nine is a masterpiece.

With guidance from Bruce Hepner, Superintendent Eric Richardson continues his pursuit of perfection, including removal of thousands more trees on the rocky hill that is the centerpiece of the property.

It became clear on my second time around Essex that its variety is part of its charm for me.  The course wanders through distinct zones – holes 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14-16, 17-18 – each with their own feel and natural beauty.  Add to that variety the obvious love that Donald Ross poured into tinkering with the greens and surrounds, and you have one special golf course.

 


WHITINSVILLE GOLF CLUB

Whitinsville is thoroughly pleasurable to play.  It is the kind of course that doesn’t need to wow, because it produces a sustained sense of happiness, hole after hole.  If I lived within an hour drive of Whitinsville, I would have submitted a membership application immediately after walking off the 9th green.

Working off of a Master Plan created by Gil Hanse, with assistance from Forse Design, Superintendent Michael Hughes keeps the course in perfect condition.  Nothing is overdone, and yet everything is just so.  It is a combination that allows the subtle elegance of Ross’s work to shine through.

A specific note about the trees at Whitinsville – I can’t think of a course that is a better example of ideal tree management.  It is right up there with Crystal Downs in that regard for me.  There are gorgeous specimen trees throughout the property in stands and singles, every one of which is nicely highlighted.  The property feels both intimately wooded and wide open at the same time.  Whitinsville strikes the perfect balance and should be studied by course stewards everywhere.

 


KITTANSETT CLUB

If there is a better flat-site golf course than Kittansett, I would like to see it.

The course plays through two distinct zones – a largely treeless coastal zone open to the stiff wind, and an inland zone among the trees which plays much calmer, but is no less challenging.  Gil Hanse’s restoration and Superintendent John Kelly’s care have uncovered the unique character of this New England gem.

Although Kittansett has a wild and rugged beauty, it makes no attempt to impress with visual eye-candy.  Instead, it uses ground features and bunkers to make the player think from tee-to-green on every single hole.  Impatience, indecision, and lapses of concentration are punished, but the player who plots a course and executes can score and have great fun doing so.

 


MARION GOLF CLUB

We made a quick stop after Kittansett at Little Marion (as the locals call it), which I had learned about in Anthony Pioppi’s wonderful book, To the Nines.  This early work of George Thomas was everything I had hoped it would be.  Quirky, raw, and just the kind of community course where I would love to go whack it around with my kids.

 


WANNAMOISETT CLUB

When I think of a classic golf course, a place that ought to host national championships, I think of a course like Wannamoisett.  At Par 69, tuned up to tournament conditions, I imagine that it can beat you senseless with a steady line-up of tough par-4s, and highly varied par-3s.

Wannamoisett is a prototypical Donald Ross golf course, but with some wonderful twists.  Ross’s creativity in the bunkering and ground features throughout is beyond anything that I have seen elsewhere.  He made the absolute most of this beautiful, but small, piece of property outside of Providence.  The course winds in and out of every nook and cranny, and it is a joy to explore.

With Superintendent Mark Daniels’s steady hand at the helm, this wonderful Ross gem gets the reverent care that it deserves.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that it doesn’t get any better than this.  I hope to get back to the area during the fall so that I can experience the natural beauty of these courses during another season.  Until that day, the fond memories will be close at hand.


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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Myopia Hunt Club Tour by Jon Cavalier

MYOPIA HUNT CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

South Hamilton, MA – Herbert Leeds

I had the pleasure of playing an early morning round at the one-of-a-kind Myopia Hunt Club outside Boston.  To put it mildly, it was well worth the drive up from Philly (smooth sailing when you leave at 1am).

Suffice it to say that I loved Myopia.  There is a vibe emanating from certain of these old clubs that I find quite appealing, and Myopia, like Garden City, has it in spades.  The building that houses the bar and dining areas was built in 1772.  The course is virtually unchanged from 19th century origins, save for a bit of added length.  It’s an incredible place.  I hope that you get a sense of that in these photos.  Enjoy.

The Entrance

You know when you arrive at Myopia that you are in for a special day.  As you make your way down the long entrance drive, you pass polo fields and horse barns and other areas that reveal that, unlike many other clubs of its ilk, Myopia still maintains strong ties to its equestrian roots.  And then there’s that outstanding logo.

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Like Yeamans Hall, Myopia’s entrance road lets you know right away what kind of experience you’re in for.  Horse barns are to your left as you drive in.  No parking, please.

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Horses are not the only creatures roaming the grounds at Myopia.

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That said, there are plenty of horses.  The 18th fairway is in the background, bordering the grounds.

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The Scorecard

In fitting with the overall theme of the club, even the scorecard looks old.

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The Clubhouse

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This view from behind the 18th green shows the wraparound clubhouse/locker room building, along with the putting green.

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No bartender – serve yourself.

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Fireplace signage

I can honestly say this is the first advertisement for a sled dog race I’ve seen at a golf course.

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Myopia’s weathervane

Locker Room

For me, Myopia’s locker room facilities rank right up there with Garden City, Merion and National Golf Links.  Myopia’s facilities have a more modern feel, but they’re still very unique.

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MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

Hole 1 – “First” – 276 yards – Par 4

Myopia opens softly, with a short, uphill par-4 with a blind but wide fairway.  The small green is easily reachable for some, but it can be treacherous, with its severe right to left slope.

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The angle that most wedge approach shots will see into the first green reveals the necessity of avoiding the miss right.

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The view from the first green – wow.

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Hole 2 – “Lookout” – 488 yards – Par 5

A very unique half par hole, the elevated tee allows a full view of the all the interesting obstacles presented.  The first in a three hole stretch of great golf.

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The second shot is blind to the green, as is the cross-bunker between the two mounds.  The flag in the background is on the 7th green.  The 2nd green is sunken below.

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The green and bunker are revealed.  This hole reminded me a bit of Emmet’s 4th at St. George’s on Long Island.

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The 2nd from behind shows the recessed nature of the green.

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Hole 3 – “Brae” – 252 yards – Par 3

A monster par-3 reminiscent of the 8th at Oakmont, only short doesn’t work well here.  In truth, the third of three half-par holes to open the round.  Anything long is dead.

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A small green for such a long par-3.

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Hole 4 – “Miles River” – 385 yards – Par 4

A fantastic and beautiful par-4, and one of the most widely recognized holes at Myopia.

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Beautiful bunkering.  The photo does not reveal just how much the green slopes from back right to front left.  I was told that this green has less pinnable area than even the tiny green on #9.

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From behind the green.

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Hole 5 – “Lone Tree” – 417 yards – Par 4

The fifth is a tough par-4 divided by a stream.

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The approach, with the morning dew still glistening.

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The reverse view reveals hints at the subtle demands of the fifth.

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Hole 6 – “Brook” – 255 yards – Par 4

Another brilliant short par-4.  By this point, the player knows he’s playing a course meant for match play.  This hole is drivable, with the caveat that the green slopes from front to back.

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The look back, with the rock wall as yet another reminder of Myopia’s timeless New England style.

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Hole 7 – “Myopia” – 401 yards – Par 4

The course’s namesake provides a capsule view of what you’ll find at quirky Myopia.  Good luck finding a level lie in this fairway.

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The approach view on the 7th from the top of the hill.

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The view from the green back shows the elevation change and side-slope.

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This panoramic view of the 7th hole, taken from the 4th fairway, gives a good idea of the challenge of the slope in the approach, and shows the many background elements that add to the experience at Myopia.

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Hole 8 – “Prairie” – 473 yards – Par 5

The hole begins with a drive over a small rise to a blind landing area.

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The second shot is obscured by an Alps-like rise in the fairway that hides the green.  The very top of the flag is visible here.

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Like the 4th, the bunkerless 8th green is built with severe slope from high right to low left.  Anything to the right of this pin can easily be putted all the way off the green.

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Hole 9 – “Pond” – 136 yards – Par 3

One of the best short par-3s in golf.

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The green is a mere 9 paces wide at the middle, and the creative bunkering results in some interesting recovery shots on misses.

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Hole 10 – “Alps” – 404 yards – Par 4

The “alps” here are carried off the tee.  The blind tee shot makes for an uncomfortable drive, since anything missed right …

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… ends up in a really bad spot.  Note that the landing area is wider that it would seem from the tee, but the price for missing is quite high.

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The 10th also has some great contour and bunkering around the green.  One of my favorite holes on the course.

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Reverse view, showing the wonderful green complex.

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Hole 11 – “Road” – 349 yards – Par 4

An uphill par-4 with trouble down both sides.  The tee is to the left of this photo, which shows the gorgeous red fescue that abounds at Myopia.  Any left to right tee shot here is in danger of running off the canted fairway.

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This green view reveals another great use of a cross bunker.  There’s room between the bunker and the green to land a ground approach, but you won’t get away with a skulled runner here.  Along with 4 and 8, the 11th is one of the most sloped greens on the course.

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Hole 12 – “Valley” – 451 yards – Par 4

A picturesque tee shot back down into the valley, the 12th runs parallel to the 8th and 7th holes.  The red fescue frames the hole beautifully.  Another half-par hole.

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The view of the green on twelve shows the danger of missing right.

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This view back toward the 12th tee reveals the rugged nature of the terrain at Myopia.

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Hole 13 – “Hill” – 358 yards – Par 4

Playing back through the valley of the 2nd hole, the 13th requires proper placement of the tee shot to have a reasonably playable angle into the elevated green.

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The approach on 13.  Straight up the ridgeline.

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Anything short of the green will roll back off the front of the green, ending up as far as 30 feet from the putting surface.  You really don’t want to be long here either.  The bottom line – hit the green, or else.

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Hole 14 – “Ridge” – 393 yards – Par 4

The landing area on this par-4 is flanked by more of Myopia’s signature ground features.

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The green is defended by bunkers from which recovery is no easy task.

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Hole 15 – “Long” – 529 yards – Par 5

The slight rise in the fairway hides the fairway bunkers up the right side.

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Likewise, the bunkers fronting the green are hidden from view on the second shot.

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Myopia’s seeming simplicity masks nuance that is discovered over many plays.

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Hole 16 – “Paddock” – 192 yards – Par 3

A gorgeous par-3 with the clubhouse as a backdrop.  Once again, many of the greenside bunkers are hidden from view.  The 18th green is seen behind.

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The view from behind the 16th green, with the first fairway in the background.

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This view from a different angle behind the 16th green better shows the great bunkering on this hole.  The pro shop is just out of view to the right.

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Hole 17 – “West” – 394 yards – Par 4

The green is not in view from the tee, nor is the bunkering on the right of the fairway.

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The 17th green, tucked in among the trees and bunkers.  Not much room for error.

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Hole 18 – “Home” – 400 yards – Par 4

Great courses have great closers, and Myopia is no exception.  The 18th here reminded me a little of the finishing hole at Oakmont.  A ridge runs the entire length of the right side of the hole.  Horses run the left.

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Double bunkering fronts the green on the right.

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A final set of signature Myopia bunkers guards the greenside and runs from front left to back right.

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The view back down the 18th – beautiful.

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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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AN APPRECIATION OF GREAT COURSES BY JON CAVALIER

Over the years, I have learned a great deal about courses and architecture from the creators of GolfClubAtlas.com and its community.  Perhaps no other contributor has shared his knowledge and experience in a more impactful way than Jon Cavalier though.

His course tours are at once visually stunning and packed with information.  His perspective, and the unsurpassed manner in which he expresses it, stirs up my passion for the game.

Below are links to Jon’s tours.  And for a daily dose of Jon’s photography, follow him on Twitter (@LinksGems) and Instagram (@LinksGems).


JON’S NEWEST TOUR – LONGUE VUE CLUB

Longue Vue is a course that is under the radar of most, but for those who enjoy their golf fun, fast and challenging, and with some gorgeous scenery sprinkled in, Longue Vue is not to be missed.  Read more…


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BANDON PRESERVE

The Preserve is one of those elements that makes a trip to Bandon so special.  The uniqueness of a short course in such a beautiful setting; the opportunity to add to long travel day with a quick loop; the fun of plunking down a few wagers with your foursome; or perhaps best of all, a solo walk around these thirteen holes at dusk, with only your wedge, your putter and your thoughts of rounds played and rounds to come.  See the tour here…

BANDON TRAILS

The uniqueness of Bandon Trails among the courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, coupled with the beautiful terrain and the outstanding Coore/Crenshaw design, make this golf course a favorite among many Bandon visitors.  See the tour here…

BAYONNE GOLF CLUB

Bayonne Golf Club is, to put it mildly, one of the more unique golf clubs in the United States.  Built entirely from scratch by Eric Bergstol, the course represents the antithesis of the “minimalist” trend in golf course architecture, and yet, somehow, appears more “natural” than many other courses built in the last 20 years.  The result is, in a word, spectacular.  See the tour here…

BOSTON GOLF CLUB

I had the privilege of seeing this 2004 Gil Hanse design on a beautiful late-October afternoon, and while I had heard good things about the club previously, to say that Boston Golf Club exceeded my expectations would be a dramatic understatement.  See the tour here…

EASTWARD HO!

I have had the great pleasure and fortune of playing some of the most “charming” golf courses in the east this year and Eastward Ho, in my opinion, belongs on any list of such courses.  It’s an exciting, fun, playable and unique golf course that deserves more than the share of accolates that it currently receives.  I can’t remember having such an enjoyable time on a golf course.  See the tour here…

FISHERS ISLAND CLUB

Some golf courses are special.  We all know that feeling we get when we play one of these courses.  Our senses are heightened, our memories are sharpened, our spirits are lifted, and our love for the game of golf is strengthened and vindicated by the experience.  Fishers Island is a special golf course.  See the tour here…

GARDEN CITY GOLF CLUB

I can’t really express how much I enjoyed this golf course, so for the most part, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  See the tour here…

MAIDSTONE CLUB

On the other hand are golfers looking for something other than sheer difficulty in a golf course.  These players are looking for a course that provides something different, something out of the ordinary, something they’ve never seen before.  These players are searching for a place that provides an element of the game so often forgotten in modern golf: fun.  Maidstone is that place.  See the tour here…

MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

Suffice it to say that I loved Myopia.  There is a vibe emanating from certain of these old clubs that I find quite appealing, and Myopia has it in spades.  The building that houses the bar and dining areas was built in 1772.  The course is virtually unchanged from 19th century origins, save for a bit of added length.  It’s an incredible place.  See the tour here…

NATIONAL GOLF LINKS OF AMERICA

For me, this is sacred ground.  As a devout member of the church of MacRaynor, and indeed, as one who owes his very interest in golf course architecture and history to the golf courses these men left behind, playing a round of golf at the National was my pilgrimage, my Mecca.  Charles Blair Macdonald’s masterpiece did not disappoint.  See the tour here…

OLD MACDONALD

Drawing upon their extensive experience in restoring the classic work of Macdonald and Raynor, Doak and Urbina set about building a course that would allow players to experience this classic golden age style of design while independently providing a fun and engaging golf experience.  The result is an absolute triumph.  See the tour here…

OLD SANDWICH

Any modern architect working in the Boston area faces the challenge of designing a course that will inevitably be measured and compared to these venerable courses, which were built by Golden Age titans with names like Donald Ross, William Flynn, Herbert Fowler and Herbert Leeds.  Such is the tall task that faced Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in the early 2000s.  Suffice it to say, these two gentleman, as they have so often done, rose to the occasion with gusto.  See the tour here…

OLD TOWN CLUB

When it became apparent that time had taken its toll on this old beauty, the members chose Coore & Crenshaw to perform an extensive restoration of the property. Suffice it to say, the duo did a magnificent job.  See the tour here…

PACIFIC DUNES

Pacific Dunes is simply stunning — it is one of the most beautiful places to play golf that I have ever seen.  But beyond its sheer beauty, it is also an extremely well designed and very enjoyable golf course.  See the tour here…

SHINNECOCK HILLS 

The rich tradition of championship golf at Shinnecock Hills continues this summer.  The collaboration between Superintendent Jon Jennings and Coore & Crenshaw has brought out every ounce of the brilliance of William Flynn’s Long Island masterpiece.  Shinny is ready to test the best.  See the tour here…

SHOREACRES

Shoreacres not only occupies some of the most gorgeous golfing land in the United States, but it is also maintained in absolutely perfect condition.  Note that this is not to say that the club is focused on providing a flawless, manicured playing surface (though they do), but rather that the club’s focus on giving players a firm, bouncy and fast surface tee to green allows the course to playexactly as Raynor intended, and brings out all of the best features that Macdonald and Raynor viewed as essential to the game.  See the tour here…

SLEEPY HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB

Sleepy Hollow is, quite simply, one of my favorite places in the country to play golf.  Exceptional golden age architecture, spectacular views, exciting shots, fabulous conditions — Sleepy Hollow has everything a golfer could want.  See the tour here…

SOMERSET HILLS COUNTRY CLUB

From the moment I hit the entrance to the property, Somerset Hills exceeded my expectations in every regard.  It’s beautiful, strategic, interesting, unique and fun, and the condition of the course was fantastic and conducive to good golf.  See the tour here…

WHIPPOORWILL CLUB

Whippoorwill is a Charles Banks design and is generally considered to be his masterpiece.  I’ve had the great pleasure of playing several Banks courses, and Whippoorwill is in a class by itself.  While this course is smack in the middle of one of the most golf rich areas in the world, the degree to which it is overshadowed by its neighbors borders on criminal.  This is simply a fantastic golf course, and it contains one of the most dramatic and memorable stretches of holes that I’ve seen.  See the tour here…


MORE FROM JON CAVALIER

BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO C.B. MACDONALD

On November 14, 1855, Charles Blair Macdonald was born in Ontario.  After growing up in Chicago, he attended St. Andrews University, where he learned golf from Old Tom Morris.  In 1874, he returned to Chicago but rarely played golf until 1891, calling these years his “dark ages.”  Read more…

WALKER CUP COURSE PREVIEW – LACC

The 2017 Walker Cup is being contested at the historic Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course.  Originally opened in 1911 and redesigned by George C. Thomas Jr in 1921, the North Course was recently restored by Gil Hanse’s team, with an assist from Geoff Shackelford.  Read more…

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

It is clear at this point that Jon is a very talented guy.  He is also extremely generous to put this amount of work into sharing his photos with us, with no concern for remuneration.  Those of us who have had the pleasure of teeing it with him will tell you this about Jon as well – he’s as a good a golf buddy as you’ll ever find.  Read more…

TOP 10 NEW COURSES OF 2015

The end of the year is a time for reflection on days past, anticipation of days to come, and most of all, a time for … LISTS!  Top 10 lists seem to be everywhere this week, and far be it for me to resist this trend. So, in that vein, here are the Top 10 Courses that I played for the first time in 2015 (along with some honorable mentions).  Read more…