Geeked on Golf

A Celebration of the People & Places that Make Golf the Greatest Game


2 Comments

Musings on Our National Championship

For the record, I loved the 2018 U.S. Open.  We got to see four days of great players taking on Shinnecock Hills – William Flynn’s brilliant design, Coore & Crenshaw’s thoughtful restoration, and Jon Jennings et al’s beautiful presentation.  No amount of setup snafu, quick rake nonsense, or bellyaching from various constituencies could dampen my enthusiasm.

Shinnecock-ClubhouseSide

All photos by Jon Cavalier

The internet produced a variety of strong reactions to the Open at Shinnecock.  Some were well-reasoned and others were hyperbolic in the extreme.  Setting reactions aside, following are my musings on what we’ve learned, and where America’s governing body might go from here with our National Championship.

For some time now, the USGA has been doing a fair bit of tinkering and way too much micromanaging.  They are not the victims of happenstance or bad breaks.  They have placed themselves in an untenable situation by trying to:

  • appease players and manufacturers by not adequately regulating equipment technology,
  • appease traditional hard-liners who demand carnage,
  • appease casual fans who prefer birdies over bogeys, and
  • appease par devotees who want to see a certain number on the scoreboard.

Combine these factors with the unpredictability of Mother Nature and the game of golf itself, and you have a recipe for outcomes that are guaranteed to frustrate and disappoint.  Worse yet, the USGA’s insistence on pursuing this impossible balance to try and please everyone is distracting from what really matters – great players competing against each other on great playing fields.

As I watched Saturday’s action unfold, with the setup tipping over the edge, I ran a 24-hour Twitter poll to try and gauge how the carnage vs. playability balance was shaping up:

USOpen-Poll1.pngA day later, with the USGA arguably going too far in the direction of playability, I asked essentially the same question in a different way:

USOpen-Poll2.png

Although the second poll was much quicker, I doubt that the results would have changed had I let it run for 24-hours instead of 2.  My conclusion?  We the audience don’t really even know what we want.  We are essentially impossible to please.  The USGA would be better served choosing a position, and sticking to their guns knowing that some players and fans will gripe no matter what.  With that approach, at least they will have maintained a discernible and authentic identity.


THE PATH AHEAD

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  It’s time to stop the insanity.

If I were King, I would create a U.S. Open rota, with architectural interest and history being the weightiest considerations.  I would not concern myself with charges of “elitism” in my rota selections.  This is one of the most elite competitions in the world.  Its venues can and should be elite as well.  Making the game more inclusive is an important mission of the USGA, but the U.S. Open is not the vehicle for that mission.

My proposed rota is:

  • Oakmont*
  • Shinnecock Hills*
  • Pebble Beach*
  • Pinehurst No. 2*
  • Winged Foot*
  • Merion
  • Olympic Club
  • The Country Club
  • Los Angeles CC
  • Cherry Hills
  • Inverness (based on Andrew Green’s recent tune-up)
  • Oakland Hills (contingent on Gil Hanse tune-up)
  • Olympia Fields (contingent on Keith Foster tune-up)

*host more frequently than others

This rota provides geographic and architectural diversity and allows fans to get to know great courses by watching different player cohorts play them over the decades.  Just because a course did not make my rota does not mean that I don’t want to see professional golf on that course.  I very much want to see future events held at Chambers Bay, Bethpage Black, Erin Hills, and others.  Let the PGA and PGA Tour cast a wider net with the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup that includes those great courses.

The rota being selected, my second act as King would be to simplify the rules for setup to a list of 3, and I would let the Golf Course Superintendent lead the preparation of the course for the tournament with consultation from the USGA that is not overbearing.

  1. Rough and/or native area that is nasty and penal, but only where the original architect intended for it to be.
  2. Very firm greens, but slow the putting surfaces down so that they stay alive and roll true.
  3. A mix of pin positions each day – some gettable, some next-to-impossible.

These setup rules would not be altered regardless of the weather.  If Mother Nature helps the players one year, so be it.  If Mother Nature crushes the players the next year, so be it.  As King, I would offer no apologies to anyone based on their perceptions of difficulty, or lack thereof.  You play in the National Championship, it is what it is.  Deal with it.  Because after all, that is the essence of the game itself, and as King, I would want my championship to pay homage to that essence.


THE ROTA IN PHOTOS

Oakmont-RotaJC.jpeg

Oakmont

Shinnecock-Aerial7

Shinnecock Hills

Pebble-RotaJC.jpeg

Pebble Beach

Pinehurst-RotaJC.jpeg

Pinehurst No. 2

WingedFoot-RotaJC.jpeg

Winged Foot

Merion-RotaJC.jpeg

Merion

OlympicClub-RotaJC.jpeg

Olympic Club

CountryClub-RotaJC.jpeg

The Country Club

LACC-RotaJC.jpeg

Los Angeles CC

CherryHills-RotaJC.jpeg

Cherry Hills

Inverness-RotaJC.jpeg

Inverness

OaklandHills-RotaJC.jpeg

Oakland Hills

OlympiaFields-RotaJC.jpeg

Olympia Fields

Now that I’ve shared my musings, I’m off to read what everyone else has concluded.  Feel free to share your thoughts here, email me, or comment on social media.  Already looking forward to Pebble…


MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


2 Comments

LinksGems Shinnecock Hills GC Photo Tour

JON CAVALIER’S LINKSGEMS 2018 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

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.

Once again, Jon Cavalier has provided us with a hole-by-hole preview featuring his stellar photography and commentary.  My course doodle has been included for your reference, and additional resources are at the end for an even deeper dive.  Enjoy!

Shinnecock-Aerial-JWSketch.jpg


SHINNECOCK HILLS GOLF CLUB

Shinnecock-ClubhouseBack.jpg

(click on image mosaics to enlarge)

No. 1 – 399yds – Par-4

Shinnecock1-Tee.jpg

A relatively easy dogleg right with an ample landing area to open, and certainly one of the better birdie opportunities on the course.  However, long is serious trouble – bogey or worse lurks behind this green.

No. 2 – 252yds – Par-3

Shinnecock2-ShortLeft.jpg

A new back tee installed for the 2018 Open stretches this monster uphill par-3 to over 250 yards to a green guarded by bunkers on both sides and a false front.  Make par here and you’ll gain on the field for sure.

No. 3 – 500yds – Par-4

Shinnecock3-Greenback.jpg

This par-4 has been lengthened via a new back tee and narrowed from the left side, bringing the bunkers on the right very much into play.  The open green slopes mostly back-to-front but abruptly falls away behind.

No. 4 – 475yds – Par-4

Shinnecock4-Tee.jpg

“Pump House,” so named for the outbuildings the hole doglegs around, has seen its fairway tightened up.  Its real challenge is the undulating green, which features a false front and falls away on all sides.

No. 5 – 589yds – Par-5

Shinnecock5-ShortRight.jpg

“Montauk” is the first three-shotter of the round, but rest assured, many will be going for this green in two despite the narrow fairway and the large bunker guarding the dogleg. Distance control is key, as once again, long is dead.

No. 6 – 491yds – Par-4

Shinnecock6-GreenBehind.jpg

“Pond” features the only water on the course, a retention pond unlikely to see a single ball this week, and a scruffy waste area right of the fairway that will.  The green is among the toughest at Shinny.

No. 7 – 189yds – Par-3

Shinnecock7-TeeZoom.jpg

This Redan, built in 1931 by William Flynn on the site of C.B. Macdonald’s original, is a hole as intimidating as it is beautiful.  Playing at a more oblique angle and with a smaller opening than most makes this tilted green incredibly difficult to hit, hold, chip to and putt.  Any misses to the right will be lucky to save bogey.  In 2004, Kevin Stadler putted from 2-feet into a bunker. Buckle up.

No. 8 – 439yds – Par-4

Shinnecock8-GreenBehind.jpg

“Lowlands” is likely the flattest hole at Shinny, and at “only” 439 yards, players will be looking for birdie here before the brutal 9-10-11 stretch.  Beware the green though, which is among the most undulating on the course.

No. 9 – 485yds – Par-4

Shinnecock9-Fairway.jpg

“Ben Nevis,” named for the highest mountain in the UK, is one of the world’s greatest uphill par-4s, and the start of the heart of this golf course.  A dogleg left at the clubhouse to a heaving fairway, and then up to a green seemingly perched on the edge of a cliff, mere paces from the steps leading in to Stanford White’s iconic shingle-style clubhouse.Par is a good score on this breathtaking hole.

No. 10 – 415yds – Par-4

Shinnecock10-ShortRight.jpg

The aptly named “Westward Ho” plays to a fairway cut through a dune hiding a precipitous drop, a left turn and a green with 50 yards of false front.  Short is dead, long is deader; better be dialed in on distance.

No. 11 – 159yds – Par-3

Shinnecock11-GreenLeft.jpg

The 11th at Shinnecock has been called many things: Hill Head (its official name), the shortest par-5 in golf, and the best uphill par-3 in the world, among others.  What it has never been called, is easy.  The green sits atop a small dune ridge exposed to the wind and falls off to all sides.  Standing on the tee, the landing area looks impossibly small.  A hole that could determine the Open winner.

No. 12 – 469 – Par-4

Shinnecock12-GreenBack.jpg

After surviving the crucible at 9-10-11, players will be looking for birdie at this downwind, downhill par-4.  Playing across Tuckahoe Road, the approach is slightly uphill to an open green.  Look for big drives here.

No. 13 – 374yds – Par-4

Shinnecock13-Approach.jpg

“Road Side” once again changes direction and plays back over Tuckahoe Road toward the clubhouse.  The shortest non-par-3 on the course, the 13th is a prime candidate to be shortened to a drivable par-4.

No. 14 – 519yds – Par-4

Shinnecock14-Tee.jpg

One of my favorite holes, “Thom’s Elbow” has been lengthened by a whopping 75 yards, turning this well-bunkered two-shotter into a monster that should require driver off the tee from the entire field.  The saddle-shaped green at the 14th is more receptive than most, and will direct balls from its flanks to the middle.  Shots hit too firmly will scoot through and will leave a difficult up-and-down.

No. 15 – 409yds – Par-4

Shinnecock15-ApproachRight.jpg

The 15th is one of the most beautiful holes in golf, its tee set high on the glacial moraine that serves as the backbone of this astonishing golf course.  Finding the fairway is critical, as the green is small, sloped and well-guarded by six terraced bunkers in front (one of the few greens fronted by bunkers at Shinnecock).  Simply put, this is just a breathtakingly beautiful golf hole.

No. 16 – 616yds – Par-5

Shinnecock16-ApproachLeft.jpg

Shinnecock, the eponymous 16th, begins our home stretch.  The second of Shinny’s two par-5s, this hole has a new tee which adds 76 yards in length, but downwind, players can still have a go at this green.  As with so many holes at Shinnecock, the defenses of this hole are found around and on the green.  Five bunkers guard the layup zone and ten more guard the green.  Most players will happily take par here.

No. 17 – 180yds – Par-3

Shinnecock17-Short.jpg

A devilishly tricky one-shotter frequently buffeted by confounding crosswinds and featuring a pushed up green with no background to help with judging distance, the 17th may well determine this week’s winner.

No. 18 – 485yds – Par-4

Shinnecock18-TeeZoom.jpg

A new tee 35 yards back brings the bunker at the dogleg back into play, but Home is all about the approach and the wickedly sloped green, which will return anything indifferent 20 yards back into the fairway.

And there you have it – all 18 holes at one of America’s very best championship venues, an iconic piece of golden age architecture.  Hope you enjoyed the tour, and that you enjoy the 118th United States Open!

Shinnecock-ClubhouseSunset.jpg

Bonus Aerials

Shinnecock-Aerial1.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial2.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial3.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial4.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial5.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial6.jpg

Shinnecock-Aerial7.jpg

 


MORE ON SHINNECOCK HILLS

 


MORE LINKSGEMS TOURS

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


15 Comments

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.

SandHills18-BunkerWindmill.jpeg

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.

Myopia10-Bunkershort.jpeg

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.

PrairieDunes15-Greenabove.jpeg

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.

PhillyCricket18-GreenBehind.jpeg

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.

OakmontCC18-Approachleft.jpeg

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.

Kittansett11-Approach.jpeg

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).

ballyneal11-teezoom

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.

OrchardLakeCC18-Approach.jpeg

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.

SandHollow12-Above.JPG

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.

Whitinsville6-Greenabove.jpeg

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.

highlandlinks5-greenback

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.

GeorgeWright13-Greenabove.jpeg

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.

SweetensCove9-GreenAbove-x.jpeg

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!


MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:

 

 

Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


12 Comments

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.

In a word, Oakmont is mystique.  From the turn into the parking lot, through the clubhouse, and on each of its 18 holes, a palpable aura surrounds and permeates the place.

OakmontCC18-Approachleft.jpeg

In a word, Ballyneal is joy.  Golfing the ball around this wonderful facility is guaranteed to reawaken a childlike love of the game.

Ballyneal-CommonsSunrise.jpeg

In a word, Sand Hills is majesty.  On land that is as big and beautiful as the sky above, it sits like modern minimalist royalty on a throne.

SandHills-Windmill.jpeg

Although these clubs and courses are quite distinct, they share common threads.  They are all breathtakingly beautiful.  Each features a wealth of interest from the grand scale all the way down to the smallest details.  They possess an enjoyable combination of challenge and fun.

And perhaps most important, their memberships love and respect golf, are welcoming, and have just the right kind of pride in their home clubs.  The spirit of the game is alive and well at Oakmont, Ballyneal and Sand Hills.


OAKMONT COUNTRY CLUB

For a golf history and architecture geek, there is simply too much to take in in one visit to Oakmont.  Especially with a knowledgeable and gracious host like mine, sharing stories as we walked the fairways, my head was spinning.  Having had the full experience, I hope to make a return trip some day to get to know the course better and just play.

In discussions of Oakmont, much attention is paid to the group of holes across the turnpike, which includes the par-4 3rd, with its iconic church pews.  And of course, the closing stretch from the par-4 15th through the par-4 18th is as strong and storied as they come.

I found myself particularly taken with the holes that occupy the center of the property between the clubhouse and the turnpike – the 9th through the 13th.  The ground has surprising elevation change and beautiful movement to it, and the holes are packed with interest and variety.

#9 – Par 5 – 462 yards

OakmontCC9-Approach.jpeg

This three-shotter plays much longer than the yardage on the card, uphill and often into the wind.  The drive is blind, the fairway guarded by bunkers and ditches, and the large green transitions seemlessly into the practice putting green.  Playing up this hole toward the iconic clubhouse is awe-inspiring.

#10 – Par 4 – 440 yards

OakmontCC10-Approachright.jpeg

The tenth tumbles downhill through a minefield of bunkers over some of the most undulating ground on the property.  Approaches into the green, which runs away, are extremely difficult to judge.

#11 – Par 4 – 328 yards

OakmontCC11-Approach.jpeg

The eleventh heads back uphill and the player has to decide how aggressively to flirt with the ditch that cuts across the hole at an angle.  The elevated green needs to be approached deftly, especially when the wind is blowing.

#12 – Par 5 – 562 yards

OakmontCC12-Approachleft.jpeg

This beast can play in excess of 650 yards downhill to a fairway that slopes severely from left to right.  Simply put, hit three good shots here or you are looking at a big number, as the green is not one that allows for easy up-and-downs.

#13 – Par 3 – 153 yards

OakmontCC13-Greenabove.jpeg

Finding the green on this beautiful little three-par is just the beginning of the adventure.  The putting surface is both canted and contoured, which means a line/speed guessing game when attempting to hole an elusive birdie putt.

To conclude that Oakmont is just a hard golf course is to miss the subtle brilliance of Mr. Fownes’s design.  Oakmont is not a one-dimensional brute.  For those who can maintain focus, think strategically and execute boldly, Oakmont is a multi-dimensional puzzle beckoning to be solved.

For much more on the history of Oakmont Country Club, its course and championships, visit the video archive here for Kyle Truax’s compilation.


BALLYNEAL GOLF CLUB

From the moment we passed the front gate, my companions and I were grinning from ear to ear.

Ballyneal-Sign.jpeg

I have never experienced a friendlier reception than the one we got at Ballyneal.  Every member we met seemed happy to see us, and genuinely excited for us to experience all aspects of their club.   It is the golf-geekiest place I have been to date, and I loved it!

Ballyneal-CommonsLodge.jpeg

The course map hanging in the pro shop illustrates how Tom Doak routed a wonderful adventure through the Chop Hills. Of the eight TD courses I have played thus far, Ballyneal is my favorite.  It has the boldness of Pacific Dunes coupled with the adventurous feel of Apache Stronghold.  It has variety aplenty, some unique and creative holes, and just the right amount of Doak funk.

Ballyneal-CourseMap.jpeg

(Click on images to enlarge)

#1 – Par 4 – 350 yards

Ballyneal1-GreenAbove.jpeg

Walking to the first tee, we discovered one of the many aspects of Ballyneal that makes it a joy to play – no tee markers.  Holes have multiple teeing areas and players are given the freedom to choose their own adventure.

We played the opener from the left tee which requires a carry over a valley up to the angled fairway.  The green is guarded by bunkers left and tight runoffs right.

#2 – Par 4 – 483 yards

Ballyneal2-GreenBack.jpeg

The fairway on the second is wide, but angles do matter when approaching the green, which is surrounded by slopes and bunkers.

#3 – Par 3 – 135 yards

Ballyneal3-Short.jpeg

The first of Ballyneal’s strong one-shotters is a shorty played over a sea of sandy gunch to an island of beautifully contoured green.

#4 – Par 5 – 562 yards

Ballyneal4-Tee.jpeg

The par-5 fourth features a thrilling downhill tee shot to a rollercoaster ride of a fairway.

#5 – Par 3 – 160 yards

Ballyneal5-GreenRight.jpeg

With the wind blowing, judging the distance on the tough fifth is a challenge.  I can imagine playing anything from a pitching wedge to a 3-iron on this hole depending on the conditions.

#6 – Par 4 – 420 yards

Ballyneal6-ShortLeft.jpeg

The uphill sixth is straightforward off the tee, but challenging on the approach.  Running approaches are a fun option into the firm green complex.

Ballyneal6-GreenBack.jpeg

#7 – Par 4 – 341 yards

Ballyneal7-GreenLeft.jpeg

The seventh is one of the coolest short-4s I have ever seen.  Wind and pin position combine to pose strategic questions from the tee.  The green is divided into three distinct sections and is nestled between a large mound left and bunkers right.  There are many ways to play this hole, but no “right” way.  Brilliant.

#8 – Par 5 – 470 yards

Ballyneal8-GreenBack.jpeg

The evening light reveals the sea of mounds and ripples that extend from the tee of the 8th all the way through the back of the green.  No level lies to be found here.

#9 – Par 4 – 351 yards

Ballyneal9-Short.jpeg

The short ninth provides options off the tee.  A large mound cuts in front of the green, reminding the player that an architect doesn’t always need bunkers to mount a defense.

Ballyneal9-GreenAbove.jpeg

#10 – Par 4 – 475 yards

Ballyneal10-GreenBack.jpeg

The tee shot on the tenth is tough.  Players that don’t summon the courage to take on the nasty looking bunkers that guard the right side of the fairway will find their ball coming to rest in a deep swale left.  The approach into the big green is blind from down below.

Ballyneal10-Flag.jpeg

#11 – Par 3 – 177 yards

Ballyneal11-TeeZoom.jpeg

The par-3 eleventh was one of my favorite holes on the course playing uphill to a green that looks as if it is impossible to hit and hold.  I love the thrill of trying to overcome the story my eyes are telling me, letting the shot fly, and then walking up to discover the outcome.

#12 – Par 4 – 335 yards

Ballyneal12-Short.jpeg

The 12th is another devilish short par-4 whose contours create a riddle of tee shot, approach and putt that must be solved over repeat plays.

#13 – Par 4 – 420 yards

Ballyneal13-Approach.jpeg

I am a sucker for centerline bunkers, which feature in the minefield that must be navigated from the tee on the thirteenth.  Pick a line, and let it fly!

#14 – Par 4 – 340 yards

Ballyneal14-Tee.jpeg

Plenty of room right is afforded to the player who desires safety on the short dogleg left fourteenth.  Opportunity for a pitch and putt birdie on the elevated green are available to the bolder of spirit.

#15 – Par 3 – 212 yards

Ballyneal15-ShortLeft.jpeg

The wind and length conspire to crush weakly played tee shots on the 15th.  A large, undulating green leaves plenty of flatstick work to be done for those who find the putting surface.

#16 – Par 5 – 494 yards

Ballyneal16-ShortRight.jpeg

My favorite hole on the course, the sixteenth features a blind drive to a narrowing fairway.  The elevated green is reachable, but guarded by slopes and a funky little bunker that is immensely cool.

#17 – Par 4 – 464 yards

Ballyneal17-ShortRight.jpeg

Depending on the wind, the par-4 seventeenth can play longer that the par-5 sixteenth.  There is plenty of room to play, and it looks straightforward, but contour throughout provides ample challenge.

#18 – Par 4 – 425 yards

Ballyneal18-Tee.jpeg

One last heroic tee shot to an angled fairway awaits at the closer.  It plays down and then back up to a green set at the base of the hills.

At times throughout the round, I was not sure if holes were par-4s or par-5s.  I completely lost track of what hole we were on on both the front and back nines.  These are signs to me of the greatness of Ballyneal.  It is a place where one can get deeply into the joy of planning and playing each shot.  It is a course that brings you powerfully into the joy of each moment.  What a gift.

Ballyneal-Mulligan.jpeg

The Mulligan course is taking shape and growing in.  It appears to be packed with fun and heroic challenge.  The main course and The Commons putting course were reason enough for a return visit, but the short course conveniently provides an imperative to plan another trip.


SAND HILLS GOLF CLUB

If there is perfection in American golf, Sand Hills is it.

What is more difficult for an architect – squeezing good holes out of a mediocre piece of land, or finding the best holes on a piece of land so great that good holes are everywhere?  That is a question for geeks to debate that cannot be definitively answered.  At Sand Hills, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw took on the latter challenge and uncovered 18 great holes that work beautifully together and inspired an architectural renaissance for which geeks like me are eternally grateful.

There is not a remotely weak hole at Sand Hills, but the course is much more than the sum of its parts.  I was particularly struck by the rhythm of the routing and order of the holes, specifically with the 6 straight par-4s in the middle.  The course begins dramatically, settles down a bit in the middle, and then ends with a closing stretch that is my all time favorite.  Playing Sand Hills is like listening to a perfectly composed symphony.  It is transcendent.

Conditioning is not typically high on my list of determinants of greatness, but it is appropriate to give credit where it is due in this case – the work that Kyle Hegland and his team do at Sand Hills is outstanding.  The course plays firm and fast, the greens are as true as they come, and they fight the good fight against the wind to keep the bunkers looking beautiful.  They are an A-team of pros, and I know that the membership at Sand Hills is grateful to have them.

SandHills16-Sunset.jpeg

On the day of our visit, we played from the morning until it was too dark to see.  If the day had been six hours longer, I would have happily kept playing.  The course is beautifully routed and a delight to walk.  Paths cut through the native areas, and the green-to-tee walks are surprisingly short for a course that feels so big.

Sand Hills is a place to get lost, blissfully going around and around and around…

(Click on images to enlarge)

#1 – Par 5 – 521 yards

SandHills1-FairwayBunkerLeft.jpeg

The opener is a stunning introduction to the scale and movement of the land, complemented by blowout bunkers.  The tee shot is played to an angled fairway and the approach well uphill to a green set in the saddle of two hills.  The first of many wows to come.

#2 – Par 4 – 368 yards

SandHills2-GreenRight.jpeg

The blind tee shot on the second plays up to a windswept fairway that sits atop one of the highest spots on the property.  The hole culminates with a two-tiered infinity green, the setting for which provides endless views of the surrounding hills.  This green is not only my favorite at Sand Hills, it is one of my favorites from C&C anywhere.

#3 – Par 3 – 216 yards

SandHills3-TeeZoom.jpeg

This long one-shotter plays shorter than the yardage on the card as the left front slope can be used to run shots into the green.  The player has to catch a bit of luck to end up in the right section of the green, which features a large contour that makes long putting extremely difficult.

#4 – Par 4 – 409 yards

SandHills4-GreenBehind.jpeg

A tee shot to another angled fairway followed by an approach into a green elevated and benched into the side of a hill with a huge blowout bunker.  As do several of the holes at Sand Hills, this par-4 brings to mind the work of the Maxwells at Prairie Dunes.

#5 – Par 4 – 387 yards

SandHills5-ShortLeft.jpeg

The center bunker on this four par must be challenged and the wind judged expertly in order to get into position for the approach to the green.  A tee shot in good position leaves the player with options for a ground or aerial attack.

#6 – Par 3 – 198 yards

SandHills6-GreenLeft.jpeg

Being such a fan of Coore & Crenshaw, it was fun to finally to see the “original” holes that have since inspired others.  The canted and contoured green on the sixth looks almost triangular from the tee, bringing to mind other favorites of mine from Old Sandwich, WeKoPa, and Sand Valley.

#7 – Par 4 – 283 yards

SandHills7-FairwayBunker.jpeg

The seventh is the first of two straight drivable par-4s.  The player can lay well back, or have a go at this well-defended green that has a large bunker left and deep runoff right.  Missing right leaves the player with another set of choices on how to try and navigate the slope to gain a birdie chance.  So much substance to such a little hole.

#8 – Par 4 – 293 yards

SandHills8-GreenBack.jpeg

The short eighth features a fantastic green surrounded by bunkers, and fronted by a lion’s mouth.  Again, line and distance options abound from the tee, with the pin position and wind factoring heavily.  Strategic golf at its best.

#9 – Par 4 – 371 yards

SandHills9-Short.jpeg

The third of six straight par-4s, the ninth has a blind tee shot followed by an approach into a green set below Ben’s Porch.  The green and surrounds have subtly maddening contours that must be overcome.

#10 – Par 4 – 426 yards

SandHills10-Approach.jpeg

The two shot tenth flows gently downhill to a green that doesn’t look like much from the fairway.  Watching too-bold approaches and putts roll and roll and roll some more reveals just how difficult this green can be.

#11 – Par 4 – 348 yards

SandHills11-BunkerEdge.jpeg

A huge, gorgeous bunker guards the entire left side of the eleventh and dictates play from the tee.  To gain the advantage of a short approach into the elevated green, that bunker must be challenged as the fairway slopes hard from left to right.

#12 – Par 4 – 354 yards

SandHills12-ApproachLeft.jpeg

The twelfth is wide from the tee, but tee shots must be placed precisely in the right third in order to avoid having to deal directly with the large bunker that flanks the right side of the green.  Like many holes at Sand Hills, slopes short and in the green surrounds are there to be used for the creative shot-maker.

#13 – Par 3 – 185 yards

SandHills13-Short.jpeg

The par-3 thirteenth sits majestically atop a hill, completely exposed to the wind.  The setting provides a thrilling tee shot, beautiful views of the surrounding hills, and an exciting start to the all-world final stretch of holes.

#14 – Par 5 – 475 yards

SandHills14-FairwayBunker.jpeg

The three-shot fourteenth winds over heavily undulating ground, through nasty bunkering, to a tiny green set partway up a hill.  Balls above the hole on this green are dead – plain and simple.

#15- Par 4 – 453 yards

SandHills15-ShortLeft.jpeg

The fifteenth plays over a cross bunker and then uphill to a saddle green.  The right must be favored off the tee to earn the ideal approach angle.

#16 – Par 5 – 563 yards

SandHills16-GreenBack.jpeg

This might be my all-time favorite par-5.  The player has to decide on the tee how much of the enormous bunker left to take on.  A speed slot awaits beyond as a reward for the boldest of tee shots.  The firm slope short and left of the green, makes it reachable in two for the longer player.  Those laying back have to decide how to contend with a pronounced mound right in front

 #17 – Par 3 – 150 yards

SandHills17-GreenLeft.jpeg

There is good reason why this is considered one of the best shorties in the world.  The elevated green is incredibly difficult to hit and hold in the wind.  Par is truly a good score here, and birdies are to be cherished.

#18 – Par 4 – 432 yards

SandHills18-BunkerWindmill.jpeg

The finisher at Sand Hills provides one last WOW, as the player has to face the gigantic bunkers running down the entire left side of the fairway.  The eighteenth plays uphill to a green set in a punchbowl among the hills.  Plenty of challenge, visual stimulation and a lasting impression of the experience of this masterpiece.

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical that Sand Hills could wow me more than Friar’s Head, Essex County, and my other favorites.  My skepticism was greatly misplaced.  For me now, there is this course, a gap, and then the other greats that I have been so fortunate to experience.


OCC-BN-SH-Hats.jpg

A brush with history, a club that felt like home, and my new all-time favorite golf course – with experiences like these, it is tough to imagine a month ever being better than September 2016.

Wherever my golf adventures take me going forward, the memories of this magical month will endure and continue to bring a smile to my face.


MORE GEEKEDONGOLF ADVENTURES

 

 

 

Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


13 Comments

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.

Myopia-Sign-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia-HorseBarns-JC.jpg

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

Myopia-Deer-JC.jpg

Myopia-Deer2-JC.jpg

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

Myopia-Horses-JC.jpg

The Scorecard

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

Myopia-ScorecardFront-JC.jpg

Myopia-ScorecardBack-JC.jpg

The Clubhouse

Myopia-Clubhouse1-JC.jpg

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

Myopia-Clubhouse2-JC.jpg

No bartender – serve yourself.

Myopia-Bar-JC.jpg

Myopia-Fireplace-JC.jpg

Fireplace signage

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

Myopia-SledDog-JC.jpg

Myopia-Weathervane-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia-LockerRoom-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia1-Tee-JC.jpg

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

Myopia1-Approach-JC.jpg

The view from the first green – wow.

Myopia1-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia2-Tee-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia2-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia2-Greenshort-JC.jpg

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

Myopia2-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia3-Tee-JC.jpg

A small green for such a long par-3.

Myopia3-Green-JC.jpg

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

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

Myopia4-Tee-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia4-Approach-JC.jpg

From behind the green.

Myopia4-Greenback-JC.jpg

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

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

Myopia5-Teezoom-JC.jpg

The approach, with the morning dew still glistening.

Myopia5-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia5-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia6-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia6-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia7-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia7-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia7-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia7-Panorama-JC.jpg

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

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

Myopia8-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia8-Fairway-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia8-Approach-JC.jpg

Hole 9 – “Pond” – 136 yards – Par 3

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

Myopia9-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia9-Green-JC.jpg

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 …

Myopia10-Tee-JC.jpg

… 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.

Myopia10-Fairway-JC.jpg

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

Myopia10-Greenshort-JC.jpg

Reverse view, showing the wonderful green complex.

Myopia10-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia11-Fescue-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia11-Greenright-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia12-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia12-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia12-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia13-Tee-JC.jpg

The approach on 13.  Straight up the ridgeline.

Myopia13-Approach-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia13-Greenback-JC.jpg

Hole 14 – “Ridge” – 393 yards – Par 4

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

Myopia14-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia14-Greenshort-JC.jpg

Hole 15 – “Long” – 529 yards – Par 5

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

Myopia15-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia15-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia15-Greenshort-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia16-Tee-JC.jpg

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

Myopia16-Greenback-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia16-Greenside-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia17-Teezoom-JC.jpg

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

Myopia17-Green-JC.jpg

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.

Myopia18-Tee-JC.jpg

Double bunkering fronts the green on the right.

Myopia18-Approach-JC.jpg

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

Myopia18-Bunker-JC.jpg

The view back down the 18th – beautiful.

Myopia18-Greenback-JC.jpg


MORE LINKSGEMS TOURS

 

 

Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


9 Comments

2015 Geeked on Golf Tour

What a year.

I took the madness to another level this year, playing 49 different golf courses in 11 different states.  34 of those golf courses were first time plays.  As an indication of the quality of the 2015 golf adventure, I would make a point and an effort to go back to 33 of the courses.

Effort was a key word in this year’s golf tour, and by the end of the season, I was feeling the effect of the miles, the hours, and the lost sleep.  Reflecting on the experience prompted starting a thread on GolfClubAtlas.com re: running around vs. staying home.  I must admit, with a little more time off the road, I can feel the itch already.  Dreams and plans are percolating for 2016, but first a few highlights from this season.


Four courses entered my list of Top 10 favorites, which is getting increasingly tough to crack.

Essex County Club

Courses that meet the “one course for the rest of my life” criteria are always my favorites, and Essex now leads that pack for me.  The property on which the course sits is singular, and Donald Ross’s routing around it is magnificent.  Ross lived on the course for years, and it clearly received his loving attention.  Cool features and details abound – it is brilliant in its subtlety.  Consulting work by Tom Doak and the care of Superintendent Eric Richardson have uncovered the beauty and challenge of Essex County.  It is as close to perfect as any course I have ever played.

EssexCounty16Green-17Tee.JPG

The Links at Lawsonia

The drive on the first hole at Lawsonia is blind.  As I crested the first hill to see the massive fairway bunkers, and even bigger green built into the hillside, my mind exploded.  That explosion continued hole after hole all morning.  The boldness and scale of the architecture that Langford & Moreau achieved in central Wisconsin is like nothing I have ever seen.  They just don’t build ’em like that anymore.

LawsoniaLinks6-DanMoore.jpg

Photo by Dan Moore (DanMooreGolf.com)

Boston Golf Club

On a buddies trip that included The Country Club, Essex County, and Old Sandwich, my expectations for Boston Golf Club were not that high – relatively speaking.  BGC simply blew me away.  It was like a work of art that Gil Hanse painted onto the rolling terrain with one stunning view after another.  The course was also packed full with variety and shots that were alternately fun and tough to play.

BostonGolfClub-JonCavalier.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier (on Instagram at @linksgems)

Shoreacres

Toward the end of the season, I knocked out quite a few rounds in Chicagoland on our wonderful courses.  The season culminated with a post-renovation return trip to Shoreacres.  Seth Raynor’s special golf course has been upgraded to world-class status through the efforts of Superintendent Brian Palmer, with consultation by Tom Doak and Renaissance Golf.  For me now, there is a three-horse race for best course in Chicago among Old Elm, Chicago GC, and Shoreacres.  They are all that good.

 

Shoresacres-JonCavalier.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier (on Twitter @linksgems)


In addition to these new Faves, I also knocked 3 more U.S. Open venues off of my bucket list – The Country Club at Brookline, Chicago Golf Club and North Shore Country Club.


For the first time in my life, I played dirt golf on an unfinished golf course.  Not only did I get to play dirt golf, but I did it twice under special circumstances on courses that are sure to be beyond special.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to have a tour of The Loop at Forest Dunes with Tom Doak, during which we played several holes in both directions.  I thought that the reversible course was a cool concept, but until I saw it and heard Tom’s commentary, I didn’t understand just how amazing it is going to be.  Cannot wait for the opening.

In the fall, my buddy Chuck let me tag along on his visit to Sand Valley where we spent the day touring the course with Michael and Chris Keiser, and playing some of the holes that were in the grow-in stage.  This was the first Coore & Crenshaw course which I thought might challenge Friar’s Head for top Fave spot for me.  Here is a link to my recap of the visit with photos of the course.


Through all of these amazing experiences on fantastic courses, this year I got a much deeper understanding of what makes this game so great.  Time spent with good people, outside, taking on the challenge of a collaboration between an architect and Mother Nature.

I made new friends at my club, in my community, and across the country.  In my experience, golf geekery brings together the best people, and brings out the best in them.

Without further ado, the rest of the 2015 tour.  Here’s to a great 2016!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:

 

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


5 Comments

My Bucket List – U.S. Open Venues

Goal setting is important. Having a goal has a tendency to enhance motivation and focus, and increase the likelihood of achievement. In my early career, I was extremely goal oriented and meticulous in my goal setting. My colleagues ribbed me about it and asserted that my approach would not survive the arrival of children. I scoffed at the time, but it turns out they were right.

My children have brought me more into the moment, and I am grateful to them for it. I still believe in the value of having a vision and goals though, even if my rigor for the practice has diminished.

I have been thinking about setting a goal for golf that incorporates:

  • My interest in golf course architecture.
  • My interest in the history of golf in America, specifically the history of the USGA Championships.
  • My love of playing golf at great courses, of course.

USOpenMoments

Therefore, I have decided to set the goal of playing every US Open venue. I have always loved the mystique of that championship, and it has been played on a wonderful variety of courses over the years.

Remaining venues to play (Years as Host):

  • Pinehurst #2 (2014, 2005, 1999)
  • Merion (2013, 1981, 1971, 1950, 1934)
  • Olympic Club (2012, 1998, 1987, 1966, 1955)
  • Congressional CC (2011, 1997, 1964)
  • Pebble Beach (2019, 2010, 2000, 1992, 1982, 1972)
  • Torrey Pines (2008)
  • Winged Foot (2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929)
  • Southern Hills (2001, 1977, 1958)
  • Oakland Hills CC (1996, 1985, 1961, 1951, 1937, 1924)
  • Baltusrol (1993, 1980, 1967, 1954, 1936, 1915, 1903)
  • Hazeltine National (1991, 1970)
  • Oak Hill CC (1989, 1968, 1956)
  • Cherry Hills (1978, 1960, 1938)
  • Atlanta Athletic Club (1976)
  • Champions Golf Club (1969)
  • Bellerive CC (1965)
  • Northwood Club (1952)
  • Medinah #3 (1990, 1975, 1949)
  • Riviera (1948)
  • St. Louis CC (1947)
  • Canterbury Golf Club (1946, 1940)
  • Colonial CC (1941)
  • Philadelphia CC (1939)
  • Fresh Meadow CC (1932)
  • Interlachen (1930)
  • Scioto CC (1926)
  • Worcester CC (1925)
  • Inwood CC (1923)
  • Columbia CC (1921)
  • Brae Burn CC (1919)
  • Minikahda Club (1916)
  • CC of Buffalo (1912)
  • Englewood Golf Club (1909)
  • Garden City (1902)
  • Baltimore CC (1899)
  • Newport Golf & Country Club (1895)

U.S. OPEN VENUES PLAYED TO DATE

OlympiaFieldsLogo.jpgOlympia Fields (2003, 1928)

OFCC3-Approach.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier

Olympia Fields was the site of Chicagoland’s most recent championship in 2003, where Jim Furyk was victorious.  It is more notable for a defeat than a victory, however.  In the 1928 Open, Johnny Farrell defeated Bobby Jones in a 36-hole playoff.

onwentsia-logo.jpgOnwentsia Club (1906)

Onwentsia9.jpg

Photo by Scott Vincent

Onwentsia is a historical club in my hometown on Lake Forest, IL.  It played host to the 12th U.S. Open in 1906.  Alex Smith won by a wide margin over his younger brother Willie, and OC’s club pro Willie Anderson, all of whom were Scotsmen.

Midlothian_Country_Club-logoMidlothian Country Club (1914)

In the 1914 U.S. Open at Midlothian, a 21-year old Walter Hagen edged accomplished amateur Chick Evans by one stroke to win his first Major Championship.  Hagen would ultimately go on to win 11 Majors in his flamboyant career.

ShinnecockHillsLogo.jpgShinnecock Hills (2018, 2004, 1995, 1986, 1896)

Shinnecock16.png

Photo by Billy Satterfield of GolfCourseGurus

A founding club of the USGA, Shinnecock Hills has been the host of four U.S. Opens, and will host again in 2018. It has been the scene of its share of drama, including Corey Pavin’s outstanding 4-wood into the 18th to clinch his Major title. On a personal note, visiting Shinnecock was a pilgrimage to a holy place, and it forever altered my perspective on this great game.

BethpageLogo.jpgBethpage Black (2009, 2002)

Bethpage4.png

Photo by Billy Satterfield of GolfCourseGurus

ChambersBayUSOpenLogo.jpgChambers Bay (2015)

M10-ChambersBay-JC.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier

The-Country-Club-logo.jpgThe Country Club at Brookline (1988, 1963, 1913)

C11-TCC-JC.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier

ChicagoGCLogo.jpgChicago Golf Club (1911, 1900, 1897)

chicagogolfclub-jonc-top10.jpg

SkokieCCLogo.pngSkokie CC (1922)

SkokieDR.png

Photo by Gary Kellner of Dimpled Rock

Bendelow, Ross, and Langford & Moreau have worked on Skokie, making it an interesting and unique architectural hybrid.  It also hosted the 1922 U.S. Open, won by a young Gene Sarazen who claimed the title with a heroic birdie on the final hole.

North shore logo.jpgNorth Shore Country Club (1933)

NorthShoreCC14-GreenFront.JPG

Glen View Logo.jpgGlen View Club (1904)

GlenView18-Tee.JPG

Myopia Logo.jpgMyopia Hunt Club (1908, 1905, 1901, 1898)

Myopia2.png

Inverness Logo.jpgInverness Club (1979, 1957, 1931, 1920)

InvernessClub18-Greenleft.jpeg

OakmontLogo.jpgOakmont (2016, 2007, 1994, 1983, 1973, 1962, 1953, 1935, 1927)

Oakmont.png

ErinHillsUSOpen.pngErin Hills (2017)

Erin Hills.png

PhillyCricketLogo.jpgPhiladelphia Cricket Club (1910, 1907)

PhillyCricket18-Wissahickon.jpeg


MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:

 

 

Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf