Saturday, April 11, 2009
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 7
Returning nines, easily walkable, and with the hotel in gyroscopic view. Practice range in the middle seems to clutter the place some.
2. Integrity of original design: 8
Hole corridors all preserved. Silva followed the original green contours along with the bunker angles and their offset positioning. By differentiating tees, Silva ensured that lowhandicappers get tested and high handicappers have room to play.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 5
Land plan is fine, with golf course and surrounding real estate (on perimeter of course) enveloping the hotel tower. Not a lot “natural” about it, and viewscapes are limited to the hotel. Abundant bird life has developed, and there’s a great iguana-filled mangrove tree near the ninth tee.
4. Interest of greens and surrounding contours: 8
Contours are ideal for modern green speeds and allow each green (average size 6,500 square feet) to be different, with edges rolled down to flow into bunkers and surrounding areas. Each provides some ground access but also has “tuck-able” hole locations.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 6
Good variance; hit 6-iron, 3-hybrid, 5-iron, 9-iron. Tightness of bunkering is proportional to distance of approach.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 6
Good mix of doglegs, with bunkers often arranged along inside of the turn. The 400-yard seventh hole, with canal traversing fairway to elevated green, is the most elusive. Staggered, offset bunkering makes even the straightaway 345-yard fourth hole interesting.
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 6
The 501-yard, dogleg right first hole sets the tone with offset bunkering. The 558-yard 15th seems awkwardly squeezed. Uphill 516-yard 18th is reachable in two with properly hit right-to-left shots.
8. Basic quality of conditioning: 7
Tifdwarf Bermuda greens do fine without overseeding. Roughs are well-established mix of 419 and Common Bermuda. Place drains well, thanks to an organic layer perched on coral rock.
9. Landscape and tree management: 7
Place originally was wide open but since has been dotted with trees. Bridges tend to intrude upon the feel of the place.
10. “Walk in the Park” test: 6
It’s like tracing the shape of a bowtie across the land – except for the squeeze mandated by the practice range – and flows nicely. Design keeps golfers approaching the hotel from an angle.
Talk about revivals! Biltmore is now a joy to play and deserves a place among the better Florida public-access courses.