• Designer: Tom Doak
• Par 72, 7,176 yards (74.1 rating/131 slope)
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 7
Doak’s layout occupies much of the middle ground of Streamsong, and then crosses over the Red Course for a five-hole loop (Nos. 8-12) along some wooded property. This creates a mild disjuncture that undercuts some of the coherence and integrity of the respective courses and makes them harder to distinguish.
2. Quality of feature shaping: 9
When you look at the uncleared areas and see how rough they look, you marvel, by contrast, at the elegant native contours that became part of the course. It’s hard throughout to distinguish between good shaping work and good routing. The bunkers here are more defined and contained than on the Red.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 8
Course sets off with a bang, 70 feet above the fairway on a seductively short par 4, so that you’re looking down into the clubhouse as well as down the length of the opening and closing holes.
4. Interest of greens and chipping contours: 8
The interior contours are bolder than on the Red Course, with lots of room around and ...
A look at the Streamsong Red Course:
• Designers: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
• Par 72, 7,148 yards (74.2 rating/130 slope)
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 9
Coore and Crenshaw’s course forms a long, sinewy, continuous clockwise loop of nonreturning nines, with many walk-off/walk-on connections from green to tee. In part, it runs under towering lateral dunes. There is more dramatic terrain at the start and end, with a softer section at the far end of the layout. The back nine plays much longer and harder than the front.
2. Quality of feature shaping: 9
Meticulous attention to detail, with the outflow behind given as much TLC as the approach areas.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 8
There’s very little to orient yourself, with only the modernist clubhouse and distant resort hotel building as reference points. At times you feel like you’re in the Nebraska Sand Hills. It certainly doesn’t feel like central Florida. And in a rarity for an inland Florida site, it is subject to winds, though from no prevailing direction.
4. Interest of greens and chipping contours: 8
Big greens with lots of character for the angle ...
MEDINAH, Ill. -- For those who believe that manorial, tree-lined fairways are the paradigm of superior golf, Medinah No. 3 presents an iconic landscape. What this proven Chicago-area championship venue might lack in strategic variety, playing angles and diverse turf textures, it makes up for in its sustained commitment to a style of aerial power play that has defined the modern era of tournament golf.
The 600-acre site, just west of O’Hare International Airport, looks and feels like an elegant arboretum. Some of its state-registered hardwoods date back 350 years. Small wonder that at times during a round you feel like you’re simply occupying the space between the tree canopies.
Of the club’s three 18-hole courses, the No. 3 layout, designed by Tom Bendelow in 1928, serves as the main stage. U.S. Opens (1949, ’75 and ’90), the U.S. Senior Open (1988), PGA Championships (1999 and 2006) and the Tour’s former Western Open (1939, ’62 and ’66) have been played here. Over the decades, the back-nine routing has evolved, with Rees Jones overseeing recent updates. For the Ryder Cup, the par-72 layout will stretch to 7,657 yards.
Not even Medinah, No. 74 on the ...
1.) Routing: 9
Returning nines, with the front nine to the south forming a tight clockwise loop and the back nine on the north side feeling like a necklace folded in on itself. Good balance of exposure to coastline and inland.
2.) Quality of shaping: 7
Fairways have big flow, but not a lot of quirky crumple to them. Biggest limitation here is the repetitive form and appearance of the deep, revetted bunkers. Tees have been shaped into little platforms, with a front “lift” of turf and high grass that render them invisible from the fairway.
3.) Overall land plan: 8
Scale of the entire property should allow for generous setbacks so that hotel and real estate will be out of view. Uncommonly large (for U.K.) practice area, 22 acres, needs targets for better definition. The main sensibility here is of intense proximity to the dunes and coast.
4.) Greens and surrounds: 7
Ground-game access on more than half the holes; there’s the occasional overreaching of contours and just not enough room for recovery around greens. But green sites are lovely, with angles varied and slopes appropriate to the context.
5.) Variety and memorability of par 3s: 10 ...
KOHLER, Wis. -- Herb Kohler, plumber salesman extraordinaire, thought he was meeting demand at his secluded Wisconsin resort in 1988 when he opened 18-hole Blackwolf Run Golf Course. Little did he realize that he actually was creating demand for more golf.
Having converted a rundown dormitory for Kohler Co. laborers into a luxury retreat, Kohler placed enough confidence and trust in his golf architect, Pete Dye, that he split up that initially successful 18-hole Blackwolf Run course.
The original front nine became the back half of Meadow Valleys, and the original back nine became Nos. 1-4 and 14-18 of the River Course.
The risky venture worked. Today, The American Club, his five-star resort, boasts four highly rated Dye-designed courses. Small wonder that Kohler perennially places among the world’s top golf destinations.
When the world’s best female golfers set up shop here an hour north of Milwaukee for the July 5-8 U.S. Women’s Open, they’ll be returning to a course that carries great weight for their game. For one thing, they’ll be playing the composite Championship Course through the Sheboygan River Valley and surrounding meadowland that reprises the original 18-hole layout. It’s a course that ...
SAN FRANCISCO – There’s a reason why the first turn at Talladega Superspeedway is banked 33 degrees right to left. If it were tipped the other way, stock cars racing at 200 mph would hit the counterclockwise curve and careen into the Alabama countryside.
Maybe that’s why so many great players have come to grief at Olympic Club’s Lake Course. The famous San Francisco layout, home to its fifth U.S. Open, has seen the game’s stars crash and burn, leaving our most prestigious national title to be picked up by a few surprise winners.
It all has to do with physics and engineering. When a course has holes that bend the wrong way and defy common sense and gravity, even Hall-of-Famers can succumb to golf’s equivalent of vertigo and stagger across the finish line.
In 1955, Ben Hogan fell apart down the stretch and eventually lost in a playoff to an unknown Iowa practice-range pro named Jack Fleck. In 1966, Arnold Palmer squandered a seven-shot lead down the final nine and tied Billy Casper, who won the next day in a playoff. Scott Simpson was a surprise winner over Tom Watson in 1987 at Olympic ...
AIKEN, S.C. – Maybe it’s the torpor of Southern air.
Or the way the canopies of magnolia and live oak trees drape the land and wrap it in green vellum. Somehow, history lives on here undisturbed, fending off the modern world and taking comfort in timeless ways.
At 5,800 yards from the back tees, par-70 Aiken Golf Club might seem an anachronism. But golf in its traditional form has a long shelf life. A century, in fact, which is precisely the age of this lovely, gracious, rambling little daily-fee layout.
During the same week that long- hitting Bubba Watson was blasting his way around Augusta National Golf Club, a group of Golfweek course raters paid a visit to this quiet enclave 22 miles to the east. We found a golf course that, despite being about
100 yards per hole shorter than the home of the Masters, still tested, teased and entertained us. Its compelling topography and tree-lined fairways were just enough that we shot about the same scores we normally record on courses 1,000 yards longer. But we did it stress- free, and along the way we rediscovered the simple pleasures of rough-hewn, friendly golf.
The course ...
MESQUITE, Nev. – Every once in a while you stumble onto a golf course and wonder why you haven’t heard more about it. That’s the case with Conestoga Golf Club.
The 2-year-old course is part of Sun City Mesquite, a 1,700-acre, master-planned community of 3,500 homesites that’s owned by Pulte/Del Webb and oriented toward active seniors.
It’s not just retirees who will want to play golf here. The course, designed by Arizona-based veteran architect Gary Panks, has an unusually appealing quality for a layout set in the harsh desert ground of eastern Nevada’s Virgin River Valley, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Just up Route 15 near the Utah border, one of the country’s most scenic and forbidding stretches of highway cuts through the steep-walled, rough-and-tumble Virgin River Gorge.
Conestoga GC, No. 5 in Nevada in Golfweek’s Best state-by-state rankings, sits at an elevation of 1,800 feet, at the base of Flat Top Mesa. It makes use of landing areas hacked out of the corrugated land formed by the Abbott Wash. Of the 50 original course designs in his portfolio, says Panks, “this was the most rugged site I’ve ...
DALLAS - I’m standing on the 15th tee of Stevens Park, peering out to the Dallas skyline three miles away and thinking, “This is what municipal golf is all about.”
Here’s a model of what the modern game could be – urban, part of a neighborhood, slightly overloaded by sounds and images, but fun and sociable. Why this can’t be re-created elsewhere is a question that folks in the golf industry need to ask. The renovation of Stevens Park is a case study in how to do things thoughtfully, efficiently and modestly. Let other municipalities waste tens of millions of dollars chasing championship events and delusions of grandeur.
Meanwhile, golfers here at Stevens Park will be lined up day after day, thankful that they have access to a well-groomed, pleasant, walkable track at affordable rates.
Stevens Park, one of six courses operated by the Dallas Department of Parks and Recreation, dates to a routing by Jack Burke Sr. (father of the 1956 Masters champion, Jack Burke Jr.) from 1922 to ’24. It had six snap doglegs and squared-off greens. A subsequent renovation in 1942 marginally expanded the fairway corridors. The course enjoyed popularity mainly because of its accessibility to ...
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There’s something transcendent about the light in New Mexico.
When viewed from an airplane, the land up and down the Rio Grande River looks hopelessly forlorn and barren. And yet when seen from the ground, the stark rock and outcroppings of the sparsely vegetated terrain acquire powerful shape and tone – enough to make a visionary of painter Georgia O’Keeffe for capturing the land’s magic with her bold use of ochre and red, as if the land were alight.
For a golf course here to make an impression, it has to be more than just a place for the game. It has to enable patrons to encounter that eerie quality of the land that shows up best at sunrise and just before dusk. And this is precisely how Sandia Golf Club stands out. It’s about far more than just golf. It’s an encounter with a powerful landform.
The course is anchored by Sandia’s fine 228-room hotel, which is located 11 miles north of downtown Albuquerque and looks more like an oversized adobe pueblo, with lots of natural light animating its interior.
Outside, the golf is allowed the space to breathe at its ...
WEST END, N.C. – For 25 years now, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have been doing things differently.
A down-home, aw-shucks pair of guys who are more comfortable in jeans than jackets and ties, they came into the design-and-build industry as a low-key, dirt-scratching team when most other architects preferred a fleet of bulldozers and big construction budgets. While others sought celebrity status with their “signature” designs, Coore and Crenshaw almost seemed embarrassed to be paid for something they loved to do.
As ground-hugging naturalists, they work with existing contours rather than manufacture their features. Their chief virtue always has been restraint. In 1991, while building the Kapalua Resort-Plantation Course in Maui, Hawaii, they managed to tame a rollicking, rolling coastal site by giving wide shotmaking berth to the immense vertical and horizontal scale of the land.
Four years later, in the far subtler example of Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Neb., they masterfully winnowed down 150 potential holes by finding the softest, most readily walkable linkages across stunning open prairie. And in 1997 at 36-hole Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., they managed to tease a few precious feet of elevation change here and there out of ...
NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – There’s a reason why they essentially gave up farming in central Massachusetts two centuries ago. One look at the rocks and ledges at Shining Rock Golf Club is enough to convince the most skeptical observer that finding arable ground here, let alone enough space for golf holes, must have been a monumental task.
It’s not entirely clear they have succeeded. In fact, it’s something of a miracle of design and dynamite that this daily-fee course midway between Worcester, Mass., and Providence, R.I., is open at all and playable.
Credit goes to general manager Tim Gordon and his firm, Niblick Golf. Gordon persisted in rescuing this project through several years of bankruptcy proceedings. The 146-acre course finally was severed from an adjoining, overly ambitious, 65-acre real estate development with 35 homesites and 120 condominium units.
The course occupies a stunning site in the Blackstone River Valley and affords some dramatic long views of the escarpment. The initial routing by Howard Maurer subsequently was revised and finished by Patrick Sullivan in his capacity as grow-in superintendent.
As a result of the formal separation of golf and real estate properties, Shining Rock now has an extremely awkward ...
MULLEN, Neb. – If you’re looking to get away from it all – really far away from it all – I have just the place for you.
Tiny Mullen, which bills itself as “the biggest little town in Hooker County,” sits smack dab in the middle of the Nebraska Sandhills, nearly 20,000 square miles of grass-covered dunes. Omaha (to the east) and Denver (to the west) each is about 300 miles away.
Maybe it’s one of those strange post-modern inversions of market law (“location, location, location”) that the more remote and inaccessible, the more intense the emotional appeal.
Local ranch life in central Nebraska is arduous, and many young people leave to find work elsewhere. But when it comes to golf, the place is magnetic, and Dismal River is part of the attraction.
Sixteen years ago, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – working with Dick Youngscap, a hardscrabble architect/ businessman from Lincoln – staked a claim on 1,200 acres in Hooker County and proceeded to revolutionize golf-course architecture with a naturalistic gem called Sand Hills Golf Club, ranked No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses list.
The initial development of Dismal River five years ago was intended as a high-end ...
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Two plaques. Three iconic shots. And now a fourth professional major. Not bad for a golf course that’s only in its fifth decade.
For all its activity as a major venue and busy private course, Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course never has rested on its laurels. The par-70 layout, 7,467 yards long for the 93rd PGA Championship next week, bears little resemblance to the layout that opened here northeast of Atlanta in 1967.
Few modern courses have been through such a dramatic transformation in 45 years, especially after debuting so famously on the national stage as home to the 1976 U.S. Open. That’s when brash, tow-headed 22-year-old Jerry Pate electrified the golf world with a dramatic 5-iron from the right rough, 190 yards out, to within 2 feet of the 72nd hole for a birdie that clinched his first major and inaugural PGA Tour victory.
A plaque marks the site of that historic approach. But it’s much deeper into the right rough line than when Pate hit it. The small pine tree that Pate easily carried now would block the same line of flight. But more has changed than the height ...
SANDWICH, England – Royal St. George’s is everything that Congressional Country Club is not.
This charming gem of an English links, located on the Kent Coast along the North Sea, is a windswept, rollicking and occasionally maddening gathering of golf holes that defies aerial control.
In an era of target golf in which players are asked to parachute the ball onto carefully engineered segments of greens, Royal St. George’s requires an entirely different set of demands. The task here is to thrust and parry and work with the ground contours in hopes of keeping the ball in play. It’s not about ball flight but about control of the shot after it lands and rolls.
This is perhaps the toughest layout in the nine-course British Open rota for driving the ball. You need a thorough knowledge of each hillock and hummock on these fairways in order to direct the ball properly. It takes considerable skill – and a good measure of luck – to wind up in the right spot. From there, the greens tend to be readily visible and accessible. The trouble lies in holding them, because many of the greens are propped up, with subtle turtle-back shaping that causes ...