Course #200

Today I played my 200th golf course overall, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. It was a fine capstone to this little milestone in golf courses. Overall, the course was very good. It was not the finest course I have ever played, but I knew that coming in. A full tour of the course is upcoming as soon as I can get to it.

Here is a fun breakdown of the courses played so far:

Played 2 new courses in one day: 8
Played 3 new courses in one day: 1
Played 4 new courses in one day: 1

Colors: Silver, Emerald, Gold, Scarlet...hmm, I really thought it was more than that.

Water features: Creek, Bay, Harbor, Brook, Lake, River, Bayou, Loch

Land features: Park, Banks, Shoreline, Point, Hills, Landing, Farms, Ridge, Hollow, Meadow, Plantation, Farm, Mountain, Valley, Canyon, Trails, Dunes, Beach, Isle, Shores, Dunes, Pit, Forest

Plants and natural objects: Pine, Cypress, Rock, Palms, Stone, Sage, Azalea, Peach, Dogwood, Oak

Animals: Rockfish, Hummingbird, Eagle, Quail, Fox, Bear, Raptor, Rooster, Callippe, Horse, Moose, Fish

17 States

Courses beginning with every letter in the alphabet other than X, Y, and Z.

Here's to the NEXT 100 golf courses.


RTJ @ Capitol Hill (Judge)

This course is very solid, but rather over the top in some places. In many ways, it seems like some long tees were put in place simply to add length with no thought at all to strategy. The 256 yard 17th and 231 yard 6th come to mind readily. In general, the par 3's are not very good. They come off as repetitive. However, the par 4's and 5's are solid. However, the routing is not the best, especially holes 11, 12 and 13. All that said, despite the flaws, the course is quite good; the second best Trail course I have played after Ross Bridge.

Variety of Design: The par 3's are very repetitive. The yardage range is fair, going from 187 to 256 yards. However, 3 of those holes play over water, one island, one peninsula jutting out into a lake, and one set back into a hill over a lake. The par 4's have solid variety in yardage, from 358 to 478 yards, with good range in between. And the par 5's are very good with 2 that mandate solid tee shots and have interesting second shots, 1 that is on the outer edges of being reachable in two shots, giving the player the option of doing so, and the final hole is most certainly unreachable by all players at 711 yards. Directionally the course has 5 holes playing to the right, 3 holes playing left and 10 holes playing straight. 6 1/2 out of 10

Flow of the Course: The course flows very well. The course starts off the a big opening, playing far down hill overlooking the Montgomery city skyline. From there, the course moves through some very solid holes, chances to make birdie, and some very difficult holes. It plays up and down quite well before coming to a very good finish, having a very good chance for birdie on #15, an extremely difficult 16th, solid 17th and rather easy 18th that is very scenic. 6 1/2 out of 10

Condition of the Course: The conditions are solid and what one would expect based on price point and expectations. 7 out of 10

Walkability: This course would be a very difficult walk. The huge hill that separates the course from the clubhouse must be walked at the end of the round and many of the holes are quite spread out. It's a slightly easier walk than Ross Bridge would be, but not much easier. 2 3/4 out of 10

Atmosphere: This course is the only RTJ Trail course to have been ranked in the Public Top 100 by Golf Digest, so it may have a little bit of atmosphere and expectation, but overall, there is not much there to amplify the experience. 3 out of 10

Total: 61 3/4 out of 100

Hole by hole analysis and pictures to come soon.


TPC Louisiana- New Orleans, LA

This is a solid course designed by Pete Dye. The course has a really solid set of par 4's with just about as much variety in yardage as a course can have. However, the par 3's and par 5's are a little bit repetitive. The par 3's all fall close to the same yardage and the par 5's are all at the outer edge of being reachable in two shots, at least from the Dye Tees (the club does not allow public players to play from the Tournament tees). The course is not really designed to be played in high winds, though it is doubtful that strong winds affect the course all that often. Overall, this is a solid golf course that may be among the dozen best courses on the Gulf Coast.

Variety of Design: As mentioned above, the course has very good variety in the par 4's. The holes go from 336 to 470 yards; there is also the 351 yard 13th hole which is right at the outer limits of being driveable given the set-up of the hole. The par 3's lack a bit ranging from 167 to 195 yards and the par 5's range from 527 to 565 yards. Directionally, the course is fair, having holes distributed: 9 straight, 5 left, 4 right. And the greens are well built for shape and size, testing the desired approach clubs in an appropriate manner. 7 1/4 out of 10

Flow of the Course: The course flows very, very well. The front nine builds through easy and hard holes, heroic, strategic, all types. On the back nine, the course works through nicely, before building to a solid finish on the final 3 holes. The finish has been seen in similar form on many other Dye courses, but as a formula, it works quite well. 7 1/2 out of 10

Course Conditioning: The conditioning was solid. One would suppose that the conditions would be fantastic the week after the Zurich Classic, but overall, the conditions are solid, slightly better than other courses in the area. 7 out of 10

Walkability: The course is built on very flat land and is routed with reasonable green to tee distances. It would not be a great surprise for a player to be able to walk the course all the way around and not become short of breath. But there are a few places with longer walks. 7 out of 10

Atmosphere: The course hosts a PGA Tour event and is a TPC branded course. That likely adds to the atmosphere and value for most golfers. While the course is no Pebble Beach or Augusta National, the atmosphere is the club is quite nice while also being an understated Southern type. 4 1/2 out of 10

Total: 69 3/4 out of 100

Pictures and hole by hole analysis to come shortly.


Upcoming Posts- January

Since this actually worked last time I did it, I'll give it another shot:
Monday, January 21st: Course Review- TPC Louisiana
Tuesday, January 22nd: Course Review- RTJ @ Capitol Hill (Legislator)
Thursday, January 24th: Opinion
Saturday, January 26th: Course Review- RTJ @ Capitol Hill (Senator)
Monday, January 28th: Course Review- RTJ @ Capitol Hill (Judge)
Tuesday, Janary 29th: Opinion
Thursday, January 31st: Course Review- Bay Breeze


Where to Build a Golf Course

This article used with permission from my friend Melvyn Morrow. It ties in very with some of the things I have written here and the way the game of golf should go.

Good sites for golf courses - what the definition of a good site? There may be many that appear to be good sites but that IMHO is the wrong approach when selecting a location for a new golf course. The question is not is it a good site but is the land fit for purpose.

Many may wonder just what is the difference. There is a very big difference and that is in the land itself. Land fit for purpose should result in much that was seen and visible on initial inspection/survey coming into play with minor modification while good sites are ready to strip, reform, shape and mould the land to the wishes of the club/owner/designers will.

To my mind Golf Courses should reflect the game, with the original land, its surroundings sitting comfortably while being easily sustainable within the local environment. Yet we have moved so far from producing the Scottish Course Designs that made golf a worldwide sport in the first place. We for some mad reason seem to believe today, well for the last 50-60 years that it is acceptable to rape the land. To destroy the very land that initially presented itself as potentially a good site. Nevertheless land can very quickly be defined as not ‘Fit for Purpose’ proven by the high cost of land clearance, reshaping and then reforming as a golf course. Is this the product of nearly 200 years of golf course architecture; of accumulative wisdom by the designers/architects that all land required for golf must be rebuild, reshape and form to suit the wishes of a club no matter the cost or harm to the whole local environment i.e. from drainage, water tables introducing new grasses etc., etc. Not to mention the on-going financial burden placed upon the club for both the build and annual maintenance packages.

Golf courses are not just pieces of land but a key part of the game. They are meant to throw out the initial challenge to the golfer. By that I mean the course should represent the challenge both from the land with its natural penal nature with the additional cunningness and flare from the designer employing his additional use of the land to make manmade and enhance natural hazards to test the golfer. Courses are not country parks. They should not suffer from the modern total strip back to reforming as seems to be the current building methods, and most certainly not suffer long walks between Green & Tees. This does not equate with golf, its traditions or quite frankly the smooth continuity of the game. Nor does it reflect the true meaning of golf which in part must be measured by the natural harmony of walking over Natures contours while facing obstacles and challenges that ultimately promotes the skill of the golfer.

Good sites do not equate into sites Fit for Purpose – and anyway in these austere times should we not be endeavouring to tightly control budgets for both ‘Build & Maintenance’ packages.

Because we have the finances and technology is no excuse to building a golf course in an area not suitable for the Royal & Ancient Game of Golf.

For clarification, based on my since edited comment, the Royal & Ancient Game as Melvyn describes it should not be thought to mean seaside links only. He simply means that courses should be built on reasonable sites that do not require massive amounts of earth moving to build and millions of gallons of water to maintain. This is not something I disagree with.


RTJ @ Capitol Hill

Tomorrow I will, hopefully, be playing all 54 holes at Capitol Hill in Prattville, Alabama. The Judge course is supposed to be very good and also very long. I have top expectations for that one. The Senator course is host of the LPGA Navistar Classic, and it supposed to be built like a links course, so I have reason to believe it should be good as well. The Legislator course I don't know much about, so expectations will be modest. Hopefully it will be great fun all day and I will be able to get in all 54 holes. Reports to come on each course.


Why do we keep playing?

What keeps us coming back to the course day after day, week after week, playing this game that drives us mad? For me, I like to keep coming back because of the constant challenge the game provides and the thrill of playing new golf courses. These things bring me back to the game time after time.

I've never played a round where I felt like I'd hit every shot solid and played the absolute best I could play. I've played rounds where I shot, 3, 4, 5 shots under par. But those rounds were never perfect. I always missed a short putt or hit a really loose drive, something. Having been a competitor in the past and played top quality golf, it is those missed shots, just as much as the great ones, that keep me coming back to the course. It's a never ending quest for perfection, but one that continues to be enjoyable.

But it's also always fun to play new courses. And that quest to play new courses...well, I guess it's not exactly a quest, it's more that I just play them because they are there. I have on the site here that I want to play the Public Top 100, but I don't make tremendous effort to play those. I'll just play them as the opportunity provides itself, but don't really intend to take long trips to the middle of Nebraska, without something else involved, in order to play them. But even the most average of courses still provide fun and enjoyment when playing them for the first time. It's simply fun taking the journey into the unknown on a new course.

Some people might have other reasons for playing golf. Competition, exercise (which is another reason, though a much lesser one, that I play), or who knows what else. But either way, people love to play the game of golf. I'm certainly one of those and I intend to continue enjoying this game for as long as I can.