Occasion also smiled to allow me to spend a couple of days with my little brother Martin at the upper central part of the state. He was at the House of the Mouse as well as the other attractions in Orlando, but it worked out nicely to give him a birthday present of his first Coore & Crenshaw design. I really turned out to be a fine day with just the tow of us and no caddie or other interference, just us and our Rickshahs out on a nice sunny day.
First Hole: One - Par 4
Indicating the hole number and simultaneously leaving no question about which hole or who is seemingly the world's fave living designers these days.
Second - Par 5
Tom Fazio has made a career out of this hole and a lot of architects use it. You will hear most people call it a Cape Hole, but it’s not mostly because no one really knows why a true Cape is called a ‘Cape”. A “cape” (as in capes & bays) is what that “finger” sticking into a bunker is, it’s a geographical terminology if you want to be technical. What it means to most is “bite off what you can chew” and Macdonald’s Cape (5th at Mid-Ocean) had and still has both features. Since the fairways here are generous, you should be pretty safe if you know your game – this hole moves left to right as do most of the move play holes at the start. Two bunkers – one short and one tight right with an enormous green reminiscent of ripples in a stream greets you.Still strikes me layout-wise as I've opined before, but a lot more interest up by the green than I mentioned, sort of a waterfall effect in a way. The classic Cape tee shot, not the Cape hole per se, the fairway is deeper for a pull than it looks (as I found out) and works for most to be very fair
Medium Left to Right dogleg with a shelf above the left side of the green which releases almost none. Right side of fairway always gives you the best angle into the green, a bunker right protects you from the lateral hazard. I definitely liked this one both times and maybe respect it more the second time. Although there is strategy, it is not flexible; best effort will leave the drive on the right side of the fairway to allow a most direct approach. This is the elevated most back tee with a nice general view as well as of the hole itself.
Some emphasis on contours
Four - Par 4
The first really intriguing hole, a nearly drivable Par 4 with a sort of Principal’s Nose – Lion’s Mouth kind of bunker making for some rather segmented portions of the green and making you think about playing the hole right from the start. A long central bunker (but not creating a true “Bottle”) makes you think about your layup tee shot and also about your two-cheek driver off the tee. The green coupled with the bisected fairway make this a superior short hole and one that would probably be the most interesting hole on the property to play over and over on different days with different pin positions. This is the duo at their very best. Fourth hole is a short, attractive, probably not drive-able Par 4 that most people get really excited about. The visuals are quite high and the challenge certainly is in the green.
Five - Par 4
The hole is such that there is much room to play the hole. In a number of ways the tee shot demands are very similar to three, but the landing area is fully in view and the do or die nature of the lake edge is far more cut and dried than the gunch to the right of number three.
Six - Par 3
6 – A short to medium Par 3 with an enormous green. A fine dune behind the green makes this hole visually spectacular. The large green is simple to hit, but the task is to hit the proper portion of the green. I’m a little mixed about this hole for all but a few really cool pins, I’d call it a post card shot.
A nice little hole, near the clubhouse on a returning six hole loop, seemingly added to the original routing (to be shown later) in which one first glimpses again the Blue course with the eighteenth green adjacent and between the gap when one comes back to the seventh tee, A massive green, a short iron for most.
Seven - Par 5
Very classically recognizable as a Coore & Crenshaw par 5 with all the sailing (tack-style) options to get to the green. A large bunker on the right shoulder directs the tee shot, either play over or left of it to get your position. No reason ever to go left on this tee shot, even in a hurricane. For a three-shot Par 5 it will all come down to a precision wedge shot. As a two-shotter, without a monster drive, you will need a curling shot to get it on in two, but it will need to be only for specific pins. I found this hole rather inviting and birdied it with a very challenging pin position first time out. As a three shot hole, the second shot winding up in the left quarter of the fairway will almost always give you the preferred approach. Second play, I missed my birdie putt. A very friendly likeable hole if you just do what the visuals tell you to do. This looks way harder than it actually is. Make birdie here.
Left edge of this bunker is just fine
Nice transition from seven green to eight tee.
Eight - Par 3
A Gem of a Par 3 hole, mostly a short shot with a differing angle front (straight on) to angled (from the right). Lots of pins, again like number 4 another hole you’d like to play every pin position. Another birdie with another wedge to 3-4 feet first time out, missed 9 footer second try. Another birdie hole. Front third of the green probably most interesting shots with the angle form the back.
Nine- Par 4
Pin position and short grass short par 4, be cautious about the slopes, cute hole, nothing more, no strategy, all defence, left for left pin, right for right. False left front. It can be called unfair by some very easily. Doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a par 4. I generally liked this hole, probably would lay it up to 50 – 120 if I wanted to guarantee a score. Don't go over, it's death. Fun but driving is a fool's errand.
11 – Hitting it in the bunkers unless you are against a forward lip is not a penalty, strange double fairway, to the right adds so many clubs and left doesn’t work for left green, so I guess you can call it a “Backwards Bottle” template. You have to execute a more difficult tee shot to have a longer iron in. Rees Jones built a version this hole as #11 at Huntsville National in the suburbs of Scranton, PA. Doesn’t feel good either place, because it is backwards. Makes little sense. I felt better playing out of the bunker that I would have up top because it was 3-4 less clubs.
12 – A bit awkward in a good way but another hole that probably will come off as unfair as the fairway slopes and the corner cannot be cut.
13 – A bunker to mess with you off the tee, but it’s irrelevant because you must have the angle on the third. Not a two-shotter for many. All these details get lost in the shuffle if everything about the hole dictates that teh hole must play in from a very small area.
15 – Another three shot Par 4, meh. For most it is humourless and a tedium with no real strategy possible. It is very long, plays uphill and has a perched green as well.
16 – So the property built a “Biarritz”. Over the water, just like France. But, it’s a silly one I’m going to rip apart because it has faults a public golfer should not encounter in his or her first Biarritz. If you hit the green I suppose you’re in the swale a lot. The front pins, you might wind up there because you don’t want to be short. The front is massive, OK. The swale is deep. OK. The rear – there is a kicker on the back left that ruins many shots getting up there because they have no spin in most folks hands if it’s run up on the back tier, will come back to the swale. Couple this with only the back tee having a straight go at the green, every other tee comes from the left so if you are weaker, you more likely slice so the back tier is ridiculous for you. This hole was backed up both days and I’ll bet is backed up for the first group.
17 – Tee shot is a lot like the 16th at Pine Valley but not so in the forced carry aspect but in picking your carry line. As you go right you are rewarded with a nicer angle. It works, it’s quality architecture, it’s definitely one breather.
18 – Probably the most reachable Par 5 on the property by going with sheer abandon. A feel good ending. There is even a shorter way left of the massive left bunker, but hitting it in that bunker doesn’t keep you from making birdie, you can hit a lofted fairway wood like a 5 or a lofted rescue as you are likely to roll away from the face.