The Ocean Course at Kiawah, Masterpiece or Looney Dunes, still a must play

The Ocean Course At Kiawah IslandKiawah Island is south of Charleston about 45 minutes. It’s a resort and real estate development which contains  five golf courses, the most famous of which is the Pete & Alice Dye designed Ocean Course. The course was developed specifically to host the 1991 “War on the Shore” Ryder Cup, which the US squeaked by 14 1/2-13 1/2 after Bernhard Langer missed a 6 footer on the 18th for a tie and to retain the Cup. The Ocean course was also the venue for the 2007 Senior PGA Championship, s well as the 2012 PGA Championship.

It’s a scenic setting without homes or development along the layout with ten of the holes right on the Ocean so the wind is always a factor. The course is  one of the highest slope and course ratings in the US at 144 slope and 73.2 course rating from the tips at 7,356 yards, with four shorter tees.

The Ocean Course At Kiawah IslandAlice Dye had the idea to “lift” the design off the beach to provide better views from the golf course to the Atlantic, effectively increasing the wind’s impact on the layout. It’s not in the class of true links courses though, the fairways are not hard, fast and firm, the greens fronted by bunkering along with mounding which deflects balls on approach. While the fairways are generous, there’s continued forced carries over marshes and wetlands,  waste bunkers throughout, the greens, raised and on the small side.

While it’s somewhat tame on the rare calm day from the appropriate tees for your personal game, all bets are off when the wind’s up. Accordingly, The Ocean Course at Kiawah was dubbed Looney Dunes after the Ryder Cup, and playing to 7,610 yards from the tournament tees, with a 155 slope and 79.6 course rating it’s the toughest golf course in  America.


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Four Mile Ranch Golf Club, 21,120 linear feet of golf

Four Mile Ranch Golf ClubFour Mile Ranch is located on the east side of Canon City, about 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs and 30 minutes west of I-25 at Pueblo. The course was designed by Jim Engh, who also designed Lakota Canton Ranch, Black Rock, and Pradera. It’s a real estate development course, but in the early stages so there aren’t homes to ruin the golf experience with each hole isolated and separate, with significant distances between greens and tees.

Four Mile Ranch Golf ClubThe Four Mile Ranch Golf Club layout is minimalist in design, without conventional bunkers, instead the natural desert scrub bordering the fairways serves as waste areas. While the first few holes are tame in terms of the natural pitch, the rest of the course takes you on a roller coast ride throughout the 4 miles of the former ranch land.There’s a lot of risk and reward holes of all types of shapes, configurations, and routes with blind shots galore. The fairways are bowled-in as are the greens, with heavy mounding which not only impacts putting, but also the approach shots. There’s elevated tees with views for miles, the scenery here is literally stunning in the late afternoons. It’s an interesting, maybe quirky layout, and can be a lot of fun while rewarding good course management. Four Mile Ranch maxes out at just over 7,000 yards to a 72-par with a 132 slope, the blue tees are 6,231 yards, 68.3/123. 

Before you leave Canon City, take the 30 minute drive west to see the Royal Gorge Bridge, a suspension bridge 1,260 foot long bridge, 955 fee above the Arkansas River, the nearby 8 Mile Bar and Grill is a good choice for lunch, since there’s no more than a trailer at the golf course. 

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Bully Pulpit Golf Course, golf in the Badlands

Bully Pulpit Golf CourseBully Pulpit is located on the far western side of N. Dakota near the Montana border just off I-94 in the town of Medora, where the Little Colorado River meets the start of the Dakota Badlands and the Grassland National Park. It is a restored western town with a history that includes Teddy Roosevelt, General Custer, and Indians.

The Bully Pulpit Golf Course is a hidden gem, built using the existing land by Dr. Michael Hurdzan on 900+ acres!! It’s a mile or more of Little Missouri riverside, and the Badlands, which is a small Grand Canyon. The Badland’s are described as “hell with the fires gone out,” and has plenty of wild bison and horses, bighorn sheep, antelope, mountain cats, coyotes, turkeys, prairie dogs, and snakes so keep you ball in the fairway.

Bully Pulpit Golf Course Some holes were designed out on the open prairie lands, some along river, others into the cottonwoods forest, and still others up in the badlands for the finishing holes, the backside is most dramatic. There’s five sets of tees from 4,750 to 7,166 yards, the middle tees play to 6,000 yards, 70.1/122, course/slope.

Not to be missed, a reasonably priced greens fee, stunning scenery, and an amazing find out in the middle of Western South Dakota.

aMedora has an amazaing variety of options as well including the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, The Medora Musical, Stargazing, the Chateau de Mores, North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Maah Daah Hey Trail among a variety of trails, and horseback riding. In terms of accommodations, we’d have to go with the Rough Riders Hotel in downtown, Theodore’s Dining Room at the hotel for dinner, the Cowboy cafe for breakfast. 

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