One of St. George’s best values for golf

Dixie Red Hills Golf CoureDixie Red Hills is a great setting for golf course, but then again St. George is an all around great setting for golf in southern Utah with its red sandstone cliffs and land formations. The golf course is only nine holes and a municipal operation, but a good test and a value when compared to the upscale golf in the area. It’s off I-15 in St George at exit 6 then north on Bluff Street.

Dixie Red Hills is a par 34 parkland style of design with cottonwood, Mondale Pines, and mesquite tree lined fairways, a pond in play on one hole and ten bunkers provide for a playable yet challenging layout with small greens as targets. It’s surrounded by the red rock and sandstone canyons which will provide for a stunning setting at days end. It’s very short at 2,700 yards, designed by Ernie Schneider in the 1960′s, and if you go around twice it’s 5,466 yards with a 65.9 course rating and 119 slope.  It’s generally busy but easy to get around in under 2 hours, and with rates around $20 or less in the summers it’s hard to beat. 

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The Links at Terranea, a quick nine near LAX

The Links at TerraneaTerranea is an award winning, 9-hole, par-3 oceanfront course and part of the Terranea Resort on the tip of Palos Verdes, north of the Trump National about 30 minutes from LAX. It’s reasonably priced and a great way to get in a quick nine and work on the short game for an hour and a half. 

The Links at Terranea has stunning views of the Pacific and Catalina Island from all the holes located in a beautiful setting once occupied by Marineland. There’s a good amount of elevation change, the holes are well bunkered, and it’s generally well conditioned. The course was designed by Todd Eckenrode and accommodates players of all levels with tees ranging from 50 to 180 yards, a total of 1,239 yards, par 27. On the third tee, you’re aiming at the Point Vicente Lighthouse, with the next hole overlooking Point Fermin and the finishing holes along a bluff overlooking the Pacific.


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The Elks Golf Club, a Southern Ohio classic untouched

The Elks Golf ClubThe Elks is located 10 minutes north of Portsmouth on the west side of the Scioto River on Rt 104 in McDermott.

It is a true Donald Ross original design that hasn’t been touched since it opened in 1924. It features the usual Ross touches, tight fairways, small greens which are elevated, crowned or perched, with run off areas surrounding them, and a moderate use of traps, mostly greenside.

Elks Country Club

The Elks Golf Club is a classic parkland style layout in the hills of southern Ohio with great views through the layout on a small 110 acre site, with bentgrass tee to green. From the back tees, the course yardage is 6,677, with a slope of 116, and a 70.7 course ratings, with several shorter tees. It’s a well regarded course in this part of Ohio, and was host to the former TC Jordan professional tour, as well as a number of amateur tour events. A pleasure to play if you love the old classic courses which have stood the test of time.

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Berkleigh Country Club, a Pennsylvania classic

Berkleigh Country ClubBerkleigh has been a private club and venue for the LPGA Betsy King event in the Reading area for years, but is now open to the public, located between Reading and Allentown on Rt 222 in Kutztown.

The Berkleigh Country Club is a pure classic  at 6,835 yards, 72.1 course rating with a 135 slope from the tips with three shorter tee boxes.  It’s parkland in design, built in 1927, and designed by Robert White of Carnoustie, Scotland. Generally well conditioned with huge mature tree lined fairways, it’s somewhat forgiving off the tee and easily walkable. The routing is roomy with each hole separate and unique, well bunkered both along the fairways and greenside, the greens tend to be on the small side, either oval or round in shape. There’s a few forced carries, most of the greens are open in the front, and the creek that traverses the layout comes into play often.  



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Rams Hill Golf Club, Fazio + Montesoro-The Recession=Rams Hill

Rams Hill Golf ClubRams Hill is the former Montesoro Golf Club in Borrego Springs, almost 2 hours from either San Diego or Palm Springs. The course routing is through a residential development in the Coachella Valley. 

The Rams Hill Golf Club, designed by Ted Robinson in the early 1980′s, was the original 27 hole layout here. It was redesigned by Tom Fazio in 2007, but shuttered in 2010, with 18 holes subsequently reopening 2014. It was originally a $22 million investment to build the layout, now restored with old-growth pine trees, cactus and desert scrub brush lining the rolling fairways, a scenic setting in the middle of the Anza Borrego State Park. The layout’s green fairways, the waterfalls and lakes are a bright contrast to the craggy mountains above and desert floor 200 feet below surrounding the course. The holes are diverse and challenging with the slight elevation change providing character,the setting sublime, especially in the late afternoons. There’s five sets of tees, the course plays to just over 7,247 yards, sports a 75.1 rating and 141 slope from the back tees, from the blue tees it’s 6,394 yards, 71.0/131.

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Reflection Bay Golf Club, Jackie’s Back in Town!

Reflection Bay Golf ClubReflection Bay is 30 minutes due east of the Strip in Henderson, part of the Lake Las Vegas resort and residential development, originally developed in the late 1990′s, closed during the recession, but reopened in 2014.

The golf course is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design routed along the shores of Lake Las Vegas with holes 7, 8, 9, 17 & 18 directly on the lake, a scenic setting overall with the mountains as the backdrop. It’s a straightforward, resort style of layout with plenty of room off the tee, a moderate amount of sand along the fairways, but the greens well protected.

Reflection Bay Golf ClubThe greensites are all shapes and sizes, contoured and sloped with a fair amount of undulation. The layout certainly has some gimmicks with waterfalls on a number of holes, and the green at #8 actually flowing into the Lake, seeming a bit unnatural at times, but part of the course is more scenic as it’s routed through the low end of the development and partially separated from the resort properties. There’s five sets of tees from 5,166 yards to 7,261 yards at the tips, the middle white tees play to 6,391 yards.

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The Sagamore, an Adirondack classic!

The Sagamore Golf ClubThe Sagamore is a classic resort and spa which originated in the 1920′s, complete with a fully restored Donald Ross parkland style layout on a hill overlooking Lake George and the Adirondacks.  The resort is located an hour from Albany, four hours from New York City or Boston, and includes a variety of activities including tennis, an indoor recreation center, boating, sailing and swimming.

The first hole might be one of the better views in golf overlooking the entire course with Lake George set below, and provides an enthusiastic start. The  routing for The Sagamore is partly through an open meadowland with other holes over rolling white birch and evergreen lined fairways. The fairways are narrow, lined with native heather, with deep faced “Ross” signature bunkers surrounding the small and raised greens.  It is a shotmakers course and rewards risk but punishes mistakes, and is still relevant to today’s game even though it’s 90+ years old. It’s a par of 70, from the tips is 6,821 yards, 137 slope, 74.0 course rating with multiple shorter tees available.


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The Fort Myers Country Club, a Donald Ross classic “Fortified”

The Fort Myers Country Club

The Fort is an historic golf course in Southwest Florida, and is located south of Fort Myers between the Tamiami Trail and McGregor Blvd a mile north of the Midpoint Bridge over the Caloosahatchee River. The golf course was originally designed by Donald Ross in 1917, and was the home to many of the early PGA Tour events in Southwest Florida, including the Senior PGA Championship and The Fort Myers Open. It’s said that winter residents Henry Ford and Thomas teed it up here,  LPGA legend Patty Berg taught here in the 1970’s, and U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen won his first tournament at the course.  

Steve Smyers, a Lakeland based architect of some acclaim for restoring the classics, was commissioned to redesign and renovate the layout with a $5.2 Million investment by the City of Fort Myers. The redesign to modern standards and length, stretched the course to 7,000+ yards from the tips, par was reduced to 70, and it was reconfigured with five par 3’s and three par 5’s.

The Fort Myers Country ClubThere’s new grassing, improvements to irrigation, drainage and utility services, renovation of all greens, tees, fairways, roughs, bunkers and pathways.

The routing is fair and playable over flat land with a drainage canal cutting midway through the layout affecting play on a number of holes. The fairways are broad and tree lined, there’s a moderate amount of sand in play along the fairways, while the crowned greens are well guarded.

The Fort Myers Country Club is owned by the City of Fort Myers,  and consistent with municipal layouts is very reasonably priced, especially now with the additional investment by the City, but also gathers a significant amount of play by golfers of all abilities. 


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Intervale Country Club, defines “Hidden Gem”

The Intervale Country ClubIntervale CC is a classic parkland design by Alex Findlay in 1903, with renovations by W.B. Booth in 2004. It’s a 9 holer, but it’s not often you can play an original by Findlay, who designed courses in the early 1900′s that mostly remain private, or have disappeared.

The Intervale Country Club is routed along the Merrimack River on Front St. just north of downtown Manchester. It has one of the toughest starting holes in the State, a 222 yard par 3, rightly sets the tone for the round at hand. For two loops, the course is a short 6,163 yards, 68.3 course rating, and 110 slope from the blue tees, with one shorter tee at 5,424 yards, 71.0/120, course/slope for the ladies. Even though it’s short and relatively straightforward, course management reigns supreme here over distance with water in play on 5 holes,  postage stamps for greens, and a couple of OB adding to the challenge

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Full Cry Golf Club, the third design is the charm!

Full Cry Golf ClubFull Cry, a hunting term meaning “in hot pursuit”, is part of the 48 room Keswick Hall, and is only available to play as a guest of the 600 acre resort. it’s located on the east side of Charlottesville, just off I-64 at the Louisa Road exit to the east. 

Keswick’s original course was built in 1948 by Fred Findlay, renovated in 1992 by Arnold Palmer, and redesigned in 2013 by Pete Dye, and is routed over the rolling hills below Keswick Hall in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Full Cry Golf Club is a parkland design, the greens are mostly open in the front, but heavily bunkered on the sides, and throughout the fairway’s landing zones. There’s a good variety of short and fun par fours, a couple of long ones, and some in the middle, the par 5′s a variety of lengths, a couple reachable in two. The finish is interesting from the 16th, a Redan par 3, to the 17th with train tracks running parallel to the hole with an old flatbed railway car as the bridge to the tee boxes. The 18th finishes with the hotel in the backdrop and the lake in the foreground.

A classy renovation by Mr Dye with no offense to Messrs. Findlay and Palmer.

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New Golf Courses for 2014, it’s a short list…

The National Golf Foundation reported that eight new public golf courses opened in 2013 while 157 closed. Although they haven’t released the closing numbers for 2014, it’s anticipated to be relatively the same on the closed side, yet there’s only been five all-new public access golf courses which have opened in 2014.  Golf’s in a funk for a host of reasons, shifting demographics, the economy, and the general lack of interest from generations other than the baby boomers. The major factor is simply the over-supply of golf courses which were built over the years to sell homes, and not financially viable on a stand alone basis.  The NGF is culpable, as it’s the same organization that in 1989 called for a new golf course opening every day until the year 2000 to meet the demand of the aging Boomers. So much for projections!

Of the five new golf courses for 2014 with public access, three are associated with residential developments, one a casino, and the fifth, just pure golf in the State of Washington at a envisioned Bandon Dunes style resort. 

Gamble Sands Golf Course1. Gamble Sands is located just outside Brewster, WA on the banks of the Columbia River. It was designed by David McLay Kidd, who’s known for designing Bandon Dunes, The Castle Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, and Tetherow, among others. It was developed by the Greggers Family, one of the largest apple orchard owners in the world.

It’s a natural setting with stunning views out across the Columbia River and is without homes, roads, and cart paths to interrupt the landscape. It’s designed to be playable for all levels, there’s five sets of tees overall, the tips play to 7,129 yards, 74.2/128, course/slope ratings, with the middle tees at 6,207 yards, 69.7/118.

2. Potomac Shores Golf Club is 40 minutes south of downtown D.C. just off I-95. It’s a Jack Nicklaus Signature design, routed through a master planned community, parkland style which weaves through the hilly forested terrain along the Potomac. There’s over 200 feet of elevation change throughout, stunning shot values as the course moves through the tree lined fairways with wetlands and heavy bunkering bordering both the land zones and greens. 

Sewailo Golf Club3. Sewailo Golf Club is located on the southwest side of Tucson, 10 miles dues west of the Tucson Airport on Valenica. The course is owned by the Pascua Yaqui Nation and was designed by Notah Begay III and Ty Butler, and is a well landscaped desert style, parkland layout with plenty of sand, lakes, and streams throughout with the front side a good warm-up for a much more challenging backside.

4. Esplanade Golf Club, Naples on Immokalee Road three miles east of I-75, developed in concert with a Taylor Morrison residential development of 1,798 acres, 1,000 of which are natural preserves, wetlands as well as over 170 acres of lakes with a total of 1,121 homes when built out. The golf course was designed by Chris Wilczynski, an Art Hills/Steve Forest protege. The layout is routed through environmental preservation areas with wetlands and lakes in play frequently, along with a few forced carries.  

5. Esplanade Golf Club, Lakewood Ranch, located 2 miles east of I-75 on Rt 70, routed through a Taylor Morrison residential development of 600 acres with a planned 1,250  villas and single family homes. The golf course was also designed by  Chris Wilczynski, who created a very playable layout through the development with yardages ranging from 4,600 yards to 6,800 yards. While the the course is layered in through the homesites, it’s bordered by protected wetlands, frequent water and sand in play, with slightly undulating fairways and large greensites.

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Grindstone Neck Golf Course, the Schoodic Peninsula’s best golf course!

Grindstone Neck Golf CourseGrindstone Neck is on Frenchman Bay near Winter Harbor, an hour from Bar Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula.  It’s a golf  course time capsule from the late 1800′s, permanently stuck in time. The scenery, with the mountains of the Acadia National Park in the background, and the views across the Harbor to Ironbound Island and the Atlantic, make this course a beautiful setting, especially on a clear day. 

The Grindstone Neck Golf Course was designed by Alex Handy, a one trick shot architect, in 1891.  The nine-holer is located on Winter Harbor, 5 miles east of Bar Harbor, yet an hours drive around the peninsula, which accounts for its lack of play-many times you’ll have the golf course to yourself.  Even better, the greens fee is modest at $15.

Grindstone Neck Golf CourseIt’s a rather basic layout without irrigation in the fairways, providing a fast and firm playing surface. The greens are small, slightly undulating, and reward shot making. There are no bunkers, but the fairways are bordered by rock outcroppings, trees and under-brush, wildflowers, beaches,  and stream beds.

It’s a delightful layout, basic and rudimentary with two sets of tees, 3,095 yards from the tips, and 2,550 yards from the front tees with one par 5 and one par 3. While the course takes you back to an earlier time, the setting is all world, and well worth the journey!


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Purgatory Golf Club, not quite Heaven or Hell, but close

Purgatory Golf ClubPurgatory, the religious notion, is an intermediate stop on the way to Heaven for purification of the soul necessary to enter eternal bliss. When you play golf at Purgatory, you will experience all realms in a four hour round.  

The experience begins with the setting as there’s nothing but pure golf and natural boundaries at the Purgatory Golf Club on a 125 acres tract of slightly rolling Central Indiana farmland known as the longest course in Indiana. 

Purgatory Golf ClubThe fairways are bordered by tall fescue which swallows your ball, as do the 125 bunkers throughout the fairways and greenside, along with numerous water hazards- this is the “Hell” side of Purgatory. Ron Kern designed the layout as a links style, and from the tees you’re facing an array of bunkers and contoured fairways, but the landing zones in the mounded fairways are ample, yet deceptive from the tees. The par 3′s are superb, a couple of the par 5′s are reachable in two-the “Heaven” side of Purgatory . It’s an enjoyable experience at times, other times mind bendingly frustrating, but there’s six sets of tees to find the right tees for your game, the tips are at 7,754 yards, 78.1/142, course/slope ratings.

Purgatory Golf Club is just  north of Noblesville on Rt 37, on the east side of the White River, about 30 minutes from Indianapolis.

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Landa Park Golf Course, Springs to a new life

Landa Park Golf CourseLanda Park has been a standby for good basic golf in the  New Braunfels area since 1938 when its original nine holes were developed along the eastern bank of the Comal River in Landa Park . The park was established near the Comal Springs, which are the largest in Texas and the southwest, with seven major springs and dozens of smaller ones at the base of a steep limestone bluffs. Interestingly, the River’s sources is entirely from the springs flowing for just over two miles before joining the Guadalupe River, and is said to be the shortest river in the United States. 

Back to golf, Leon Howard and Dave Bennett expanded the layout to 18 holes in the late 1960′s and it’s generally been recognized as a fair but short layout, easily walkable, and a good value for the area. Baxter Spann, of Finger Dye Spann golf course architects from Katy, Texas, provided a redesign in 2014, and brought the course up to more modern standards.

Landa Park Golf CourseThe design has been updated and re-grassed,  now in a class of some of the more upscale layouts in the Austin/San Antonio area. The Landa Park Golf course has a good variety of interesting par 4′s, three full length par 5′s, and par 3 holes of varying lengths and settings. It’s a parkland style of design with scattered tree lined fairways in a scenic setting along the river with views of the Schlitterbahn Castle. It’s rather short, a par of 71, 6,204 yards from the back tees, and an easy walk over relatively level land.

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Cinder Ridge Golf Course, a Strip Mine Reclamation Success Story

Cinder Ridge Golf CourseCinder Ridge is located 20 minutes south of Joliet, just off Interstate 55 in the Fossil Rock Recreation Area, an hour from The Loop.

It was designed and built through the former Peabody Coal Strip Mine by the owner George Kappos in the mid-1990′s, his first and only design.It is a par 72, 6,968 yards, 73.1/139, course/slope ratings from the black tees with four shorter tees, playable for all levels. The routing the Cinder Ridge Golf Course is  over 350 acres, and carved through one of the largest former strip mines in the area now reclaimed. There’s a variety of terrain and hole designs with heavily wooded areas, ravines. meadows, and marshlands, providing a challenging layout with plenty of sand bunkers along the fairways and greenside with water in play on 14 holes. For the most part, each hole is isolated and unique over the roomy tract of land, but unfortunately a residential development does border a few of the holes.

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The Dunes Golf Club, how in the World Wood you miss the Dunes!

The Dunes Golf ClubThe Dunes is an hour north of Tampa in Weeki Wachee where the Suncoast Parkway meets US 98, virtually across the road from World Woods. Many golfers heading to Tampa end up making the trek up to Brooksville to play World Wood’s Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks only to miss The Dunes.  We’d suggest this itinerary be altered for the discerning golfer.

Upon arrival after a mile long drive off US 19 through an empty wasteland you’ll find a sand/crushed shell parking lot and a minimal clubhouse, but don’t let this first impression frame your day on the links. The Dunes Golf Club is an Arthur Hills design, dancing through the Central Florida sand dunes, with the holes carved over the land as it was leaving the natural scrub brush, pine trees, and sand dunes at the fairways’ borders.   It’s a roomy track of land, the holes are routed in two distinct loops in a figure eight design with each hole isolated and unique without homes or development. There’s an interesting amount of elevation changes, forced carries and large, undulating greens, with tee to green waste bunkers throughout. The golf course has five sets of tees from 5,007 yards to 7,139 yards, the middle tees play to 6,222 yards, 69.8/122, course/slope ratings.

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Three Crowns Golf Club, what golf has to do with oil refining

Three Crowns Golf ClubThree Crowns  was built on the former Amoco Oil Refinery on the North Platte River in Casper as part of a reclamation project of the former 340 acres of the refinery and tank farm.  The name was taken for BP Amoco’s old symbol—crowns of gold, white and red, which represent the three different grades of gasoline sold by the company. 

The course is part of a large park, the Platte River Commons, and includes the golf course, business park, jogging trail and parks on approximately 350 acres. Three Crowns Golf Club is a 7,065 yard par 72 Robert Trent Jones, Jr design on 150 acres, just west of downtown Casper, and sits above land that still contains millions of gallons of refinery product scheduled for recovery over the next two decades. It’s an open links type design with tall native grasses bordering the fairways, 61 pure white sand bunkers, and 8 lakes providing the challenge. Just a heads-up though, the lakes and wetlands act as filtering for the chemicals that have been recovered in the reclamation process, so if you’re fishing for balls, be sure to take precautions. 

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Morro Bay Golf Course, the “poor man’s Pebble Beach”

Morro Bay Golf CourseMorro Bay is a county operated muni with great views of the surrounding mountains, Morro Bay, and the Pacific, the locals refer to it as a “poor man’s Pebble Beach,” as the greens fees are a bargain. 

It’s an old course dating back to the mid-1920′s, originally the Cabrillo Country Club, the initial 9 holes were designed by Quintin Miller and E. W. Murphy, now the backside. Russell Noyes was responsible for the front side’s design which opened in 1951. The golf course is rather short at 6,360 yards, par 71, with a course rating of 70.4 and a slope of 119, with three shorter tees. The fairways at the Morro Bay Golf Course are of Kikuyu grass through hilly tree lined corridors which require shotmaking both off the tee and on approach to the greens to have a chance at par. Fairly straightforward design, a few doglegs, the greens are of Poa, and are small with confounding breaks, and not much in the way of bunkers. The setting is sublime with Morro Bay and the Pacific to the west, Black Hill above. 

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Rochelle Ranch Golf Course, a gift that keeps on giving

Rochelle Ranch is 150 miles west of Cheyenne and 300 miles east of Salt Lake City in Rawlins, Wyoming, population 9,250, right off the I-80 exit.

Rochelle Ranch Golf CourseIt’s somewhat inconceivable to find of a golf course of this quality in the middle of Wyoming, let alone in this terrain and quality of soil. It was the gift of Curt and Marian Rochelle, local sheep ranchers who decided to donate funds to the city. The town fathers met, and thought a golf course would do, so the city donated the land and the Rochelles paid for the course construction.

The Rochelle Ranch Golf Course was designed by Ken Kavanaugh at an altitude of 6,800 feet, and is the longest golf course in Wyoming. The course has elevation change with magnificent views, there’s only two holes which run parallel, the rest is up and down and across the rough land left as it was. There’s essentially no rough, just fairways bordered by sand, sagebrush, and scrub bushes, with numerous water hazards in play. It can play to a massive 7,925 yards all the way down, 75.9128, course/slope, to 5,706 yards, 66.0/116.

It’s a great find, a great value, and if you’re on I-80, a good reason to stop for 4 hours.

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Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex

Akerman Hills Golf CourseBoilermaker football fans will be in West Lafayette tomorrow to watch Purdue disassemble the Salukis of Southern Illinois.  If golf is part of their play, they would usually have the choice of two 18 hole championship courses at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex here, named after benefactors, Mike and Kay Birck.

Pete DyeThe first course built was Ackerman Hills in the mid 1920′s, and was designed by Bill Diddle. It’s currently closed, and undergoing and renovation and redesign by Indiana favorite son, Pete Dye, with an anticipated opening by the Spring of 2016. It’s a parkland-style golf course that’s routed through mature trees and rolling hills,small wildly undulating greens, lightly bunkered, with some tight landing areas and approaches defined by trees. The course was redesigned by Larry Packard in 1968, and was named for a benefactor of the University. Dye’s plan includes the lengthening the layout, replacing turf on the greens, tees and fairways, improving drainage and irrigation, and moderating the severe slope of many of the green complexes, in short modernizing the layout to today’s agronomic standards. 

Kampen at Birck BoilermakerMeanwhile, the Kampen Course remains open, and has always been the star at Birck. It was designed by Pete Dye, and is 7,465 yards, 75.9/143, course/slope ratings from the tips, with four shorter tees. It’s more of an open links style layout, and has some of Dye’s signature design features with scattered pot bunkers, massive bunker complexes, and large sculptured greens. The course is routed along wetlands, ponds, and even a natural celery bog, is a shotmaker’s layout requiring good course management, as well as length. It’s regarded as one of the top college tracks in the country, and has held a number of NCAA championships.

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Samoset Golf Club, “The Pebble Beach of the East”

Samoset Golf ClubSamoset’s origins go back to 1902 when Bob Elder designed the original 9 holes, which were later remodeled and nine additional holes added by Geoffrey Cornish, with a recent upgrade by Bradley Booth. 

 It’s known as the “Pebble Beach of the East” as it borders the Atlantic on Penobscot Bay along Rockport’s coastline. The Samoset Golf Club and resort are situated on 230 acres with excellent views throughout, though the views are somewhat restricted at times by the woods, the resort condos, and the associated housing development.  There are five “ocean” holes at Samoset, with the Atlantic fully in view on the front nine, and the finishing holes on the backside. The course, a mix of parkland and links-style holes, and sets up to 6,548 yards from the back tees, 70.8/133, course/slope ratings with three shorter tees. It’s well bunkered throughout, both along the fairways and guarding the greens, with numerous water hazards in play.


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