Canyons Golf Course, Park City, Utah

The Canyons Golf CourseThe Canyons Golf Course, Park City, Utah is a few miles south of the I-80 exit at Kimball Junction.

The Canyons Golf Course is part of the Canyons Resort in Park City. The golf course winds through the Canyons Resort resort area adjoining the Waldorf Astoria with over 550 feet of elevation change providing views of the Wasatch and Uinta mountains and surrounding valleys.

It’s an entertaining par 70, 6,256-yard layout designed by Gene and Casey Bates with four sets of tees with seven par 3′s and six holes which are incorporated into the ski runs. The signature holes are the 10th, a 300 foot elevation change from tee to green, and #18, an island green surrounded by the Willow Draw Stream.

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The Island Golf Club

The Island Golf ClubThe Island is 14 miles southwest of downtown Baton Rouge along a bend in the Mississippi River partially routed through a residential development in Plaquemine.

The Island Golf Club was carved out of a sugar plantation, in fact sugar cane still grows in the fields adjoining the course to the north. It’s surrounded by water with the Bayou Jacob bordering the north and Bayou Plaquemine to the South. There’s nine lakes with water on almost every hole and 54 bunkers yet it’s fairly forgiving off the tee with broad landing zones. The course was designed by Mike Young, opened in 1999, and plays to a total yardage of 7,010 yards from the professional tees with a 75.1 course rating and a tough 143 slope but with four shorter sets of tees.

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Island View Golf Club, the “Island” series

Island View Golf ClubIsland View GC is west of Minneapolis by 30 minutes in Waconia on the east shore of Lake Waconia overlooking Coney Island.

The Island View Golf Club is a beautiful, secluded layout  without housing lining the holes with the fairways lined with trees, sand bunkering in the landing zones and greenside, and water in play on five holes. It can play from 5,300 from the red tees to 6,578 yards from the blue tees where the course rating is 71.8 with a 135 slope. It was designed by Bill Kidd Sr. and George Oftelie in the early 1960′s as a classic parkland style layout.

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Catalina Island Golf Club, continuing the “island” series

The Catalina Island Golf Club

Catalina Island is 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island is a rocky outcrop measuring 22 miles long and 8 miles in width at its widest point. It’s been occupied over the millennium by native American Indians, Spanish Explorers, Mexicans, and finally William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum magnate who developed the island in the 1920′s as a tourist destination. 

The Catalina Island Golf Club is a parkland style of layout with narrow, tree lined fairways playing to small, well guarded greens. It was originally designed as a 3 hole course in the 1890′s and acknowledged as the oldest course west of the Mississippi. It was expanded to 9 holes, then 18, and back again to the 9 holes today with most of the design work by John Duncan Dunn. Catalina Island Golf Club is an executive style layout with five par 4′s and four par 3′s at 2,100 yards from the tips and a par of 32, and good for a quick round at a reasonable greens fee along a scenic setting.

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Fossil Island Golf Club, the “Island” series

Fossil Island Golf ClubFossil Island is a basic 9 holer, but the only golf for miles in southwest Wyoming. It’s routed along the Hams Fork River on the north side of Kemmerer in an area ripe for fossils with the nearby Fossil Butte National Monument. 

The Fossil Island Golf Club has been around since the early 1920′s, but was redesigned by Dick Phelps in 2004 to a playable and straightforward layout. It’s a parkland style of design with scattered trees along the fairways, numerous water hazards and minimal sand mostly greenside with the unique feature of dual par 5 island greens. There’s two tee boxes, from the tips the course will play to 3.240 yards with a 34.3 course rating and a 113 slope.

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The Wilmington Island Golf Club, continuing the “Island” series

The Wilmington Island Golf Club

The Wilmington Island GC is 20 minutes east of downtown Savannah midway to Tybee Island on the Wilmington River. It’s the former Savannah Inn and Country Club once owned by the Teamsters and managed by Lou “the Tailor” Rossanova.

Although the the routing has changed somewhat, the Wilmington Island Golf Club is a Donald Ross classic design from the late 1920′s moving over relatively land along the River with tree lined fairways throughout, frequent water hazards in play, and sand bunkering primarily greenside. It’s classic Ross with postage sized, slightly undulating greens raised above the fairways with deep bunkering guarding the approaches requiring disciplined course management both off the tee and on approach to the greens. There’s three sets of tees with the middle tees playing to 6,528 yards with a course rating of 71.6 and a 1342 slope.

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Tapps Island Golf Course, our “Island” series

Tapps Island Golf Course

Lake Tapps is a reservoir in Pierce County 45 minutes south of Seattle created in the early 1900′s for hydroelectric power since discontinued, and now providing water to two water districts in addition to being a fully recreational lake. 

The golf course at Tapps Island might be the best 9 hole golf course in the state. It’s very scenic even though it’s routed through a residential community along tree lined fairways with Lake and Mount Rainier views throughout, and easily walkable. It’s a short and tight course with a good amount of OB, elaborate sand bunkering greenside, and water hazards in play on all but one hole, so it’s prudent to acquire course management skills prior to your game here! The Tapps Island Golf Course is 2,722 yards for nine holes, if you go around twice, it’s 5,501 yards with 66.1 course rating and a 115 slope for a par of 70, designed by Fream/Thomson/Wolveridge opening in the early 1970′s. .

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South Padre Island Golf Club, our “Island” series

South Padre Island Golf ClubSouth Padre Island is a 34 mile long barrier island off the south coast of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico  near Brownsville. The golf club is just north of Laguna Vista on Santa Isabella Blvd on the mainland side of S. Padre Island. It’s routed links-style over relatively flat land through a residential development with a few holes along Laguna Madre Bay. 

The SPID GC was designed by Chris Cole and Stephen Caplinger with an open feel to it and generally very windy with water in play on 8 holes and well bunkered along the fairways and guarding the greens. It’s 6,931 yards from the back tees, 73.5/129, course/slope with four shorter tee boxes.

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Lopez Island Golf Club, our “Island Series”

Lopez Island Golf Club

If you’re heading to the San Juans this summer, while golf may not be the attraction, there is a 9 holer, the Lopez Island GC worth your while if just for the setting and charm of basic golf.

They don’t call it Slo-pez Island here for nothing, it’s a laid back atmosphere from the moment you arrive without the glitzy harbor or terminal as you’d find at Orcas Village or Friday Harbor on Orcas Island. It’s best known for cycling due to the light traffic, flat terrain, and scenery,  and about the only time it gets busy is around July 4 for the big fireworks show put on by several local residents including Paul Allen.

The Lopez Island Golf Club is located on the east side of the airport in the middle of the island where the only distraction is the occasional plane taking off or landing. It’s a parkland style of design with tree lined fairways, a couple of water hazards and bunkers playing to small greens. It’s a rudimentary 9 holer with two sets of tees for the front and back nine playing to 5,304 yards from the men’s tee with a par of 60, and a 65.4 course rating and a 106 slope, designed by John Steidel. 

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Frye Island Golf Course

Frye Island Golf Course

Frye Island GC is an island course located in the middle of Sebago Lake and accessible only by ferry at Raymond, which is about 40 minutes north of Portland. Check the ferry schedule as the service changes throughout the season, but in the summers it’s on the half-hour. The ride from Raymond  provides stunning views of Lake Sebago, the granite cliffs of Frye’s Leap with the White Mountains in the distance. 

The Frye Island Golf Course was designed by Geoffrey Cornish in the early 1970′s, and is only 9 holes of a planned 18 hole layout, likely to never be completed.  It’s carved through the forests with tight tree lined and hilly fairways with blind shots,  four  water hazards and sand bunkering providing additional impediments to par. The par 3 7th is the signature and one of the more picturesque in Maine at 170 yards over a small pond to a green surrounded by pines. It can play to 3,255 yards from the tips with a 70.0 course rating and a 123 slope with three shorter tees available.



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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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