Tuesday, January 2, 2018

104. Rest of 2017…North Carolina and South Carolina // 2017 Summary // 2018 Plans

Rest of 2017…North Carolina and South Carolina
From about November 5 to December 15 Pat and I were been hunkered down in North and South Carolina, with golf sprinkled through our schedules. 

Jason Mills, the First Assistant Professional at Brookline joined us to play in CCNC’s Member-Pro event November 10-11.  Both Cardinal and Dogwood are now in the best shape since I joined the club almost 20 years ago.  The greens are true and lightning fast (about 12.5’ on stimp) and the fairways are playing fast and firm as well.  Dogwood’s greens might have been too firm 3-6 weeks ago (not unusual with new Bermuda greens) but now are receptive to a well-hit approach (but not a mis-hit).  I will write up the key courses I played since November 9, but be fairly brief on courses I have written up before.

Starmount Forest Country Club, November 15, 2017:  Located in Greensboro, NC, Starmount opened in 1930 on 18 holes designed by Wayne Stiles and John Van Cleek.  This partnership also designed Norwood Hills-West (MO) (see Blog Post #103), Gulph Mills (PA), Prouts Neck CC (ME), and some 35 courses in MA (including Putterham, the municipal course that abuts Brookline). 

Starmount hosted the 1947 US Women’s Open and between 1938 and 1960, the Greater Greensboro Open 15 times (including 4 of Sam Snead’s victories at the GGO).  Today it totals 6728 yards (par 71) from the tips and is a classic example of a PGA Tour course that today is simply too short for today’s Tour players, but is an very good course for most amateurs.  The greens are very interesting and difficult at today’s speeds, and the course is built on excellent terrain.  It has never been on a USA Top 100.

I played Starmount with Hayes H., who is another Golf Magazine Panelist and is from Greensboro.  My game was poor at best and I posted 42 – 44 = 86.  Was scheduled to play Pinehurst #2 the next day and if I play like this I might not finish.

Pinehurst #2, November 16, 2017:  The Pinehurst Resort was founded by a soda fountain magnate named James Tufts in 1895.  He stepped of his Florida àBoston train in nearby Southern Pines and fell in love with the dry, crisp environment, and purchased some 5500 acres.  Later that year he opened the Holly Inn and encouraged his New England friends to built vacation cottages in the area.  The Village of Pinehurst was incorporated shortly thereafter.

During the Resort’s first full year, Tufts noticed than many guests were bringing their own golf clubs and shag bags to Pinehurst and hitting balls in open fields; as a result, he decided to build a golf course (which became Pinehurst #1).  Back in Boston, he was introduced to Donald Ross, by then the professional at Oakley CC in Watertown, MA.  Ross was born in Dornoch, Scotland and immigrated to the USA in 1898 or 1899.  Tufts talked Ross into designing a golf course for him at the resort…which turned out to be the world famous Pinehurst #2.  Ross ended up creating three of Pinehurst’s initial five courses (#2, #3, and #4) as well as renovating Pinehurst #1, and throughout the USA and Canada his architectural and construction firm is credited with designing or revising some 425 different courses.  While a few of these credits may not be appropriate (see fascinating WSJ article regarding Bloomfield Hills CC, north of Detroit at https://www.wsj.com/articles/country-clubs-dig-up-their-golf-histories-1386994516) his trail of glory is impressive to say the very least (e.g., Seminole, Oakland Hills, Aronomink, Inverness, and #2).

Seeing some of these 425 courses, some say Ross simply did one-day look-sees at many of his designs leaving the rest of the work to his subordinates without much hands-on supervision.  However, poor current conditions may be more a function of inadequate routine maintenance than initial design. In any case, Ross clearly had his favorites, including the brilliant Essex County Club in MA, where he redesigned the original nine holes and built an additional 9 starting between 1908 and 1917…and lived in a house off the current 15th tee.  But it is doubtful that Ross spent more time nurturing any course more than #2, where his home overlooked the 3rd and 5th greens until he passed away in 1948.

Pinehurst eventually became the “home” of American golf (with #2 as the centerpiece)…not exactly like St. Andrews is in Scotland, but as close as we upstarts could manage!  Since opening in 1907, it has hosted and will host:

·      The North and South Open, 1902-1951
·      The North and South Men’s Amateur, 1901-today
·      The North and South Women’s Amateur, 1903-today
·      The PGA Championship, 1936
·      The Ryder Cup, 1951
·      The PGA Tour’s Tour Championship, 1991-92
·      The US Open Championship, 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024
·      The US Senior Open Championship, 1994
·      The US Women’s Open Championship, 2014
·      The US Amateur Championship, 1962, 2008, 2019
·      The US Women’s Amateur Championship, 1989.

In 2014 it stretched out to 7562 yards (par 70) for the US Open.  After a masterful renovation by Coore-Crenshaw completed in 2011, it is back to Ross’ original “look” and “feel”…wide open with critical angles, no rough, sandy waste areas, and turtlebacked greens with sharp falloffs to tight lies on all four sides.  When I first played #2 in April 1971, it looked this way.  The Tufts family had sold the resort in 1970 to a company controlled by shipping magnate Malcolm McLean.  By late 1971 they were busy installing deep rough and narrowing the fairways, almost killing the majestic design.  Fortunately they left most of the greens and their surrounding areas untouched.  The Coore-Crenshaw renovation IMO has been a huge success.   I first played the redesigned #2 in May 2011, about two months after its reopening and distinctly recall seeing “flashbacks” to the course I remembered from 1971 after playing holes 1&2. 

World Top 100 rating have improved since the renovation on Top100golfcourses.com and PlanetGolf but not moved much on Golf Magazine.  Current World ratings for #2 are #18 on GM, #63 (??) on Golf Digest, #32 on PlanetGolf and #25 on Top100golfcourses.com.  Current USA ratings are #10 on GM, #30 (??) on GD, #18 on the merged GolfWeek list, and #15 on “Top100” website.

I was playing #2 this day with Simon Holt, who good readers of this blog will recall from our visits to St Andrews and North Berwick in September (Post #100).  Simon was “on tour” (as he works toward completing a GM World Top 100 listing) for about 7-10 days in FL, SC, NC, and NY and stayed with us the night before our round. Pat and I absolutely loved catching up with him, and the round on #2 was my first chance to play 18 with him.  The course was in wonderful condition, firm and fast from tees thru greens.  As noted above, #2 is very long (although we obviously did not play the back tees), but the fairways look quite wide.  However, while firm/fast conditions shorten courses, they also result in some shots running through fairways into waste areas.  And #2’s infamous “turtleback” greens consistently reject shots hit from the wrong angle or not crisply enough.  I ended up with a poorly played 44-43 = 87 caused mostly by not respecting #2 enough.  Good scores are available on #2…but not by going after it and not thinking clearly and decisively.  Taking 4 to get down from just off holes 2 and 14 was not helpful…but the birdie on #13 (4-utility to kick in putt) felt great. 
After the round Simon headed up to New York and played Winged Foot East with a high temp of about 45F, steady winds of 17mph and gusts up to 30mph!!  Then he headed back to the warmth of Scotland!

One last point on #2…a friend of mine who is in Pinehurst part time and recently joint a Top 100 Panel told me he thought #2 might be the most “playable” of USA’s great courses for the average player.  I think he is right on in a “relative” sense.  #2 will be tough for most average players, but a smart average player can absolutely score well by laying up short of the greens…leaving a good angle into the pin location.  A good player will be hitting longer irons into some very difficult pins…and little misses here when one is “going for it” can be disastrous.  Interesting observation on his part!

Old Town Club, November 17, 2017:  Located in the heart of Winston-Salem, NC, OTC is a brilliant 1939 design by Perry Maxwell.  I first played OTC in the summer of 2006 in my third attempt (all failed but at least in the first two I came close) to qualify for the US Senior Amateur.  In 2013, Coore and Crenshaw returned to allow OTC to highlight the wonderful design features presented by Maxwell and I have been fortunate to have been able to play OTC every year starting in 2013 (see my Post #65 regarding the 2016 visit).  

I went up there with John Hill (CCNC, Toronto Golf, and Chechessee) and for the first time we were able to play with Dunlop White III, who “led the charge” to renovate OTC.  Said “charge” proved to be highly successful but was a tough sell and highly controversial initially. 

The fairways were firm and fast and the greens were simply firm and lightening fast…even to the point of being too fast as the front left pin on #7 had to be moved in the middle of the day!  This is the fall season, when bent grass greens can get out of control very easily! 

Since the invention of the stimpmeter golfers have focused on the stimpmeter readings…forgetting that these represent the ball’s roll out distance on a flat green.  Experiments have shown that with a stimp reading of 7.5’ the roll out downhill as a function of green slope is as follows:

                        Slope               Downhill Roll
o   Flat                              7.5’
o   0.5%                            8.0’
o   1.3%                            9.5’
o   2.1%                           10.5’
o   4.4%                          17.7’
o   5.6%                          22.8’

So just think what happened with a green with 4.4% slope and greens stimping at 12 (answer…something like 28+ feet of roll out )!  The introduction of new hybrid strains of both Bent and Bermuda grasses have enabled courses to substantially increase the speeds of their greens…but many times this requires that the greens be re-sloped to accommodate these speeds.  If my recollection is correct, the infamous par 3 10th green at Winged Foot West has been de-lofted either 2 or 3 times in the past 50 years.

I was pleased to see that Coore continues to “nurture” his work at OTC (which he knows well from his days at Wake Forest U next door), including removal of trees behind #14 green.  Wholesale changes to courses are dangerous as mistakes are difficult to undo.  If an important tree is removed, it takes decades to replace.  But “working the project” incrementally, while taking more time, is often superior in the long run.  The same is true of new courses…they need to evolve to see in which direction the owners want to take it.
View of "hollow" short of 16 green (green being trees in distance).  Do not be "just short" or "just right" on 16 approach. View from 13th fairway.



There is lots I can comment on regarding OTC…but most was covered in Post #63.  One new fact is that it made the GM World 100 for the first time this year at #76…and it is rapidly rising on USA Top 100’s including the GW Merged (now #33), GM (now #59), and Top100 website (now #36).  Solid, well earned performance.

My game was simply awful 44-45 = 89 but performances like that can assist cash flow over time!

Chechessee Creek Club, November 21-22, 2017:  We spent the Thanksgiving week in South Carolina mostly at Chechessee Creek for the sixth straight year.  Since first playing CCC in March 2011, I have played it 23 times on 8 trips (see Blog Post #65).  Pat has been on every trip and logged 17.5 rounds…and it still gives both of us fits!

My game was so so at CCC, shooting an 86 and an 83.  Hit a good number of quality shots but continue to be plagued by mental errors.  Frustrating game but wonderful club.

Congaree Club, November 24, 2017:  I first learned of Congaree about a year ago when someone directed me to an article in Forbes.  At the time it had not opened but construction was almost complete.  The concept behind Congaree is basically philanthropic and explained better than I could in the following articles from Forbes and Links Magazine:


https://www.linksmagazine.com/congaree-a-south-carolina-golf-club-with-a-mission/

I will be brief as I try to add to what is said in these articles.  First and foremost, I am convinced the founders of Congaree are 1000% serious about the importance of philanthropy in their efforts.  They face a tough tough task but are giving it a hell of a shot.  I put one of Congaree’s Managing Partners, John McNeeley, together with a Pinehurst friend who 20 years ago founded a highly successful New England venture with a similar goal (but much smaller financial resources) and my Pinehurst friend came away from their conversation highly impressed.

Second, the club is simply world class.  The service and food are as good or better than I have experienced at literally every other club I have ever visited.  Many of the people at Conaree are associated with Diamond Creek Golf Club in NC.  In fact it reminded me of Pinehurst’s relationship with Roaring Gap Golf Club.  About 20 years after golf got started in Pinehurst, Donald Ross designed Roaring Gap in the mountains just west of Winston-Salem.  In those days, Pinehurst would close down for the summer, and a number of members of Pinehurst would move to Roaring Gap for the summer months…and much of the staff would journey by bus to Roaring Gap to work the summer months there.

The golf course is wonderful…firm and fast, very tough but fair, fun and playable, and with much more interesting terrain than one would expect in this part of SC.  But like all great tracks, be careful when you go “hunting”…small misses to tight spots at the wrong moment can pay a heavy penalty (too far right on par 4 8th and the ball will roll some 50-60 yards further right and end up about 40 feet below the green’s surface…but there are plenty of opinions that will allow you to play #8 safely, just that you’ll have to play a great up and down to par it). The conditioning is ridiculous…one could literally eat off the fairways!  The course reminded me of Tiger Woods’ Bluejack National NW of Houston…and that is meant as a high compliment for both.

Third, my game came back like dormant Bermuda grass in the warmth of springtime!  I started with a good drive on #1 and dumped a 7-iron into a tough bunker…totally shortsided with a green sloping away from me…and then proceeded to hole out for a birdie. 
1st green in distance; my 7 iron was already short sided in front right bunker...and I soon canned the bunker shot

Suffice it to say that I played the front in even par 36, with 15 putts (including 2 3-putt greens), 7 pars, 1 bird, and 1 bogey.  Canning the bunker shot on #1 and then a 60’ putt for par on #7 did help a bit!  And reached the par 5 4th in two…first time did that in too long to remember (but that was one of my 3 putts). 

Par 5 2nd from tee...gorgeous hole and very surprising elevation for "low country"
Short par 4 15th...safe play off tee to right...but then you have to clear bunker on right front of green

As you might have guessed, my ugly twin showed up for the back nine and he had a 44…but we’ll take an 80 here almost any time!  And, the good news is that I could not post it for handicap purposes as the course has yet to be rated for handicap purposes.

Pat and I and four others played and loved it.  It is a great experience and a wonderful venture.
 
Location of "dog cemetery" dating back to plantation days!
Eagle Point Golf Club, November 30, 2017:  An old friend from Quaker Ridge, Michael F., introduced me via email to Gordon D., a fellow GM panelist who runs a very large golf travel agency and lives in Wilmington, NC.  We traded emails, agreed to some home and home golf, and started at his club in Wilmington, Eagle Point GC, a Tom Fazio design completed in 2000.  I had played Eagle Point once in 2006 with an old friend from Citibank, Barry B.  Gordon set up a game with a client of his, a friend of his from EPGC, himself and me.  I had a 2:45 hour drive each way and had to leave around 8:15 for lunch at 11:45 and golf thereafter.  The drive went smoothly and I warmed up hitting some balls at EPGC’s outstanding driving range.

Unfortunately for you the reader this brings me to a related topic that I would like to briefly discuss…practice facilities.  Those of you who have been playing this silly game for less than 10 years or so might think that golf courses always had 100+ yard wide, 325 yard deep ranges for full shots (stocked of course with virtually new practice balls…Pro V1’s at very exclusive clubs), several short game areas to practice long/short bunker shots, pitch shots, running chip shots, etc., and large practice greens manicured to replicate green conditions on the course itself.  If you do think that, you probably also believe the internet has been available for at least 75 years, with today’s speeds and breadth.  I’m here to tell you it just ain’t so. 

Courses built before about 1920 rarely had an area dedicated to practice (other than a practice green).  Golfers prior to the Bobby Jones era simply did not practice or “warm-up”.  If you want to see prove of this assertion, I suggest that you visit some of the finest clubs in the USA, including Winged Foot (170 yard deep range with mats sandwiched into a triangular area to the right of the first tee of West’s #1), Quaker Ridge (simply no dedicated practice area), National Golf Links of America (nothing but a hitting net until some 20-30 years ago), etc.  If you go to a club built prior to 1920 and they have an expansive range, then you can bet that the club’s facilities either (1) included a polo field, or (2) expanded through an acquisition of additional land.

Additionally, the target greens, precise distance markers, almost new practice balls, and superbly manicured ranges of today simply did not exist 40-50 years ago.  There were no target greens (even at Augusta National), yardage markers we large wooden signed paces at 100/150/200/250 yards placed with highly dubious accuracy (btw, laser guns did not exist then either), the range balls at “great” practice ranges almost always were old, often were out of round and rarely were washed (and you paid a fee for a small bag and I can assure you that at least at late as 1974 Tour players paid for practice balls at the US Open practice range), and you hoped there were some weeds on the hitting areas…easier to hit from weeds than bare dirt!

One final point regarding this diversion…paying for practice balls is something that IMO should come back.  Any decent non-communistic economist (there still are a small number around) will tell you that giving away something creates huge waste.  When players paid small amounts for a bucket of balls, they practiced with thought and purpose.  Contrast that with what you see at all clubs today on the range...and think about it.

Back to EPGC.  In May 2017 EPGC hosted the Wells Fargo Championship as the normal host course, Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC hosted the PGA Championship in August 2017.  Today the course is a strong 7471 yards (up from 7258 in 2009), par 72.  In terms of USA Top 100’s, it has been on GD’s list since 2009 (#100 in 2017), but has never made a GM or GW Merged list.  It is a good Fazio course…with excellent settings and in wonderful condition, but IMHO, not worthy of a USA Top 100 rating.  Best hole is #17, a 442-yard par 4 rising and turning slightly left with a creek and about 6 bunkers along the left side and two bunkers on the right.  In some ways, it reminded me of #18 at Quail Hollow.

The best part of the day was meeting the other three players at lunch.  The “other client” was Richard L., who is from NY and I have hosted at Brookline twice (most recently this summer).  Both Gordon and the “other member”, Adam S., knew Dave and RuthAnn Phillips when they lived at Landfall in Wilmington.  Dave was my best friend and Pat and I met at his memorial service in 2006.  He had taught a class for UNC-Wilmington’s business program, and Adam remembered him as the best teacher he had ever had (Adam is now a highly successful businessman).  It was fun exchanging “Dave stories” and RuthAnn was pleased to hear about it when I called her on my drive home.  Plus I renewed contact with Barry.  The golf world is vast but seems so small and special.  As special as the game is, the folks who play it are even more special.

The ugly twin returned, but this time on the first 9 holes we played.  We started on #10 and I had a 41-48 = 89.

Leaving the club around 5pm…didn’t get home until about 8:15pm…

Yeamans Hall Club, December 4, 2017:  Designed by the brilliant Seth Raynor and opened in 1925, Yeamans Hall is certainly one of Raynor’s best designs.  It sits about 3 miles northeast of Charleston International Airport and about 12 miles north of downtown Charleston.  Founded by a group of northerners looking for a place to play within a one-day train ride from New York, it was conceived as a 36-hole development with hundreds of home sites.  The landscaping and grounds layout were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.  (Sr./Jr. earned credits for the likes of NY’s Central Park, The Country Club’s land plan, Mountain Lake-FL, the Village of Pinehurst amongst others).  As a result of a  small matter known as the Depression, the club never built the second course and housing development stopped at 35 homes (plus the first golf course).  Additionally, the club sold off some land to help get through the Depression…what was apparently about 1370 acres in 1908 (at least 7 years before the land was acquired) is now somewhere between 900 and 1000 acres.

Starting with the Depression and then during WWII (due to rationing of petrol), green cutting techniques were changed and Raynor’s large green surfaces shrunk from an average of 8000 sq. ft. to about 4500 sq. ft.  Additionally, many of the contours and features like vertical spines and false fronts simply disappeared or became part of the surrounding aprons.  In 1998 the club retained Tom Doak...a then young architect who deeply understood Raynor’s “intent” …and Doak’s then associate, Jim Urbina, and Yeamans Hall’s return to greatness commenced.  Over the past year, Urbina completed the latest round of changes to Yeamans, rebuilding greens and bunkers where appropriate and leaving the course in wonderful condition.

I first played it with Pat in 2007, as among her best friends are Bill and Margo W., then “proprietors” (members and one of the 35 homeowners).  Including this round I have been honored to play it eight times.  The entrance is classic…simple, and perfect.  And the long drive to the clubhouse through majestic oak trees literally dripping with Spanish moss signals a property that has been around for more than its “official” 90-95 years…there is a “forever” feeling to Yeamans that seems to also permeate so many of the great clubs built before WWII.  The views of the tidal marshes from holes 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10 contribute to that feeling as well.

The course is open and inviting, but better get your angles right approaching these greens and beware of the false fronts, ridges, mounds, slopes, and other features of the greens themselves.  Above all, remember that Raynor, a civil engineer and surveyor before he met C. B. Macdonald loved to “play chess” with golfers and force golfers to think their way around a course.  And somehow, I thought well this day, firing a 39-38 = 77.

Yeamans plays to 6783 (par 70) yards from the back and in terms of ratings has been getting the recognition it deserves since Doak and Urbina started their efforts about 20 years ago.  Its first appearance on a USA Top 100 was #64 on GM’s 1999 listing and #75 on the Merged GW 2000 list.  GD did not include Yeamans until 2015.  Its highest current USA ranking is #53 on top100golfcourses.com’s USA list.  Its highest World ranking was in GM in 2003 as #92.
#1 green from front right...note higher shelves on greens' front left and back right

Green #3...note fall front and back to front slope of green...and spine running up center of green

Approach shot to par 4 #8 with tidal marsh behind green...so do not be over
#16 Biarritz with "hollow" before green (from right front); there is a mound directly behind this pin that make this pin setting close to impossible!!

My sense is that this grand old lady will be “moving up the charts” starting in about three years.  Urbina’s recent work there is superb (including the return of two Dragon’s Teeth on #12…as there are some ladies who read this site I will withhold an alternative description but see the picture below and form your own conclusions).  
Green #12 from 75 yards short...see Dragon's Teeth on right

From right dished of green...wait a minute, they ain't no Dragon's Teeth!

However, the work got off to a slow start last spring and the efforts required to rebuild the fabulous first green were far more extensive than was expected.  Hence the efforts conclusion was late and this restricted the growing season available before first frosts set in.  As a precaution, the green were purposely left a little long for this winter to ensure that the new Bermuda grass would hold up through the winter.  Given that the actual/forecast daily lows for the first six days of 2018 are in the low 20’s for this area, sounds like the appropriate decision to me.  But slow greens for a few more months might slow the recognition down a bit…but like a roaring fright train, you can hear it coming.

2017 Summary
All in all, 2017 was a wonderful year.  I completed exactly 222 rounds (or 3996 holes) a personal best since I started tracking this in November 2009.  In terms of golf courses, I played on 157 different courses including:

·      23 overseas; Mexico-4 and Scotland-19
·      134 in the USA located in 34 states (CA with the most-19)
·      115 were “first timers” for me; there were 42 that I had played before 2017
·      at 6 of the 157, I just played 9 holes:  4 are nine hole courses, one was under construction with just nine holes finished, and on another we ran out of time (and I had played it before).

Important bucket lists completed: 

·      1000 courses lifetime (completed year at 1009);
·      finished playing in all 50 states;
·      US Amateur Venues EVER;
·      Golf Magazine USA Top 100 EVER;
·      Golf Week 100 Modern and 100 Classic for 2016 and 2017.

Of my 115 new courses, I would classify the following of “hidden gems” and/or “seriously underrated" (in chronological order of play):

·      Wolf Point, TX
·      Rustic Canyon, CA
·      We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro), AZ
·      Beverly CC, IL
·      Moraine CC, OH
·      Harvester, IA
·      Sunningdale, NY
·      Wykagyl, NY
·      Old Elm, IL
·      Waverley, OR
·      Wine Valley, WA
·      Blue Mound, WI
·      Askernish GC, Scotland
·      Brora GC, Scotland
·      Huntingdon Valley, PA
·      Sweetens Cove, TN

They range from amongst the world’s most exclusive clubs to low cost public access facilities with port-o-lets.  The most common characteristic is that they are all FUN to play.  Every one will yield to good, thoughtful play, but all can bite you and all require time to get to know...they are all worthy chess opponents.

Hopefully, this blog can help get some of them more recognized…so spread the word, they are more than deserving!!
Finally, in the last two months of the year two articles about my “quests” appeared on the web.  The first was on Pinehurst’s website and came about when I completed by 1000th course at Pinehurst’s new Gil Hanse designed 9 hole par 3 course named “The Cradle” and may be found at:


Shorty thereafter, Golf Digest did a short interview with me regarding my travel routines, and this appeared on my website:


2018 Plans
While I did certainly cut back on overseas travel last year (visiting only Mexico and Scotland), I admit to more than making up for it with USA travel.  I can tell you I will not play anything like 157 courses in 2018. 

My plans revolve around finishing my bucket lists, playing a few of the really fun unusual courses I have missed to date, and hopefully visiting a few more of the great ones I have not seen in years.

First, I must report that my friends at www.Top100golfcourses.com have thrown me from my perch.  About 25 days ago I was provided advanced notice regarding their 2018 World Top 100 List, and not surprisingly, they had added Yokohama Country Club-West to this list, thereby bringing me from:

having played 318 of 318 still existing courses as ever published by 10 sources on 43 lists of World Top 100 Courses, to

having played 318 of 319 still existing courses as ever published by 10 sources on 44 lists of World Top 100 Courses.

As you might have guessed, I am in the midst of planning a short trip to Japan in April or May 2018 to play Yokohama-West and hopefully correct this situation.  From what I have heard from others I respect, Yokohama is more than well deserving of this listing.  My plan is also to take a quick run on this journey to Melbourne to play Greg Norman’s new design, Cathedral Lodge, which opened in late 2017 and is expected to be a strong Top 100 candidate.

In the USA, I hope to finish my USA Bucket Lists.  Ass you may recall, I had 10 courses to go…to that list I must add Steamsong-Black (FL), which I was planning to play in any case.  On the other hand, the situation with The Greenbrier Course (1979 Ryder Cup and 1994 Solheim Cup has become muddied).  The course closed in 2017 and 6 holes (one of which has been changed substantially) are now part of the redesigned Meadows Course.  The other 12 holes are closed and will probably be totally redesigned.  The land they occupy will become part of a new Greenbrier Course being designed by Phil Mickelson and “estimated” (which is a less precise word than “planned”) to open sometime in 2019.  I think I will go play the six holes in 2018…and at that point will have played all of the “still existing” holes!!

Other courses I would like to see in 2018 include:
o   The Sheep Ranch at Bandon, OR (before its land is used for a new Hanse course);
o   Hanse’s Mossy Oak in MS
o   Coore-Crenshaw’s Trinity Forest in Dallas, TX
o   Farmington in Chartlottsville, VA
o   Mammoth Dunes in WI (played 9 of 18 holes in August 2017)

Need to get off this treadmill (have heard me say that before…).


Finally…wishing all of you a Healthy and Happy New Year!!!!!

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