Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bandon Trails/Preserve

When you think of the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort you think of wild golf holes set by the raging Pacific with the gorse on full display a la Royal County Down. What you get at Bandon Trails is something all together different and taken as a whole, Coore and Crenshaw have created another gem in their portfolio.

C&C does give the golf a bit of the dunes magic by running the first two holes through the dunes starting with the first hole which is very similar to how the first hole at Sand Valley starts with a short par four running slightly uphill to the left.

The second hole sets the tone for the rest of the par 3s on Trails and that tone is spectacular. While I greatly enjoyed Trails, the par 3s are the belles of the ball with each one giving you all you could want visually and challenge you all you could want strategically. Here is the second hole:

Isn't that just a feast for the eyes? It is downhill with hidden bailouts to the right and allows the golfer to go birdie-birdie to start or even double-double (yum, now I want In-n-Out).

Here is the 5th hole, a super short par 3 which still makes you think because of the forced carry and also the outrageous rollercoast swales on the green.

My last shoutout to the par 3s comes to the picturesque 17th which shows you the clear danger areas and is a fun green but my recommendation for this hole stems from 1) the sense of relief standing on the tee after surviving the grueling 16th hole which is a looooong uphill par 5 2) playing this hole at the end of the day, when the light is low, the hole is magical.

Getting back to the course writ large, the true essence of Trails is a walk through the coastal pines of the Resort as the routing expertly takes you over ridges and past lakes is a wholly sublime experience. I think one of the greatest talents C&C possess is the ability to route a course in fantastic relation to the land and Trails is no different.

For example, the third and fourth holes run parallel to each other over similar ground but give you unique views and distinct challenges at each piece of that ground as 3 is laid out before you and 4 challenges you with blind shots coming back the other way.

The whole course is like that with C&C routing the course through familiar feeling landscapes and yet presenting new and unique challenges at each hole.

One of my favorites is the downhill 11th which allows for approaches from either the left (as I did on my first round) or the right side (I took this approach on day 2) of the hole but beware there is water on the right waiting for the golfer (a rarity to be in such direct contact with water at this Resort). The green complex is fantastic and it is such a fun hole.

Speaking of downhill holes, the driveable par 4 14th offers the golfer everything they would want visually but also laying out the dangers of trying to go for the green.

This is also near the spot where Mike Keiser was inspired to buy the property and turn it into a golfing mecca (there is a secret plaque near the tee box of 14 if you will find if you wander around, which I highly recommend that you do).

The 18th hole returns to the dunes does what I consider to be a sorta signature C&C look by going back to the clubhouse uphill with a slight dogleg right to end the round.

Trails is often the most divisive course at Bandon. Some rank it as the best course at the Resort, some rank it as the worst. I think looked at holistically, the course is top notch, from the 1st to the 18th, each hole gives you something to chew on and the routing is superb. The weird thing is even though you are on the Oregon coast, you feel like you are playing in the Carolina pines so it is rather a discordant experience after playing the Dunes courses, this course feels like it should be somewhere else. There are still hints that you are by the ocean just looking at the ripples in the bunkers.

Overall, I think this course is near the top of the resort and certainly a great course within the C&C universe. Regardless that it doesn't run through the dunes, the course is great on its own and well worth a play if you visit Bandon.

The Preserve:

If you want C&C amongst the dunes of Oregon, look no further than the short but fun Preserve. A 13 hole short course that will give you all the sea views you want:

with the tee shots framed with the unique and inspiring touches of C&C

This is a course for you and your friends to go out, tie a few on and just putter around for a few hours. It is the ultimate chill and play golf course.

Speaking of putters, the 13th is famous for tempting the golfer to hit putter off the tee which this golfer did


was this close to making a hole in one!!! So freaking close!

Overall Trails and Preserve are a strong twofer in the C&C universe and a must-play while visiting Bandon.

For more info on Trails check out this link:

For more info on The Preserve check out this link:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2018 Plans

What is it, time for another year? When did this happen? What happened to 2017? I have a lot of questions but the only answer is play more golf!

I knocked off a few C&C courses last year all over the country and this year I aim to do it again. Here are a few on the hit parade for 2018!

Texas Swing:

Texas is a big state and just big enough to accommodate 3 Coore-Crenshaw courses. I have already been fortunate to play Trinity Forest (can't wait for my next round there!) but there are still 2 more I have to play.

First up is the mysterious Austin Golf Club. There are few pictures of this course and even fewer people have played it but I am hopeful to get my mystery card punched in a few months.

Next is Barton Creek's course. BC has multiple golf courses, all of which look awesome but my heart is set on the aptly named "Coore Crenshaw Golf Course". Can't wait to check out the resort and also some Texas BBQ while I am in Austin.

Bandon, Finally:

I have had so many rounds at Bandon Dunes scheduled and then dashed due to life getting in the way but not this year! This is the year I finally play the Trails course, which people rank as either the best course at Bandon or the worst. Such polarizing opinions, I can't wait to see for myself! Also, C&C designed the short Preserve course and will definitely add that to my must play list while at the resort.

Hidden Creek:

I was so close to playing NJ's only C&C course last year but fell just short. This year I am hoping to play this bad boy and perhaps help out a charity while doing so. If I get on, I am going to try and also play Friar's Head or East Hampton on my NY swing.

Ozarks National:

First there was Bandon in Oregon. Now there is Sand Valley in Wisconsin. Where do I think the next golf destination will be? How about Branson, Missouri? Big Cedar Lodge is really upping their game by adding multiple courses including a C&C course which is slated to open sometime in 2018.

So here I go, hoping to knock off at least 3 C&C courses this year and perhaps ending up playing 6-7 of em! Will I do it? Stay tuned, same C&C Time, same C&C channel!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Clear Creek Tahoe

I'll admit I have become a bit of a inland link aficionado in my Coore Crenshaw quest. Many of their courses are set up links-style (few trees, lots of natural undulations in the fairways and greens, etc.). However, Clear Creek Tahoe is so good that if I could play that course every day rather than a links-style course, I would!

Nestled amongst tons of pine trees and not much else, CCT is one of the best, most relaxing courses you have ever played. The scenery is outrageous, the routing is fantastic and the course is challenging and fun which is the best combination of all.

First off are the practice facilities which are some of the best anywhere. They have undulations, elevation gains and losses and chill Adirondack chairs just for sitting. Honestly you could spend all day just at the range.

Every touch of this course strikes the right note with me, even right down to the tee markers.

and then you step up to the tee and see that you are in for for the rest of the round. Wide fairways, pine straw and fescue abound, blue skies and plenty of pine trees.

The course goes over hill or dale but none moreso than the 3rd hole

where the fairway drops away over 200 feet from the tee box

and then even more as it doglegs right to a downhill green.

This hole will give you all the eye candy your golfing heart desires but the course doesn't just end on the third hole, there are many more awesome treats to come.

All the holes are fantastic but many will point to the par 3s as the superstars of the course.

Uphill, downhill, 120 yards to 225 yards, the par 3s give you variety, challenge and fun in very small packages.

The fact that you are golfing on top of a mountain comes into play with the bunkers.

While most golfers see bunkers as penal, here, they keep your ball near the green because if they weren't there, your ball would be going down some pretty severe slopes! The bunkers have the classic C&C rough edges to them and while it is windy at CCT, the sand is soft and deep allowing you to play a variety of sand shots if you find yourself in a bunker.

The green complexes are sneaky good. Rolling true and fast but not too fast there are enough undulations to make you think but also enough flat parts to give you a good shot at the hole. It is just another example of how this course can be challenging yet fair and fun.

Of all the holes of CCT, my favorite hole by a country mile has to be the par 5 13th hole which plays to a dogleg right

and then ending in a green that has an infinity pool effect.

The views down the mountain are worth the price of admission and this hole will stay with me for a long time.

To say that CCT is one of my favorite courses of all time is an understatement. It has all the classic hallmarks of a Coore Crenshaw course, using the land to a naturally challenging effect, outrageous bunkers and intriguing green complexes and a fun but playable design. Putting it over the top is the mountain setting.

As much as I love the new in-land links courses, a course like this with the trees and the mountains really gets my heart racing.

For more information about Clear Creek Tahoe check out the info:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Colorado Golf Club Review

Colorado Golf Club is an intriguing Coore/Crenshaw nestled in the undeveloped hills outside Parker Colorado. The course uses the topography in very interesting ways with several of the holes either descending or climbing the hillside and then leading to rather flat-ish holes in a valley before climbing the hill again.

The views are impressive and the fescue is fierce but keep your eyes on the fairways and you will be fine. There are a lot of forced carries here at CGC which reminded me a lot of the C&C course at We Ko Pa.

If the driver in your hand is working then you will score well at this course, otherwise you will be rooting through the fescue for your ball.

One of the best aspects of the course are the short par 4s that Ben and Bill designed. There are two, one uphill and one downhill and each make you think about club selection, placement and pin position rather than just bombing and gouging it. Really fantastic stuff!

The greens were in great shape (especially for late summer) and had both severe false fronts and undulations to challenge any golfer. Thankfully, the pins were set in flat valleys making the putting a little easier. Not to be biased but I made a 50 footer that curled downhill on my last hole which means I LOVE the greens!

The superstar hole at CGC is definitely the 16th. A par 5 with fairways split by a stream and then becoming sort of a Cape Hole as it bends around the stream to the green, this hole has it all!

Overall, I really liked CGC. There are 5 holes on this course that you can put up against 5 anywhere else in the world. While some of the holes are repetitious and the valley holes aren't the strongest, together the 18 holes exceed the sum of their parts and is worth a play if you can get on.

For more information about CGC, click the link here:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Warren Golf Review

I never think of Indiana as the home of great golf courses but I won't think that again after playing the fantastic Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Indiana. The routing takes the golfer over a great mix of land between hills, ponds, streams and heathered rough leading to forests which gives it a very English vibe.

The first hole is emblematic of the course as a hole. C&C frame where you need to go off the tee but thin out the rough and trees in case you miss the intended line.

I played a lot of golf courses during my recent midwest trip but the greens at Warren definitely were the best. Fast but not too quick. Pure rolls off the putter. You could bump and run it or hold the green with wedge shots.

Aside from the greens, you also have the amazing Coore/Crenshaw bunkers jutting out from time to time, keeping you honest as you knock the ball around the course.

I also didn't realize how much water was on the course. From ponds to streams, water factors into a lot of your shots but doesn't seem contrived or tacked on (thus more kudos to C&C for their design).

While South Bend is a bustling Indiana city, the course but yet I felt firmly enmeshed in nature and had a really relaxing round (the deer seemed relaxed as well).

My favorite hole by far had to be the 16th which starts an amazing run of holes leading up to 18. 16 though is a short par 4 with a great creek and heathland features which slowly slopes uphill

Warren really surprised me. I wasn't expecting to be as good as it was but boy is it a fun track. The conditioning is second to none and the staff was fantastic. The course's routing is going to be revamped for the US Senior Open in 2019 and from what I hear the changes will be for the best. While Warren is great, the front side pales in comparison to the back side and hopefully the course will incorporate all the changes made for the USGA for future golfers post-2019. If they do, I will be back in a flash!

For more information about Warren, check out this link:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sand Valley Golf Resort Review

Sand Valley resides in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. Miles and miles of trees and corn and farm with nary a sand dune in sight. However, as you enter the resort, the sand seems to bubble out of the ground and golf comes to the forefront of your mind.

The first and tenth holes of the Coore/Crenshaw course are elevated tee shots right below Craig's Porch (clearly modeled after Ben's Porch at Sand Hills) and you launch the balls into the stratosphere and watch them land in the various fairways or sandy blowouts around the course and you are off!

The amount of elevation gain and losses at this course is impressive. There is an uphill par 5 modeled after the first hole at Sand Hills which just keeps going up and up. There are several holes (a very fun short par 4 and this incredible downhill par 3) that almost encourages you to job down the hill given the slope.

The use of the natural sandy soil and Coore and Crenshaws shaggy bunkers is in full effect at Sand Valley and the sand seems to be eating away at the fairways.

The sand is very playable to play out of which is good news because dollars to donuts you will be in the sand several times during the round. One of my few small critiques of the course is in fact that there is too much sand and the fairways are shaved and angled to throw balls into the sand, even well struck shots.

The fairways and greens were in fantastic shape and allow a golfer to hit a variety of shots, either bump and running shots or high-arching approach shots. Once you gain the green, they are some of the hardest, fastest running greens I have ever played.

The stimpmeter must have been reading 14 over the few days I played the course and the putts will run forever on the course. As the course matures, so will the greens so I imagine they will soften up some for the heavy resort play that is sure to come but be confident in your flatstick or you will be in trouble!

The course reminded me a lot of Sand Hills in Nebraska and it was if SH married the Pinehurst region and the baby they had was Sand Valley. The topography is outrageous and C&C do their best to incorporate it into their minimalist routing and also crazy design elements like the 17th hole (which is a par 3 that plays over 200 yards with rolling hills obscuring 2/3rds of the flag stick).

The 18th is one of my favorite holes. A par 5 that goes up a hill which can be easily reached in 3 shots and gives you a great last look at the course while you are climbing the hill. It is like the mirror reverse image of 18 at Sand Hills which plays as a par 4 but I will take the one extra shot here any day.

I would be remiss in mentioning the "resort" aspect of Sand Valley Resort.

There is a hotel, several lodge buildings and a restaurant. All of the facilities are top notch with the rooms really well appointed, the food really well cooked and the staff all brimming with midwestern friendliness. The resort is still very new so the food selections are a little limited but overall you will enjoy your stay not just the golf.

After a great time at Sand Valley, pull up an Adirondack chair at Craig's Porch and take a load off.

Overall, Sand Valley offers a golfer as much challenge as they want to chew on and even if the course and sand beats you up, you are eager to play it again because of the beauty and serenity offered by the course. The resort is top notch and is a cut above almost every hotel I have ever stayed at. As the course matures, it should soften up some and allow for the average high handicapper to have a really fun day in the sand nature of Rome Wisconsin.

Can't wait to go back!

For more information about Sand Valley check out the link: