Tag Archives: Pinehurst Area Golf

Time to Dream About Next Year’s Destinations

The end of the season is near.  Time to think back on all the fun from the summer.  I had some great times, but I also started dreaming about next year’s adventures.  Thinking about where to play next year will help motivate me through my winter work.

Last year, I looked at my potential travel destinations and envisioned playing Bethpage Black, Pinehurst, TPC San Antonio, and Buffalo Ridge in Branson.  My best case included 2 top 5 courses and 2 more top 100.  I couldn’t wait.

My year didn’t reach the best case scenario, but I played great courses.  I wasn’t able to play a round in New York, so Bethpage will be later.  I did play TPC San Antonio, Buffalo Ridge, The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio, and Tobacco Road in North Carolina.  3 Top 100 courses, and a year to remember.  Check out my previous posts about the courses.  They are all must play destinations.

Now, I am dreaming of next year.  I may have the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, and Pinehurst again.  The possibilities in each city are interesting.

Los Angeles

I have never visited LA, so I don’t know what to expect (other than the national media narrative).  Of course, I will try every trick I can conjure up to access one of the exclusive private clubs (Riveria, LA CC, Bel-Air, etc.)  I haven’t had success getting on private courses in the past, so I don’t anticipate that working.  From there, I will probably look to Pelican Hill or Trump National LA as the highest rated courses.  I know ratings aren’t everything, but I found the ratings to guide me well so far.

Dallas

Dallas is a tough call because I live reasonably close to Dallas.  The two on top of my list are Dallas National and Colonial, but again, getting access is difficult.  I may have a few contacts that could get a tee time.  After those, Dallas doesn’t have many high rated public courses.  I played Tour 18 a while ago, and it was fun.  The Cowboy Club is interesting since it has the Dallas Cowboy theme.

The Tribute at the Colony is a possibility.  The course is a Scottish links replica course with holes from most of the Open Championship Rota.  I will likely never play all (or many) of those courses, so the replica may be fun.  I enjoyed Tour 18’s replica holes, so The Tribute is a definite possibility.

I enjoy tour courses and the TPC Network, so I may try to get access to the TPC at Las Colinas without staying at the resort.  The Byron Nelson attracts quality fields, and the course will be near tournament conditions since I will be in Dallas in May.

Dallas may not have the highest ranked possibilities, but I like the options.

Austin

I played golf in Austin at Teravista Golf Club about 5 years ago.  That is my only round in Austin.  The course was well maintained, and you needed all your shots.  However, I didn’t find it overly memorable.  Barton Creek is the obvious choice in Austin, but I won’t be staying at the resort.  They wouldn’t let me on the last time I was in Austin, so I will probably still be out of luck.  After that, I honestly don’t know my options.  Post in the comments any great ideas in Austin.

Pinehurst

We will likely head back out to Pinehurst next year.  The possibilities are endless in that area.  I loved Tobacco Road, so Tot Hill Farm, also by Mike Strantz, is on my list.  I know everyone will rave about all the Pinehurst Courses, but we don’t stay at the resort.  I may reserve a time somewhere else and then switch to one of the resort courses the week we are there.

Reading the rankings and literature, Mid Pines Golf Course and Pine Needles look like must plays.  Golf Digest ranks Dormie Club #43.  I could flip a coin, throw a dart, and no matter what happens, I will be happy.  The descriptions of all these courses evoke feelings of serenity and fun golf.

This season isn’t quite over, but playing new courses is always on my mind.  I am sure next year will be similar to this year where not all the opportunities pan out, but if I don’t dream now, what else would I do.  Add your thoughts on those cities in the comments.  Finish the season strong!

My Next Swing Challenge: Tackling Tobacco Road

My new swing traveled to extreme destinations again last week, and much of the sand hills of North Carolina traveled back with me in my golf shoes. However, my last planned golf travel of the year resulted in a huge SUCCESS!

I played Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, North Carolina last week. Tobacco Road’s reviews and terrain looked interesting, so I choose to take my progressing swing to Sanford.  In 2010, ESPN ranked it the #10 hardest course in America.  Many call it Pine Valley on steroids.  I wanted the challenge, and happily endured the humidity to experience it.

The starter provided the best piece of advice for my round. He said most of the holes and greens have collection areas.  The collection areas are conservative targets, but they provide the best path to stress free golf.  I decided to follow the philosophy of conservative target with aggressive swing.

Hole #1
Hole #1

The par 5 1st hole lays the blueprint for the rest of the course.  Not overly long, but constant sand with small windows to hit through.  The visual intimidation alone could persuade golfers to turn their carts around.  The fairway is large, if you want to hit a short drive.  However, a tiny sliver of fairway guarded by natural sand and wire grass right in everyone’s landing area tempts the aggressive.  Going for it could be disastrous or setup a good second shot.  The second shot has the same dilemma.  Great wide fairway in layup area or try a narrow pass to get near the green.  I hit a beautiful drive in the narrow fairway, put my second in some reasonable sand, and hit my third near the green.  Up and down for par.  Great start!

 

Hole #2 illustrates the risk/reward philosophy of Tobacco Road. Straight ahead is nothing but waste area.  Carry is anywhere between 190 and 220 depending on the tee, or the fairway to the right provides an easy target but longer 2nd shot.  The conservative approach provides a blind shot over a hill to the green.  I played conservative right and hit the fairway.  I then struggle through a few approaches in waste areas for a double.  I am sticking to the game plan.  Play to conservative spots.

Hole #5
Hole #5

 

 

My progress is apparent on holes 3-5. I played to the large parts of the fairway and greens.  I hit both fairways (#3 is a par 3) and hit all 3 GIRs.  That is my best stretch of the summer.  My iron shots weren’t perfect, but I shifted my weight well which resulted in decent trajectory.  However, Tobacco Road’s next line of defense crushed me, the greens.  I 3 putted all of them for bogey. The greens’ could only reasonably be described as an Olympic mogul course and blazing fast.  My conservative play led me to 30-50 ft. lag putts that weren’t close.  I thought my plan was perfect.  I failed to anticipate the trickiness of long putting on these greens.

Hole #8
Hole #8

Holes 6-9 continued the onslaught. The fairways were in immaculate condition.  They just aren’t level.  Every approach required stance adjustments and strategic thinking.  However, my ball striking stayed reasonably steady.  I doubled 2 holes and bogeyed the other 2.  Front 9 – 46.  For the difficulty, I loved it.  Not only that, I hit 5/6 fairways and 3 GIRs.  I couldn’t hope for better.

 

 

The back 9 brought more pain. I continued to hit fairways through #14, but I failed to hit any greens on the back 9.  I played from more waste areas than I knew could exist.  As the starter told us, every waste area was different.  I tried unsuccessfully to hit 20 ft. high flop shots from hard sand onto greens, carry gargantuan cliffs to small greens, and hit out of random native grasses.  I left more sand in my shoes than on the course, but I had a blast.  I tired the last couple holes but ended with a 94.

Hole #13
Hole #13

 

The course is amazing. The shots are visually intimidating, but successfully completing the shot feels that much better.  You need every club and shot in the bag, but the course is very fair.  Most holes provide both aggressive and conservative targets.  The greens roll true and are fast.  I completely agree with Golf Digest putting this in the top 100 and ESPN ranking it tough.  Truly amazing experience.   I also finished with a reasonable score on a tough course.  SUCCESS!

Hole #18
Hole #18