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James A. Frank

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Larry Hasak

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Jules Alexander • Aidan Bradley • Jason Brown • L.C. Lambrecht • Brian Oar • Evan Schiller • Nile Young




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John Swain Newtown, CT 06470 • 203-304-1927

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Reader letters may be sent to the address below in Hilton Head, S.C., or to Readers can log on to featuring selected LINKS editorial content and spectacular photography, as well as surveys, sweepstakes, and articles from joint online partners. For reprint information contact: David Kefford, Phone 843-842-6200, Fax 843-842-6233, or email Editorial and advertising offices, P.O. Box 7628, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938 Customer Service: 800-350-9301 or

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The More Things Change


ET’S SEE HOW GOOD your golf memory is. How Naturally, all these clubs have terrific golf courses. Choose many of the following do you remember? your favorite adjectives to describe a good course. Here are Persimmon woods. Balata balls. Metal cleats. Sanssome of mine: beautiful, challenging, fun, beguiling, inspirabelt slacks. Three-wheeled golf carts. The ginty. ing, memorable. All traits we’ve come to expect from the “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.” world’s top architects, which in this year’s issue include I’m not dusting off your mental cobwebs simply to see Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Tom Weiskopf, Greg how old you are. I’m making Norman, Arnold Palmer, Gil a point, which is that in golf— Hanse, and Steve Smyers. as with everything else in But the course is only one life—the only constant is arrow in a great club’s change. The game we enjoy quiver. Service is always today is very different from paramount, from the dining what we grew up playing and room to the locker room. even from what we were Maintenance is also critical, playing just a few years ago. not just on the course but But that said, there are still throughout the grounds and many things about golf that inside, as well. And with that haven’t changed and, I hope, comes the maintenance of the never will. For example, the highest standards and valreasons we spend so much ues, exemplified by a comWhat makes golf great? For me, (top row, third from right) it’s getting time engaged in this great mitment to the spirit of golf together every year with my college friends for a four-day golf-a-thon. game, which for me come and all that entails. down to good friends, spirited competition, and the chance Preparing these articles has meant spending quality time to spend a few hours outdoors hoping to get better at somewith general managers, club pros, superintendents, and oththing I know I probably won’t. ers, highly skilled managers who combine golf knowledge And there’s at least one other given in golf: the great club. with business acumen to keep their clubs humming. The last For the past four years, we’ve been creating these LINKS few years have seen increased pressure on these incredibly Premier Clubs magazines to highlight the finest golf clubs in able men and women, and they may be sporting a few more the U.S. and elsewhere. Year after year, as I’ve read the artigray hairs. But as you read about these clubs, notice that cles about these establishments, I’m reminded how they all they are not only financially secure, but well positioned for share a number of vital characteristics. This year’s continthe future. gent certainly holds true to form. They are ready for whatever change is sure to come.

Jack Purcell President and Publisher

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East Course: 14th hole, 189 yards; and 15th hole, 353 yards

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With two scenic and strategic courses, as well as first-class amenities, this vibrant golf community near Hilton Head has a close-knit membership with a calendar full of events

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West Course: 18th hole, 448 yards

place for Tom Fazio. Within easy flying distance of his North Carolina base and drawn by the distinct tidal-marsh topography, he’s built a number of courses in the area, starting with one at Palmetto Dunes Resort (designed with his Uncle George) in the early ’70s.

So when developers John Reed and David Everett approached him in 1994 to build two courses at a new community they were calling Belfair, he didn’t hesitate to make a site visit with them. “The first time I drove that property I was wowed, there was so much to look at,” recalls Fazio. “I loved the vegetation. We had this beautiful marsh and these gorgeous big trees. I felt honored to have the chance to build there.” The members are the ones who feel honored now. Not only do they get to choose between two superb layouts, the East and the West, but they also have one of the most active golf memberships in the area, not to mention access to one of the best practice and teaching facilities in the state. “It’s the best club around,” says Jeff Haworth, Nicklaus Course: 3rd hole, 186 yards

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who’s lived at Belfair for eight years and plays with two large groups on Saturdays and Tuesdays. “There’s always so much going on. The courses are always in such great condition and the scenery is so gorgeous, they’re hard to beat.” It’s also harder to find a prettier entrance to a private, gated community. Sixty live oaks line the road, their gnarled, moss-draped limbs arching over to form a sun-dappled canopy; once upon a time it formed the entrance for a grand country estate and working plantation that William Telfair and his wife Betsey Bellinger (thus the name) built in 1811. More than 200 years later, hundreds of happy couples call Belfair home. Because half of the 770 members make it their full-time residence, there’s constant



HE SOUTH CAROLINA Lowcountry near Hilton Head is a familiar and comfortable

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activity at the 1,100-acre property that includes 33 acres of protected wetlands and a rookery: people walking their dogs early in the morning, working out in the newly remodeled fitness center, or getting together for dinner in the Georgianstyle, 36,400-square-foot, newly renovated clubhouse that overlooks the vast lawn and English garden, the 18th holes of both courses, and the ever-changing tidal marsh beyond. The clubhouse now offers a new casual dining facility and member event venue. “Everyone is so warm and welcoming,” says General Manager David Porter. “New members never have to worry about finding a golf game or a card game. The other thing is we’re always putting capital back into the amenities to keep them top-notch.” Both courses, for instance, have undergone recent renovations. Using old aerial photos, in 2008, Fazio restored the greens of the West Course to their original specs and regrassed them with MiniVerde Bermuda while also converting the fairways to the more eco-friendly paspalum grass. In 2011, he reconstructed the East Course greens, switching them from bent to MiniVerde, while also redoing all the bunkering. In addition, the West Course bunkers were completely renovated last year. With no assessments to members, within the past two years both courses have geen rebuilt and are in the best shape they’ve been in years. Both courses are in the best shape they’ve been in years. While the West is the more prominent of the two because it hosted the Players Amateur, one of the top amateur events

East Course: 14th hole, 189 yards 2013 EDITION |


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‘The first time I drove the property I was wowed, there was so much to look at,’ recalls Tom Fazio. ‘I felt honored to have a chance to build there.’

West Course: 17th hole, 388 yards

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in the country, for 12 years, many members prefer the more links-like East, especially with the new greens and bunkers. “The holes just have a really good flow to them and the par fives are terrific,” says Haworth. “I also like the terrain because it’s more undulating—something you don’t find a lot around here.” The rolling topography is especially evident on the East’s first 10 holes, which play around a hill and feature massive waste bunkers. One of the most memorable holes is the 330-yard 5th, a classic risk-reward par four: Depending on the wind, tee selection, and a player’s nerve, the hole is drivable, but the tee shot is all carry over a big lake. The 604-yard 10th is a rollicking rollercoaster of a hole that plays Learning Center uphill to the right, then sweeps Above: East Course: down to the left to a large, slop4th hole, 225 yards ing green. The wetlands come more into play on the back, starting with the East’s most picturesque hole, the 189-yard 14th, where the view beyond the green is all marsh. The tee shots from the back tees on the short par-four 15th and par-five 16th must clear the marsh, but those are among the few forced carries. The dogleg-right, 464-yard 18th finishes next to the West’s 448-yard 18th. Completely bordered by wetlands, the West’s closer is one of the most beautiful—and brutal—holes in the Southeast. Coupled with the Cape-style par-four 17th, which has a tiny green set up right on the marsh, the West offers an incredibly challenging and scenic finish: Lowcountry golf at its finest.

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It’s a dramatic counterpart to the quiet beginning, where players have a chance to make some birdies on a few short par fours and wide par fives where they can go for broke. The tempo quickens with the 429-yard 9th, which is bordered on the entire left side by a large lagoon filled with egrets and herons. A causeway leads golfers to holes 13 to 15, located on Telfair Island. A large waste area separates the former and latter, while the 177-yard 14th plays along the marsh and may be the prettiest hole on the property. Both courses host the club’s most popular event, the spring member-member, which attracts 224 players—80 women and 144 men. The two-day event starts with an 18-hole better-ball competition and concludes with a Pinehurst alternate-shot format with partners playing each other’s tee shots, leading to nonstop ribbing and laughs. That the member-member is a bigger deal than the member-guest proves how close-knit Belfair is. “This is a golf-driven community,” says Director of Golf James Swift. “We have great participation. Tournaments fill up in two weeks. New members have no trouble getting intertwined, either. It’s a very embracing place.” A dedicated one, too. Members play fast and enjoy working on their games at the Jim Ferree Learning Center, a double-ended, 29-acre facility with target greens, short-game area, covered hitting bays, and a high-tech teaching studio. Says Swift: “We have a hard time getting people to go home, which is a good thing.” The locker rooms are also of the highest quality: The men’s offers lunch service and features three flatscreen TVs on one wall, while the women’s was recently upgraded with new furniture, bar-access window, and 32-seat card room. The recently renovated and expanded clubhouse—distinctive for its attractive powder-coated brick exterior—offers lunch every day and dinner six nights a week. The she-crab soup and 1811 prime beef burger are favorites, but all the food is fresh and the variety plentiful. The club takes the concept of farm-to-table meals so seriously that it is the primary sponsor of the local farmer’s market. Says Porter: “Our members deserve the best so we never sacrifice quality.” Which is a good description of Belfair’s golf experience— and every other aspect of the community, as well. ■

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‘This is a golf-driven community,’ says Director of Golf James Swift. ‘We have great participation. New members have no trouble getting intertwined, either. It’s a very embracing place.’


Bluffton, South Carolina WEST COURSE



71 6,900 YEAR FOUNDED 1996






Tom Fazio


East Course: 16th hole, 534 yards; and 17th hole, 150 yards

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Fazio Course: 16th hole, 207 yards Opposite: Nicklaus Course: 15th hole, 455 yards

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The Club at Carlton Woods

Bold and challenging golf courses from two of history’s most respected architects help define one of the country’s most successful planned communities

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T CARLTON WOODS, in the lush pine forest north of Houston, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio await. Jack and Tom are not literally hanging out in the golf shop looking for a game, but both designers have courses under Carlton Woods’ big, luxurious roof, and

their names and their fame pervade so thoroughly that members feel a delicious personal connection. “Played Fazio today,” they say. “I’m playing Nicklaus tomorrow.” This unique and uniquely beautiful club has two campuses separated by two and a half miles of live oak, loblolly, and bayou. The Club at Carlton Woods Creekside is the formal name of the Fazio, and The Club at Carlton Woods denotes the Nicklaus. “Those two architects,” says Matt Johnson, who leads real estate sales for the club, with a smile. “Pretty special.” Managing Director Bill Langley is even more succinct: “Nicklaus and Fazio—that’s who we are.” But it’s not all they are. In a broader context, Carlton Woods is the social and residential hub for the elite of The Woodlands, one of the most successful master-planned communities in the country. Crisscrossed by tree-lined streets and dotted by five village centers containing basics such as banks and markets and restaurants, its houses tucked away and barely seen, The Woodlands has the feel of a smallish resort even though it’s a community of 100,000. Partially as a result of the unusual eye appeal, ExxonMobil is about to build a major office com-

Nicklaus Course: 3rd hole, 186 yards

plex there. And you may not believe your ears when you hear Johnson refer to the “dwindling inventory and higher demand” for building lots and memberships, but it’s true. Despite the down market nationally, 37 lots sold for $15 million at Carlton Woods in 2012, double the year before. The energy-based economy in Texas explains some of the success, while thoughtful planning at The Woodlands also deserves a share of the credit. But no one at Carlton Woods forgets those two extraordinary gentlemen with their topo maps, sketchbooks, and routing plans. The Nicklaus course is a big, bold creation, Jack’s confident statement about how golf should be played. With the layout fresh on his mind—he walked each hole last October, then, without notes, reviewed what he saw and recommended minor changes at a cocktail party afterward—the architect talked about the maturation of the course he put into the ground in 2001. Did this design present any particular challenges?

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Fazio Course: 10th hole, 430 yards Below: Creekside Clubhouse

“Carlton Woods was a relatively flat piece of property,” Nicklaus recalled. As anyone with a soggy backyard knows, flatness often means drainage problems. “A lot of the courses you see down there, the fairways are elevated way up and crash down on the trees. I think those are always ugly as can be. I think we did a pretty good job of making [the drainage] work and making the trees relevant to the fairways.” In overall look—the placement and definition of targets and hazards, de-emphasized rough, and room off the tee— Carlton Woods echoes one of the patron saints of golf

architecture, Alister MacKenzie. Anything to this, Mr. Nicklaus? “Do I try to do anything by anybody else? No, certainly nothing intentional. [But] Augusta National has always been one of my thought patterns. I liked what Bobby Jones and MacKenzie did there, which was the same as at St. Andrews: give ‘em some room off the tee. Try to put it in the right position to get the best angle to the hole. The tee shot is a fun shot to play.” And it’s an exhilarating shot throughout the round at Carlton Woods/Nicklaus. Even the 18thhandicap hole, the par-three 12th, gives the golfer plenty to think about. Aim for a patch of safety left or take it right at the pin and over the water from 162 yards? The postcard-perfect 15th is a sinuous, 419-yard par four with a wide, flanking creek on the left and a long, bean-shaped green. Charge your birdie putt from above the hole and you may suffer the singular indignity of rolling your ball into the hazard and turning your potential three into a six. The par-five finishing hole presents an opportunity to admire two other kinds of architecture: the eagle’s nest atop a tall pine to the left of the fairway; and the clubhouse, a magnificent structure and a welcome sight, for you may well want a drink or two after 18 holes of matching wits with

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Fazio Course: 6th hole, 168 yards

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Fazio’s characteristically artistic sculpting gives Creekside a been-there-forever look, an enviable accomplishment for a course only opened in 2005.

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Jack. On a walk-through on the way to play Fazio, Langley shows off the amazing men’s locker room: Picture the nave of a cathedral but with showers and better wine. From first hole to the last, Fazio’s characteristically artistic sculpting gives Carlton Woods Creekside a been-there-forever look, an enviable accomplishment for a golf course only opened in 2005. Particularly in its variety on and around the greens, the feeling is of playing a classic from a century ago. Tom is asked the same question asked of Jack: What was the hardest part of the design and construction? “It doesn’t sound good to say, but we had no particular challenges,” the architect says. “The site had tree cover, sandy soil, a wonderful land plan, adequate width to create great holes, and the vegetation is so good. What else do you want? “Yes, the ground is important, but ground you can fix. The biggest reason it’s special is not the terrain, it’s not Tom Fazio, it’s the commitment from the people at Carlton Woods.”

Nicklaus Clubhouse

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Langley talks about two aspects of this commitment while walking on Creekside’s zoysia fairways and roughs, a turf so springy it feels rubberized. To add to the golfer’s sense of ease and the feeling of privacy for homeowners, houses adjacent to the course are almost invisible, obscured by very deep setbacks and the thick native mix of trees and bushes. Then Langley explains a second bit of the Carlton Woods dedication to excellence. “We decided early on that to be true to traditions we value, we would help foster amateur golf,” he says. “Clubs with storied reputations like Olympic and Baltusrol find a way to give back to the game by hosting important events, so we have, too. Shutting down one of our courses for a week of outside competition is problematic, but our members have embraced it.” The USGA and the Texas Golf Association have held qualifiers and tournaments on the two Carlton Woods courses. For the past five years, a junior major—the AJGA’s HP Boys’ Championship—has been held on the Fazio course. In 2013, the club will host the 106th Southern Amateur Championship. The 2014 USGA Boys’ Junior will be contested on the Nicklaus. The 18th at Creekside is a lovely dogleg-right par four that is not especially representative of the course since water must be carried on the second shot (Fazio doesn’t like forced carries and does not do signature holes). Hats off and handshakes, and the general manager is asked, with designs by two of history’s best golf architects at the tops of their games, which one gets the most play? Turns out the members can’t decide. “When you have two courses, you hope for an even split in rounds played,” says Langley with a smile. “We’re pretty much dead on 50–50.” ■

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In overall look, Nicklaus’ work at Carlton Woods echoes one of the patron saints of golf architecture, Alister MacKenzie.

The Club at Carlton Woods LOCATION



72 7,358 YEAR FOUNDED 2005 PAR





Tom Fazio

Jack Nicklaus CONTACT

Nicklaus Course: 10th hole, 427 yards

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4th hole, 183 yards Opposite: 17th hole, 572 yards

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Emerald Dunes Club


A recent renovation has made the course, a true south Florida landmark, better than ever. What hasn’t changed are the club’s unique membership benefits and its ability to offer refuge from the outside world

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N THE HEART of West Palm Beach is a club where the focus is golf and only golf, where the game’s simple and enduring virtues are embraced and nurtured, and where the privileged members enjoy one of the very finest courses in the nation. That club is Emerald Dunes. When Tom Fazio unveiled this course in 1990 it was hailed instantly as one of the top five

in the state and the top 100 in the U.S. Today, thanks to a just-completed multi-million-dollar renovation supervised by Fazio himself, it is better than ever.

What sets Emerald Dunes apart? The same qualities that distinguish other great courses. Like Pine Valley, it looks hard but plays easier than it looks. Like the Old Course at St Andrews, there is always a way—often several ways—to navigate a hole, but some routes are decidedly better than others. And like Augusta National (and in the words of Bobby Jones), “there isn’t a hole that can’t be birdied if you just

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think, but there isn’t one that can’t be double-bogeyed if you stop thinking.” Fazio was given a superb site blessed with a collection of dunes. He still moved much earth but the result looks as natural as it does beautiful, a series of holes that sweep dramatically left and right and occasionally up and down en route to beguilingly contoured greens. Flash-faced bunkers and native ornamental grasses add to the charm and challenge, while 60 acres of lakes ensure there is plenty to engage the golfer’s attention. That is the key word here—engage—rather than intimidate. Rarely is there a call for an all-carry shot. Instead, the water lurks to the side: More dazzling than daunting, it dares us to skirt it, outflank it, and when we succeed, the satisfaction is sublime. From the first hole, a gently bending par five, there’s a sense of splendid isolation. Despite—or perhaps because of—its central location, Emerald Dunes has a strong commitment to providing a sanctuary from the outside world, a resolve reinforced recently with the planting of 2,000 trees along the club’s perimeter.

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18th hole, 442 yards

The hub of the course is a massive dune, rising 50 feet, where several holes converge. It is first encountered at No. 4, which plays from 125 to 183 yards depending on which of the five sets of tees one chooses. There’s a bail-out area front-left and framing the green back-right is a rocky ledge with a gently splashing waterfall. Par threes don’t come more captivating than this. And par fives don’t come more fun than No. 5, a double-dogleg that winds around a lake. A power fade off the tee followed by a controlled draw will leave a short iron, for long hitters maybe even a putt. And this is one southern-clime course where putting is a good option, even from well off the green. Fazio’s design encourages imaginative links-type shots and the immaculately conditioned Bermuda fairways roll fast and smooth. The front side crescendos at the 9th, a brute of a par four that plays 464 yards from the back tee. The hole doglegs almost 90 degrees around a lake on the right, but to the left is relative safety, the only difficulty provided by a stretch of the mounds and ridges that give Emerald Dunes its name. It’s back to the central dune at 11, where even short hitters should make the climb to the elevated back tee to savor the panoramic view of the course. This is a short par five— approximately 500 yards from the tips—but once again water

menaces the entire right side, and anyone who wants to get home in two will have to be both strong and brave. Fazio built plenty of risk-reward golf into these holes, nowhere more markedly than at the par-four 15th, a Cape hole that can be shortened considerably with a tee shot cut boldly across the lake. Those less aggressive or accurate will have their hands full making par. The same will be true of the tee shot at the par three that follows—this time there’s no getting around the water; the only way is over it—but the hole is just 180 from the back tees and the two-tier green is ample with just one fronting bunker. The 18th tee brings a final visit to the central dune and a splendid view of the home hole and clubhouse. Playing into the prevailing breeze this big par four can feel like 500 yards, and with water and sand right, trees left, and a green that is 47 yards deep, no matter which way the wind blows a closing par will be well earned. If the design and challenge of the Emerald Dunes course set it apart, the same is true of the overall tenor of the club. There are no tee times: With a limited membership and an attentive golf staff, none are needed. The caddies are not mere bag carriers; most are avid, accomplished golfers who know the game as well as they know the course. For those who prefer to ride, carts may be driven virtually everywhere except the tees and greens.

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11th hole, 494 yards

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Where there is water it lurks to the side: More dazzling than daunting, it dares us to skirt it, outflank it, and when we succeed, the satisfaction is sublime.

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16th hole, 180 yards

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Many members enjoy practicing almost as much as playing, and with the suite of facilities available to them that’s no surprise. The eight-acre range is equipped with Titleist Pro V1s. Five target greens, designed by Fazio, mimic those on the course. There’s even a shallow-faced bunker for working on fairway-bunker shots. At the back end of the double-sided range is a learning center equipped with two teaching bays and a club-fitting and repair area where Director of Golf Lee Rinker (a veteran of the PGA Tour, now on the Champions Tour) and his staff use video and computer training tools to help members improve. The latest addition to the facilities, opened last year, is a short-game practice area that ranks among the finest in the game. It begins with a tie-breaking 19th hole that can be played from 85 to 135 yards. There are also several target and chipping greens (all built to USGA specifications to perfectly mirror playing conditions on the course), sand and grass bunkers, and a 9,500-square-foot putting green. Alongside the short-game area, and overlooking the 18th hole, is a brand-new verandah. In keeping with the European flavor of the clubhouse architecture, it’s paved with limestone reclaimed from the

chateaux of Burgundy and landscaped with a variety of specimen trees and plants. The verandah is attached to the Tuscan-style clubhouse, where are found the pro shop, fitness room, and spacious men’s and women’s locker rooms. The main gathering point is the grill room, where a bar adorned with vintage black-and-white photos flows into a dining area set on wide-plank French oak floors. One look at the menu confirms that this club for golfers is also a haven for foodies, as the daily offering of classic dishes is complemented by a constantly changing array of creative specials. Unique among America’s top private clubs is the approach Emerald Dunes takes to its yearly dues. Put simply, everything is included. Not just the golf fees, but all food and beverages, as well. That’s right, you may use the club every day, enjoy lunch and whatever you’d like to drink, at no extra charge. And this privilege is extended not just to members but to their spouses as well, at a cost in keeping with the nation’s other top clubs. It all adds up to a very special experience—pure golf on a stunning course at a club that is one of a kind, not just in southern Florida but the world. ■

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Flash-faced bunkers and native ornamental grasses add to the charm and challenge, while 60 acres of lakes ensure there is plenty to engage the golfer’s attention.


West Palm Beach, Florida PAR



7,102 1990




EMERALD DUNES CLUB 8th hole, 213 yards 561-687-1700

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12th hole, 155 yards Opposite: 9th hole, 450 yards

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The only private golf club on Kauai is a perfect reflection of the Garden Island’s magical spirit

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VEN BY HAWAIIAN STANDARDS, Kauai is something special. The westernmost of the state’s five big islands, Kauai is also the most laid-back. Drivers don’t pass other cars but toddle happily along. Meetings—if there are any— rarely start on time. Residents say “aloha” (hello) and “mahalo” (thank you) and really

mean it, greeting friends, as well as strangers, with hugs. And no building on the island can be taller than the tallest palm tree, four stories.

If Kauai were a golfer, it would be Fred Couples. Kukui‘ula—the only private golf club and community on Kauai—embodies the island’s unique spirit. Perhaps the better word is “embraces,” because that’s how members describe the feeling they get when they return to Kukui‘ula, embraced by the people, the land, and the warmth. They also speak, with total sincerity, of being part of a family. That’s a word often used around Kukui‘ula—which is located on the island’s south shore, near Poipu—where privileges are extended to a member’s parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, and where members pay for and run a party for the staff and their relations.

The emphasis on family even influences the real estate: In traditional Hawaiian style, many of the houses being built on property feature a separate ohana, a small detached guest cottage with a bedroom and bath, designed for visiting loved ones. (The word “ohana” means family in Hawaiian.) The club’s 1,010 acres were part of a sugar plantation that extended from Kukui‘ula Bay, across verdant meadows, up and down the surrounding hills. Recalling that history, the center of club life is the Plantation House, a long, low structure built in the open-air style of the estates that once dominated the island. The house sits amid lush gardens and swimming pools, opens onto an expansive lawn perfect for parties, and offers wide-angle views of the Pacific. Nearly every human need can be met inside the 20,000square-foot Plantation House. The dining room serves throughout the day, from continental breakfast to gourmet dinner. There’s a game room with pool tables, pinball machines, video games, and a jukebox. Island Pursuits stocks the necessary gear for biking, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and more, and can arrange lessons. There’s also a state-ofthe-art gym, as well as a phenomenal spa with plunge and lap pools, steam rooms and saunas, indoor/outdoor showers, and expert therapists. Yet it remains very Kauai, which is to say low-key and elegantly understated. Members and staff are on a first-name basis, and the air is filled with the fragrance of tropical flowers, refreshing ocean breezes, friendly conversation and laughter. Adjacent to the Plantation House is the golf shop, where head pro Brian Paul and his team oversee the spectacular Tom Weiskopf-designed course that spreads across the property. Weiskopf took full advantage of the rolling land— moving some dirt to accentuate elevation changes—while accounting for the trade winds that blow nearly every day and change direction with Kauai-inspired caprice. Paul says, “The course never plays the same two days in a row.” So it never fails to charm and challenge. Kukui‘ula is immaculately maintained, although there are numerous patches of native bahia grass, a wispy bush that can prove a more potent hazard than any of

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Plantation House

the four lakes. Many of the 66 bunkers are big (but not too deep), with free-form shaping and white sand flashed up on the faces. The bunkers can come into play, especially when the wind is up, but are strategically positioned and never bookend the very wide fairways. “Tom doesn’t do that,” Paul says, describing the architect’s philosophy. “He always wants golfers to have a safe side, a bail-out area.” The effect is that of a vast green carpet—all the grass is sea-water-safe paspalum—with any trouble clearly visible from the tee.

Where Weiskopf toys with golfers is in the fairways, which are as wavy as the Pacific, rarely presenting a truly flat lie. Then there are the greens, uniformly large (again, to suit the wind), often multi-tiered, and edged with steep fall-offs that transition into tricky chipping areas. Even the savvy golfer will need at least a few rounds to determine when the flag is the target or when the right line is over a hill or at a palm tree, and how to use the slopes and kicks built into and around the putting surfaces.

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The course boasts a number of vantage points for watching the humpback whales that cavort off Kauai in winter.

13th hole, 506 yards


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Many holes move sharply up or downhill, such as the parallel 5th and 6th, which first rise and then fall around a lake and through a valley that was excavated to enhance the exhilarating conditions. The long par-three 8th plays to an elevated green with a slope on the right side that can help those smart enough to use it to funnel the ball toward the hole. Number 8 also is the first time the full ocean comes into view, teasing golfers for what’s in store on the back nine, where the Pacific forms a dramatic backdrop. The back also features two drivable par-fours: Such “short” holes are something of a Weiskopf trademark, a feature he took from the great courses of Britain, particularly St. Andrews. It is possible to reach the greens of 11 and 14, but only with good drives properly directed to avoid sand and, on 11, over a mound that usually blocks a clear view of the flagstick. Weiskopf made them short, not easy. Another reason golfers won’t forget 14, and the long, doglegging par-four 15th as well, are the far-as-the-eye-can-see views of the ocean. Both offer ideal vantage points for watching the humpback whales that cavort off Kauai in winter, their spouting and breeching far more impressive than any

golf shot. The final four holes play to the east, back to the house, usually into stiff winds that make for a stout finish. The 14th green also overlooks the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, which the club helps support. Kauai is called the Garden Island because it is teeming with growth and only 10 percent of the roughly 550 square miles is developed. At Kauai’s center is Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on earth, receiving as much as 600 inches of rain a year. Luckily, the island’s south coast, where Kukui’ula is located, is the sunny coast, where the weather is nothing short of paradisiacal. Kukui‘ula has planted its own flourishing gardens, called The Farm, that supply the kitchen in the Plantation House—as well as members’ homes—with fruits, flowers, and produce from mint and bananas to macadamia nuts, taro, artichokes, carrots, and, of course, pineapple. Many of the same plants also grow plentifully on the course, so it’s not unusual to see golfers purposely walking off the fairways to stop and pick something from nature’s abundant bounty. Just one more example of the unique relationship shared by this most beautiful island and this most exceptional club. ■


The Farm Above: The spa

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Number 8 is the first time the full ocean comes into view, teasing golfers for what’s in store on the back nine.


Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,028 YEAR FOUNDED 2011 ARCHITECT

Tom Weiskopf CONTACT

8th hole, 223 yards

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18th hole, 492 yards Opposite: Camp Lodge

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The Martis Camp Club

High in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains north of Lake Tahoe, this ultra-luxe, four-season private community offers golf, skiing, arts, fishing, hiking, biking, and strong family values

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4th hole, 568 yards


HAT’S IN A NAME? According to General Manager Mark Johnson, finding the right name for this community took time. “We must have gone through 500 names,” says Johnson. “Eventually, we settled on ‘Martis,’ for the valley we’re in, and on ‘camp’ for the

people who’ve been coming up into the mountains for 100 years. It ties into everything we are doing at Martis Camp—family, nature, land, environmental stewardship—and it just felt appropriate.”

That’s not all that feels right about this 2,177-acre property that sits at 6,100 feet in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe. It’s obvious that everyone involved in envisioning this “camp” was paying close attention to the details so that the good feelings would resonate with all ages. As Johnson says, the emphasis is on family and creating an atmosphere in which different generations can gather for quality time together, enjoying the natural surroundings and having fun in a year-round environment. High among the attractions are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tall Ponderosa pines, as well as crystal-clear lakes and streams for fishing, miles of trails for hiking and biking (they even provide the bikes), an all-new tennis center, and other fresh-air activities. Also within the property are areas designed for kids and adults—a Parks Pavilion with stone labyrinth, soccer field, basketball courts, and playgrounds—even strategically placed freezers stocked with Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

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There’s also an immaculately manicured Putting Park, designed by Dick Bailey, that offers the serious player a challenging practice session while entertaining families with 18 holes of swales, dips, and slopes. And how many golf communities have a “Lost Library” housed in a picturesque cottage in the woods? It’s just steps from an outdoor meditation garden and at the trailhead for 26 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. At the heart of the multi-generational experience is the Family Barn, an 18,000-square-foot building with a nostalgic soda fountain, two bowling lanes, a movie theater, arts-andcrafts loft with folk-school programming, indoor basketball court, pinball machines, video games, board games, and whatever else kids desire. The Barn is also home to a summer concert series held at an outdoor amphitheater. There won’t be any “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” complaints here. Complementing the majestic vistas is the Tom Fazio-

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Family Barn

designed golf course, which is as lush as the pine forests and as roomy as the great outdoors. Most holes are wide across the fairway and long from tee to green (luckily, playing at a mile high is akin to getting a club or two of extra distance). Greens are similarly spacious—and surprisingly deceptive—each fitted with an under-the-surface SubAir aeration/moisture system to keep them healthy in the sometimes fickle mountain climate. (Late-spring snow is not uncommon.) Students of golf architecture will be interested to note that the bunkers—steep, flashfaced, and plentiful—feature ragged edging that Fazio included to make the course feel like other classic California designs. The views are especially epic on the front nine, which looks primarily to the east and the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada’s Carson Range. The back nine actually feels a bit like going up and down those mountains, while bordering Martis Creek for a few holes. There are also more yardage extremes on the back, from the longest hole on the course—the back-breaking 10th, which from its highabove-the-fairway medal tees reaches 645 yards—to the shortest, the tight par-three 14th that with a short iron for most players plays to a 3,000-square-foot green.

It’s likely one of the most exciting holes will prove to be the 16th, a par four that could be drivable when challenged from the proper set of tees (even all the way back the hole is only 315 yards): The long, skinny green is perched on a raised portion of the fairway’s right side; the smart bailout to the left leaves the golfer facing a semi-blind half-shot to a thumb-thin putting surface. Attackable from the right, the 16th will demand careful study and numerous rounds to determine the wisest battle plan. The final hole—wide yet lined with bunkers and dropping off into a pine forest on the right—climbs to an angled green that sits below the 50,000square-foot Camp Lodge. Carved from wood and stone (it would be at home in a national park), the Camp Lodge is the club’s center, containing the golf shop, well-appointed men’s and women’s locker rooms, a day spa, outdoor lap and vitality pools, even residents’ mailboxes. There’s also a choice of dining facilities with four cozy indoor dining rooms and five outdoor terraces. An octagonal dining area named the “cliff room” wraps around a grand stone fireplace and is capped with a vaulted ceiling covered in a colorful hand-made quilting. The room is as warm and inviting as it is charming and unique.

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The golf course is as lush as the pine forests and as roomy as the great outdoors. Luckily, playing at a mile high is akin to getting a club or two of extra distance.

9th hole, 509 yards

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The Camp Lodge will be to adults what the Family Barn is to the kids, a place to hang out and unwind. Which isn’t to say that youngsters aren’t welcome, or that there isn’t room for them on the golf course. Club Professional Gus Jones is an avid supporter of junior golf and hopes Martis Camp will introduce a new generation of players to the game. To that end, every hole has a set of junior tees, and kids, with or without grown-ups, are encouraged to squeeze in mini-rounds—four, six, however many holes they want. Making it all work, the golf staff is acutely aware of their obligation to accommodate all levels of players without infringing on anyone’s good time. Even the practice field at Martis Camp is unusually accom-

modating, as scenic and well groomed as the course. Three tee levels stretch out into what look to be two downhill holes complete with bunkers, trees, and target greens, the snowcapped mountains looming in the distance. It is hardly anyone’s idea of a “rock pile” and should help encourage practicing. Martis Camp sits at the base of the Northstar California ski resort and has half a dozen trails running from the mountain into the community. Just opened is Lookout Lodge, an 8,000-square-foot pre- and après-ski facility featuring a restaurant and bar, equipment storage, valet service, and access to a private lift just for camp members. A number of homes will have ski-in, ski-out access to their front doors. The property’s master plan calls for 653 lots, most of them between one and two acres. And despite opening the camp’s doors just as the world economy started to tumble, sales have remained robust. Many residents come from the San Francisco Bay Area, about a three-hour drive away. With general-aviation Truckee-Tahoe Airport across the street from the Camp Gatehouse, owners from throughout the West have found it convenient to make Martis Camp the easy choice for a family compound. New sections are opening up for development and sales: Cabin homes are limited to 3,250 square feet, while custom homes can go up to 9,000 square feet. The community gives owners and architects latitude in home design with the results ranging from log-cabin deluxe to “mountain contemporary.” Many homes incorporate walls of windows that bring the majesty of the mountains, trees, and deep-blue-sky views indoors while taking advantage of passive solar opportunities. Other homes follow the traditional Tahoe style of mountain architecture. Martis Camp takes camping to a whole new level. ■

Lookout Lodge

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It’s likely one of the most exciting holes will be the 16th, a drivable par four.


Truckee, California PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,298 YEAR FOUNDED 2006 ARCHITECT


16th hole, 311 yards

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Dye Course: 18th hole, 485 yards

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PGA Golf Club at PGA Village

Much more than just a place to play, this South Florida destination is part historic site, part instruction ground, and an all-around golfers’ paradise

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GA HEAD PROFESSIONAL CHRIS DONAHUE has a simple, yet compelling, way of describing PGA Golf Club at PGA Village, where he works: “I call it the past, the present, and the future of the game all in one place.” It takes a big property to combine those elements successfully, but the multi-faceted

golf community/resort/private club—in Port St. Lucie, Florida, about 45 minutes north of West Palm Beach and an hour and a half south of Orlando—makes it look easy. Conveniently located

just off I-95 and cleverly sited to promote privacy as well as purpose, the club boasts a wide variety of great golf designed by Tom Fazio and Pete Dye; an extraordinary learning and

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practice center; a golf museum that captures and honors the history of the game; a six-hole short course; nearly 3,000 homes (with more to come); and a single-minded focus on growing and maintaining golf that can’t be found anywhere else. Such golf-centricity isn’t surprising when you realize that PGA Golf Club is owned and operated by The PGA of America, the world’s largest working sports organization. As a result, PGA Professionals are everywhere—newbies, current members, and retired veterans—teaching, playing, and otherwise contributing to the all-golf, all-the-time atmosphere of this must-play resort. Or as David Downing, the Director of Golf Courses and Grounds and past president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), likes to say: “We ooze golf.”

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Wanamaker Course: 18th hole, 462 yards

“It all starts with the courses,” says Corey Aurand, PGA Senior Director, PGA Golf Properties. Accordingly, PGA Golf Club offers an impressive range of options. Fazio and Dye, two of modern golf’s most renowned architects, created three very different courses, a trio of treasures designed to both welcome and challenge players of all abilities. Fazio’s smart and solid Wanamaker Course recently had its Bermuda grass greens replaced with the finer, more consistent TifEagle and its tee boxes lined with TifGrand. A favorite among members, the course is dedicated to turn-ofthe-century department-store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, an early supporter of the golf professional who also donated the Wanamaker Trophy annually awarded to the winner of the PGA Championship. The Wanamaker Course is the most “Florida” feeling of the designs, with tall palmetto palms, abundant water, and acres of sand. But Fazio added some tricks to the tropics, surrounding the tiered and undulating greens with humps and steep fall-offs that put a premium on precise approach shots and chipping. It’s also a local-knowledge course that demands a few test drives to learn just where, and where not, to place tee shots. Take the opening hole, a stout par five reachable in two, but only after a strong drive down the left side. It’s a chance for an early birdie for those not afraid to attack a green that pitches back to front then away for the last quarter. The picturesque par-three 6th is designed to simultaneously

mesmerize and intimidate. Water runs all along the left side of the green, but its naturally sloping green actually will help those willing to be bold. The Wanamaker Course concludes with a mid-length par four that features water to the right, trees left, and a landing area that looks very small when standing on the tee. Wind, water, and a two-acre-broad bunker framing the right side make for an exciting finish. Golfers will find it a hard hole to forget whether they are the conquered or the conqueror. Fazio’s Ryder Course is named after Samuel Ryder, the benefactor of the cup that bears his name. Designed to look and play like a tree-lined layout typical of North Carolina, the Ryder is the gentlest of the three courses, with wide fairways, large greens, and hazards most golfers can avoid (and not too punishing if found). But it is not an entirely “easy Ryder.” For example, No. 9 is a muscular, uphill par four that stretches to 433 yards from the tips and demands playing down the right side off a tee framed by water. The final two holes make for a strong finish—a long par five followed by a stout par four that rises from tee to green, with the iconic clubhouse clock tower a beacon in the distance. The toughest test, and the one preferred by the club’s many good players, is the Dye Course, built in 2000. The classic Dye architectural mix of old and new symbolizes PGA Golf Club’s unique ability to blend mythology with modernity.

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Dye Course: 7th hole, 568 yards

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The classic Pete Dye architectural mix of old and new symbolizes the PGA Golf Club’s unique ability to blend mythology with modernity.

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With two distinctive American styles already in place, Dye looked across the Atlantic for inspiration and brought back pot bunkers, mammoth mounding, and open run-up areas. He also tried to simulate typical British challenges, such as gorse and heather, utilizing the site’s natural wetlands to create a few long carries (particularly from the back tees, which stretch to nearly 7,300 yards). As is often the case with Dye’s better courses—and this is certainly one of them—his genius is making the trouble look more severe than it really is. The fairways are quite wide and, for the most part, the hazards are in view. The greens appear undulating but putts actually break less than expected, another bit of education that comes with familiarity. There are many knockout holes on the course, tough customers like the 9th, where a forced carry over the wetlands (more than 100 acres of protected natural property edge the layout) also has to contend with a large bunker smack in the center of the fairway. The 17th is a long par five with mounds edging the fairway, some shielding thin scrapes of sand. Most of the hillocks are out of play, save for a big one short and right of the green that would seem to be the perfect line for the second (or, in some cases, third) shot. But golfers who hit toward that mound are likely to find instead a little bowl just out of view, leaving a delicate chip up to the green. A little steamed? Stay calm, because the final hole is a sand-obsessed par four with too many bunkers to count, plus waste areas, and demanding at least two perfectly placed shots to find grass instead of grit. Thousands of PGA Professionals annually travel to the club to make use of the onsite, 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance, where they bring students from their home clubs for specialized clinics and golf schools. Golf teams from around the world, including Russia, Germany, Canada, and Denmark, train here regularly, as well. With tropical conditions year-round, the center—which also hosts the world-renowned PGA of America Golf Schools— features a huge circular range ideal for practice in any season, with an ever-changing ocean breeze providing plenty of ways

Ryder Course: 18th hole, 432 yards

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to simulate playing in the wind. There are also nine bunkers of different shapes, sizes, and types of sand (to mimic conditions around the world), as well as putting greens, chipping and pitching areas, and a new three-hole Discover Course designed to encourage families and beginners. The adjacent indoor facility is a hive of activity: Instruction bays are outfitted with the most advanced high-tech testing and training devices for developing every aspect of the game. The adjacent PGA Education Center is a gateway for aspiring professionals where they take an array of classes while on the path to earning PGA membership. Located between the two is the PGA Museum of Golf, an inspiring and educational destination featuring exhibits that trace the history of the game, its players, and events. Many of golf’s most important trophies reside here, including those of the four major championships and the Vardon Trophy, as well as one-of-a-kind antique golf clubs, Donald Ross’ circa 1900 workbench, vintage photographs, and an impressive research library. On the museum’s back portico are the names of the members of the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame, a Who’s Who of golf greatness that includes the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, and many others. And history is still being made here, for where else but the PGA Museum of Golf can you find legends such as Dow Finsterwald, Bob Toski, and Walker Inman Jr. appearing as part of a free seasonal speaker series? In 2013, PGA Golf Club will unveil the first phase of a clubhouse expansion that will add yet more elegance and aura. The new facility will feature fountains, private members-only dining, brick-lined walkways, and an expanded refuge after a day of outstanding golf. For the true lover of golf, it doesn’t get any better than this. PGA Golf Club offers a Private Membership program that gives exclusive members-only access to its vast array of facilities. For more information, contact Steve Watters at (772) 201-0850. Those looking to enjoy the Resort’s Stay and Play and Golf Schools packages should contact Richard Harrell at (772) 467-1300 ext 124. ■

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The Wanamaker is the most “Florida” feeling of the courses, with tall palms, abundant water, and acres of sand.

PGA Golf Club at PGA Village LOCATION

Port St. Lucie, Florida DYE COURSE



72 7,038 YEAR FOUNDED 1996






Pete Dye

Tom Fazio


72 7,123 YEAR FOUNDED 1996 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio PAR


CONTACT (800) 800-4653

Wanamaker Course: 6th hole, 180 yards 2010 EDITION |


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3rd hole, 373 yards

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Santa Lucia Preserve


Next to California’s Monterey Peninsula, a vibrant community protects the land’s natural beauty—and a way of life

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NY STORY PROPERLY TOLD about the Santa Lucia Preserve begins with the land. The private community lives gently on 20,000 acres—31 square miles—of redwood forests, savannas, grasslands, wetlands, oak woodlands, and stands of Monterey pine nestled in the Santa Lucia Mountains of California’s majestic Monterey

County. Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach lie just to the northwest, Big Sur to the south.

The Preserve—the former Rancho San Carlos, once owned by the flamboyant, polo-playing socialite George Gordon Moore, who may have been the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby”—is now managed and protected in perpetuity by the Santa Lucia Conservancy. The Conservancy ensures that The Preserve of today, as well as 100 years from now, looks much like that 19thcentury ranch. Ninety percent of The Preserve’s land—18,000 acres—is designated either as open or wild lands and will remain forever pristine, home to mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, wild boar, gray fox, turkey, golden eagles, redtail hawks, and more than 600 species of plant life. Just 296 homelands are available on this property, a parcel larger than the entire Monterey Peninsula. The homes at The Preserve feature a wide variety of architectural styles with a large number having been recognized for their award-winning designs. All that’s asked is that they complement and recede into the landscape to preserve the land’s natural beauty: homes disappear into ridgelines; recessed windows prevent light from reflecting and marring the beauty of another glorious sunset. But the land is more than just one of the world’s most

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spectacular settings: It is the inspiration for a community and culture that make life special. “The Preserve speaks to people who have a deep love and respect for nature; those are the people who are drawn to this place,” says long-time owner Laura Gamble. “What we’ve found is that this extends to a love and respect for one’s neighbors, the staff, and the community as a whole. These shared values make The Preserve a wonderful place to live.” You may be tempted to dismiss this sentiment as a corny platitude, but its spirit is lived out daily. It’s evident every Thursday, when the residents gather at the historic 1920s Spanish Colonial Hacienda, The Preserve’s social hub, a 16-room lodge with sprawling grounds, indoor and outdoor dining, and a pool, among other amenities. Over cocktails, people see who’s in town, reconnect with friends or make new ones, and plan the week’s activities—golf, a hike or trail ride (horse and mountain bike are the preferred modes of transport over the 100-plus miles of trails), tennis, swimming. Usually, the party continues over dinner. Frequently there’s musical entertainment or a guest lecturer. In another evolving Preserve tradition indicative of its

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2nd hole, 186 yards

culture, every few months a family will host a dinner at the Hacienda, where they serve some of their favorite dishes, often reflecting ethnic or cultural roots. (The club’s culinary team takes care of all the work.) Usually, the hosts speak about their family’s traditions and heritage. The events are fast becoming favorites among residents. The Midsummer Night’s Dream is another signature Preserve event, held in July beneath the natural canopy formed by a centuries-old grove of 100-foot redwoods. Residents and guests gather in the grove—many dressed in “Cowboy Formal,” black tie and blue jeans—for an elegant evening of cocktails, live music, and dinner. It’s the revival of a tradition started by the Gatsbian Moore in the 1920s. Musicians perform opera, jazz, or classical music beneath a full moon. The Preserve’s beloved Chef Carlton Lepine prepares a four- or fivecourse meal and each dish is paired with a world-class wine. On Labor Day weekend, the equestrian center is the setting for Fandango, celebrating the Vaquero traditions of horsemanship, style, and community spirit. A barbeque and barn dance held on opening night set the stage for the main event the next day. Equestrian enthusiasts of all ages and abilities head to the arena for a variety of competitions, including barrel racing, cattle sorting, and cow penning, with traditional buckle awards and ribbons given to the winners. Following the competition, a five-piece mariachi band leads everyone into the barn for a traditional Mexican fiesta and a trunk

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11th hole, 457 yards

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The Preserve belongs on any player’s Monterey County bucket list, right there with Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, and Spyglass Hill.

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Sports center show showcasing the finest Western wear, hats, jewelry, and leather goods. Of course, there’s another way to enjoy and explore this incredible community. The Tom Fazio-designed Preserve Golf Club stretches over 350 acres, the routing covering all the geographical variety of The Preserve: woodlands, savannas, wetlands, and grasslands. The holes are as diverse as the setting, with inspiring

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changes in elevation and views that traverse the natural terrain. Long par fours may have you contemplating a lay-up second, while shorter holes may be best attacked with an iron off the tee. At 7,067 yards from the back tees, this Fazio design provides a fair but challenging test for members of all abilities as well as the many tour professionals and ranked amateurs who have graced the course. Chief Operating Officer Michael Kelly explains that the fairways are generous, but any gifts stop at the greens, which are well bunkered, multi-tiered, and feature nasty breaks that can easily change a birdie into a bogey. Fast, they typically roll at 11, several featuring false fronts that can send an ill-fated approach 20 yards down the fairway. The premium, therefore, is on how one approaches the green and when there, the short game. The day’s hole locations can make all the difference in the world, which, along with the diversity of holes and a spectacular walk, make this a course to play and enjoy over and over. Course conditioning is world class, one more reason The Preserve belongs on any player’s Monterey County bucket list, right there with Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, and Spyglass Hill. But The Preserve offers what none of those courses— and few anywhere—can: a round almost entirely uninterrupted by views of homes, other holes, or the sounds of traffic, residents, or other golfers. It is as pure and private a golf experience as you can find. With the city of Monterey and the ocean 15 miles away, throughout the summer when it is damp and cool on the coast, it is sunny, 85 degrees, and postcard-perfect at The Preserve. Plus, the purity of the golf experience will never change, just as the unspoiled beauty of this place will endure across the generations. ■

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The premium is on how one approaches the green and the short game. The day’s hole locations can make all the difference.


Carmel, California PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,067 YEAR FOUNDED 2000 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio CONTACT

18th hole, 450 yards

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TPC Potomac: 13th hole, 360 yards Opposite: TPC Potomac: 18th hole, 465 yards

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Tournament Players Clubs


The network of properties owned and managed by the PGA Tour has adapted to a changing world while maintaining its high standards

2013 EDITION |


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N A RECENT Tuesday afternoon, a young couple with children is eating lunch in the grillroom at TPC Boston. Two nights later, a group of members conducts a wine tasting in 2118, the elegant dining room at TPC Potomac named for the number of bottles in its cellar. Any afternoon, a foursome of new golfers can be

seen playing from the far-forward “family tees” at TPC Sugarloaf. If you thought TPCs only held PGA Tour events and corporate outings, it’s time to take another look. “We can’t just be about golf,” says Blane Merritt, general manager at TPC Sugarloaf. “We have to attract the family.” The TPC Network is itself a family, a consortium of 32 golf clubs near major American cities. When the first properties were built in the 1980s and ‘90s, memberships were targeted at corporations and potential home owners. Extensive TV coverage showed the world’s best players at the likes of Sawgrass, Southwind, and Summerlin. Golfers scheduled business trips with extra days for on-course entertainment. But with changes in the economy and the golf industry, the TPC Network has had to adapt. Every TPC shares the advantages of PGA Tour management—notably firm financial footing—but it’s how each club maintains its individuality that creates compelling stories. Here are three of them.

TPC Boston Located about 45 minutes from downtown, TPC Boston isn’t “the neighborhood club,” says head pro Dave Corrado, “so we have to let our members utilize it in ways that suit them.” For example, club events aren’t spread over a few days or a weekend: One-day member-guests are held on Wednesday afternoons, which makes them perfect opportunities for corporate entertainment but still allows members to get home to their families at night. General Manager Dan Waslewski notes that as families move farther from downtown into the suburbs, his membership is getting younger. “We cater to them by providing the best and friendliest service. Since this is Boston, we call ourselves the Cheers of private clubs.” The biggest asset, everyone agrees, is the golf course, which hosts the Deutsche Bank Championship, part of the season-

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ending FedExCup Playoffs. “Our members get to play the same course that Tiger, Phil, and Rory do,” says Waslewski of a cachet that many TPCs share and sets them apart from other venues in their communities. The course, which originally opened in 2002, was renovated during the winter of 2006–07. Led by architect Gil Hanse with the assistance of PGA Tour player—and local boy— Brad Faxon, the old design was “New Englandized.” Bunkers were reshaped and allowed to grow grassy edges. Long fescues and other wild vegetation filled in formerly manicured areas, while surrounding wetlands were brought into play, as were big trees and natural mounding. Not surprisingly, TPC Boston—as well as the majority of other TPCs—has achieved Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status for its commitment to environmental excellence. In giving the course a more traditional feel, Hanse and Faxon shortened some holes, for instance, creating the drivable par-four 4th and short par-three 16th over water. Bunkers were repositioned and old-style crossbunkers added. Big boulders along the 18th fairway recall a time when land was cleared by man and horse, so sometimes wasn’t cleared at all. As at all TPC golf courses, quality conditioning is critical. Says superintendent Tom Brodeur, “It always plays firm and fast while also being green and pretty. When the Tour is here the greens run at 13; the rest of the time they run 10.5–11. And we make the rough punishing but not penal.”

TPC Potomac Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland, used to be horse country, all trails and trees. But as the nation’s capital has grown, the middle of nowhere has become a suburb. Yet TPC Potomac maintains a faraway feeling, the club sitting on 220 acres of tall hardwoods, flowing streams, and lush valleys surrounded by stately homes. Washington is the ultimate company town, and for a number of years the club—originally known as TPC at Avenel— catered to the corporate market. But outside play is being reined in. Says General Manager Mike Sullivan, “We’ve made this a boutique club with a very high level of quality.” Our nation’s capital also is a diverse and international town. Residents are world travelers who may not stay too long. They appreciate the different levels of membership and privileges that the TPCs offer, such as the TPC Passport program, which allows members access, preferred pricing, and playing privileges at more than 50 courses around the world. “In D.C., people come and go so we have relocation options if someone moves,” says Sullivan. “We have to react to our market. We can’t keep doing things as we did in years past.” TPC Potomac also mirrors local values with its commitment to philanthropy. While charity is ingrained in the fabric of all TPCs, Potomac regularly welcomes members of the military, hosting Birdies for the Brave, Wounded Warriors, and other organizations that help active and veteran soldiers.

TPC Boston: 16th hole, 161 yards

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TPC Boston: 8th hole, 213 yards

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At TPC Boston, long fescues and other wild vegetation filled in formerly manicured areas, while surrounding wetlands were brought into play.

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When the club was rebranded five years ago, more than $26 million (of the Tour’s money, not the members’: there are no assessments at TPCs) was put into the clubhouse—creating a bright, airy structure dappled with color—and the golf course. After discussions with players, PGA Tour Design Services, with help from Jim Hardy, spent more than a year fashioning a stern test incorporating the land’s natural features. A network of streams and wetlands touches on many holes. Elevation changes create raised greens—many with old-fashioned run-up areas and chipping bowls—and devilish carries. Vast tracts of land have been given over to native grasses, a deviation from the well-mown look of most area clubs. The sloping landscape also created some tricky angles, such as on the narrow, water-lined par-four 6th. The par-five 10th drops from an elevated tee into a lush valley that turns left along the wetlands, which continue along the long and lanky par-four 11th. After a series of short par fours—par is 70—the final holes open up with plenty of room to fit the hospitality tents for a Tour event. The course has hosted the 2010 Senior Players Championship and, before the redesign, the PGA Tour’s Kemper Open was a mainstay. “The redo has been tremendous,” said Champions Tour star Mark O’Meara during the Senior Players. “It’s a great test for us and it would be a great test for a PGA Tour or Champions Tour event. I think all the players would like it: It’s very straightforward, very fair, but very difficult.” “Now we would like to host a bigger event,” says Sullivan. “Maybe a World Golf Championship? Or the Presidents Cup? Now wouldn’t that be a good fit in Washington, D.C.?” TPC Sugarloaf “Sugarloaf is a little different from other TPCs,” explains General Manager Blane Merritt, “because it isn’t just the golf club, it’s the whole package. We also have 14 tennis courts, three swimming pools, a fitness area, and more.”

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Residential clubs have had to change with the times, too. Since TPC Sugarloaf is so entwined with its community, the outreach has been to families. “Wednesday night is family night, with special menus and pricing, and we’ll have 150 or 200 diners,” says Merritt. “We had a Halloween carnival, a New Year’s party, added family tees. We try to be all things to all people.” For most members of the TPC Network, one of the main attractions is the ability to tackle courses with the PGA Tour’s brand—and bragging about playing where the pros play. That’s been an especially important draw at Sugarloaf, which hosted the PGA Tour’s BellSouth Classic for many years until 2008. With the Champions Tour coming to Sugarloaf in 2013—the Greater Gwinnett Championship will be held the week after The Masters—the community is getting excited again. The course hasn’t changed much since opening in 1996. Greg Norman’s first design in the United States, it is comprised of the Stables and Meadows nines (a third nine, Pines, opened in 2000), which feature rolling hills and stands of oaks and pines. Many of the greens are raised and protected by bunkers, putting the emphasis on high, soft approaches. It also helps if you can shape the ball, especially right-to-left off the tee to take advantage of the sloping fairways. “The hole everyone remembers,” says Merritt, “is the dramatic 18th, a reachable par five that is true risk/reward.” The final fairway narrows as it gets longer, producing more than its share of dramatic finishes. The player needing birdie has to use driver off the tee and try to fly the second shot to a green protected by water and sand. Having the lead lets a player lay back on the drive and second shot, then wedge it on. This birdie hole can easily end in double bogey. Everyone expects the TPCs to offer great golf, and they definitely won’t be disappointed. But for first-class dining, a commitment to charity, environmental excellence, and member service, as well, the TPC Network is second to none. ■


TPC Sugarloaf: 18th hole, 628 yards

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Many of the greens at Sugarloaf are raised and protected by bunkers, putting the emphasis on high, soft approaches.



Norton, Massachusetts PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,279 YEAR FOUNDED 2000

Potomac, Maryland PAR 70 YARDAGE 7,139 YEAR FOUNDED 1986



Arnold Palmer Gil Hanse Brad Faxon

PGA Tour Design Services, Inc. Jim Hardy

Duluth, Georgia PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,309 YEAR FOUNDED 1996 ARCHITECT Greg Norman



TPC Sugarloaf: 9th hole, 472 yards

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Talon Course: 16th hole, 162 yards

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With two great courses, new management, and healthy finances, this high-end club in Southwest Florida is serious about keeping dedicated golfers happy

2013 EDITION |


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VERYBODY LOVES A COMEBACK STORY. Especially if it has a happy ending. And if it also features great golf courses, so much the better. There’s much to love about TwinEagles, the luxurious yet relaxed golf community minutes from the gulf-licked beaches of Naples, Florida. Born as the new millennium

began, TwinEagles had barely taken flight when the economic sky fell. Two years ago, the original pair of courses was receiving little play and even less maintenance. Homeowners and members

Today, TwinEagles is soaring. Under new ownership, The Ronto Group, is an experienced management team that understands golf as well as the business of golf. New houses are being built, lots are selling, and the courses aren’t just welcoming members, they are hosting both the LPGA and Champions Tours, making this the only club in the country to hold professional events annually from two different tours. The name may be TwinEagles, but the story sounds more like that of the proverbial phoenix. But rather than rising from ashes, TwinEagles spreads over 1,115 acres of wetlands and lakes, tall trees and lush landscape, scenic trails and abundant wildlife. Designated as an Audubon Signature Sanctuary, TwinEagles also earned a National Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for planning and preservation.

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Preservation was job one when the new team took over. “There was only one thing here everybody loved,” says General Manager Dick McPhail. “That was the Talon Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Jackie. We rejuvenated the Talon, then developed another course—and the entire community around it—to the same high quality. We just ran with it.” The Talon didn’t require rebuilding, just tender loving care to return it to the top echelon of south Florida courses. One of the first collaborations of Nicklaus senior and junior, the Talon is as sharp as its name, stretching to nearly 7,200 yards from the Nicklaus tees and no less challenging from four other markers. A modern course in both design and temperament, the Talon offers wide fairways, but definitely plays favorites as to which areas lead to good scoring. Water threatens more


were packing it in. The future looked bleak.

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Eagle Course: 3rd hole, 460 yards

than half the holes and there’s plenty of sand—testy greenside bunkers and expansive waste areas. Golfers should consult the GPS unit in every cart since many hazards are out of view, lurking beyond the gentle mounding of the fairways. The Talon has a rhythmic flow to its routing, mixing holes long and short and requiring precise ball-striking. One of the toughest holes on the front side is also its shortest, the par-three 5th: A long, narrow green pitches upward from front to back, is sandwiched between two deep bunkers, and is just as hard to hold coming out of greenside rough, making a miss short a smart option. The final stretch on the front is a daunting trio of par fours that plays into the prevailing wind while offering very different experiences. There’s little let-up on the back, which finishes with a fearsome foursome that has made its mark on the ACE Classic, one of the Champions Tour’s most popular events. The parfour 15th is reachable for many of the seniors, but the drive is entirely over water. Next comes a short par three over sand. Those holes are just a warm-up to 17, a big bending par five with water left of the green, and 18, a majestic par four, usually lined with fans, that tempts long hitters to shoot at a sliver of green extending into the right-side lake. While the Talon needed only a manicure, the new owners had to do some-

thing about an unloved second course. They brought in architect Steve Smyers to fix it up: $4 million later, they’d crafted an entirely new layout, called the Eagle, that’s been earning raves, including Best New U.S. Private Course of the Year honors from Golf Magazine, and a Design Excellence Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. The Eagle is an architectural history lesson, what McPhail calls “a traditional course built to suit modern equipment.” So there are “Smyers Tees” that boggle the mind at more than 7,600 yards: Not even the LPGA pros, who play their season-ending CME Group Titleholders event on the Eagle, dare go that far back. Yet no matter where one sticks a peg in the ground, the different angles and positioning of the five tee boxes—which change day to day—are critical to the enjoyment and challenge. Fairways are wide and in full view. As for the trouble, shots that miss the pushedup greens—homages to revered architects of the past such as Seth Raynor and Donald Ross—likely stay dry, finishing well short of the water that runs along nearly every hole. “You’ll find your ball and be happy—until you see your next shot,” says McPhail, cautioning that the follow-up could be a testy chip or pitch to an invisible putting surface that runs away toward sand, another steep incline, or the far side of a slick, sloping green.

2013 EDITION |


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Talon Course: 8th hole, 463 yards



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The Talon has a rhythmic flow to its routing, mixing holes long and short and requiring precise ball-striking.

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Smyers likes to design “holes within holes,” offering options depending on course set-up and player skill. For example, the long par-five 2nd will play as a reachable twoshot hole one day and a hard-to-hit-and-hold three-shotter the next, the result of moving the tees and the hole position on a long, narrow green. Sometimes the smart line is away from the flag, using the slopes to funnel the ball close. Smyers has said “this course takes hundreds of rounds to understand,” another throwback to an era when golfers studied an architect’s secrets and tricks. Like at the 3rd hole, a mid-length par four that has no bunkers and ends on a triangular-shaped green that dictates where the tee shot should land by where the hole is cut. Or the par-five 5th, a “Reverse Redan” modeled after a hole Raynor built at the Country Club of Charleston, with a huge green that arcs like a windshield wiper and can be as hard to hold as a pane of glass. The Eagle is a living museum of classic design: squareedged and square greens; the “Lion’s Mouth” bunker guarding the 11th green; the Cape hole 13th; a Biarritz-style green with a deep trough; another Raynor favorite, the “thumbprint”

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hollow pressed into the 7th green; on and on, never musty or dated, always quirky and fun. It’s hard to walk off the Eagle without a smile, even if you catch one of the four big bunkers squeezing the dogleg-right 18th hole, the longest of the par fours. And even if the round finishes on a low note, start the next one on a high at the casual Chickee Bar across the water from the final green. TwinEagles has built the best around the courses, as well. There’s a huge practice area—expansive range, putting green, short-game area—and an on-site school led by one of the game’s top teachers, Dr. Jim Suttie, who has been recognized as PGA National Teacher of the Year and one of Golf Digest’s Top 25 Teachers in America. There’s also high quality in the club’s bottom line, the result of tying membership to home ownership. “If you own here, you’re a golf member here,” explains McPhail. “The home will always pay the dues so the club’s finances will always be strong.” And the best part, it’s only dues: there’s no initiation, no assessments, no fees. Great golf, smart management, and solid economics. TwinEagles is flying high. ■


Eagle Course: 2nd hole, 605 yards

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TwinEagles is the only club in the country to hold two professional events from two different tours.


Naples, Florida THE TALON



71 7,634 YEAR FOUNDED 2012






Jack Nicklaus Jack Nicklaus II

Steve Smyers Patrick Andrews


Talon Course: 1st hole, 427 yards

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18th hole, 545 yards Opposite: 7th hole, 600 yards

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Valhalla Golf Club


At this major championship venue, golf isn’t just the most important thing: It’s the only thing

2013 EDITION |


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ROM THE BEGINNING, Valhalla was only ever going to be about one thing: golf. Great golf. Championship golf, in fact. And to this day, more than 25 years after opening, the club holds to its vision. There’s no tennis, no pools, and no homes. Not even dinner. Golf. That’s it.

Twenty minutes and 20 miles east of downtown Louisville, the club’s 500 acres used to supply two of Kentucky’s three most famous products: tobacco and horses. (The third, of course, is bourbon.) At some point, the land was acquired by Dwight Gahm (pronounced “game”), who did well building kitchen cabinets, became an avid golfer, and brought his three sons to the game.

3rd hole, 210 yards

In the early 1980s, Dwight asked oldest son Walt what he thought they should do with the rolling and wooded property. Walt suggested a golf club, a notion supported by sons Gordy and Phil. But nothing else, just golf. The Gahms traveled the country checking out other clubs for ideas. When it came time to choose an architect, they agreed there was only one man they wanted: Jack Nicklaus. But how to reach him? You don’t just call Jack and say you’ve got some land, do you? Walt’s roommate at Purdue University was Bob Griese, who went on to quarterback the Miami Dolphins. Griese knew Nicklaus. Walt called Bob, and a few days later, Jack called the Gahms. When Nicklaus came to see the property, he assumed the family wanted a course surrounded by houses: That’s what people were doing in the golf-mad, make-abuck ‘80s. No, he was told. No real estate. You find the best 18 holes you can; the rest stays as it is. In 1986, Valhalla opened to critical acclaim and immediate acceptance by the sports-mad Louisville community. The course was big and bold, its front nine primarily flat, open terrain that resembled linksland—rumpled fairways, long wispy grasses, treated to steady winds—and a back nine that rose and fell over forested hills. Fairways were narrow, greens undulating and tiered, bunkers big and deep. Members loved it, no matter their handicaps, because it was great golf and

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4th hole, 375 yards

only golf. Anyway, most belonged to another local club if they wanted to swim or order a steak. 4th hole, 375 yards In 1989, someone suggested hosting a tournament. So with the same directness they’d exhibited hiring an architect, club management wrote The PGA of America saying they’d like to hold the PGA Championship. They sent a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, engraved with PGA Officers’ names, with a note that said, “If you come to Valhalla, you’ll hit a home run.” A basket of local food products was sent with a note that read, “Once you have a taste of Kentucky, you’ll come back for more.” They entertained PGA big shots at the Kentucky Derby, proving not only that the community was supportive, but knew how to throw a party. In 1993, the Gahms and The PGA formed a partnership; by 2000, The PGA had bought Valhalla with the intent of making it a regular venue for its tournaments. In 1996, Texan Mark Brooks defeated Kentucky’s favorite son, Kenny Perry, in a one-hole playoff for the PGA Championship. In 2000, Tiger Woods needed three extra holes to defeat Bob May and capture the Wanamaker Trophy. There also have been two Senior PGA Championships, and in 2008, America recaptured the Ryder Cup here. The owners may have changed, but the mantra remains the same: Just golf. Being owned by The PGA of America has other benefits. Members don’t pay assessments and there’s no food minimum. The club is financially secure. An exhibit of some of golf’s most prominent trophies adorns the main lobby. And the PGA Championship is returning in 2014. In preparation for that tournament—and while thinking

about the members—Nicklaus came back last year for the first significant modernization in a quarter-century. Out of sight, new irrigation and drainage systems were installed. Above ground, Jack redid every green, softening slopes to accommodate faster speeds and create new hole positions. Greenside bunkers were removed or reduced in size, replaced by bail-out and chipping areas. On a few holes, fairway bunkers were eliminated, on others they were added or moved. While receiving an updating and polishing, the “new” course lost none of its bite. And members still love it. They appreciate that Nicklaus kept it long—five sets of tees range from 5,200 to 7,500 yards—and tight, but added numerous safe havens, particularly near the greens. As PGA head professional Keith Reese puts it, “Jack gives you places to miss. You just have to know where they are.”

2013 EDITION |


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6th hole, 495 yards

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Where the terrain flattens out, Nicklaus uses Floyd’s Fork to great advantage. On 6, the stream cuts across the undulating fairway and runs uphill to a deep green.

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9th hole, 415 yards

On number 2, for instance, a sweeping right-to-left par five with Floyd’s Fork, a fast-flowing stream, down the left side, Nicklaus shifted the right greenside bunker from center right to back right, slid the green slighty left toward the water, and flattened the mounding around the putting surface. Amateurs have more room short and safe, while the pros won’t be affected. The same is true of the par-three 3rd, where the big bunker short and left has been radically reduced and replaced with a chipping area. The third green also feels the wind that blows across the low-lying landscape. Where the terrain flattens out, Nicklaus uses Floyd’s Fork to great advantage. On 6, the stream cuts across an undulating fairway that runs uphill to a deep green. On 7, the water cleaves the middle of the hole, creating fairways left and right, and giving players options—safer down the right or shorter to the left but with a second shot entirely over water that continues along the left side and fronting the slightly elevated green. Hole 9 begins the ascent out of the valley, and here Nicklaus moved fairway bunkers to give amateurs more room left while pinching the landing zone further up the fairway to make life a little tougher for the pros. Once on higher ground and in the trees, number 10 is a long par five with only two bunkers: One on the right side of the fairway to keep slicers honest, the other a deep greenside bunker that protects the middle and left portions of the putting surface. While it’s not difficult to have a short iron into this wide but shallow green, pulling the trigger while

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staring over the sand can be terrifying. The tendency is to go long, but as Reese points out, at Valhalla long is almost always wrong. Probably the most memorable hole to the members is 13, a short, severely downhill par four with an elevated island green built on rocks and surrounded by water. Once again, executing a simple wedge shot becomes perilous. Nicklaus eased a bit of the sting by removing a big bunker right of the fairway, but he left the minefield of pot bunkers on the left. Another stream, called Brush Run, brushes against some back-nine holes. A number of greens are set angled to the fairways and cut cleverly into hillsides, while many of the newly available hole positions manage to bring yet more trouble into play. "The enhancements and upgrades The PGA of America has made to Valhalla Golf Club are significant and substantial, and we are delighted that the reviews have been so positive," said PGA President Ted Bishop. "The PGA worked hand-in-hand with Jack Nicklaus and his team to map out a strategy to elevate the stature of what was already an award-winning and highly acclaimed golf course. We believe that our collaborative efforts have delivered on this vision." There’s a plaque by the 18th tee commemorating the second round of the 2000 PGA Championship. It was Nicklaus’ last appearance in that tournament, and, surprisingly, the only time he and Woods played together in a major. Valhalla obviously is a place of great memories for Jack Nicklaus: He’s continuing to create them for the rest of us there, too. ■

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Among the most memorable holes is 13, a short, downhill par four. Here again, executing a simple wedge shot becomes perilous.


Louisville, Kentucky PAR 72 YARDAGE 7,540 YEAR FOUNDED 1986 ARCHITECT Jack Nicklaus CONTACT

13th hole, 355 yards

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THE BEST OF AMERICAN GOLF Where to find the clubs featured in the 2013 edition of LINKS Premier Clubs





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LINKS Premier Club 2013  
LINKS Premier Club 2013  

LINKS Premier Club 2013