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LINKS PREMIER CLUBS

PREMIER CLUBS CLUBS

the best of american golf

the best of

AMERICAN GOLF 2 0 1 0

2010 EDITION


“Polo represents the highest quality in golf apparel and will always be my favorite par-breaking partner.” —Tom Watson

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PROUD TO OUTFIT TOM WATSON, DAVIS LOVE III, LUKE DONALD, MORGAN PRESSEL, JONATHAN BYRD AND OUR NEWEST PRO WEBB SIMPSON FOR OVER 20 YEARS, POLO GOLF HAS DEFINED HERITAGE EXCELLENCE ON AND OFF THE COURSE. FROM OUTFITTING PROFESSIONALS WHO REPRESENT WHAT IS EXTR AORDINARY ABOUT THE SPORT TO A SHARPENED FOCUS ON THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN GOLFER, THE LEGACY OF POLO GOLF IS IN ITS RESPECT FOR TRADITION AND IN ITS DEDICATION TO THE FUTURE OF THE GAME.

POLO

POLOGOLF GOLF RALPH RALPH LAUREN GOLF RLX GOLF RLX GOLF POLO LAUREN GOLF AVAILABLEATATRALPH RALPH LAUREN STORES, PREMIER CLUBS & RESORTS AVAILABLE LAUREN STORES, PREMIER CLUBS & RESORTS AND AND

OL COM P OPLO OLGO OG L F. C F. OM

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DALLAS NATIONAL GOLF CLUB DALLAS, TEXAS

Long panoramic views and memorable holes are the stars at this course built on a site unlike any in the area P A G E

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the best of

AMERICAN GOLF 2 0 1 0 PUBLISHER’S LETTER: JOIN THE CLUB P A G E

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THE DYE PRESERVE GOLF CLUB JUPITER, FLORIDA

This South Florida sanctuary features a shotmaker’s course that is one of the namesake architect’s best works P A G E

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BALLYHACK GOLF CLUB ROANOKE, VIRGINIA

A twist of fate was instrumental in the development of this destination club near the Blue Ridge Parkway P A G E

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GAILLARDIA COUNTRY CLUB O K L A H O M A C I T Y, O K L A H O M A

A recent renovation by Tom Kite has added to the challenges and visual interest at this club in America’s heartland P A G E

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BULL’S BRIDGE GOLF CLUB S O U T H K E N T, C O N N E C T I C U T

Just 90 minutes from New York City, Tom Fazio built a hidden gem atop a ridge in the Litchfield Hills P A G E

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THE GOLF CLUB SCOTTSDALE SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

The legacy of frontier hospitality thrives at this club with a fraternal atmosphere and dramatic desert layout P A G E

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CHECHESSEE CREEK CLUB O K AT I E , S O U T H C A R O L I N A

A minimalist, lay-of-the-land layout by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw evokes the Golden Age of golf P A G E

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THE KINGSLEY CLUB K I N G S L E Y, M I C H I G A N

An untested architect built a natural, rugged layout that is at the core of a private enclave in Northern Michigan P A G E

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KINLOCH GOLF CLUB

ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF CLUB

M A N A K I N - S A B O T, V I R G I N I A

GAINESVILLE, VIRGINIA

This retreat features a comfortable atmosphere as well as one of the best courses of the past 10 years

Of the 500 courses designed by one of golf’s biggest architects, only one club has the honor of carrying his name

P A G E

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P A G E

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THE LOXAHATCHEE CLUB

SECESSION GOLF CLUB

JUPITER, FLORIDA

B E A U F O R T, S O U T H C A R O L I N A

This club was good enough to be the home course of its renowned designer, the inimitable Jack Nicklaus

This walking-only Lowcountry throwback has garnered an international reputation as one of golf’s best retreats

P A G E

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THE MEMBERS CLUB AT FOUR STREAMS BEALLSVILLE, MARYLAND

With a fraternal membership and pastoral layout, this club offers a unique golf experience near Washington, D.C. P A G E

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P A G E

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SUTTON BAY CLUB A G A R , S O U T H D A K O TA

Once members and guests make the journey to this remote destination club, they will never want to leave P A G E

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OLD MEMORIAL GOLF CLUB TA M PA , F L O R I D A

Fulfilling the vision of its founders, this strategic layout was inspired by the best of Down Under golf P A G E

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THE VINTAGE CLUB INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

Boasting an ideal location and 36 classic holes designed by one of golf’s masters, this club lives up to its name P A G E

QUAIL VALLEY GOLF & RIVER CLUB VERO BEACH, FLORIDA

Members can indulge in their choice of pursuits and find true camaraderie at the club’s two South Florida facilities P A G E

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Below: The Dye Preserve Golf Club’s 240-yard 17th hole PHOTO BY PAUL HUNDLEY; COVER PHOTO BY FRED VUICH


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PREMIER CLUBS PRESIDENT / PUBLISHER

John R. Purcell EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Nancy S. Purcell EDITOR

ART & PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

SENIOR EDITOR

Hunki Yun

Timothy Carr

Tom Cunneff

PHOTOGRAPHY / PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

ART & PRODUCTION CONSULTANT

DIR. OF INTERACTIVE DEVELOPMENT

Larry Hasak

Jessica C. Hawkins

Lynne Snow DeNagel RESEARCH ASSISTANT

EDITORIAL CONSULTANT

Tom Ierubino

Seth Bidwell CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Cori Brett, Josh Karp, Hal Phillips CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Tripp Bafile, Aidan Bradley, Dick Durrance II, Anthony Edgeworth, Charles Ford, Kevin Frisch, Paul Hundley, Mike Klemme, L.C. Lambrecht, Kim Sargent, Lonna Tucker

VICE PRESIDENT / GENERAL MANAGER

David Kefford VICE PRESIDENT CONTROLLER / OPERATIONS

DIRECTOR OF CONSUMER MARKETING

Janet Uings

Lori Masaoay

ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE MANAGER

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Beulah DuPont

Peggy Hurley

ADVERTISING VICE PRESIDENT / NORTHEASTERN SALES DIRECTOR

VICE PRESIDENT / SOUTHEASTERN SALES MANAGER

John Swain

Fred Warren

86 Boggs Hill Road • Newtown, CT 06470 203-304-1927

P.O. Box 7628 • Hilton Head Island, SC 29938 843-842-6200

VICE PRESIDENT / SOUTHEASTERN / MID-ATLANTIC SALES DIRECTOR

VICE PRESIDENT / SOUTHEASTERN SALES MANAGER

Howard Derkay

Terri Hession

1703 Brookgreen Way • Acworth, GA 30101 770-420-9355

1630 Dogwood Drive • Greensboro, GA 30642 706-467-0877

VICE PRESIDENT NATIONAL INTEGRATED SALES / WESTERN ADVERTISING DIRECTOR

Cris Hayes P.O. Box 758, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 • 310-798-4320

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2010 EDITION

DETROIT/OHIO

CANADA

Thomas A. Reiss

Josef Beranek

3140 Lahser Road • Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 248-987-8484

180 Mudgett Road • Sutton, Québec, CANADA J0E 2K0 450-538-2468

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

MEXICO

Tracy Herbst

Raul Ruiz

4247 N. 45th Street Phoenix, AZ 85018 • 602-738-5739

Juarez Quintana Roo, Mexico 998-112-1580


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Join the Club

ANTHONY EDGEWORTH/EDGEWORTH EDITIONS

I

n the human experience, the sense of belonging is a universal desire. Whether it’s family, team or community, being part of a group imbues its members with strong, proud feelings of identity, comfort and fellowship. Few organizations can offer more heightened feelings of acceptance than the best private golf clubs in the country. Although golf at its core may be an individual endeavor, anyone who has ever teed it up knows that the game’s true appeal lies in its unique ability to foster social interaction. The 17 clubs profiled in this special issue are located all around the country and provide varying landscapes for golf, from the Golf Club Scottsdale in the Arizona desert to Gaillardia Country Club in the plains of Oklahoma to the Loxahatchee Club in South Florida. But the best private golf clubs offer more than a course that is scenic, challenging and tranquil. No matter the type of golf they provide, what these clubs have in common is the ability to deliver an inimitable sense of camaraderie built on a strong bond: the love of golf. Whether members are playing 36 holes a day, relaxing with a drink afterward while tallying the results of automatic presses and side bets, or playing cards in a cottage, these clubs offer the ultimate sense of belonging. Premier Clubs provides our readers an unprecedented opportunity to learn what it truly feels like to belong to some of the best clubs in the country. On the following pages, we will take you inside their gates, painting a vivid image of the memorable course, comfortable facilities and special atmosphere that give each club its distinct personality. Ultimately, a club’s biggest asset is its people. At the Members Club at Four Streams, for instance, it is members like Sid Colen, who oversees a regular game three times a week and encourages new participants.

At Kinloch Golf Club, it is members like Vinny Giles, whose status as one of the game’s greatest amateurs has helped define the club that he co-founded. At Dallas National Golf Club, it is members like golf legend Lee Trevino, who is a great ambassador for the club. I have been fortunate enough to visit many of these clubs, and it is easy to see and feel the fellowship on the course and in the clubhouse. But I also witnessed evidence of a strong membership at the recent 2009 PGA of America Awards presentation in Orlando, Florida. One of the honorees was Dennis Satyshur, the director of golf at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. More than 50 of his members made the trip to Florida so they could be there for his moment of glory, and they celebrated with him by hosting a reception after the ceremony. I have no doubt that the members of all the properties in Premier Clubs would do no less for their staffs, who have helped to keep these clubs in the upper echelon of golf. While researching the articles, our writers interviewed scores of members, who were nearly universal in their effusive praise of the men and women who work to provide the best possible experience for members and guests. Similarly, I would like to thank the employees and members of all the clubs participating in this inaugural issue of Premier Clubs. Without their hospitality, assistance and patience, this project would not have been possible. I like to think of this book as one big community of clubs. It is my hope that you, the reader, will consider joining us. Trust me: There truly are many advantages of membership.

Jack Purcell President and Publisher jpurcell@linksmagazine.com

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The best courses The best experiences The best of American golf


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This is where you belong. Find out more about the best golf clubs in the country at LINKSPremierClubs.com .


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The site’s elevation changes made possible holes like the uphill 357-yard 11th. OPPOSITE: Holes like the 538-yard 2nd (near right) and the 595-yard 10th (far right) sit naturally in the Roanoke Valley.


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Ballyhack Golf Club

L.C. LAMBRECHT (2); PAUL HUNDLEY

AFTER YEARS OF PATIENCE, LESTER GEORGE SEIZED ON A MAJOR TWIST OF FATE TO BUILD A WORLD-CLASS DESTINATION GOLF CLUB ON A ROLLING SITE ALONG THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

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en years ago, Lester George and a client were driving around Roanoke, Virginia, looking at potential sites for a First Tee facility. After looking at several tracts, the client wanted to show George another piece of land. They made a couple of turns off the main thoroughfare and drove down a two-lane highway called Pitzer Road for several minutes before stopping by the side of the road. On both sides, there was rolling land that looked to be an old farm, judging from the two silos on the south side of the road. With mountains in the distance, the valley was not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the United States. Although it was located less than 15 minutes from downtown Roanoke, the idyllic spot looked as though it belonged deep in the Old Dominion countryside. The longer George looked at the property, which has an elevation range of more than 200 feet, the more he was convinced of its potential. “If there is ever going to be a great golf course in this area, it’s going to be here,” George said. “What are we waiting for?” The client shook his head. “We already tried. It’s not likely that you’ll ever buy that property in your lifetime.” George moved on to design other courses, including his breakthrough, Kinloch Golf Club near Richmond, where he lives. All the while, George couldn’t help thinking of the one that got away.

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“It continued to bother me that this land was just sitting there,” says George. “Every once in a while I would drive by to look at it.” One day several years later, George, who has a passion for classic automobiles, received a call from a friend wanting to visit a private car collector who lived 10 miles from George’s home. The man, Ed Nunnally, had an impressive collection— about $2 million worth of vehicles. But he had something else that interested the architect more. After learning of George’s job, Nunnally boasted that he owned the best piece of land for golf in the Roanoke Valley. Recalling the farmland on Pitzer Road, George disputed the car collector’s assertion. Of course, they were both talking about the same parcel of land—and Nunnally was finally ready to sell it. Although he had received a higher offer, Nunnally sold to George because he agreed with his vision of a golf course, which would preserve the rural nature of the property. To turn his long-awaited dream into reality, George put together a team that included Balzer ABOVE: Approach shots Engineering and Landscapes Unlimthat fall short on the ited. Bill Kubly, the CEO of Land- 399-yard 1st can roll scapes Unlimited, needed just 20 min- well down the fairway. utes on site to share George’s high OPPOSITE: There are opinion of the land. Furthermore, plenty of ways to play Kubly suggested that the course be a the 442-yard 5th.

L.C. LAMBRECHT

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THE EXPANSE OF THE BALLYHACK SITE MAKES PLAYERS FEEL AS IF THEY WERE IN A SECLUDED SANCTUARY, REMARKABLE FOR ITS PROXIMITY TO ROANOKE.


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‘IF THERE’S EVER GOING TO BE A GREAT GOLF COURSE IN THE ROANOKE VALLEY,’ ARCHITECT LESTER GEORGE TOLD HIS CLIENT, ‘IT’S GOING TO BE HERE. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?’


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destination club in the model of Sutton Bay and Sand Hills, both of which he helped build. “Bill saw what I saw in the site,” says George. “And he brought the successful plan to the project.” When the club opened in 2009, the first phase of the master plan called for a release of 42 homesites around the course. But at Ballyhack, ownership is not tied to membership. “People are tired of having to buy a residential lot at a remote golf destination,” says Kubly. “But they do want to belong to a getaway club. Ballyhack is a special, low-key place, where 50 players is a busy day.”

PAUL HUNDLEY; L.C. LAMBRECHT

E Sycamores and a stream guard the green of the 383-yard 8th. ABOVE RIGHT: The 546-yard 9th climbs to a tricky two-tiered green.

ven on a busy-for-Ballyhack day, the expanse of the 370acre site makes every golfer on the course feel as if he or she were in a secluded sanctuary. The natural landscape and sense of retreat are all the more remarkable considering how close the club is to the biggest city in western Virginia. “I grew up around this region,” says Director of Golf Jonathan Ireland, “and I was not even aware of this site until I came to work here. It’s off the beaten path.” Just as the surroundings and atmosphere make members and their guests feel as if they have gotten away from it all, the visually arresting layout encourages players to hit shots as if they have been transported across the Atlantic Ocean. “It is links golf,” says Ireland. “It’s very different from every other course in this area. You have to be much more creative and imaginative. Not everybody understands that right away, but the more they play it, the more they get it. It’s an educational process.” George took advantage of the dramatic landforms to construct a truly memorable layout. There are few holes anywhere like the 538-yard 2nd, which has a superwide fairway dotted with bunkers. Offering multiple routes to the green depending both on how much the player wants to challenge the bunkers and where the flag is located, the hole ends on a skyline green that is one of the highest points on the course—providing panoramic views of the course below and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. 2010 EDITION |

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The golfer barely has time to reflect on the views before tackling a stretch of holes that offer long and short holes with elevation changes throughout. The mix includes the 251yard 3rd, the longest par 3 on the course, the 467-yard 4th, which has a four-tier fairway and the 383-yard 8th, whose dominant feature is a tall sycamore tree that dictates the strategy on both the drive and approach. After the 9th, the layout crosses the road, and the back nine begins with one of the most scenic par 5s in golf, sweeping left to right across a gently sloped plain before the rollercoaster ride resumes on the 11th. From here, George routed strong holes like the 491-yard 16th, a Cape-like hole that asks players to hit their drives as closely as possible to Ballybrook to set up the approach, and the 152-yard 17th, whose three-

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tiered green requires a precise short iron to set up a birdie. In keeping with the Old World traditions of the course, the 228-yard 13th and 575-yard 15th share a 22,000-squarefoot double green, giving players two chances to negotiate the surface’s fierce slopes and undulations. The green of the 455-yard 18th hole is nearly as large, providing a sizeable target even for players who can’t hit their drives down the favored left side of the fairway, which sits in a valley. From the right side, the second shot is partially to completely blocked by a large oak, which sits on the hillside. George wanted to remove the tree, but his wife insisted he keep what has now become known as “Pat’s Tree.” Featuring a ridge running through the center, this final green can provide quite an adventure for any player needing to get down in two, especially because putts of more than 100 feet are common. Trying these kinds of long, double-breaking putts can be a fun end-of-day contest for members and guests staying at one of the three four-bedroom cottages that already have been built at the club. “We’ll build more cottages as the membership expands,” says Ireland. “And we are moving forward with the clubhouse.” The clubhouse, scheduled to be completed this fall, will complement the twin brick silos, which the club retained as reminders of the land’s past. While researching that history, the development team came upon a master plan of Roanoke from 1928 that reaffirmed George’s belief that he was destined to build a course on the site. On this plan, the area now occupied by Lester George’s 7,294-yard layout is identified as Ballyhack. Printed underneath is another name: Lester. ■

L.C. LAMBRECHT

The 462-yard 12th hole sweeps across the open landscape. INSET: The 152-yard 17th is short but demanding. OPPOSITE: The visually stimulating 575-yard 15th hole ends on a green shared with the 228-yard 13th.


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Ballyhack Golf Club ROANOKE, VA. 7,294 2009 ARCHITECT Lester George CONTACT ballyhackgolfclub.com 540-427-1395 PAR

72

YARDAGE

YEAR FOUNDED


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Playing gradually uphill, the 452-yard 15th is one of the most difficult holes on the course. OPPOSITE: The welcoming 534-yard opening hole tumbles downhill to a green near one of the stone walls on the property.


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Bull’s Bridge Golf Club

PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

LOCATED JUST A SHORT DRIVE FROM MANHATTAN, THIS TOM FAZIO GEM OFFERS ITS MEMBERS A CHANCE TO UNWIND IN THE LITCHFIELD HILLS

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eographically, Connecticut is a part of New England. But in many respects—landscape, sensibility, lifestyle—it is a state divided. The southwest corner of Connecticut is occupied by Fairfield County, which is very much a suburb of New York City and is marked by subdivisions, packed commuter trains, malls and rush-hour traffic. But as you head north toward Litchfield County, the cul de sacs turn into rolling farmland, malls become charming villages out of Norman Rockwell paintings and highways narrow to two-lane country roads that traverse the rolling landscape that is quintessentially New England. And Fairfield’s tight parkland golf courses with parallel fairways give way to the expansive Tom Fazio layout at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club, which sits atop a ridge that delivers long, panoramic views of the surrounding Litchfield Hills. Although it is located no more than a 90-minute drive from New York City, Bull’s Bridge is a world apart. In a marked contrast to congested weekend playgrounds like the Hamptons on Long Island or Nantucket in Massachusetts, Litchfield attracts city denizens who are truly looking for peace and solitude. They find it by exploring the area’s hiking trails, by visiting the small towns that are perfect for galleries and antique shops, and by whiling away lazy summer days at scenic Lake Waramaug. But until the opening of Bull’s Bridge in

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2003, golfers’ choices in the area were limited. There were only a few courses, and most of them were nine-holers. Which meant that serious players didn’t have a suitable course on which to tee it up. “We have a home five miles away,” says Los Angelesbased actor Peter Gallagher. “When our kids were small, we belonged to a beautiful nine-hole family club. Bull’s Bridge was one of the first championship courses in the area and it’s perfect for someone who loves golf as much as I do.” Located down the road from its namesake, a covered onelane span dating from the colonial era that is still in use, Bull’s Bridge Golf Club melds the past and present to great effect. Fazio’s layout is modern enough to challenge today’s long hitters, flexible enough to be enjoyable for all levels of players and natural enough to be the first course in New England to have been designated a certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary. In addition, Fazio was able to route a 7,012-yard course around old stone walls that are a vestige ABOVE: Long hitters of the site’s farmland past. Not only did can drive the downhill the club preserve this piece of history, it 322-yard 2nd. has been able to integrate new sections OPPOSITE: At 495 with the old ones seamlessly to make yards, the 11th hole is the walls an integral part of the course’s the longest par 4 on the course. visual appeal.


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BULL’S BRIDGE HAS A NATURAL LAYOUT THAT WAS THE FIRST COURSE IN NEW ENGLAND TO BE A CERTIFIED AUDUBON SIGNATURE SANCTUARY.


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COMPLETED IN 2003, TOM FAZIO’S EXPANSIVE 7,012-YARD LAYOUT FEATURES HOLES THAT SIT ON TOP OF A RIDGE THAT DELIVERS LONG, PANORAMIC VIEWS OF THE SURROUNDING LITCHFIELD HILLS.


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The Housatonic River is one of the attractions of Litchfield County. LEFT: The club’s namesake bridge sits down the road. OPPOSITE: Just hitting the undulating green begins the challenges on the 204-yard 12th.

T

he dominant landform of the layout is a ridge on which the clubhouse, practice area and the 1st, 9th, 10th and 11th holes sit. Much of the front nine is located in a valley to the east, while the closing holes sit in a hollow to the west. Despite the site’s elevation changes, Fazio’s artful design asks golfers to make surprisingly few climbs, whether while playing a hole or heading to a tee box. The course starts with a welcoming 534-yard par 5 that gradually tumbles downhill, offering even medium hitters a chance to reach the green in two and start the round with a confidence-boosting birdie. “The 1st tee is breathtaking,” says founding member Peter May. “The view is the best of any opening hole I’ve ever played. You feel like you can see forever.” Players can build on that start at the 322-yard 2nd, which plays downhill from the elevated tee on the ridge to a wide fairway in the valley. Players attempting to drive the green must avoid a pond to the right, while those laying up must place their drives precisely to set up the best angle to the green, which slopes from front to back. Several other holes, like the 432-yard 5th and 607-yard 6th, play slightly downhill, before the 358-yard 8th climbs the ridge to an elevated green that is protected by bunkers. Back on top, Fazio designed a succession of strong holes, including the 495yard 11th, the longest par 4 on the course. The following hole, the intimidating 204-yard 12th that plays over wetlands, was the opening hole when the club used a nine-hole routing for preview rounds for founding members, 2010 EDITION |

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Playing the 371-yard 14th is all about placement to set up the best angle of approach to the well-guarded green. INSET: The comfortable clubhouse brings members closer together. OPPOSITE: The 371-yard 13th offers a good chance for birdie, provided players find the fairway.

who were so eager to play the only Fazio-designed holes in the state (and just the second in New England) that they wouldn’t think twice about treating their luxury cars like off-road vehicles as they climbed the dirt road that was the only way up the ridge during construction. “I had never seen a golf course being built before,” says President Peter Rothschild. “And before construction started, we got a chance to meet with Tom in New York City. To learn about his vision and hear his passion for the project got us so excited about playing it.” During construction, Fazio made as many trips to Bull’s Bridge as he could squeeze into his schedule. Because every site visit was a family reunion of sorts: Logan, Fazio’s eldest son, was the project manager while another son, Gavin, was attending the South Kent School, located across the street from the club entrance. Fazio was able to oversee a strong stretch of finishing holes like the 433-yard 17th, which narrows gradually from tee to green, making a longer drive more likely to be blocked by the trees and placing an emphasis on placement. Just as the layout starts with a good chance at birdie, so it finishes. Although it moves uphill, the 495-yard 18th hole is a par 5 that gives most players a chance to go for the green in two. Although narrow, the long green offers a chipping area to the left, giving players missing the green on this side a chance to

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get up and down to finish the round memorably with a birdie. But even if players make double bogey on the finishing hole, the quaint, comfortable clubhouse that is the hub of the club’s social scene gives them a chance to recover and regroup in agreeable surroundings—and even better company. They can sit and eat lunch or sip a drink. Or they can have Director of Golf Paul Ramee Jr. take a look at their swings on the large practice area, which has the best views of any range in the Northeast. “We really have a great course and great facilities,” says Rothschild. “But Bull’s Bridge is all about the people, from the staff to the members.” In fact, the Bull’s Bridge family is more tightly knit than the memberships of most clubs. That’s because the members had to band together to keep the club moving forward during a difficult transition in ownership from the developer. “Ultimately, the membership was able to pull together,” says Rothschild. “We rallied together for a common cause, and that brought us closer together.” Although Bull’s Bridge is just seven years old, its bucolic setting and the way Fazio’s layout has matured make the club seem as though it has been a part of the northwest Connecticut landscape for decades. Similarly, it has made a lasting imprint in the golf lives of its members. “I don’t get a chance to visit very often,” says Gallagher, “but I always look forward to the experience. It just gets better; it just gets deeper. It’s like how the stone walls became exposed during construction. The more I play it, the more I discover about the place.” ■


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Bull’s Bridge Golf Club SOUTH KENT, CONN. 7,012 2003 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio bullsbridgegolfclub.com 860-927-7135 PAR

72

YARDAGE

YEAR FOUNDED

CONTACT


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Shaggy bunkers, like those on the 178-yard 7th, are a Coore-Crenshaw staple. OPPOSITE: The 9,200-square-foot clubhouse is full of charm (near right). The 208-yard 11th (far right) is the first of three par 3s on the back nine.


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Chechessee Creek Club

MEMBERS TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME AT THIS CLUB WITH A LAY-OF-THE-LAND COURSE DESIGNED BY BILL COORE AND BEN CRENSHAW THAT HARKENS BACK TO THE GOLDEN AGE OF GOLF

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‘THE LOVE OF THE GAME WAS THE OVERRIDING PRINCIPLE IN EVERY DECISION WE MADE,’ SAYS JIM CHAFFIN. ‘IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT THE GOLF.’


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Players pay a price for missing the greens like at the 164-yard 13th. INSET: The clubhouse porch is the perfect place to take in the action on the course.

L.C. LAMBRECHT

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t’s not often that a parking lot stands out, but the one at Chechessee Creek Club says a great deal about what a unique place the club is. Instead of a big asphalt rectangle on which cars bake all day, the spaces in the irregularly shaped lot in Okatie, South Carolina, are grouped in clusters of three or four, under shady oaks and pines. The landscaping of camellias, azaleas, magnolias and hollies is similarly freeform; there’s no manicured lawn. A brick walkway leads to a charming, rambling clubhouse. From inside the one-story structure with wood flooring, the shaggy-bunkered course never seems far away. The practice green and range are clearly visible, as are a number of holes. Welcome to golf the way it used to be. “So many things these days are so glitzy and fancy,” says developer Jim Chaffin, who with his partner, Jim Light, has developed or been involved with 23 courses over the last 40 years, “that we built Chechessee to remind us of golf’s Golden Era. We wanted it to be about the contextual relationship with nature, about being in the elements. The love of the game was the overriding principle in every decision we made. It was always about the golf.” Instead of locating the clubhouse along the marsh, for instance, Chaffin and Light reserved that land for golf and put the clubhouse in the middle of the course so play returns again and again. The routing also took precedence over the few cottages and homes. (There are 41 lots, just 20 of which border the course.) “It’s a special place,” says Paul McEvoy, a partner in a New York City real estate investment firm who joined the club in 2006. “I have been fortunate to play a lot of great places, and Chechessee just resonated with me when I first played it. It’s unpretentious. The course is exceptional, the club is intimate and the service was very highend. I just embraced it immediately.” The recipe for this simple yet superior experience starts with the land, which is bordered by tidal marshes and the eponymous body of water, and contains stands of specimen oaks and mature pines. But the secret ingredient was the hiring of minimalist masters Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who are very particular about the sites on which they work. “It’s Lowcountry, but it’s low key,” says Crenshaw. “It’s a very quiet place to play golf. It’s really that simple. The way Jim Chaffin does his developing is very well thought out. It fit our philosophy very well. From a golf standpoint, it just meshed.” Since they only build one or two courses a year, Coore and 2010 EDITION |

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LINKSPREMIERCLUBS The more a player challenges the marsh on the Cape-style 334-yard 17th, the better angle into the green. INSET: Golfers must avoid the small bunker in front of the green on the 336-yard 12th.

Crenshaw spend a lot of time on site and put a lot of sweat equity into their projects. “I remember Bill building every green by hand himself,” says Managing Partner Franklin Newell. “He would go out with a shovel, rake and a little backhoe called a Sandpro to move the dirt around. On the 15th, one of the more benign greens, he spent 10 hours working on it. He came back the next morning, didn’t like what he did and started over.”

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DICK DURRANCE II; L.C. LAMBRECHT

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he simple off-white scorecard gives a good indication about what a throwback the club represents. The total distance—6,606 yards—is also very old school. But it’s deceiving, since the par-70 layout has three par 5s and five par 3s. “People kind of chuckle when they look at the yardage,” says Newell, “and then they come in and say that the scorecard’s wrong. We have four par 4s that are over 440 from the back tees and that’s plenty at sea level.” The small crowned greens with tightly mowed aprons reminiscent of Pinehurst are the feature that really distinguishes the walking-only course, which opened in 2000. Players have to hit accurate approaches; if not, they need deft recovery games to score well, starting with the 372-yard, dogleg-left opener and 194-yard 2nd. “It’s fairly short grass that extends away from the green so it can roll off a good ways and then you have an option as to how you want to play it,” says Crenshaw. “Do you putt it, bump it up or hit a pitch? How you score during the day


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is predicated on those shots, The four-bedroom, fourbut there are so many options bath cottages feature you can get confused as to large porches. INSET: Each cottage what type of shot to play.” has a great room. Those short-game demands OPPOSITE: A giant live give plenty of sting to seemoak guards the green ingly innocuous holes like the at the 532-yard 5th. 408-yard 4th. Fortunately, the 532-yard 5th is a birdie hole, although the lay-up has to flirt with a giant waste area, while the 178-yard 7th alongside Chechessee Creek may just be the most beautiful hole on the course. The 336-yard 12th is also on the marsh. It may be short, but the hole demands a nervy drive—a 165-yard carry over an inlet from all but the forward tees. Ernie Ransome, the former Pine Valley president and chairman of the Chechessee advisory board, gets credit for the diabolical little bunker that pinches into the front of the green, which slopes off steeply around it. Says Chaffin, somewhat gleefully: “I’ve seen people putt into it from above the hole.” There’s another short hole, the 164-yard 13th, before a trio of brutish ones: the 404-yard 14th, which has a raised bunkerless green; the 602-yard 15th, where players must challenge a large bunker on the right with the second shot to have the best angle into the green; and the 244-yard 16th, which has the largest green on the course, 46 yards deep. “That’s a big shot so we made a big green,” says Crenshaw. “It’s a change of pace compared to the size of the other greens. It has some expandability to it.” As good as the course is, the clubhouse is every bit its equal. The two go together like hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. The root influence was the white plantation homes once common in the Lowcountry. “There’s a lot of attachment to the outside with the amount of glass and the porches,” says the architect, Joel Newman of Thomas & Denzinger, located in nearby Beaufort. “It’s not

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unusual for clubhouses to get out of hand, for everything to be a little too grand. It was very important to keep it intimate and keep a close connection to the golf course. You’re not above it looking down.” The club and locale were so appealing to McEvoy, who’s also a member at Winged Foot Golf Club and Wykagyl Country Club in New York’s Westchester County, that he and his wife bought a fractional share in one of the 11 cottages— even though they own a home on Hilton Head Island, about 30 minutes away. “It’s just a great experience to stay in a cottage,” he says. “We’ll invite other couples, or I’ll do a guys’ trip in April with three foursomes from my other clubs. One of them loved playing here so much that he joined, and some of the others are thinking about it. There’s a certain appeal and character to the Lowcountry.” At Chechessee, the founders sought inspiration in the past. And as much as the glories of the Golden Age that its layof-the-land layout evokes, what makes the club so special is another timeless quality: creating memories with family and friends in a unique environment. ■

L.C. LAMBRECHT (2); DICK DURRANCE II

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Chechessee Creek Club OKATIE, S.C. 6,606 2000 ARCHITECTS Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw CONTACT chechesseecreekclub.com 843-987-7000 PAR

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Tom Fazio carved holes like the 448-yard 9th out of the site’s large landforms. OPPOSITE: The site’s elevation changes allow for dramatic views (near right) and make an ideal setting for the clubhouse (far right).


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Dallas National Golf Club

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE KLEMME

GIVEN A DRAMATIC SITE UNLIKE ANY IN THE AREA, TOM FAZIO CRAFTED ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE, MOST VISUALLY ARRESTING COURSES IN THE COUNTRY

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or any golfer, waking up in a plush golf cabin on the grounds of a renowned national golf club, ready for a full day of golf, food, drinks and camaraderie, carries the same level of anticipation and excitement they used to feel on Christmas morning. On a chilly morning in early December, it certainly felt that way after being picked up at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport the night before and being driven down a workingclass neighborhood, past a community college and through an anonymous gate onto the grounds of Dallas National Golf Club. Waiting inside one of the two tastefully decorated cabins that sit along the 18th fairway were a large, comfortable bedroom, well-prepared steak, bottle of wine and Monday Night Football. If the temperature had been more comfortable, the club’s general manager would have arranged for dinner to be served on the covered patio, beside the fireplace. And the Green Bay Packers-Baltimore Ravens game still would have been watchable— on the television over the outdoor fireplace. It was too dark to get a sense through the cabin’s French doors of the course that quietly has been garnering acclaim and interest among the well-heeled, well-connected few atop golf’s pyramid of influence. What was visible were the lights of the Metroplex shimmering in the distance, a sodium-light promise that any guest at Dallas National would not be disappointed by what he or she discovered in the morning. And so it was. For the expectation of even a top Dallas course is one that occupies a flat site, limiting the design’s architecture flair. But the sight from the cabin on that clear morning was as astonishing as asking for a model car for Christmas and finding the real thing parked under the tree. Instead of several tree-lined holes in a crowded scene, there was instead an open vista, with only a single green visible in the distance, across a wide canyon. The 548-yard 18th, which

The 10th hole tumbles downhill for 610 yards along the valley. INSET: There are plenty of seats for watching players putt out on the 18th green.

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‘I NEVER THOUGHT WE’D SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN DALLAS,’ SAYS MEMBER AND DALLAS NATIVE LEE TREVINO. ‘IF YOU LOVE GOLF, YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF IT.’


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TOM FAZIO’S GENIUS WAS IN CREATING A FLOWING, WALKABLE LAYOUT THROUGH THE SITE’S RIDGES AND CANYONS.


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sits atop a ridge, swept across the foreground. Below were glimpses of other holes in a valley, and far beyond was a panoramic expanse of the Dallas area—downtown to the northeast, Irving to the north and the airport to the northwest. In just seconds, it was clear that Dallas National is like no other private club in the area. In fact, it looked as though it belonged in Texas’ Hill Country, where the natural elevation changes offer a completely different type of golf. “I never thought we’d see something like this in Dallas,” says member and six-time major winner Lee Trevino, who grew up in the city. “It’s a beautiful piece of property. If you love golf, you never get tired of it.” Dallas National was the vision of John MacDonald, who hired Tom Fazio to route a layout that opened in 2002 on a heavily wooded 400-acre site that has been marked for use for a quarry before the city prohibited it. The highest point of the property, at its southern boundary, sits at an elevation of more than 600 feet—Everest-like for the area—while its lowest point, at the north, is more than 200 feet below. The distinguishing features of the property are three ridges, with two canyons between them. The ridges form the rough shape of a “W,” so the layout has several distinct zones. Fazio’s genius was in creating not only strategic, memorable holes, but also in stringing them together to form a routing in which only a couple of holes cross these zones, making for It is difficult to hit the approach close to the hole on the 430-yard 11th’s two-tiered green. OPPOSITE: The green of the 225-yard 5th asks for a well-judged draw with a long iron, hybrid or fairway wood.

a surprisingly flowing, walkable layout. Even so, players need to cross several chasms, especially from tee to fairway or green, so its handsome, timeless bridges are one of the club’s distinguishing features—so much so that a bridge is part of the logo. The spans connect holes that are fun to play and are challenging for all levels of players, even for the club’s several members who play on the PGA Tour. Says Trevino: “From the Texas tees [7,372 yards], the course is all you can handle. I usually play from the next set up [at 6,862 yards].” No matter the tees, the course has a friendly beginning, with a shortish par-4 opener and two par 5s among the next three holes. The layout starts to show its stern side at the 225yard 5th, which requires a long iron over the western canyon. The front nine keeps to the high ground until the 9th, which begins the transition into the valley. The epic 448-yard dogleg left starts a series of strong holes that don’t let up until the golfer putts out on the 18th. The highlights include the 610-yard 10th, which falls nearly 100 feet from tee to green; the 154-yard 13th to a diagonal green; and the 489-yard 16th, the longest par 4 on the course. To the left of the 16th tee is a convent, so perhaps there is some providential guidance for tackling this monster of a two-shotter. At several places, including the 245-yard 17th, Fazio and the construction crew cut through the limestone that permeates the site in order to build holes. The outcroppings, now mostly covered in vegetation, create visual interest with a natural, rugged stadium effect. 2010 EDITION |

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A pair of newly constructed cabins awaits overnight visitors. INSET: The 18th hole is visible from the comfortable living area. OPPOSITE: Missing short on the 154-yard 13th is a tough up and down. the large men’s locker room to the main dining area to the pro shop—is infused with a distinctively Lone Star State look and atmosphere. In fact, works by local artists hang on the walls, adding to the ambiance. The clubhouse sits to the left of the 18th green, inviting players to enjoy a post-round drink and share a laugh or two while recapping the long drives, stuffed approaches and clutch putts. But to the right, the 1st tee is even closer, just steps away, beckoning purists whose idea of a perfect day ends with racing the sun to get in a few more holes before dark while enjoying the company of good friends and even better golf partners. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether they head from the 18th green to the clubhouse or the 1st tee. Either way, every day at Dallas National feels like Christmas. ■

CHARLES FORD

hether the holes are long or short, play along ridges or in the canyons, they have one commonality: tour-level conditioning of the Zoysia fairways and large bentgrass greens, which are marked by slopes both fierce and gentle. “The greens are very challenging,” says Trevino. “They have a lot of speed, which makes Dallas National a great place to practice.” For first-time visitors, Trevino provides a tip that should help them handle the putting surfaces. “Everything breaks toward Texas Stadium and Irving.” The Dallas Cowboys may have moved to a new home field, but the small city of Irving is still a good North Star. Speaking of Cowboys and Stars, Dallas National is a haven for professional-athlete members, who can come and go easily among the understated, comfortable membership. While baseball and hockey players enjoy the quiet diversion that the club provides, tour pros like Trevino are especially drawn to the 130-yard-wide practice range, which has tees on both ends—ideal for practicing in different winds to eight bunkered target greens. In addition, the club boasts a secluded short-game area. Designed by Fazio, the facility features seven bentgrass greens and allows players to hit any shot of 135 yards or less. “The practice facility is absolutely right on,” says Trevino. “I can practice all the shots and there is nothing to distract me.” The clubhouse, which has unrestricted views to the north, is just as much a sanctuary as the course itself. Evoking the feel of a ranch house in the Hill Country, every room—from


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Dallas National Golf Club DALLAS, TEXAS 7,372 2002 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio dallasnationalgolfclub.com 214-331-4195 PAR

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Left is dead on the 170-yard 3rd. OPPOSITE: The men’s card room is a cozy place for a post-round meal and drink (near right), while a terrific caddie program makes a round at the Dye Preserve that much more memorable (far right).


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PAUL HUNDLEY; KIM SARGENT; ANTHONY EDGEWORTH/EDGEWORTH EDITIONS

The Dye Preserve Golf Club

HOME TO MANY PGA TOUR PROS, THIS EXQUISITE CLUB IN SOUTH FLORIDA IS PURE GOLF, FROM THE UNDERSTATED CLUBHOUSE TO THE SHOTMAKER’S COURSE

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n the pro shop of the Dye Preserve Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, is a large, walnut retail display case with nine staff bags on top bearing the names of PGA Tour players like Mark Calcavecchia, Will MacKenzie and Steve Marino. But the bags aren’t just some ornamental furnishings to spruce up the place and give it some tour polish. They’re there because all nine are members of the club. “They all pay dues like everybody else,” says Joe Webster III, the club’s president and founder, as he sits in the men’s card room. “They could play for free anywhere else but they come here because this reflects what they have to deal with every day. The greens are equally as fast as on tour. They have to hit all the shots. They’ve got to draw it sometimes, they’ve got to fade it sometimes.” Calcavecchia came out one day in 2007, played nine holes and asked director of golf Ryan Garrity at the turn: “Hey, how do I join this place?” “I just loved everything about it,” says Calcavecchia. “They did a great job on the clubhouse and the locker room. It wasn’t crowded and it was in phenomenal shape. As a PGA Tour pro, those are two of the things we look for. They’re proba-

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bly the best greens in South Florida. They get scary fast, like Augusta fast. And a lot of them are small and elevated so it really sharpens your short game.” In short, Calc and other players feel at home at the Dye Preserve, but then, all 200 members feel at home here because the club is as comfortable as a round with old friends in 70-degree weather. It just feels right. The welcoming atmosphere starts with the classy and low-key clubhouse that resembles a cozy residence. Unlike most modern, cavernous clubhouses that have all the charm of a hotel conference center, the Dye Preserve’s 17,000-square-foot design is elegantly intimate. Reflecting a bungalow style popular in the 1920s and ’30s, the single-story building ABOVE: Bunkers has wide verandahs in the front and surround the green back. Soft lighting, handmade furni- of the 195-yard 7th. ture and wood floors covered by Ori- OPPOSITE: The drivable ental rugs complete the warm feel. (for some, perhaps) The spacious men’s locker room 299-yard 5th is features large, polished-pine lockers the quintessential and powerful showers, while the risk-reward hole.


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PAUL HUNDLEY

MARK CALCAVECCHIA CAME OUT ONE DAY IN 2007, PLAYED NINE HOLES AND ASKED DIRECTOR OF GOLF RYAN GARRITY AT THE TURN, ‘HEY, HOW DO I JOIN THIS PLACE?’


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women’s has a comfortable sitting room, fireplace and refined lockers made of Costa Rican teak. But the highlight is a gorgeous entryway mural by Marcia Wendel depicting the watery wilderness of the native Florida landscape. It’s almost as good as the real thing right outside the door. There’s a reason the club has Preserve in its name. Other than a previously existing home visible here and there, the place really is a sanctuary of sorts, comprised of 175 pristine acres. Bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss give the course an otherworldly feel. The vibe is more Louisiana bayou than South Florida glitz. Ponds, lakes and wetlands teem with fish, turtles and alligators, as well as wading birds like ibis, heron and egrets. The club’s emblem, the osprey, is often seen circling overhead, while a sandhill crane will occasionally let loose with a loud, siren-like trill as it stands atop a mound. It’s like you’ve stepped into a show on Animal Planet. With pathways made of crushed coquina seashells and lowprofile curved wooden bridges, the 7,149-yard course fits effortlessly into this enchanting environment. It’s infinitely more playable than most Pete Dye courses but still provides plenty of challenge from the back tees, especially with a typical 10 to 20 mile-per-hour wind blowing. Mounding and grassed-faced bunkers nicely frame the greens, while a variety of different grasses give the layout texture and definition. And most of the holes are open in front to allow run-up shots. “The course is great for a wide range of abilities,” says Garrity. “It’s great for a beginner because there are no real forced carries off the tee, but as the tee boxes go farther back, the shot values get a little more daunting where you do have to hit a cut on one hole and a draw on the next. Better players can’t play here with one ball flight because you would not be able to hit it through some of the chutes. The fact that we have so many tour players here speaks volumes about what a great challenge it is from the back tees.” One of those is Tom Gillis, who earned his 2010 PGA Tour card after finishing fifth on last year’s Nationwide Tour money list. “The condition of the course is always great,” he says. “It’s got wonderful drainage, which is important in South Florida. Dye also did a really nice job on the green complexes. When it gets firm, you’ve got to hit British Open-type shots, little bump and runs in to the banks, because the grass is pretty tight, and I just

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The elevated green makes the 207-yard 13th one of the toughest holes on the course. INSET: The men’s locker room is understated but spacious.


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‘THE CONCEPT WAS TO KEEP IT FOCUSED ON THE GOLF EXPERIENCE,’ SAYS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER JOE WEBSTER III. ‘WE’RE NOT ASKING MEMBERS TO PAY FOR, NOR ARE WE PROVIDING, ANCILLARY SERVICES.’


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love that. It’s just a nice test.” The front nine opens up with three relatively easy holes before golfers encounter the hardest hole on the course, the 469-yard 4th. Most of the trouble is right on the left-toright hole: waste bunkers and trees down the fairway and a lake by the green, which is open in front, thankfully, and receptive to running up a long iron, hybrid or even a fairway wood. Garrity’s favorite is the 299-yard 5th, which has water running down the entire left side and a big mound near the green. “It’s one of the best risk-reward holes I’ve ever played,” says Garrity. “You have to hit a great shot to get it on the green but you’re rewarded. A drive between the mound and the right fringe will kick up onto the green. Some of the real long hitters like Steve Marino and Tommy Carter are the only guys that aim right at the pin. Mere mortals try to use the terrain to their advantage. If you hit a bad tee ball you pay for it, but you can always lay up.” Two par 3s that are as tough as a $5.99 steak highlight the back nine. While the 240-yard 17th is longer and is protected by water down the entire right side, there’s plenty of room left to bail out and get up and down for par. There’s no place to hide on the 207-yard 13th, though. The elevated green leaves little possibility of saving par if you don’t hit it with your tee shot. “I like the difficulty of it,” says Gillis. “It’s probably the toughest hole on the course to par, just because of the severity of the slopes left and right of the green. You have to execute, especially when the wind’s blowing off the right.” With closely placed greens and tees and a terrific cad-

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die program, the course is also ex- A lagoon protects ceedingly walkable. There’s not a lot the right side of of traffic, either. For a lot of mem- the fairway on the bers, it’s their second or third club. 548-yard 15th. (The roster of their other clubs reads OPPOSITE: The 429-yard 12th has like a top 100 list.) Although mema natural setting. bership is by invitation only, with friends inviting friends, the reach is wide with members coming from 20 different states and five other countries. The average age is 57.

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ood service is limited to breakfast, lunch and cocktails, but what a menu it is, thanks to Chef Van Coyle, whose homemade soups are a huge hit with members, as is his lump crab, mango and avocado salad. The decision to forgo evening dining is a huge savings, helping to keep the dues much lower, about $9,000 a year, than other clubs of this stature and quality. “The concept was to keep it focused on the golf experience,” says Webster. “We’re not asking members to pay for, nor are we providing, ancillary services. For that five-hour period that people are here, we’ve got to give them incredibly good food, we’ve got to give them good caddies, great playing surfaces. That’s all we have to concentrate on. “We’re just focused on that 175-acre room,” he adds, gesturing outside, “and this basically large house, so that it stays pretty personal.” ■


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The Dye Preserve Golf Club JUPITER, FLA. 7,149 2002 ARCHITECT Pete Dye thedyepreserve.com 561-575-5863 PAR

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PAUL HUNDLEY

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Although Gaillardia is close to Oklahoma City, holes like the 556-yard 6th give the club a rustic feel and atmosphere. OPPOSITE: Another view of the 6th (far right), and clubhouse (near right).

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY AIDAN BRADLEY

Gaillardia Country Club

THE ELEMENTS ADD TO THE CHALLENGES AT THIS LAYOUT IN THE SOONER STATE’S CAPITAL THAT HAS SEEN A RECENT RENOVATION BY GOLF LEGEND TOM KITE

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very golfer has a windy story. Few are as good as Phil Herrington’s. Shortly after purchasing Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City, Herrington was on the tee of the 363-yard 11th, which has a generous fairway flanked on the right by a waste bunker and beyond that, a pond. There, Herrington learned about the Oklahoma wind and how strange things can happen to your ball when it “comes sweeping down the plain,” as immortalized in the musical Oklahoma! by lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. “I hit it pretty good up the left side and it looked like it was going to be a good drive,” says Herrington, a 14handicap who is CEO of Little Rock, Arkansas-based private equity firm Herrington, Inc. “But then it took a hard turn right.” The wind blew Herrington’s ball across the fairway and over both the sand and the water. Ultimately, after the ball blew nearly 100 yards from left to right, it took not one, but two houses getting in the way before Herrington’s ball came to rest. Herrington’s experience with the Oklahoma wind became a great opportunity to introduce himself to a few members. But instead of explaining that he was the new owner, he opened with: “I’m the guy who just hit your house.” If the homeowners were golfers, they would have understood, as anyone who has played Gaillardia knows that the wind, which can consistently reach 50 miles per hour in the

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spring, can make a par 5 play like a par 4, while a par 4 can become a par 6. Not quite on a plain, Gaillardia sits on a 600-acre parcel originally owned by Oklahoma City’s prominent Gaylord family, which operates a number of media and entertainment properties, including the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, in addition to having its name on University of Oklahoma’s football stadium. The idea behind Gaillardia was to create a golf course and community that would be national in character, helping to attract top academic, medical and business professionals to Oklahoma City. Seeking an environmentally friendly design that would take advantage of the area’s beauty, the Gaylords hired Arthur Hills, who built a layout with holes bordered by native wildflowers and indigenous strains of blue stem, buffalo, switch and Indian grasses. After opening in the summer of 1998, the course quickly attracted national attention. After hosting a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match between Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples, Gaillardia became the site of ABOVE: Sand and water back-to-back Senior Tour Champimake effective hazards onships in 2001 and 2002, won by on the 204-yard 4th, Bob Gilder and Tom Watson. one of two par 3s longer Herrington purchased the course at than 200 yards. the end of 2002 after the Gaylord fam- OPPOSITE: It takes two ily decided to get out of the golf busi- heroic shots to reach the ness. “The first time I saw Gaillardia, green of the 6th.


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‘THE FIRST TIME I SAW GAILLARDIA,’ SAYS PHIL HERRINGTON, WHO BOUGHT THE CLUB IN 2002, ‘IT WAS A SURPRISE. THE PROPERTY IS GENUINELY UNIQUE FOR THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY.’


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TOM KITE’S SOLUTION WAS TO EXPAND THE GENERALLY UNDERSTATED BUNKERING AND BRING THE WATER HAZARDS INTO PLAY ON MORE OF THE HOLES.


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Tom Kite turned what had been a benign finishing hole into a backbreaking par 4 of 508 yards. INSET: The clubhouse looms over the 183-yard 9th.

it was all a surprise to me,” says Herrington. “It’s a piece of property that’s genuinely unique for this part of the country.” Those surprises included a 55,000-square-foot Normandy French-style clubhouse sitting on the property’s highest point and offering panoramic views of the course. It was, Herrington thought, something one would expect to find at a highend resort or club in South Carolina, rather than in the capital of a state best known for agriculture and oil. Having developed other luxury courses and communities, Herrington believed that he could find subtle ways to improve the experience. His intention was the same as that of the Gaylords: making Gaillardia one of the best clubs in the country. He began with the golf course, which had “good bones.” But there were opportunities to make it better. After interviewing several well-known architects, Herrington invited Tom Kite, who finished tied for seventh at the 2001 Senior Tour Championship at Gaillardia. Until Kite’s visit, Herrington had never met the 1992 U.S. Open champion. “Walking the course with Tom was one of the best days of my life,” says Herrington, who has worked with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio on other courses. “He is one of the most creative people I’ve ever been around. That day with Tom Kite convinced me that we’d only scratched the surface.” There was little that could be done with the routing, but Kite had no problem finding areas for improvement. At every tee box, Kite laid out several options for building on the Hills layout and maximizing its natural beauty while, according to Kite, “present[ing] challenges to every level of golfer without making those challenges so stout that they become unmanageable.” Kite’s familiarity with the topography of this part of the country led him to surmise that of the four possible hazards—sand, water, trees and hills—the latter two would be non-factors. His solution was to expand the generally understated bunkering and bring the water hazards into play on more holes. Today, the 2nd and 11th holes feature massive waste bunkers that run nearly the length of the fairway. (On No. 11 it also cuts diagonally across the front of the green.) On other holes, Kite made the bunkers deeper and bolder, creating a stiffer challenge on a course with generous fairways. 2010 EDITION |

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The 204-yard 4th is barely reachable into the Oklahoma wind. OPPOSITE: Kite’s waste bunkering on the 345-yard 2nd now runs along the entire hole.

The 7th hole had been a straightaway par 4 on which the water was hardly a factor. So Kite shifted the green right, bringing a pond into play. Now, aggressive players must hit their approach shots over water, while conservative golfers can take the longer but safer line down the left side on the 403-yard hole.

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ith the changes, Kite installed more riskreward strategy without making the course unplayable for mid and high handicaps. Kite’s eye also noticed subtleties like the divot pattern in fairways that indicated landing areas where drives would collect into the same place. By using directional bunkers and recontouring fairways, Kite was able to reframe the holes in a way that enhanced their appearance while creating a greater variety of strategic decisions. Kite also narrowed some fairways, reworked a few greens and converted the 18th from an easy par 5 into a dramatic 508-yard par 4 that is deadly when played into the wind. With Kite as his guide, Herrington installed a modern practice facility where Hank Haney and Stan Utley have given clinics. The update included a short-game area modeled after the one at Augusta National Golf Club. Improvements to the non-golf amenities included renovations and enhancements to the 7,000-square-foot exercise area with free weights, saunas, steam rooms and massage tables. The Gaillardia experience, however, is about a great deal

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more than the course and its facilities. For Herrington it’s about the people of an underrated city who survived the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Although the tragedy decimated much of downtown, the city has come out the other end with a revitalized sense of community. “Oklahoma City is consistently underestimated,” says Herrington, “because people think it’s just a small city in a state known for football—and that’s about it. But the level of sophistication and the kind of people you find in Oklahoma City would be a surprise to most people in America.” It is the welcoming small-town atmosphere that helps give Gaillardia its renowned reputation. “At a lot of clubs there’s that ‘round table’ in the locker room where no one but the 12 regulars can go for fear of death,” says Herrington. “But, if you’re a member [at Gaillardia], you’re a member. The people here—their character, their sense of humor and their authenticity—are what make it such a great club.” At lunch, your neighbors might be a local legend like Barry Sanders, a CEO or a retired airline pilot. The common bond is golf, and it is clear that whether they’ve made a living with the running game or through the air, the people at Gaillardia are a group you’d like to spend time with—at a golf course or anywhere else. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished or how rich you are. Because the club treats everyone the same way, in much the same way the wind doesn’t care who is playing the course. “That’s Oklahoma,” says Kite. “They’ve written songs about that wind.” ■


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Gaillardia Country Club OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. 7,212 1998 ARCHITECTS Arthur Hills, Tom Kite CONTACT gaillardia.com 405-302-2800 PAR

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The tee shot on the 181-yard 6th is intimidating. OPPOSITE: The hacienda-style clubhouse, with the green of the 471-yard 9th in the foreground, fits perfectly in the desert surroundings.


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The Golf Club Scottsdale

FROM THE FINISHING HOLES THAT EVOKE HIGH-NOON DUELS TO THE ‘COWBOY CASUAL’ ATMOSPHERE OF THE CLUBHOUSE, THE OLD WEST THRIVES AT THIS CLUB IN ONE OF GOLF’S MECCAS

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he bullet-riddled wooden sign announcing “Gambler’s Bluff” sits high above Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, where cactus-studded hillsides reach out to distant mountain ranges: the McDowells, the Superstitions and the knobby landmark of Pinnacle Peak. It’s a wonder that early settlers managed to cross such rugged terrain in covered wagons and stagecoaches. Musing about the Old West could certainly distract players from the real business of Gambler’s Bluff, which is golf. The name refers to the four finishing holes at Golf Club Scottsdale, which climb up Fraesfield Mountain like emerald stepping stones, then tumble down in dramatic fashion to conclude what is always a memorable round. As Matt McIntee, Vice President of Operations for Crown Golf Properties, which owns Golf Club Scottsdale, says: “It’s the Arizona that you came here to find.” If you’re looking for extras like mango-scented towels, oncourse chefs and yoga classes, look elsewhere. The Golf Club Scottsdale is all about the golf. (Although staff members have been known to bring Baileys and coffee out to golfers on chilly days.) Renowned golf architect Jay Morrish worked with design partner Dick Bailey to create a course that was an instant success. Golf Digest named Golf Club Scottsdale one of the “Top Ten Best New Private Courses” in 2004. Unlike most of the Scottsdale area’s high-end courses built in the past 20 years, Golf Club Scottsdale is not tied to real estate development. The 7,561-yard layout will always retain its secluded setting, surrounded by thousands of acres of desert wilderness designated for preservation. “It was a luxury to build a golf course unencumbered by real estate considerations,” says Bailey, who codesigned the course under the assumption that the membership would be made up of a substantial number of low-handicap players. The members take their direction from Director of Golf Don Yrene, one of the deans of Arizona golf, as well as one of the best players in the Southwest Section of the PGA of America. Yrene garnered national attention when he finished as the low pro at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club in Illinois. The crystal trophy marking the feat

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RESEMBLING RIBBONS OF GREEN THAT TWIST AND TURN ALONG THE DESERT, THE HOLES AT THE GOLF CLUB SCOTTSDALE REQUIRE BOTH THOUGHT AND EXECUTION.

To make a par on the 641-yard 5th, players must avoid all kinds of trouble. INSET: The 392-yard 17th highlights the course’s desert setting.


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THE CLUB DERIVES MUCH OF ITS IDENTITY AND ATMOSPHERE FROM THE WILD WEST SURROUNDINGS. A VISIT IS THE MODERN VERSION OF SETTING UP CAMP AND TELLING STORIES BY THE FIRE.


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is displayed in the pro shop, and a photo of Yrene shaking hands with the champion, Tiger Woods, sits in his office. Of course, playing the Golf Club Scottsdale layout on a regular basis could help anybody’s game. Resembling ribbons of bright green that twist and turn along the desert floor, which is considered in play, the holes at the club require both good thought and precise execution. The split-fairway 456-yard 3rd hole offers a good example of the course’s myriad risk-reward choices. Cautious firsttimers may play it safe and go for the wide fairway to the left, only to find the approach shot stymied by a mounded bunker. The right side requires a riskier carry, but yields a shorter, unimpeded view of the green. Just as architects in other parts of the country employ trees to define holes, Bailey and Morrish used the area’s distinctive Saguaro cacti as sign posts. On the 480-yard 4th, an aggressive line off the tee means aiming for two prominent cacti to the left of the apparent landing area. It may seem risky to play toward the cacti, which look to be in the middle of the desert, but the hole actually opens up to a fairly wide fairway. Although there are no water hazards, the architects used washes and desert to create angles that promote hitting to the correct sides of the fairways for approaches into the firm, fast, multi-tiered greens. And Golf Club Scottsdale does offer a drivable par 4, a Morrish trademark, at the 347yard 11th. The strategy and demands increase once players enter Gambler’s Bluff, where elevation changes add to the challenge.

The 548-yard 15th climbs steadily Birdies are rare on the from the tee, crossing a deep arroyo 450-yard 13th hole, which on its way to a triple-tiered green features a rolling fairway and two-tiered green. with a steep false front. Players have been known to putt OPPOSITE: The 15th has off the front of the green, so no mat- a treacherous green. ter how many shots it takes you to reach the putting surface, the outcome of the hole during a match is always in doubt. The “Shootout at Gambler’s Bluff” plays out on the four finishing holes to determine the winner of the Pistolero Invitational, the member-guest tournament. Names of the winning two-man teams are engraved on the trophy, which displays a pair of reproduced antique Spanish pistols. The Spanish theme comes from the gracious haciendastyle clubhouse at the heart of Golf Club Scottsdale. Tall wooden gates lead into a serene courtyard surrounded by three separate buildings, connected via covered porticos. Old World styling is reflected in the weathered and distressed wood used alongside decorative wrought-iron metal work. The Great Room radiates warmth and comfort, thanks to exposed wooden beams and rough brick walls, enhanced by plush, large-scale furniture and rich textiles. The 25,000-square-foot clubhouse contains all the luxurious amenities and services expected of a high-end club. Well-appointed men’s and women’s locker rooms are each equipped with a steam room, hot pool and massage room. Locker room manager Paul Cormier facilitates concierge services: concert or sport2010 EDITION |

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ing tickets, car wash, airport transportation, dry cleaning delivery—you name it. Need a private jet right away? Just ask. Although members are ensconced in a setting that feels centuries old, they are at the cusp of a club that is new and exciting. “We’re a young club,” says Membership Director Sharon Carry, “still developing who we are.” Since mid 2008, an executive management team consisting of Carry, Yrene, Course Superintendent Ed Shimkus and Clubhouse Manager Dave Warchot has run the club. From Crown’s corporate office in Chicago, McIntee oversees the four-person on-site team as they progress steadily toward the goal of “sustainable greatness.”

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t a time when many private clubs are cutting back, Crown Golf Properties is investing in Golf Club Scottsdale for the long term. In July 2009 the club built a new maintenance complex. By fall 2010 the club will expand the practice facility, already recognized as one of the best in the country. With the addition of a bentgrass putting green, chipping green and a driving range tee, the practice ground will be nearly 14 acres and will support the successful initiatives begun by Director of Instruction Steve Dahlby, who came on board in 2007 to organize the teaching program and build a strong junior program. One of Dahlby’s most popular events is the annual Champions Clinic, in which the club’s tour pros, Jeff Quinney and Roger Tambellini, play a four-hole rotation while members follow along and ask questions. And members who need help negotiating greens like the for-

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midable 15th can turn to teaching pro After a range session, and former PGA Tour member Gabriel members relax in Hjertstedt, who specializes in short game the practice area instruction. Trivia buffs will know that clubhouse. Hjertstedt was the first Swede to win OPPOSITE: The on the PGA Tour when he captured the Saguaro cacti enhance risk-reward 1997 B.C. Open. (He also won the 1999 holes like the Touchstone Energy Tucson Open.) 571-yard 10th. The club derives much of its identity and atmosphere from the Wild West surroundings. “Cowboy casual is our mantra,” says McIntee. “It says everything about us.” McIntee refers not to paraphernalia like hats and lassos but to the sense of camaraderie—the modern equivalent of setting up camp and sitting around the fire, telling stories. Says Warchot: “I want the members to feel like they’re coming into their own living room when they enter the clubhouse.” The staff’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. “The club is very welcoming,” says member Bob Pastore, “with a warm and friendly atmosphere at every level.” Sometimes the cowboy metaphor has turned literal. Soon after opening, neighboring cows got onto the property and started trampling the new turf. Shimkus had to chase off the cattle with a truck. Rather than bemoan their ill bovine fortune, members have used the incident as a bonding experience. Retelling of stories like these is the perfect vehicle for forming bonds, whether over a campfire, in the grill or on the 16th tee. Considering the golf, the facilities and the camaraderie, it doesn’t take long to realize that Golf Club Scottsdale is a special place, where the legacy of frontier hospitality thrives as a shining example for current and future generations. ■


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The Golf Club Scottsdale SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. 7,561 2004 ARCHITECTS Jay Morrish and Dick Bailey CONTACT thegolfclubscottsdale.com 480-281-1040 PAR

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The down-up-down-up 601-yard opening hole sets the landscape for the entire layout. OPPOSITE: The 455-yard 15th (foreground) and 205-yard 16th make up a formidable one-two punch in the layout’s closing stretch.


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

The Kingsley Club

AFTER DISCOVERING A RUGGED SITE FOR A GREAT COURSE, CO-FOUNDERS ED WALKER AND ART PRESTON TURNED TO AN UNTESTED ARCHITECT TO BUILD ONE OF GOLF’S GREAT PRIVATE RETREATS

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evelopers go to great lengths to realize the courses of their dreams. Steve Wynn spent $47 million to build the lush oasis of Shadow Creek in the Mojave Desert outside Las Vegas. Dick Youngscap lost himself in the heart of America to found Sand Hills in Nebraska. Mike Keiser had to go to a remote town along the southern coast of Oregon to establish the resort mecca of Bandon Dunes. Ed Walker and Art Preston had been to those places. In fact, they had played pretty much all of golf’s great courses, and their favorites were the classic lay-of-the-land designs that have only grown in stature over the decades. So when the pair wanted to start a club with a similarly timeless layout, they set out to find a suitable site—one with a natural, secluded setting and rolling topography that would make for a first-class golf retreat. They just didn’t think that they would find one so close to Walker’s home, much less in the classified section of his local newspaper, the Traverse City Record-Eagle, where he saw an ad for a 320-acre parcel located 10 miles south of town. The land was thick with hardwoods and pines surrounding an internal area that had been clear-cut more than 10 years previously, exposing elevation changes—some dramatic, others subtle—made up of ridges, valleys and bowls that had been left behind by glacial deposits. Despite being just minutes from a major tourist town that is the hub of Northern Michigan, an area known for its large number of golf courses, the site looked as though it were as remote as Sand Hills. (Even now, the road leading to the club

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Missing the green of the 171-yard 9th can lead to a big number. INSET: The entrance is understated. OPPOSITE: Blowout bunkers fit the rugged terrain on the 6th hole. is unpaved and visitors wonder if they took a wrong turn somewhere before they stumble upon the modest sign carved out of a piece of barnwood.) In short, it was the perfect canvas for their vision of the Kingsley Club. When it came to building the layout on this spectacularly rugged site, Walker and Preston enlisted the advice of Fred Muller, the head professional at nearby Crystal Downs Country Club, where Preston is a member. Muller’s recommendation for an architect was an unlikely one—but one that ultimately made sense. Kingsley was the first solo design for Mike DeVries, who had worked for both Tom Fazio and Tom Doak. But more importantly, DeVries had grown up caddying and working on the maintenance crew at Crystal Downs, so he was intimately familiar with Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s design, a textbook of great golf architecture. Muller was confident that DeVries could evoke the same


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THE SITE FOR THE KINGSLEY CLUB HAD BEEN CLEAR-CUT A DECADE PREVIOUSLY, EXPOSING RIDGES, VALLEYS AND BOWLS LEFT BEHIND BY GLACIAL DEPOSITS.


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kind of Golden Age design and feel at Kingsley. “Ed and Art took a big chance by hiring Mike,” says Muller. “There was no doubt that someone like Tom Doak would have done a great job, but I had great faith in Mike.” Although skeptical at first, Walker and Preston eventually came to realize the advantages of hiring a young architect. “Mike was easy to work with,” says Walker. “We were part of the design and building process, and our philosophy was part of the finished project.” Another advantage brought by DeVries was his proximity. “I was on site nearly every day,” he says. “I literally built the course with Dan [Lucas, the course superintendent].” Walking the course every day helped DeVries overcome the biggest challenge of building Kingsley. Although the terrain allowed for dramatic holes, the real trick was incorporating them into a walkable routing of the 18 best holes. “The hardest aspect was getting the dots connected,” says DeVries. “But I think ultimately, the flow of the property works really well.” “It was pretty severe land,” says Muller. “I thought it would be very difficult to build a playable course that you could walk, which Mike felt very strongly about. But he did it.” The course is big and bold, with oversize features that are in proportion with the epic scale of the property. If many great courses unfurl slowly, a la The Godfather, the 1st hole at Kingsley is like the suspenseful, action-packed first scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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n the 1st hole, the 120-yard-wide two-tier fairway, divided by four fairway bunkers, immediately grabs your attention. From the elevated tee, the hole falls, rises to the landing area, falls again to the lay-up zone before rising again to the green. All the while, the ever-narrowing fairway is infused with natural humps and bumps. The thrills never let up after this exhilarating opener, as Kingsley throws at the golfer a succession of visually arresting, challenging strategic holes that dance atop ridges, play up, down, over and around landforms, and weave between blowout bunkers that meld seamlessly with the native areas that frame the holes. At Kingsley, throw out exact distances and comfortable club selections. Instead, play by feel and use the contours to feed shots along the fescue turf to the hole. Some of the literal high points of the 6,945-yard layout are the 7th tee, from which the 8th hole is also visible, making it look like the world’s longest par 5; the 12th tee, which looks down on a 455-yard hole that tumbles down into a natural val-

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Recent tree clearing has opened up the right side of the 422-yard 18th.


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THE COURSE IS BIG AND BOLD, WITH OVERSIZE FEATURES IN PROPORTION WITH THE EPIC SCALE OF THE PROPERTY. TO PLAY WELL HERE, THROW OUT DISTANCES AND USE BOTH FEEL AND THE GROUND GAME TO FEED SHOTS TO THE TARGET.


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ley; and the 522-yard 17th, whose fairway has one of the steepest slopes in golf. The elevation alone ensures there are no boring holes, but DeVries crafted some true gems like the 171-yard 9th, which features a kidney-shaped plateau green surrounded by bunkers and brush. As at Herbert Strong’s famous “2 or 20” hole at Engineers Country Club on Long Island, missing the tiny target can lead to some high numbers. One of the flattest holes is the 465-yard 15th. But even on that hole, elevation changes, albeit more subtle, dictate the strategy. The left side of the fairway is the best angle for reaching this raised green that evokes the putting surfaces of Pinehurst No. 2, but a knoll in the landing area slows down drives, leaving a long approach. This is the hardest-earned par on the course. Just as there are no absolutes for playing the course, Kingsley is a laid-back club with few hard-and-fast rules. It is a place to have fun instead of having to worry about rushing to make an advance tee time. “We want our members and guests to enjoy the spirit of the game,” says Walker. “Just about the only rule we have is ‘Take your hat off inside.’” The latter rule is usually not a problem, since members spend most of their time outdoors during their stay, whether on the course or at the River Camp, a hunting and fishing retreat along a private stretch of the Boardman River, one of Northern Michigan’s best trout-fishing venues.

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The elevated green of the 365-yard 8th offers a puzzle that requires repeated rounds before a solution is evident. OPPOSITE: On a property marked by elevation changes, the 569-yard 7th hole is one of the hilliest holes on the course. After all these activities, members and their guests can retire to River Camp cottage or one of the two golf cabins located on a hill overlooking the 17th fairway. Distinctively styled with Irish-style architecture, the cabins are perfect bases for the club’s national members, who hail from nearly 30 different states. After golf, overnight guests can arrange for a meal in the cabin. Or they can sample one of the many restaurants of Traverse City, just 15 minutes away. The proximity of the city is one of Kingsley’s biggest advantages: It is convenient to get to, yet once on the grounds, members can feel like they are truly away from it all. As a microcosm of the variety of golf in America, Northern Michigan has it all: Golden Age gems (Crystal Downs), resort destinations (Treetops) and upscale public facilities (Arcadia Bluffs). As a private golf retreat with an experience and atmosphere matching the quality of the course, Kingsley ranks not just among the best in the state, but with the best in the world. “Kingsley is a special place and a monument to the game,” says Walker. “I hope that 150 years from now, people are still enjoying the course the way they do now.” ■


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KEVIN FRISCH/RESORTANDGOLF.COM

The Kingsley Club KINGSLEY, MICH. 6,945 2001 ARCHITECT Mike DeVries CONTACT kingsleyclub.com 231-263-3000 PAR

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The 586-yard 9th offers multiple routes to reach the well-guarded green. OPPOSITE: Another view of the 9th (near right), and the 540-yard 3rd hole (far right).


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

Kinloch Golf Club

THIS PRIVATE RETREAT NEAR VIRGINIA’S CAPITAL OFFERS MEMBERS AND GUESTS A COMFORTABLE ATMOSPHERE IN WHICH TO TAKE ON ONE OF THE BEST COURSES BUILT IN THE PAST 10 YEARS

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arvin “Vinny” Giles will be 68 years old when he tees it up at the 2011 U.S. Senior Amateur. If he wins, he will be the secondoldest Senior Amateur champion. But even if he doesn’t win his fourth national championship (after the 1972 U.S. Amateur, 1975 British Amateur and 2009 U.S. Senior Amateur), even if he doesn’t make it to match play, it will be a special week for Giles. That’s because the site of next year’s U.S. Senior Amateur is Kinloch Golf Club, which Giles helped to develop and design. So he will be one of a select few in golf who have ever had an opportunity to play a championship on a course he has built, joining the likes of Bobby Jones (Augusta National Golf Club) and Jack Nicklaus (Valhalla Golf Club). Like Jones and Nicklaus, who never won majors on their creations, Giles doesn’t expect to enjoy much of a homecourse advantage. “My expectations aren’t very high,” says Giles. “It would be more pressure. I’m a realist.” Actually, it would be fitting to say that Giles already has won at Kinloch. Since its 2001 opening, the club located west of Richmond, Virginia, has become a modern classic, a private golf retreat that offers the rare combination of a worldclass course, top facilities and an informally collegial atmosphere that makes each visit a memorable experience. “Kinloch turned out better than any of us had envisioned,” says Charlie Staples, one of the three founders along with Giles and C.B. Robertson III. “We set the bar for a lot of things.”

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One huge success is the golf course, which is ranked among the best in the country—a rocket-like ascension into the pantheon of American golf. Designed by Lester George with assistance from Giles, the 7,203-yard layout occupies a site that used to be a heavily wooded tract, including a 70-acre lake, owned by Robertson and his family. In the mid 1990s, Robertson wanted to build a golf course on his land, and approached Giles about designing the layout. Giles, in turn, tapped Richmond-based George, who had worked on many Mid-Atlantic layouts but was still looking for his breakthrough project. “The first time I visited,” says George, “I knew that this piece of land was good enough to yield a top-100 course. What we needed to do was not overcook it.” Although Giles had only previously dabbled in golf course architecture, he received a much deeper understanding of the design and construction process at Kinloch. Since he and George lived in the Richmond area, they made frequent visits to the site. “We both have pretty strong personalities, but we complemented ABOVE: Left is more risky each other very well,” says George. but also more rewarding “He brought the shotmaker’s per- on the 407-yard 2nd. spective, an understanding of how OPPOSITE: The 328-yard a world-class player would approach 15th is drivable, but there are also plenty of certain shots.” Their collaboration resulted in a risks on the hole.


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SINCE ITS OPENING, KINLOCH HAS BECOME A MODERN CLASSIC, THANKS TO A ROCKET-LIKE ASCENT INTO THE PANTHEON OF U.S. GOLF.


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It takes two strong shots to reach the green of the 471yard 16th hole in regulation. INSET: The cottages are as comfortable as the rest of the club.

A SERIES OF ALTERNATING LONG PAR 4S AND STRONG PAR 5S BUILDS TO A CRESCENDO AT THE 13TH, WHERE YOU LOOK DOWN TO THE LAKE FROM THE HILL.


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rollicking journey up, down and across the wide, rolling landscape. There isn’t a flat hole on the course, and for the first-time player, walking up to every tee box presents a challenge—some obvious, others subtle. Whereas some golfers prefer holes that are “right there in front of you,” that type of straightforward golf tends to get dull. True students of course design want to play courses on which they can stand on the tee, study the hole a bit and ask: “Well, what do we have here?” That’s golf at Kinloch.

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he adventure starts at the 447-yard 1st hole, which features a deceptively wide fairway that snakes toward a fairly benign green. The split-fairway 407yard 2nd offers the first major decision of the round. The safe drive is to the right of the three fairway bunkers. But trying to make a longer carry to the left side will yield an open look at the green, which is angled from left to right. But no hole fires the neurons as much as the 586-yard 9th, one of the most distinctive par 5s in the world. Occupying a hole corridor that is 150 yards across at its widest point, the hole is bisected first by a stream then a 20-foot-high palisade that also guards the elevated greensite. With multiple landing areas for the drive and second shot, there are numerous permutations for playing the hole, which makes it great for match play. But those choices also can confound first-time visitors—a good thing, then, that Kinloch has such a great caddie program. Playing on foot makes it easier to appreciate the course’s beauty, from the wooded front nine to the lake that is the focal point of the back nine. From the stout 450-yard 10th, a series of strong long holes builds to a crescendo at the 579-yard 13th, where players crest the landing area and look down toward a large green backdropped by the lake. The water comes into play on four of the next six holes (for those questioning the math, just read on), including at the 422-yard 18th, where the green sits on a partial peninsula. Whether or not matches are still up for grabs, every player should play the 184-yard 19th hole, where the tee shot over water can play 2010 EDITION |

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The approach to the 579-yard 13th plays downhill. OPPOSITE: The lake is a dominant feature on the 422-yard finishing hole.

many different ways depending on the hole location and the angle of the multiple tee boxes arrayed across the lake. As much as the layout itself, what makes the golf experience at Kinloch stand out is the conditioning. Bentgrass is notoriously difficult to grow south of Washington, D.C., but Course Superintendent Peter Wendt has been able to groom a course that is as immaculate as any in the country. After the round, players can relax in the Tudor-style clubhouse, whose social hub is the informal club room, where members and guests can feel as at home as if they were in their own dens. Just as comfortable are the two cottages sitting along the 1st fairway that national members can use to host multiple guests. The cottages are ideally located for an early start on a 38hole day or for access to the practice facilities that are next to the opening tee. Guests can steal out for early-evening putting matches on the large practice greens, or work on their games at the range, where players can simulate oncourse situations to target fairways and greens. Boasting a large tee and an indoor facility with three covered bays, the practice range was designed by George after receiving input from Giles, who wanted to top the best rehearsal grounds that he has seen during his decades in the game. While the facilities are a large part of the Kinloch experience, what truly makes the club such a welcome gathering place for like-minded golfers is the fraternal atmosphere engendered by the employees. “[Director of Operations] Phil Owenby has done a remark-

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able job with the staff,” says Staples. “You get consistently personal treatment, from the parking lot to the clubhouse to the practice facility to the 1st tee.” Considering that Kinloch stands as an epitome of a private golf retreat, it is surprising to learn that Robertson’s original plan for the property was a high-end public course. It was Staples, a veteran of the course development and operation industry, who convinced his partners to build a top-tier golfonly club. “With Vinny’s involvement and the topography,” Staples says, “Kinloch reminded me of Bobby Jones and Augusta National. I knew that any club with Vinny’s full support would be very successful. C.B. was a bit concerned about the limited market for a private club in Richmond, and with good reason. But I felt that we could make it work.” Next year, the collective accomplishment of three visionaries—Giles, Robertson and Staples—will be on display when Kinloch hosts its first national championship. Given the club’s status in the game, its superb test of golf and the support of one of the game’s great amateurs, don’t be surprised if the U.S. Golf Association makes a return visit. Due to the lack of a second course in the area, a U.S. Amateur might be far-fetched, but the Walker Cup would be a perfect celebration of Kinloch’s ideals. No matter what happens, the club has become an important addition to American golf, and the reserved Robertson couldn’t have asked for more. “Everybody has done a great job in building the course and the club,” says Robertson. “All we did was give them a piece of dirt.” ■


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Kinloch Golf Club MANAKIN-SABOT, VA. 7,203 2001 Lester George and Vinny Giles CONTACT kinlochgolfclub.com 804-784-8000 PAR

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YEAR FOUNDED

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The majestic clubhouse overlooks the water-guarded 436-yard 18th. OPPOSITE: The 178-yard 2nd has a horseshoeshaped green (near right). The 386-yard 6th is short on length but long on trouble (far right).


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OLD MEMORIAL IS THE PERFECT NAME: ANYBODY LUCKY ENOUGH TO PAY A VISIT WINDS UP WITH MEMORIES THAT NEVER FADE.


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

The Loxahatchee Club

THE FORMER HOME COURSE OF ITS DESIGNER, JACK NICKLAUS, THIS RENOWNED CLUB BOASTS AN IMMACULATE LAYOUT AND AN ACTIVE, FRIENDLY MEMBERSHIP

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ack Nicklaus has built about 275 courses during his 40 years as a golf course architect, but he’s only called a few home. The Loxahatchee Club is one of them. Located in the vibrant town of Jupiter, Florida, Loxahatchee is a small residential member community of just 285 homesites that opened in 1985. In the early days, members often caught Nicklaus working with his longtime instructor and father figure, Jack Grout, who belonged to the club. The two of them spent hours on the range, hitting balls and talking about everything but swing mechanics. Finally, after four or five days, Grout would get around to giving a tip: “Hey, you know, I would like to see your hands in a little different position at the top.” “Oh, really?” Nicklaus would respond. “What do you think that would do?” “It will make you hit it better.” Nicklaus would just smile, perhaps knowing that there weren’t too many lessons left. “OK, we’ll do that,” he’d say. “When Jack passed away in 1989, I just lost my desire to really go out to a golf course and hit a lot of balls,” Nicklaus said at the course’s reopening in 2005 following a 20th anniversary redesign. “But I’ve got great memories of Loxahatchee. They treated Jack just wonderful here. They opened their arms to him.” The main dining room is now called “The Grout Room,” but what makes Loxahatchee special is that they open their arms to all members. “It’s not a big, flashy place,” says Dot-

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tie Pepper, who joined the club in 1998 at the suggestion of member and former LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem. “It’s really just a bunch of very normal people.” The logo of the club tells you everything you need to know about the lack of pretentiousness. Whereas most clubs have a grandiose coat of arms as their emblem, Loxahatchee’s is a jaunty little tortoise with a feather in its cap and a club over its shoulder. (The name is an Anglicized simplification of two Seminole words that mean “turtle river.”) It’s the kind of place where the CEO of a giant corporation can have a long, animated conversation with a tailor from Brooklyn. “That’s what makes Loxahatchee,” says the club’s founder and developer Gordon Gray, who still belongs to the club and lives in the community. “Our two main assets are our membership and golf course, but notice I said our membership first. The golf course gets them here, but the membership keeps them here.” The inaugural “Loxminster Dog Show” in 2008 is indicative of just how much fun everyone has. (A second is planned for sometime this year.) Members Brent Musburger and Bryant Gumbel ABOVE: The 372-yard dressed up in black tie to serve as opener lets golfers judges for the event, which attracted ease into their round. 350 people and 90 dogs. OPPOSITE: A giant “It was an absolute hoot,” says Gray, waste bunker and who was the master of ceremonies. “We water right guard the laughed so much we almost got sick.” 213-yard 12th.


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‘IT’S NOT A BIG, FLASHY PLACE,’ SAYS DOTTIE PEPPER, WHO JOINED LOXAHATCHEE IN 1998. ‘IT’S REALLY JUST A BUNCH OF VERY NORMAL PEOPLE.’


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Of course, the golf course itself is a daily site of lots of laughs and good times. First and foremost, it’s a walking course comprised of two nine-hole loops. The tees and greens are very close together since there are no interior homesites. Add in one of the best caddie programs around, and it’s core golf at its finest. “You have to play a variety of shots,” says Pepper, who hosts a charity pro-am at the club each January that has raised more than $2 million over the years. “You need to hit a bit of a draw off the tee and work it the other way into the green, so it’s a golf course you just don’t get bored with. It’s also got some really, really good bunkering. Depending on which way the wind blows, especially during the winter, the golf course can play completely different from one day to the next.” If you like to feel a little bit scared on the course, then you’ll love the 7,147-yard layout. Both par 3s on the front nine play over water, while the par 5s have lakes running down the entire right sides. The design leaves plenty of safe routes and bailout areas for higher handicaps, while at the same time really challenging better players. A double green shared by the 13th and 15th holes distinguishes the back nine, and in between is one of the best par 4s anywhere, with water running down the entire right side to a raised, angled green. The 597-yard 16th features an island green that has been more than one member’s Waterloo during one of the club’s many tournaments. With water hugging the left side of the fairway and green, the dogleg-left 436-yard 18th hole gives players a totally different look from what they encounter on most of the previous holes.

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he outdoor Turtle Café overlooking the 18th green is the perfect place to settle bets after the round, get a bite to eat and greet fellow members making the turn. The signature salad, “The Loxahatchee,” which is made of diced chicken, sun-dried cherries, grapes, toasted almonds and honey mustard dressing, is outstanding, as is the lobster roll and ever-popular quarter-pound all-beef hot dog. And you’ve got to love a place that has a frozen yogurt dispenser with all the fixings sitting out for anyone with a sweet tooth to enjoy. The café was refurbished during the clubhouse renovations in 2000, which expanded the West Indies-influenced facility

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Water surrounds the green of the 178-yard 2nd. INSET: Tee shots must carry a waste area on the 434-yard 7th.


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‘WE LIKE TO THINK THAT GOLF AT LOXAHATCHEE IS PLAYED THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED, WITH SOCIABLE FOURSOMES, A COMPETITIVE SPIRIT, BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS AND OUTSTANDING CADDIES,’ SAYS GENERAL MANAGER KEVIN CARROLL.


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A deep pot bunker catches a lot of balls on the 192-yard 17th. INSET: Bunkers aren’t a problem around the green on the 447-yard 9th. OPPOSITE: A fantastic caddie program makes negotiating the 386-yard 6th a lot easier. from 21,000 to 34,000 square feet, while also reconfiguring the flow and position of rooms for more convenience. The clubhouse overlooks a fantastic practice facility. Members can hit to multiple green targets from either end of the expansive range. There’s also an excellent short-game area and temperature-controlled, state-of-the-art learning center. The genesis for the club came about in 1980 when Gray and Nicklaus played a round together in Naples. Jack expressed an interest in designing a course near his home in Palm Beach County. So Gray, a Canadian developer, purchased an abandoned dairy farm in Jupiter that consisted of 750 acres. Nicklaus asked, “Where can I put the course?” “Put it wherever you want,” Gray responded. “He was thrilled, because generally he’s confined by street corners or property boundaries or waterways or environmental areas,” says Gray, who was impressed by Nicklaus’ work ethic. “He was here every day for hours and hours. I followed him around every inch of the way and marveled at his incredible attention to detail—a bunker side had to be moved a foot here or made six inches deeper there. We removed about a million yards of fill from the lakes to create the mounding and the separations and the big hill we built the clubhouse on.” Nicklaus has returned over the years to make subtle changes (he also shot Golf My Way II there), but the biggest renovation was in 2004. A re-grassing with paspalum and installation of a new irrigation system turned into a redesign; Nicklaus strengthened a few holes by repositioning greens, adding and removing bunkers and redoing bulkheads. He also softened a lot of the mounding.

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“We tried to bring it a little bit more into the framework of what would be a modern golf course,” Nicklaus said at the reopening. “These are just little things that we probably never got right the first time. But I think we got a lot of things right the first time, because the membership loved it.” When not on the course, many members can be found working out at the Activities Center, which opened in 2007. The 10,000-square-foot facility features 20 Life Fitness machines, a Pilates area and Titleist Performance Institute-certified trainers, as well as spa treatments available in three massage rooms. There are also three lighted Har-Tru tennis courts and a lagoon-style heated pool. The members treat the dedicated staff like family, so it’s no surprise that Loxahatchee received its third straight Platinum Club of America Award as one of the nation’s top golf clubs. In a nationwide survey of club presidents and managers, the club came in ninth, ahead of San Francisco Golf Club, National Golf Links of America and Sebonack Golf Club, and just behind the likes of Shinnecock Hills, Merion and Cypress Point. “We like to think that golf at Loxahatchee is played the way it was intended, with sociable foursomes, a competitive spirit, beautiful surroundings and outstanding caddies,” says General Manager Kevin Carroll. “Our staff is among the best in the industry and their pride in the club is reflected in their service to members and guests. Our members are well known for their friendliness, caring attitudes and compatibility. No one is ever a stranger at the Loxahatchee Club and golf is the common icebreaker.” ■


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The Loxahatchee Club JUPITER, FLA. 7,147 1985 ARCHITECT Jack Nicklaus theloxahatcheeclub.org 561-744-6168 PAR

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At the 184-yard 7th, which has the only water on the course, don’t miss short of the green. OPPOSITE: Don’t miss right either (near right). Bunkers protect the putting surface of the 341-yard 6th (far right).

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The Members Club at Four Streams

PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

MEMBERS ARE FIRST DRAWN TO THE IDYLLIC COURSE, BUT THEY STAY FOR THE FRATERNAL ATMOSPHERE AT THIS CLUB OUTSIDE THE WASHINGTON BELTWAY

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he genesis of the Members Club at Four Streams goes back decades, to when a pair of teenage golfers would tee it up against each other in junior tournaments in the Washington, D.C., area. Back then, Deane Beman would always get the better of John Stock. Of course, Stock had no way of knowing that Beman would go on to win two U.S. Amateurs and a British Amateur, not to mention four PGA Tour events, before becoming one of the most powerful men in golf as the commissioner of the PGA Tour. One of Beman’s main achievements was the development of the network of TPC courses, and one of the first was TPC at Avenel in his hometown. Although it was the host of a tour event since opening in 1986, Avenel received mixed reviews. Several years later, Stock was evaluating a 300-acre parcel that his family owned northwest of Washington. The former farmland had plenty of interesting topography, was both wooded and open, and had four streams running through it. At the time, courses like Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Whiskey Creek Golf Club and Bulle Rock were starting to emerge in the area, filling a need for more golf. Stock not only wanted to join that group, but he also believed that he could build a course that would outshine the creation of his former nemesis. “I always had it in the back of my mind that this site would make a great course,” says Stock. “And I think that what we built is as good as any in the area.” Stock is no longer involved on a day-to-day basis with the club that he helped build. But he still comes out regularly to play the Nick Price/Steve Smyers-designed course, even on a cold, gray, windy day in late October. Despite being bundled up in a heavy sweater, Stock’s swing is remarkably fluid as he plays the 531-yard 4th hole, a dogleg right that showcases the course’s unique multiple-cloverleaf bunker style. From the tee, it looks as though the dogleg is guarded by dozens of small bunkers. But closer inspection shows that there are only four bunkers, each with numerous nodes that resemble button mushrooms. The visual effect is intimidating, but Stock expertly manages to avoid all of the hole’s 10 bunkers—although it looks as though there are more than 50—as he makes an easy par. “I’m very proud of the club and the course,” he says as he walks to the tee of the 204-yard 5th. “It

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There is a green there amid all the bunkers on the 444-yard 9th. INSET: But members missing the green are prepared, thanks to the short-game practice area.


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LOCATED FAR FROM SUBURBAN SPRAWL, FOUR STREAMS OFFERS ITS MEMBERS A GOLFSANCTUARY EXPERIENCE THAT NO CLUB IN THE AREA CAN MATCH.


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‘PEOPLE WHO LOVE GOLF ARE OPEN WITH THEIR ABILITY TO BRING YOU IN,’ SAYS CLUB PRESIDENT KARL YANNES. ‘YOU JUST DON’T GET THAT ANYWHERE ELSE.’


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makes me happy to see so many people enjoying themselves out here.” That Stock is out on such a blustery day could be chalked up to his mania for the game, but that type of zeal is the norm for Four Streams’ members, who took over the club in 2003 from the developer. (Prior to the transaction, the club had been known as Four Streams Golf Club.) Indeed, on a day that would keep most golfers indoors, the course is teeming with members and guests.

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large part of the allure of Four Streams is the 7,102-yard layout, which is comprised of a series of challenging, fun and diverse holes spread over an everchanging landscape in a semi-rural area far from the suburban sprawl of housing developments, corporate centers and strip malls. Despite the relative isolation, the strength of the course has attracted numerous events, including the Middle Atlantic Amateur, Washington Metropolitan Amateur, Maryland State Open and qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open and Amateur.

The course starts with four long The numerous nodes on holes—a pair of strong par 4s book- the bunkers guarding ended by par 5s—along open land that the 531-yard 4th hole allows players to use the ground game. give the appearance of That type of shot is useful on the more sand. OPPOSITE: The 450-yard 477-yard 3rd, where long approach12th offers a chance for es can take advantage of a right-toa running approach. left slope in front of the green to avoid a large bunker guarding the left side of the putting surface. The back nine begins with a 191-yarder to an elevated green before the longest par 4, the 496-yard 11th, crosses one of the property’s quartet of streams and transitions into a plateau on which the next six holes sit. While most of the holes have few trees in play, the 14th through 16th holes sit in a heavily wooded area, giving this threesome a completely different visual element. This stretch also offers two of the most memorable holes: the 236-yard 15th, whose green occupies a majestic site surrounded by tall trees in a natural amphitheater, and the bunkerless 376yard 16th, which turns sharply to the left, giving longer hitters a chance to cut the dogleg and reach the green. Located in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, 2010 EDITION |

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Four Streams offers members an away-from-it-all golf-sanctuary experience that other clubs in the area can’t match. “I love that it’s a little farther away,” says Sid Colen, who has been a member since Four Streams’ opening. “It’s a relaxing drive out there as I leave the city, and by the time I turn onto the driveway, I’ve left my stresses behind and I’m ready to tee it up.” Colen is at the hub of what is perhaps Four Streams’ biggest appeal: the camaraderie. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning, there is a standing match at the club that is akin to the famous Shootout at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida. Three times a week, up to 20 members will show up for “Sid’s Game,” put some money in the pot, throw balls in the air to make teams, play for both the competition and the fraternity, then have lunch in the intimate clubhouse. “We welcome everybody,” says Colen. “It is a great way to get to know new members in a relaxed atmosphere. There is no snobbery, no airs. Everybody is a regular guy.” While members of most clubs tend to divide into groups based on common bonds like age, profession or handicap, there are no such boundaries at Four Streams. In fact, Club President Karl Yannes likens the atmosphere to that of the sitcom Cheers—where everybody knows your name. “We have a bunch of characters, with a diversity of backgrounds and ages,” says Yannes. “But we all get along because we are all of like mind, with the common bond of golf. I have found that people who love golf are open with their ability to bring you in, to want to play with you, to want you to experience what they experience. You just don’t get that kind of camaraderie anywhere else.

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“In fact, the membership is so close The 204-yard 5th hole that they regularly get together away asks for an expertly from the course, and they help each shaped draw with a other in networking for business, long iron. since most are very successful. You’re OPPOSITE: The 191-yard 10th is the start of the not looking for that in a golf club, but transition from plain to it has just happened at Four Streams.” wooded area on this As would be expected of such a site of a former farm. tight-knit club, Four Streams doesn’t see the need for oversize physical facilities. The small clubhouse with an open floor plan is plenty enough for fraternal events like “Majors Night,” in which members get together during the week of a major, playing during the afternoon before drafting players for the upcoming event. The only drawback is that the locker room is a bit small, especially on busy days. According to General Manager Kevin Taylor, PGA, an expansion of the locker room is on the master plan, as is the construction of a permanent teaching center to be used by Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Steve Bosdosh, and the conversion of the Manor House, the original home of the farm that used to occupy the site, into a cottage for use by national members. One thing that won’t change will be Four Streams’ status as an intimate place that is a second home for members—a quality that even occasional visitors can identify. At the President’s Gala, at which Yannes was inaugurated as the incoming Club President, the fiancée of a longtime member came over to congratulate him before saying: “I always lose sight of why Mark likes the club so much. Then I come here and I understand.” ■


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The Members Club at Four Streams BEALLSVILLE, MD. 7,102 1998 Nick Price and Steve Smyers CONTACT fourstreams.com 301-349-2900 PAR

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Old Memorial Golf Club

PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

INSPIRING STRATEGIC, MULTI-DIMENSIONAL GOLF, THIS TAMPA CLUB HAS FULFILLED ITS FOUNDERS’ VISION FOR A DECIDEDLY UN-FLORIDA-LIKE EXPERIENCE

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teve Smyers is giving a tour of his Mona Lisa, Old Memorial Golf Club, in northwest Tampa. Arriving at the green of the 314-yard 13th, he gets out of the cart to show how Greg Norman played this drivable par 4 during Sectional Qualifying for the 2002 U.S. Open. In the morning round, Norman’s drive ended up in a fivefoot-deep chipping area left of the green, which slopes severely from front to back. The front hole location meant the situation called for the most precisely judged of shots. From a similar position, Norman’s playing partner hit a flop shot that ended up back at his feet, while the two-time British Open champion bumped a 4-iron. The ball had just enough momentum to barely crest the swale. From there the green’s slope took over, carrying the ball to within tap-in range. Watching a genius playing his masterpiece just the way it was intended so affected the trim, friendly Smyers that he still talks about the shot in the proud manner of a parent whose child came home carrying a report card with straight As. Norman very nimbly showed that in this age of power golf, Old Memorial demands all the shots in the bag. “It requires that other dimension,” says Smyers. “Where you want it to end up isn’t necessarily where you want to land it.” Smyers received an even bigger compliment at the end of that day. Norman, who medaled with a score of 138, told Smyers that the design reminded him of some of his favorite Australian courses like Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath. The similarity isn’t coincidental. Says Smyers: “I have such a love of the Sandbelt courses that they were truly an inspiration.” The Down Under connection doesn’t end there. The walking-only club was founded in 1997 by two of the three Tampa residents— Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham—who started the Outback Steakhouse chain. “We wanted a great golf course and great membership surrounded with some great hospitality in our hometown,” says Basham. “We wanted a course that was long but the ball would roll. It wasn’t your typical Florida course with a lot of carries over water and no roll. We wanted something a little bit different.” The uniqueness starts with the location. Unlike a lot of Florida clubs that announce their presence along major thoroughfares with massive entryway complexes complete with waterfalls, Old Memorial has an entrance that couldn’t be more simple—or hidden.

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Trouble surrounds the green of the 223-yard 4th. INSET: The 473-yard 2nd demands two solid shots for a chance at birdie.


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‘WE WANTED A GREAT GOLF COURSE, GREAT MEMBERSHIP AND GREAT HOSPITALITY IN OUR HOMETOWN,’ SAYS BOB BASHAM, ONE OF OLD MEMORIAL’S CO-FOUNDERS.


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Tucked away down a side road behind a high school and farm, Old Memorial’s gate greets members and guests with little more than a couple of stucco posts with keypads and bronze plaques. “Once you go through that gate all your outside worries disappear,” says Connie Seay, an estate planner from Tulsa, Oklahoma. “You’re taken care of all the time and never sign any checks. Everybody’s just so happy and cheerful. It’s a magical little place.”

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art of the enchantment comes from the distinctive bunkering straight from the Alister MacKenzie school of design: massive areas of sand with sharp edges in front and backsides that fade into the natural landscape, giving a seamless transition between golf and the environment. Despite their beauty, many are intimidating. On the 433-yard opener, all you see from the tee are bunkers over the tops of cord grass. A sense of relaxing confidence takes over once you clear them and find your ball sitting in the ample fairway. Because wind is often a factor, Smyers laid out the course

so no consecutive holes face the same Accuracy is paramount direction. Besides the big-picture bril- on the tee shot of the liance of this routing, there are small- 175-yard 17th. er touches that members appreciate, OPPOSITE: Head pro like the way the back edge of the Marc Carter calls the Redan-like par-3 11th green of the 668-yard 3rd mimics the “the shortest par 4 on distant shoreline of the lake behind it. the course.” Each hole also has a subtle clue like a tree, bunker edge or grass line to hint at the best route. On the No. 1 handicap hole, the 459-yard 5th, which doglegs left around a lily pad-topped lake, the visual cue is a mound that will help kick the ball left to the water’s edge for a better angle to the green. The 352-yard 8th features two greens. Just like the 8th at Pine Valley, the right green is more difficult. “There are a lot of big numbers there,” says Marc Carter, who was an assistant at Pine Valley before becoming Old Memorial’s first and only head pro. “My experience at Pine Valley was very similar to this, since both are national clubs. It’s all about the golf and trying to create that experience with the caddie program. That was the owners’ vision.” Carter’s favorite hole is the par-3 11th (“shortest par 4 on the course”), which has a Redan-like green and deep bunker on the right that members have affectionately named after one 2010 EDITION |

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of Smyers’ body parts—a la the infamous bunker at Pine Valley’s 10th. But it’s hard to be mad about making a bogey there after passing by a bronze sculpture of two smiling, waving golfers between the 10th green and 11th tee. The statue is of two life-loving members, Tim Coughlin and Billy Minardi, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and were killed in 9/11. Minardi was the brother-in-law of founding member and University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who wanted to honor them. “They never had a bad day,” says Carter. “That’s why they’re smiling. If you’re struggling, just high five [the statue of] Billy, and your luck may change. And a lot of time it does just thinking back on how those guys were.” The split-fairway 642-yard 12th is reachable in two if you take the shorter but riskier route on the left. A waste bunker that runs the entire length of the hole separates the fairways, while the green falls sharply off to the right, making for a difficult up and down. “That sums up Old Memorial,” says Smyers. “The more direct line you take, the more trouble you encounter.” If there’s one hole that really sticks in the members’ collective craw, it’s the 519-yard 16th. This is where the course abruptly shifts to a tight, wooded test. If the tee shot isn’t daunting enough, there are cross bunkers in the lay-up area and a tiny green that drops off steeply on all sides, especially in front. As tough as the 16th hole is, the 451-yard 18th, which has a narrow, bunker-encircled green, has proven to be the most difficult during the annual University of Florida-University of Kentucky tournament, although it didn’t trip up former Gator Camilo Villegas, who made 10 birdies and no bogeys en route to a course-record 62. It would be hard to top the golf experience at Old Memorial, but lunch inside the expansive men’s locker/grill room

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comes close. Given the founders’ back- The Old Florida-style ground in the hospitality business, it clubhouse has four shouldn’t come as a surprise that the guest rooms on the food and accommodations are first-rate. second floor INSET: The expansive There are five cottages between the men’s locker room. 1st and 2nd fairways, as well as four OPPOSITE: The 459spacious rooms above the Old Floridayard 5th is the No. 1 style clubhouse—a total of 62 beds. handicap hole. Members can have pretty much anything they want for dinner during their stay. All they have to do is put in a request with Executive Chef Fernando Rodriguez before their arrival. Always available are the signature crab cakes, which are as good as any you could find in Maryland, where co-founder Basham went to school. “Being in the business, the food was very important to us,” he says. “Really good golf clubs— what are they known for? People usually talk about the food in the same breath as they talk about the course. They’re talking about the entire experience.” The two founders couldn’t have come up with a better name for the club than Old Memorial: Anybody lucky enough to pay a visit winds up with memories that never fade. ■


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Old Memorial Golf Club TAMPA, FLA. 7,389 1997 ARCHITECT Steve Smyers oldmemorialgolfclub.com 813-926-8502 PAR

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The 450-yard 18th plays uphill toward the classically designed clubhouse. OPPOSITE: After playing holes like the 540-yard 14th (near right), members can enjoy al fresco sunset dining at the River Club (far right).

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

Quail Valley Golf & River Club

WITH A UNIQUE COURSE AND A SPRAWLING BOATING, TENNIS AND SWIM FACILITY, QUAIL VALLEY OFFERS A SPORTING AND SOCIAL EXPERIENCE LIKE NONE OTHER

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here aren’t too many golf clubs that are immortalized in a book by a best-selling author. When novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen decided to return to the game after a 32-year hiatus, he joined Quail Valley and then recorded his often-hilarious account in The Downhill Lie: A Hacker’s Return to a Ruinous Sport. Hiaasen couldn’t have picked a better place to get back in touch with the game than Quail Valley, which opened in 2001 and is located about eight miles from the coast in Vero Beach, Florida. Not only does it have one of the best practice facilities in the area with a 35-acre range, state-of-the-art Learning Center and six par-3 practice holes, but the course itself is so beautiful, well-designed and challenging that it’s the perfect place to rekindle anyone’s interest in the game. Because of all the man-made elevation changes, there’s really no place else like it in South Florida, starting with the Shinnecock Hills-style clubhouse perched 50 feet above the rolling terrain and lakes. A hunting lodge-like luxury permeates the interior of the 26,000-square-foot building, while outside rocking chairs sit on the wraparound terrace. It’s the perfect spot to take in the action on the course, which is notable for two things: the lack of any sign of homes and a 64-acre lake that is bisected by the 570-yard “island hole” 10th. The unique hole starts with an elevated tee box that offers a terrific view of the wide fairway that bends gently to the right to a relatively bunkerless green that juts out into the lake. “Some people have island greens,” says owner and developer Steve Mulvey, who came up with the concept. “We decided to go a little further than that.” Designed by Tom Fazio II and Nick Price, the 7,350-yard layout can play totally different from one day to the next depending on the South Florida wind. With six sets of tees, players can mix and match the appropriate yardage for the conditions. “It’s a very good risk-reward golf course,” says Price. “If you hit good drives, you’ll be rewarded with easier second shots into the greens. You can play wide of the hazards all day long, but if you want to go low, you’ll have to hit some shots.” And hole some putts. The TifEagle greens are notoriously quick. “We have a great reputation for our green speeds,” says member Matt Avril, a plus-two handicap who was the 1999 Florida Match Play champion. “They routinely run 12–13 on the Stimpmeter, so no

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The greens, like the one at the 432-yard 9th, are very slick; note the island hole 10th in the background. INSET: Water guards the entire left side of the 396-yard 11th.


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‘SOME PEOPLE HAVE ISLAND GREENS,’ SAYS OWNER AND DEVELOPER STEVE MULVEY, WHO CAME UP WITH THE ISLAND HOLE CONCEPT. ‘WE DECIDED TO GO A LITTLE FURTHER THAN THAT.’


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one here is ever intimidated by another club’s greens.” Adds Price: “You can’t high-side yourself. A lot of times you’re better off having a 20- or 30-footer up the hill rather than a 10- or 15-footer down the hill.” It’s hard to believe that the 280 acres were once a flat orange grove, but a construction feat worthy of the Army Corps of Engineers created the lakes and elevation changes in less than six months. Fazio and Price used 25 40-ton off-road dump trucks and eight excavators to dig the 30-foot deep lakes and create all the fill for the elevation changes. They wound up moving almost three million cubic yards of dirt. The blank canvas was almost harder than one constricted by trees and wetlands. There really wasn’t anything they couldn’t do with regard to the routing or vertical variations.

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“When you have nothing to blame Bunkers abound at the but yourself, you had better get it 438-yard 13th. right,” says Fazio, the nephew of his INSET: The Learning famous namesake. “My biggest goal Center features K-Vest was to keep changing speeds so that technology. OPPOSITE: Don’t miss every hole was completely different the green left on the from any other hole. We needed to 416-yard 17th. create the ponds to generate the fill but I didn’t want it to feel like a typical Florida course where the water is in play, so unless you’re going after a certain pin or you really hook it or slice it, you can play the course and never come close to hitting it in the water.” The links-like design appears pretty straightforward with few forced carries, especially from the forward tees. (There are two sets of women’s tees—a rarity.) The greens are open in front and receptive to run-up shots, so it’s eminently playable for higher handicaps. But there are 141 bunkers and some wonderfully strategic design elements that Fazio likes to call “Easter eggs,” little speed slots that result in an extra 30 or 40 yards. On the par-5 10th, for instance, there’s a slight ridge in the fairway and if a player takes the more aggressive line just to the right of it, the ball will catch the downslope and roll to a flat spot right next to the lake in the go zone.


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‘THE UNIQUENESS OF THE COURSE SETS IT APART, BUT THE PRACTICE FACILITY TAKES IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL,’ SAYS CO-OWNER KEVIN GIVEN.


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With one of the best caddie programs in the state, those design secrets don’t stay hidden for long. And with two men’s groups divided into those above a 15 handicap and those below, with each teeing it up a couple of times a week, there’s always a game to be found. “We have eight of the best amateur golfers in the area, male and female,” says co-owner Kevin Given, adding that they can often be found at the club’s new $1 million Learning Center. “The uniqueness of the golf course sets it apart but the practice facility takes it to a whole other level. It’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

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ike most great clubs, Quail Valley, which hosted the 2009 Florida State Open, was built by word-ofmouth, friends inviting friends. “We have the best membership by far of any club I’ve ever owned or been associated with,” says Mulvey, who has built, owned or operated 17 clubs, including venerable Hudson National in New York’s Westchester County. “It’s all based on service. The financial stability is a huge key for people too. We weathered 9/11 and this recent recession. We’re probably the most financially sound club in Florida, if not the United States, right now.” What’s unique about Quail Valley is that, unlike most country clubs, the golf and other amenities are completely separate. While the golf club is all about playing the game, the focus of the River Club, eight miles away, is social interaction. The sprawling complex is near the beach on the Intracoastal Waterway. Says Mulvey: “This added so much. The members absolutely love it.”

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The River Club, which opened in The River Club is pure 2003, has a 43-slip marina, fitness and Florida, with a 43-slip spa complex, 25-meter pool, tiki bar, marina, 25-meter pool seven Har-Tru tennis courts and eight and seven clay tennis courts. 900-square-foot suites with outdoor INSET: The fire pit is a fireplaces that overlook the water. popular spot. Many members who live in the OPPOSITE: The 437Northeast don’t even own homes in yard 15th doesn’t give the area and just stay in the homey up pars easily. accommodations. Located in the heart of downtown Vero Beach, the River Club is also the social center of the club, playing host to all kinds of fun events, like live music three nights a week and poker nights in the Boathouse. The main restaurant, the French cottage-style 2343 Prime, serves up certified Black Angus beef cooked on an 800-degree griddle and some of the best sunsets you’ve ever seen, while the sports-themed McKeever’s Pub & Grille offers more casual fare. As president of the hotel group of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which includes the Westin and St. Regis brands, Avril knows a thing or two about quality and service. “It’s fair to say I have high expectations when it comes to that,” he says. “And I haven’t seen any club that does it better than Quail Valley.” ■


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Quail Valley Golf & River Club VERO BEACH, FLA. 7,350 2001 ARCHITECTS Tom Fazio II and Nick Price CONTACT quailvalleygolfclub.com 772-299-0093 PAR

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The 200-yard 9th starts a run of holes along Lake Manassas. OPPOSITE: After tackling difficult holes like the 210-yard 4th (near right), members and guests can relax in the 65,000-square-foot clubhouse (far right).


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY DICK DURRANCE II

Robert Trent Jones Golf Club

OF THE 500 COURSES DESIGNED BY ONE OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN COURSE ARCHITECTURE, ONLY ONE OFFERS A GOLF EXPERIENCE THAT IS SPECIAL ENOUGH TO BE WORTHY OF CARRYING HIS NAME

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tonewall Jackson and John Pope would have liked Paul Tesori’s fighting spirit. At the 2000 Presidents Cup, 138 years after Jackson led Confederate forces against Pope’s Union unit at the Civil War’s Battle of Second Manassas, Tesori, Vijay Singh’s caddie, showed up on the 1st tee at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for his boss’ match against Tiger Woods wearing a cap with “Tiger who?” embroidered on the back. Unfortunately for Tesori, Singh lost to Woods 2 & 1, while the American team defeated the International side by a much bigger margin: 211⁄2–101⁄2. Despite the outcome, the esprit de corps demonstrated by Tesori and Singh is fitting at RTJ, as members refer to the club. Located in the suburbs west of Washington, D.C., the club is eight miles from Manassas National Battlefield Park, which commemorates the area’s two battles during the Civil War. (The Union called the site Bull Run.) RTJ has hosted epic contests waged with golf clubs as a four-time site of the Presidents Cup, including the inaugural staging in 1994. In fact, the stories of the club and the biennial competition are intertwined, and for many of the members, hosting the best players in the world has produced as many memories as teeing it up themselves on the 7,425-yard layout. “Each Presidents Cup was special,” says Club Vice President Pat Higbie. “It’s a way for the members who love being part of RTJ to put it on display. In 2000, that was the first time Tiger played RTJ, so that was huge. “The best competition was in 2005. I was right there when Chris DiMarco clinched the Cup. My son was the standard bearer for Phil Mickelson’s match that year, and my older son did the same thing in 2000.”

The green of the 215-yard 11th offers an all-or-nothing shot. INSET: Three large bunkers guard the dogleg of the 435-yard 6th hole.

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ROBERT TRENT JONES SR. DISCOVERED THE LAND FOR HIS NAMESAKE GOLF CLUB WHILE PASSING OVER LAKE MANASSAS IN A HELICOPTER ON HIS WAY TO ANOTHER SITE.


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THE SCENIC, CHALLENGING HOLES AT RTJ OFFER WHAT CLUB PRESIDENT ANDY ZAUSNER CALLS A ‘HARD PAR, RATIONAL BOGEY.’


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Members are justifiably proud of RTJ’s role in launching one of golf’s biggest international events, but their real passion is the everyday experience of visiting the only club among the 500 or so courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. to bear his name. The course is unique for another reason. While clients brought Trent Jones the sites for nearly all of his other courses, he discovered this one himself. In the early 1970s, he was in a helicopter on the way to visit another site when the pilot flew over the 800-acre Lake Manassas, which had been created in 1969 to provide the area’s water supply. Trent Jones spied a portion of the coastline, which he thought would be perfect for a course. It took him years to acquire the property, and after doing so, he enlisted Clay Hamner, Bobby Russell, former President of Baltusrol Golf Club and Ernie Ransome, the longtime President of Pine Valley Golf Club, as founding trustees.

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he course that Trent Jones designed is muscular, with big, bold holes that test every club in the bag—from the driver on the tees of the long par 4s and par 5s to the wedges on the well-guarded greens. But it is also an aesthetic marvel, especially the run of holes that dance along the lake, starting with the 200-yard 9th, which has a green that sits on a natural peninsula. Eight of the next nine holes play along the lake, and their proximity to the water is the only constant along this stretch,

on which Trent Jones built a wonder- The 475-yard 15th is ful variety of holes. The range of the longest two-shotter holes include a pair of long par 4s in on the back nine. the 465-yard 13th and 475-yard 15th, OPPOSITE: The setup for a par 3 over an inlet at the 215-yard the 380-yard 10th is flexible, allowing long 11th, the reachable 525-yard 12th, hitters to go for the and a short par 4, the 380-yard 10th, green on some days. where a forward tee can encourage big hitters to have a go at the green. The 580-yard 14th is the only hole on the back nine that Trent Jones steered away from the lake, but he added riskreward options. A pond guards the left half of the green, so only a truly heroic second shot will leave an eagle putt. But there are safe areas from which players can try to make birdie with a pitch or blast, and putt. These holes build to a crescendo on the 470-yard 18th, which sweeps left along the shoreline to a green that sits just yards from the water. In the 2005 Presidents Cup, it played as the 16th (players started their rounds on the 3rd hole), so more matches would have a chance to reach this hole that sums up the entirety of Trent Jones’ intent in designing the layout: scenic and challenging, offering what RTJ President Andy Zausner calls a “hard par, rational bogey.” Those well-executed shots extend to the greens, which Chief Operating Officer Glenn Smickley likens to the surface of a potato chip for their waves, swales and dips. Smickley was the course superintendent during construction, and he was impressed by the attention to detail that Trent Jones brought to every green, ensuring that even the smallest of slopes had just the right amount of borrow. 2010 EDITION |

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The 465-yard 13th offers plenty of hazards on the way to the green. INSET: The wind is a big factor in club selection on the 175-yard 16th. OPPOSITE: The 470-yard 18th is a dramatic finish to the round.

Members love putting on the greens, which are always in immaculate condition. In fact, for everyday speed, RTJ’s greens rival the surfaces at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. “They’re kept in tournament condition year round, at about 11.5 on the Stimpmeter,” says Zausner. “I’ve seen them at above 15. I’ve never putted on greens so fast—and I’ve played Oakmont.” The difference is that RTJ members don’t take such sadistic pleasure in watching guests suffer so many three-putts. This attitude is in keeping with the club’s welcoming atmosphere, staff and facilities. “The most important thing about the RTJ experience is the way you get treated,” says Higbie. “With no pools, no tennis courts, you have the ability to spend time with friends, family or business associates without distractions, so you can just play golf and enjoy the company.” The hub of this hospitality is the Georgian-style clubhouse, which features 12 guest suites, which means overnight members and visitors simply can walk downstairs to get to the dining room, locker rooms, meeting spaces—or the 1st tee. National and international members flying into Dulles Airport, 20 minutes away, or the Manassas Regional Airport, which is even closer, always look forward to spending a cou-

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ple of nights at RTJ. For any serious golfer who does business in the nation’s capital, the club is an ideal mix of work and play. The clubhouse is so comfortable that local members have been known to stay overnight to take advantage of the club’s amenities. “The experience is superb,” says Zausner. “The food is not country club food; it’s gourmet restaurant quality. Our food and beverage staff strive for five star, Five Diamond, Michelin quality in both the dining and accommodations.” Groups can stay in one of four cottages, the largest of which has space for 16 golfers. These cottages served as the team rooms during the Presidents Cups, and were the scenes of spirited Ping-Pong and billiards matches among teammates in the evenings. One of the cottages doubles as the indoor practice facility. Above the four hitting bays, teaching tee and lounge are four bedrooms, so players can wake up and be on the driving range in minutes. No doubt, this is where Ben Hogan would have chosen to stay. As with everything else at RTJ, the practice area is on a large scale. The tee is 160 yards wide and 65 yards deep, while the range measures 375 yards from end to end, so even big hitters like Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els could let it rip during warm-up sessions. In the years to come, the club wants to add a par-3 course that starts near the 18th green. And given the success of previous stagings, the Presidents Cup may return. No doubt, future generations of worldwide golf stars would appreciate a chance to enjoy both the club’s unique atmosphere and the timeless layout that showcases the genius of one of golf’s most influential architects. ■


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Robert Trent Jones Golf Club GAINESVILLE, VA. 7,425 1991 ARCHITECT Robert Trent Jones Sr. CONTACT www.rtjgc.com 703-754-4050 PAR

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The well-guarded green of the par-5 16th requires a well-planned approach for a chance at eagle. OPPOSITE: The 446-yard 18th and clubhouse make a quintessentially Lowcountry scene.


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY L.C. LAMBRECHT

Secession Golf Club

PURE GOLF AND A RELAXED, FRATERNAL ATMOSPHERE REIGN AT THIS SOUTH CAROLINA ENCLAVE THAT HAS GAINED AN INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION AS ONE OF GOLF’S BEST RETREATS

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TRIPP BAFILE

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ike Harmon, the director of golf at Secession Golf Club, likes to take members on golf pilgrimages to Scotland. On one trip several years ago, Harmon was waiting to tee off at one of his favorite courses, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, when he overheard two local caddies behind him arguing about their upcoming loops. “I get them this time.” “No, you got them last time. It’s my turn.” And so on. When Harmon turned around, he saw that they were talking about which caddie would get to carry the bags emblazoned with the distinctive Secession logo, which is made up of a pair of battle flags from the Civil War. Such is the reputation of the membership at Secession, located in Beaufort, the town in southeast South Carolina where the Articles of Secession that led to the Civil War were drafted. Despite the name, Secession is all about inclusion, camaraderie and a sense of belonging, whether you are a member, guest or employee. At places like Royal Dornoch, where golf is not just a game but a passion, those in the know realize that to be a member of Secession is to be known as a “good guy,” the highest compliment that can be bestowed in the patois that permeates the community of pure, serious golfers. These purists are the types of members who are drawn to Secession, which has been a walking-only club since opening in 1992. They are the types of good players (more than two-thirds of members have single-digit handicaps) who truly appreciate the challenges and nuances of the 7,068-yard layout that encourages players to hit old-school shots like knockdowns, bump and runs and long putts from off the green. They are the types of hardcore golfers who love to play 36 holes at a minimum before relaxing with a drink on the clubhouse’s wraparound porch, which offers views of the 18th hole, 1st tee and the marsh beyond—a Lowcountry scene out of Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides. “I believe the Secession experience is unequaled in the golf world,” says It is possible to save President Stephen Smith. “It is not par even after missing about business or prestige. Rather, it the island green of the is all about the love of golf, friend- 134-yard 17th. ships and relaxation. It is a serene INSET: The replica place to escape from the cares of the cannon fits with the world for a few days.” club’s Civil War motif.


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A ‘SECESSION PAR’ OUT OF THE MARSH IS SATISFYING. IN THE MANNER OF A BASEBALL PLAYER WHO WALKS OFF THE DIAMOND WITH A DIRT-SPLATTERED UNIFORM, A PAIR OF MUDDY SHOES IS A BADGE OF HONOR.


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SECESSION DEFIED CONVENTION WITH A FIRM, FAST COURSE THAT ENCOURAGED THE GROUND GAME, HAD NO REAL ESTATE AND PROMOTED A WALKING-ONLY POLICY WITH A STRONG CADDIE PROGRAM.


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he brainchild of Bob Walton and Tim Moss, Secession was conceived in the mid 1980s, a period in which golf seemed to be headed inexorably toward lush conditioning, target golf, carts everywhere and real estate. Instead, Secession defied convention with a firm-and-fast course that encouraged the ground game. It also had a strong caddie program (there are only two carts on the property) and no homes. Its forebears were places like Pine Valley and the Honors Course, clubs with predominantly national members who would visit once or twice a year with guests. “The timing was right for a club like this,” says Harmon, a former tour player who joined Secession in 1987, five years before the course opened. “We sold 300 memberships on the concept alone.” Pete Dye was originally tapped to design the layout, but he and his son P.B. soon stepped aside for Australian Bruce Devlin, who won eight times on the PGA Tour and was a television commentator for NBC and ESPN before embarking on a third career as course architect. Devlin employed the database built during his worldwide travels to complete a links-style layout through the marsh, giving the course a distinctive coastal Carolina flair. The unique character ABOVE: Birdies are rare is apparent from the 1st hole, a 362on the 455-yard 11th. OPPOSITE: The 381-yard yard Cape design that is nearly dri14th is a great hole for vable for longer players. match play. While there is a risk in going for a

longer carry to set up a shorter pitch, shots landing short aren’t necessarily lost, especially at low tide. It is very possible to find balls in the reeds and even play recovery shots from them. A “Secession par” out of the marsh is satisfying, and in the manner of a baseball player who walks off the field with a dirt-splattered uniform, handing over a pair of muddy shoes to the locker-room attendants, Buddy and Tully, is a badge of honor. (Still, expect to catch some grief from them for hitting it in the marsh in the first place.) Although every hole has some sort of hazard, nearly every green is open in front, allowing for run-up approaches to the firm greens. The only exception is the island-green 17th. Although it is just 134 yards, the 20-yards-across green is a much smaller target than the comparable-length 17th at TPC Sawgrass, which is 10 yards wider. The 17th is the most dramatic of a series of holes, starting at the 13th, on which players have plenty of options, making them perfect for match play. On the 471-yard 13th, players must challenge a deep pot bunker on the right side of the wide fairway for the best angle to the plateau green, which falls off steeply to the left. The 493-yard 16th is a reachable par 5 with a green that sits diagonally left to right, with the marsh left and a large bunker right. Depending on the hole location, the best play can be short of the green, in the bunker or over the green into a relatively flat chipping area. On the final hole, which measures 446 yards, players can 2010 EDITION |

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cut off as much of the dogleg left as they want. Depending on the wind, the second shot could be anything from a flip wedge to a 3-wood. A late afternoon walk to the final green, flanked by the marsh on the left and the clubhouse with the inviting porch on the right, is one of golf’s great sights. And it will always be a walk. “We take pride in saying that there will never be more than two golf carts on the course,” says Smith. This layout is the perfect venue for the club’s myriad events, including the Blue-Gray, in which members from the North play against those from the South in a Ryder Cupstyle competition. The Civil War-era replica cannon, which sits in the middle of the circular driveway in front of the clubhouse, points north or south during the year depending on which side is victorious in this annual rite. Whether members come for events or on their own with guests, they know that they will leave several days later more relaxed and more fulfilled. Because while the Secession experience starts with the golf course, it encompasses everything: a stay in the 12 clubhouse guest rooms or 11 cot-

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tages, the warm welcome from the The 147-yard 2nd gives a club’s staff, the Lowcountry fare in chance for an early birdie. the dining room—and, of course, INSET: The famous porch. OPPOSITE: One of golf’s just sitting on the porch. Even occasional visitors can ful- most intimidating opening drives is at Secession. ly appreciate Secession’s restorative qualities. Last year, member Charles Reynolds was a guest at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island. Reynolds was changing his shoes in the locker room when a Shinnecock member noticed the Secession logo on his cap. The pair then got to comparing their respective clubs. “He concluded that while Shinnecock is his favorite course,” Reynolds recalls, “Secession is his favorite place to play.” Although Secession is about getting away, there is a realworld side to the club. To honor the memory of Jeff LeVeen and Stephen Roach, two members who died in 9/11, the membership founded the LeVeen-Roach Scholarship Fund, to which members have contributed more than $1 million for area students. While Secession started as the vision of two men, the club’s 750 members, 700 of them national (residing more than 100 miles from the club), have been entrusted with its preservation as the club approaches its third decade. In addition to decorating the clubhouse by donating photos and artwork of their home clubs, they have infused the club with the laidback warmth, camaraderie and respect for the game that have given the club its international reputation. “Secession is not for everybody,” says Harmon. “But as long as the beer is cold and the greens are firm and fast, the club will ring true for our members.” ■


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Secession Golf Club BEAUFORT, S.C. 7,068 1992 ARCHITECT Bruce Devlin CONTACT secessiongolf.com 843-522-4600 PAR

72

YARDAGE

YEAR FOUNDED


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The 667-yard 1st tumbles toward Lake Oahe. OPPOSITE: Members have access to thousands of acres of hunting grounds (near right) and the plentiful waters of the lake (far right).


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Sutton Bay Club

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL HUNDLEY

THIS REMOTE CLUB BUILT IN THE TRADITION OF PRAIRIE DUNES AND SAND HILLS MAY BE HARD TO GET TO, BUT ONCE MEMBERS AND GUESTS ARRIVE, THEY WILL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE

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he men who built the great links at secluded outposts like Machrihanish, Dornoch and Ballybunion didn’t trouble themselves with due diligence or demographics. The land itself, however remote, trumped practical concerns. This was the same siren call heeded by the 21st century developers of Sutton Bay Club, which opened outside Agar, South Dakota, in 2003. In seven years Sutton Bay has been ranked among the top 100 and set a new standard for private clubs in the Upper Midwest Dream Links category. The land itself offered more than most sporting visionaries would have dared imagine. After all, how many links of this quality are set beside world-class walleye and salmon fisheries? How many are served by such exquisite lodging and cuisine? How many are surrounded by more than 3,500 acres of North America’s finest pheasant hunting? “We’ve always felt that Sutton Bay offers a destination experience, not just the chance to play golf,” says Mark Amundson, the club’s managing partner. “And part of that experience is getting here. If people are making their first visits to Sutton Bay, their expectations are naturally affected by the trip—if we’re honest, we’d even expect those expectations to be tempered by the trip. We are way off the beaten path, and the final leg of the drive passes through fairly non-descript flatland. “But when they get their first long view from the clubhouse patio across the valley to Lake Oahe, it’s really something to watch as someone else’s breath is taken away.” Golf architects are notorious for overselling their sites. Sometimes they speak the truth. “The thing we kept telling ourselves,” says Sutton Bay designer Graham Marsh, “was

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that if we build this for the right reasons and expect nothing from it, that’s OK. This course had to be built.” It was the land that made Sutton Bay worth building. Why else come to the high plains of South Dakota, where the golf season is short and hay bales outnumber golfers 100,000 to 1? Sutton Bay sits at the end of an historical progression: In the 1930s Perry Maxwell did more than lay out the original nine at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas. He also identified America’s Upper Midwest as a counterintuitive but legitimate linksland. Decades later, when Sand Hills Golf Club opened near Mullen, Nebraska, the lines connected. For here was another cache of glorious dunes, inland and ABOVE: Both the course spectacularly remote. and the lodge (inset) The idea that Prairie Dunes floated are set perfectly in the and Sand Hills proved was punctuat- remote landscape. ed by Sutton Bay, a club whose mem- OPPOSITE: The ball bership has grown to 178. Sutton Bay’s seems to hang in the air national scope and remote location forever at the 214-yard mean that some members may show 13th hole.


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TECHNICALLY, A GOLF COURSE DOESN’T NEED TO BE NEXT TO THE WATER TO BE A LINKS. BUT LET’S BE HONEST: IT HELPS.


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up but two or three times a year. Still, the original call for 200 members remains the plan. “You can’t think condos and timeshares,” says Bill Kubly, the course builder and a club partner. “You can’t ‘capitalize’ on sites like these because it won’t work. It’s tough to pencil out this sort of project. Money can’t be the motivator. You have to do it for the right reasons. We don’t care how long it takes to sell out the memberships at Sutton Bay. We’ll wait for the right people who appreciate what it is we’ve done up here.” The allure of linksland has always drawn golfers to Great Britain and Ireland, but the last 15 years have shown they will also trek to the Oregon coast, western Nebraska, even Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand. Sutton Bay isn’t nearly as remote as the Antipodes, but it nevertheless takes this construct a step further: If you build it well enough and complement the golf with activities and first-class amenities, they will join. “If the course and all the other amenities are good enough, the remoteness is actually a point in your favor,” Amundson says. “People feel like they’ve really gotten away from it all.”

A

mundson first saw the property in 1995, when it was a portion of the thousands of acres being ranched by Matt Sutton, whose family has owned the land since 1896. Amundson, a South Dakotan who also directs Marsh’s U.S. design office, was immediately smitten by the site, although it would be three years before his boss laid eyes on the place. When he did, he was similarly smitten. Amundson lured Kubly to the Sutton Ranch in 1999. Not only is Kubly a member at Sand Hills, his firm, Landscapes Unlimited, laid the irrigation and helped build the course. Once Kubly saw the Sutton Bay site, he signed on as contractor and investor. “I had always wanted to do a project like Sutton Bay but properties like these don’t grow on trees,” says Kubly. “I jumped on the bandwagon because I wanted do something world-class, something one of a kind.” In some respects Sutton Bay has relied even more heavily on the links tradition. It sports an out-and-back routing (the 9th green and 10th tee are nestled against a boundary fence) and sits hard by Lake Oahe, a portion of the Missouri River dammed in the 1950s. The lake forms a backdrop that exceeds that of most links courses. Technically a course doesn’t need water to be a links. But let’s be honest: It helps, and not just for the views. Sutton Bay members can fish that water after the round. Try doing that at Ballybunion.

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The 172-yard 17th is the shortest of Sutton Bay’s five par 3s.


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THE COURSE IS A ROLLICKING LINKS WITH ALL THE ELEMENTS: RANDOM DUNES, RAGGED BLOWOUT BUNKERS, AND FIRM-AND-FAST CONDITIONS.


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The 447-yard 16th has one of golf’s most exhilarating approach shots. INSET: After a day of golf or fishing, members relax in the lodge. OPPOSITE: The shortest par 5 on the course, the 531-yard 15th offers players a legitimate chance for birdie. One of Sutton Bay’s strengths is that its best months are September and October, when the golf season is winding down elsewhere. “There is huge cross-over for our members, who understand that autumn in South Dakota is the optimum season for hunting, fishing and playing golf—all at the same time,” explains Amundson. “We have hunting guides on staff, and a whole fleet of dogs. We provide guns and ammo. There’s very little preparation or travel consideration to be made, frankly. All you need to bring are your boots. “We have a lot of members who arrive here the first time as novice hunters. That’s certainly true of guests as well. But we are set up to help them learn and enjoy the experience.” The club has secured “preserve” status for its 3,500 acres of hunting ground. Members and guests can hunt from September 1 to March 31, whereas the standard South Dakota pheasant-hunting season opens the third Saturday in October and closes in early January. In exchange, for every pheasant shot at Sutton Bay, the club is required to release another it has raised or purchased. “Our ‘preserve’ hunting does not mimic the common perception of preserve hunting in any way,” says Amundson. “What we offer is the authentic hunting of native birds and released birds at the same time. The quality of the hunt, the number of pheasants you will see, the terrain you will hunt, and the guides and dogs that will assist you—they all help

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create the best hunt you have ever experienced.” What’s more, Lake Oahe isn’t just eye candy; it is one of the country’s premier walleye fisheries. It also has catfish, bass and other game fish like northern pike, and was home to the state record Chinook salmon. Located along the central flyway for Canadian geese migration, Oahe offers enthusiasts a chance to pass-shoot geese along the bluffs or hunt with decoys in pits located in winter wheat and picked cornfields. Try doing that at Machrihanish. There are no homes. Members and guests stay in detached cottages of five-star quality, while the sumptuous victuals served in the rustically elegant clubhouse make one wonder just what sort of Faustian bargain the chef has struck. Then there’s the course, a rollicking links with all the elements: random dunes, ragged blowout bunkers that obscure the line of play, firm-and-fast conditions and howling winds. Marsh routed the longer front nine with the prevailing breeze, which comes in handy on the three par 5s, the shortest of which measures 605 yards. Catch this course on a day when the wind turns around and the front side is downright Sisyphean. Yet with a prevailing wind, the opening nine is a joyful frolic down wide, undulating fairways as the holes tumble this way and that on their way to enormous, undulating greens that are smartly angled and bunkered so even the most straightforward approach requires significant thought. The back nine plays higher on the hillside, with Lake Oahe to the right. An enormous mesa looms along the left, and this elevation gives the inward nine its own character. All in all, Sutton Bay is a tour de force from Marsh, who made more than 100 site visits. “I’d fly in Sunday night, spend Monday and Tuesday on site and leave Tuesday night for a tournament,” recalls Marsh. “That’s just what the members do today, only they have the good sense to come in on Friday night and make a weekend of it.” Try doing that at Dornoch. ■


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Sutton Bay Club AGAR, S.D. 7,269 2003 ARCHITECT Graham Marsh CONTACT suttonbay.com 605-264-5530 PAR

72

YARDAGE

YEAR FOUNDED


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Saguaro cacti accent the 409-yard 13th hole on the Desert course. OPPOSITE: The roof of the award-winning clubhouse mimics the jagged peaks of the surrounding mountains.


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY AIDAN BRADLEY; JIM BARTSCH (ABOVE)

The Vintage Club

BOASTING AN IDEAL LOCATION, A UNIQUE CLUBHOUSE, AN ENVIABLE MEMBERSHIP AND 36 HOLES DESIGNED BY ONE OF GOLF’S MASTERS, THIS CLUB IN THE CALIFORNIA DESERT TRULY EMBODIES ITS NAME

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ucked against the Santa Rosa Mountains, The Vintage Club occupies one of the most beautiful locations in the Coachella Valley. More than 25 years ago, the founders and developers of this exclusive private club community knew they were on the verge of something exquisitely special when they envisioned a 712-acre oasis that would be home to one of the most sophisticated, most discerning memberships of any club in the country. Through the bougainvillea-covered entrance framed by towering waterfalls, past the palm-lined drive, members experience an unsurpassed lifestyle that truly lives up to the club’s timeless name. The heart and soul of The Vintage Club’s effortlessly inviting atmosphere is the stunning, awardwinning clubhouse topped with pyramid shapes and surrounded by reflective surfaces and open spaces that mirror the dramatic landscape of the surrounding California desert. Emanating from this marvel of a clubhouse are two golf courses of equal architectural wonder. Because The Vintage Club does not have any tee times, members and their guests can tee it up at their leisure on either of the club’s two championship layouts, the Desert and Mountain courses. Both were designed by Tom Fazio, one of the most sought-after golf architects in the world, and each course provides a unique playing experience. Before stepping onto the 1st tee, members can stop by the full-service pro shop to peruse the latest fashions, pick up a sleeve of balls and solicit a swing tip or two from one of the golf professionals. They can then warm up on the driving range, which is maintained as immaculately as the courses are. Somehow, the greens seem greener, the bunkers seem brighter, the sky seems bluer and the mountains seem more

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golden when members are playing the courses at the club. The genius in these courses is the way Fazio designed the holes to add to the surrounding beauty. The club’s original course, the Mountain, sits in the shadow of majestic Mount Eisenhower. While every hole is distinctive, with emerald fairways accented by perfectly proportioned mounding and artfully placed bunkers, the 409-yard 16th and 149-yard 17th holes alone may be worth the membership. These two holes sit in a finger of the desert that is enveloped on three sides by the mountain, forming a natural amphitheater for two of the most dramatic, challenging holes in the desert. The Desert course sits farther away from Mount Eisenhower, but this landmark remains a focal point throughout the course. The beautiful landscaping, placid lakes and streams, and panoramic desert views engage all the senses during a round on this 6,322-yard gem. Both the Desert and Mountain courses have recently been rated among the top courses in the country according to Golf Digest. As protective of their 36-hole sanctuary as Vintage Club members are, they also have been more than happy to share their Eden with some of the biggest names in golf. Just as the club was a trailblazer in promoting a unique lifestyle that other clubs have attempted to emulate, ABOVE: The brand new The Vintage Club was a pioneer in recPalm Court restaurant ognizing that pros over the age of 50 overlooks the resortcould still provide plenty of competi- style pool. tion and entertainment. OPPOSITE: Mount Even before there was a Senior PGA Eisenhower looms over Tour, legends like Gene Sarazen, Sam the 573-yard 9th hole Snead, Byron Nelson and Arnold on the Mountain course.


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THE GENIUS OF THE MOUNTAIN AND DESERT COURSES IS IN THE WAY TOM FAZIO DESIGNED THE HOLES TO ADD TO THE SURROUNDING BEAUTY.


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THE MEMBERS HAVE FORMED INSTANT BONDS WITH EACH OTHER THROUGH GOLF, TENNIS, MEALS AND THE CLUB’S WELL-ATTENDED SOCIAL EVENTS.

The 147-yard 16th hole on the Desert course combines beauty and difficulty. INSET: The tennis facility is one of the best in the desert.


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Palmer hit iron shots off The Vintage Club’s immaculate fairways and putted on perfectly manicured greens. The Vintage Club’s inaugural golf tournament, called The Vintage Invitational, began in 1981, and this unofficial competition ran through 1983. This was truly an international event, with players from all over the world participating. Like the Masters, competitors could play by invitation only. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Vintage Invitational is an elegant event in which you have to be golf royalty to tee it up. If some of the royals are also ancient, they constitute an all-star cast of the greatest and most colorful players this game has ever seen. It’s almost like seeing a movie with Bogart, Tracy, Gable, Garbo, Bette Davis, Laughton and the Barrymores.” In 1984 the PGA Tour saw the value of this tournament and picked it up as an official stop on the Senior PGA Tour. The Vintage Club hosted that tour-sanctioned event from 1984 to 1992. Whether golf champion or movie star, the most successful professionals in their chosen fields share a kind of easy demeanor and quiet self-confidence. So it is with The Vintage Club’s membership, whose roster is filled with principals in the country’s business, entrepreneurial and civic arenas. These members, who have accomplished so much in their professional lives, fully appreciate this club that does so much to exceed their expectations. Because the members have common backgrounds, interests and worldviews, they have formed instant bonds with each other through playing a round of golf, a game of tennis, sharing a meal and participating in the club’s well-attended social events like the men’s renowned member-guest, known as the Rendezvous. “We are always amazed by how quickly members make reservations for our golf tournaments and social events. The Vintage Club has extraordinary amenities and events, but the true heart and life of this club is our members,” says General Manager Thomas M. Murphy. This camaraderie gives The Vintage Club a unique atmosphere that compels members to return to the desert year after year, whether they stay for two weeks or five months. “It’s a very relaxed, fun-loving atmosphere,” says Vintage Club President Dick Darmody. “When I come through that front entrance my shoulders just relax. I know I’m safe; I know I’m home; I know I’m with my friends.” Of course, it is difficult to sustain this level of fellowship on a blank canvas, and the club provides an impressive array of facilities and amenities from which laughs and memories flow easily. Inside the award-winning clubhouse and on the lushly maintained grounds, members can choose from several dining venues, from on-the-go selections at the two snack bars to casual dining at the Grille Room and Palm Court to the five-star experience offered in the Main Dining Room. 2010 EDITION |

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With water right and out of bounds left off the tee, the 409-yard 16th is the most difficult hole on the Mountain course. INSET: Sand protects the green of the Desert’s 385-yard 18th. OPPOSITE: Don’t be short when hitting to the 149-yard 17th on the Mountain course.

W

hether members are eating lunch overlooking the pool or being serenaded during a fivecourse gourmet dinner served by the attentive staff in the Main Dining Room, the culinary experience equals that of the finest restaurants, thanks to the chef’s expertise. The casual Palm Court restaurant overlooks the Swim Complex, which offers a luxurious zero-base entry into the 25-yard pool, providing an area for waders as well as a safe place for small children to enjoy the pool. Surrounded by cascading waterfalls and tempered glass walls, the sprawling pool deck offers a private sun-bathing area, an open social deck and an area for relaxing under a bougainvillea-draped pergola. The Tennis Center includes a sunken stadium court that is used for special exhibitions and 10 other courts, which are separated by terraces and pavilions that are extensions of the contemporary motif created by the clubhouse architecture. A full-service pro shop offers tennis and fitness wear, a full range of racquet-repair services, as well as home decor and gift items. Nearby, children of all ages can enjoy their own havens of Vintage activity. At the Children’s Park, kids age six and under can play all day, while more grown-up activities like soccer, volleyball and basketball draw pre-teens and adolescents to the multifunctional Sports Court. Regularly scheduled Kids’ Kamps bring members’ children and grandchildren to-

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gether for events such as fishing derbies, radio-controlled boat races in the lake adjacent to the clubhouse, junior golf and tennis clinics, and evening camp-outs. The Vintage Club strives to develop programs that offer the same caliber of exciting events for children as it does for adults. Because remaining active is important regardless of age, one of the most popular facilities at the club is the new 18,000square-foot Fitness & Wellness Center, where members receive one-on-one interaction with personal trainers on the cutting-edge HumanSports machines, which place emphasis on functional training. They also engage in Pilates, yoga, spinning and gyrokinesis classes. So in addition to becoming healthier and more fit, members can hit longer drives or develop a better backhand. Those more serious about their golf can visit the Golf Performance Studio, which uses the same technology and resources that have helped pros like Camilo Villegas and Zach Johnson rise to the top of the PGA Tour. Biomechanics, fitness and a high-tech motion-capture system are combined in the state-of-the-art Golf Performance Studio to help members elevate their games to levels they never thought possible. Given these benefits of membership and more, it’s little wonder that the Club Leaders Forum continually names The Vintage Club one of the top residential communities in America. This award is presented every three years to honor “FiveStar Clubs in the Top 100 in America.” The Vintage Club received this award in 2003, 2006 and 2009. For the members, The Vintage Club is more than a club; it is home. Members enjoy great golf, superb food, unmatched clubhouse facilities, comfortable elegance and most importantly, lifelong friendships—the foundation of one of the most distinctive clubs in the country. This is what The Vintage Club lifestyle is all about. ■


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The Vintage Club INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. Mountain Course 72 YARDAGE 7,066 YEAR FOUNDED 1980 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio

PAR

Desert Course 72 YARDAGE 6,344 YEAR FOUNDED 1984 ARCHITECT Tom Fazio

PAR

CONTACT

info@thevintageclub.com 760-340-0500


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OUTFIT TING PROFE S SIONAL AND AMATEUR GOLFERS SINCE 1987 P O L O G O L F. C O M

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LINKS Premier Clubs 2010  

Premier Clubs 2010

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