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Sunday, December 26, 2004

RICHTER PARK, SANDPINES and OCEAN HAMMOCK

For brevity's sake, and since we are prepping for Florida New Years '05, we thought we'd give you three quickies...so here goes...Photos up Monday 12/27! Don't worry, long form reviews will continue after the New Year.

RICHTER PARK GOLF CLUB - Danbury, CT
www.richterpark.com

Architect: Edward Ryder
Par 72
Excitement Level - 8/12
Difficulty - 3/12
Conditioning - Three and a half stars
Cost - $30 Danbury residents, $62 everyone else, $42 reduced
Value - Four stars

SHH! Don't let too many more people know, but next to Bethpage, Richter Park is the best golf value for NYCers! When Danbury benefactor Stanley Richter passed on, he bequeathed an enormous and beautiful tract of land for a state park with one proviso...build a public golf course there that everyone can enjoy. Mission accomplished. Not only is Richter park a warm, friendly, family oriented and best of all affordable place to play. It offers a welcome relief to New Yorkers whose choices are otherwise limited to 6-1/2 hour muni rounds, or $125 rounds at lesser designs. Holes tumble up and down rolling hills or require carries over scenic, idyllic lakes. Our favorite holes are A) number 6 - a terrific long par four with a semi-blind drive (hit it just left of the big tree) and a fairway metal or long iron approach uphill to a green which slopes off sharply to the left into nearby lake; B) number 12 - a great par five featuring a green set in the middle of the reservoir and framed by the beautiful tree covered hills; and C) numbers 3 and 5, both postcard par threes all carry over lakes. The course also features a hazard unique in the annals of golf - a quicksand pond guarding the right of the fairway on both 15 and 16. Its real quicksand, so don't be stupid - it is dangerous, heed the warning signs. Course general manager Patrick Lucas confirmed a tale told by locals builders discovered it when they LOST A BULLDOZER in it during construction! Give the quicksand a wide berth with both your ball and yourself. Tee times can be tough, so phone days in advance or befriend some locals, who are uniformly delightful, as is the course pro Ralph Salito.

SANDPINES GOLF CLUB - Florence, OR
www.sandpines.com

Architect: Rees Jones
Par 72
Excitement Level - 8/12
Difficulty - 6/12
Conditioning - Four and a half stars
Cost - $60 peak, $35 reduced
Value - Four and a half stars

When making your way to Bandon Dunes or for a relaxing couple of days when in Southern Oregon, don't miss Sandpines for a fun and inexpensive round of terrific golf and a great warm up to what you'll see at Bandon. Rees Jones seamlessly wove 18 wonderfully authentic links holes through the dunescape covered with beautiful native grasses and through corridors of tall Oregon Pines. The finish is especially stirring as 16, 17 and 18 play around a large man-made lake and offer terrific risk-reward options. The air tastes like wine, the smell of the tall pines lifts the spirit, and the pastoral, rustic natural setting helps wash away the cares of the world. Experts and novices alike will face a challenging but fair test and pars are more than reasonable from all sets of tees for all levels of player. Plus the staff is as friendly as we have ever found anywhere in the world. In a fun twist, PGA head pro Bob Rannow (an old Canadian tour pro) not only regularly shoots 65 in regional tournaments throughout the great Northwest, he is also a world class electric guitar player, courted for potential endorsement deals by world class luthiers. (luthier: manufacturer of stringed musical instruments..."I'll take funny looking words for $1000 please Alex"...)

OCEAN HAMMOCK GOLF COURSE - Palm Coast, FL
www.oceanhammock.com

Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Par 72
Excitement Level - 9/12
Difficulty - 9/12
Conditioning - Five Stars
Cost - $200, $125 reduced
Value - Four Stars

Most of the time we will tell you $200 is way too much for golf. Sawgrass and Ocean Hammock are two exceptions (Sawgrass review to come soon!) Jack Nicklaus created an east coast version of Vegas' Reflection Bay here hard by the Atlantic. Conditioning is terrific, the design is filled with both heroic shot values and risk-reward options. The finishing stretch of 15-18, dubbed the "Bear Claw," is tough. While pricey, if you want to splurge, the amenities at the nearby resort and the excellent conditioning and high quality Nicklaus always delivers make it worth playing. Also, since it as "un-Florida" as Florida courses get, its a refreshing change from the steady diet of typical vanilla flavored Sunshine State "palms, sand and water" offerings.

1 Comments:

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10:09 PM  

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