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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


110 TPC Blvd.
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Architect: Pete Dye
Par 72
Excitement Level – 12/12
Difficulty – 12/12
Design - Seven stars
Natural Setting - Four and 1/2 stars
Conditioning - Seven stars
Cost - $300 peak, $160 reduced
Yearly Memberships -
Value - Seven stars
Overall - Seven stars

Tees Yards Rating Slope

TPC 7001 75.0 149
Blue 6514 72.3 139
White 5815 69.0 130
Red 5034 65.3 125

Dramatic moments in golf history are written every year at the Player’s Championship, deservedly known as golf’s “fifth major” and played annually on a stage second only to Augusta National in terms of both history and public recognition. A watershed moment occurred in the golf world in 1978 when the PGA tour purchased 415 acres of desolate swampland near Jacksonville, Florida for one dollar. Tour commissioner Deane Beman hired architect Pete Dye and gave him a mission that would change both golf course design and tournament venues forever. The challenge was to build a course that would host not just any tournament, but the Players’ Championship, the annual championship for the touring professionals. Not only would the course have to challenge the best golfers in the world year in and year out at a high profile tournament, the course would also be the first “stadium” style golf course, featuring natural grass amphitheatres around greens and enormous mounds flanking the fairways to seat spectators.

Dye went much further. In designing his archetypal fan, media and player favorite, he spawned an entire generation of target golf courses throughout the world and gave birth to a nationwide network of stadium courses designed for tournament play and spectator accommodation. In this regard, Dye’s achievement at Sawgrass is underestimated, for although years of copycat courses mimicked target style shot requirements, Sawgrass is rich with risk-reward options and strategic subtleties. Sure everybody knows the dramatic, all-or-nothing 17th, but there are many other holes at Sawgrass that provide equal doses of drama, shotmaking requirements, course management and patience.

The significance of Dye’s achievement in designing Sawgrass cannot be overstated. Without question, Sawgrass is the most important course built in this country between Pebble Beach (1919) and Bandon Dunes (1998). Harbour Town heralded the arrival of the Dye era and Whistling Straits may be his artistic masterpiece, but Sawgrass is Dye’s greatest contribution to the history and architecture of the game. Sawgrass is fun for everyone – the media, the fans and even the players. Indeed, the wild popularity of the course with spectators and TV viewers helped trigger an entire trend in golf course architecture and spawned over twenty more TPC facilities. Often imitated, but never equaled and now universally revered, the Stadium course is a shrine to the game itself, a Mecca to all true players and fans, and is one of the game’s most recognized and celebrated icons. For all his great designs throughout the world, Dye may best be known for Sawgrass.

Strangely, it took a lucky bounce from fate for any history to have been written at all. When the first tournament was held at Sawgrass in 1982, the players’ criticism was searing. “Unfair,” “carnival golf,” “screwy,” and “the only thing missing is the clown’s nose” were just a few of the grouses snarled by the best players in the game. J.C. Sneed famously quipped “they messed up a perfectly good swamp….It’s 90% horse manure and 10% luck.” But over time and with a few subtle changes, the players have come to embrace and love Sawgrass as the unique jewel in golf’s crown that it is. The fans get to watch the pros under white-knuckle pressure, the media gets dramatic, all-or-nothing shot values and visitors get to try their hand at one of the golf world’s most blessed plots.

Oh yeah, and then there’s 17, probably the single most recognizable hole on Earth. With its island green lying in the middle of the lake, even casual golf fans who see an aerial shot of the hole know exactly what and where it is. At a maximum length of 145 yards and playing a mere 120ish for amateurs, it seems merely a smoothly swung short iron, maybe even a wedge. The challenge could not be stated more simply – “Here’s the tee, here’s the green, hit the ball.” But there is no room to bail, nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. A watery dooms lurks on all sides. Hit the green and hold or reload. It’s hero or zero. And when the wind kicks up on that hole, forget it! Some tour players call it the best hole on tour. Golf writer Brian McCallen called 17 “a pint-sized Titanic to sink your scorecard.” Indeed, no scorecard is safe until the player negotiates 17 and knees do knock, hands do shake, stomachs do knot, and hearts leap into throats.
Fans and TV executives love the hole as it provides drama at all times. An entire website has been devoted to allowing fans to watch every shot played to the hole on all four days of the tournament. Amateurs and pros alike go through the same pressure standing over that shot. Roughly 120,000 golf balls per year are pulled out of the pond at the 17th. It’s the eyes of an alligator lurking just above the surface of the water, watching its prey – your scorecard and your ego – and waiting to gnash, rend and shred. (One could, of course, make par the hard way as your author did, double-crossing his tee shot onto the 18th tee then flopping a wedge onto the green and rolling in the 15 footer. On my first attempt on the course no less.)

Sawgrass’ tournament history is deservedly rich and fan friendly. After winning the first tournament held at Sawgrass in 1982, Jerry Pate (with his orange golf ball) jumped into the lake on 18 and then, to the delight of the fans and other players, dragged in Deane Beman and architect Pete Dye. Nicklaus won at Sawgrass. Tiger won in 2000 after sinking a slick, twisting fifty foot putt across the 17th green. Popular pro and Ryder Cup Captain Hal “Be The Raaaaaght Club To-Day!” Sutton won twice at Sawgrass. From Adam Scott’s improbable up and down after seemingly blowing the tournament by hitting his approach on 18 into the water, to Craig Perks’ unbelievable eagle-birdie-par double chip-in finish to seize the 2002 championship, Sawgrass has provided compelling theatre in a setting unique in the entire golf world. Are you entranced by the heroic nature of the 17th? Fred Couples has had several adventures there, like his famous “hole in 3” where he held out at the teebox after hitting his original shot in the water. Do you like charging finishers on Sunday afternoon? “We got run over by Davis” laughed Jay Haas when Davis Love shot his incredible final round 64 in 2003. Love won by six shots and carded a blistering 31 on the back 9, including five consecutive birdies. Most impressive of all, he did it in the rain and wind. The rest of the field played the course in an average of 74 strokes, ten shots worse. Some players called it the best single round of golf they ever witnessed.

Best of all, for an amateur, playing Sawgrass’ Stadium course is one of the richest experiences a player can ever have. You can’t ride a horse at Churchill Downs, you can’t catch a pass at the Rose Bowl, you can’t take batting practice at Fenway Park, but you can play the Stadium course and walk in the spike marks of the world’s greatest professionals. The excitement in playing a course that the best golfers in the world once thought was unfair and which now is regarded as one of the greatest venues in all of sports is a seminal experience in the career of any golfer.


In this age of drivers the size of houses, coefficients of restitution, and super long golf balls, is it still possible for a course under 7000 yards to prove a competitive challenge to the game’s best? Surely such a course could never beguile, bedevil and frustrate the zen masters on the PGA tour. Surely such a short layout would wither and succumb to the surgical precision of our magic producing Sunday heroes and their cannon length drives.

Guess again. 2004 was the first year the distance clocked in at over 7000 yards for the pros. Instead, this true target golf course requires careful concentration and course management on every shot. This is not a course that can be overpowered with a driver as the penalty for any missed shot is bogey or worse. Dye’s philosophy in designing this course for pros playing in a marquis event was “they can’t recover from water.” Dye is right. With its penal nature, pros hate a water hazard just as much as weekend golfers. Accordingly, there is water present on every hole (although not always in play) and Dye’s intimidating water hazards, mounding and bunkering leaves little room for error.

Sawgrass is also a showcase of all the great design features Dye has embraced and shared with the golfing community. Severe mounding, bulk-headed water hazards, pot bunkers and staggered tee boxes (his wife Alice places the ladies tees now, usually well in front of the trouble) and stadium mounding for spectators, are all hallmarks of design features he returned with from the British Isles. These classic aesthetic features are woven onto a design which is rich in strategic, risk-reward options. Reachable par fives are guarded by menacing water hazards. Short par fours are strengthened by false front greens, penal bunkers and devilish collection areas. Shot requirements are varied, keeping the player off balance. One minute the course calls for a draw, then later a fade. One hole is short, the next long. And at all times Sawgrass demands a wide range of creative shotmaking and a wealth of patience. The course is not long so smart players who hit their targets all day will actually leave with a respectable score.

Players must get their scoring done early as the first three holes on each nine offer the best chances for birdie. Interestingly, the first hole and tenth hole are identical except for the fact that they are reverse images of each other. As professional tournaments frequently will send players off the first and tenth tee for the first two rounds, Deane Beman instructed Dye to make the starting holes very similar so that the pros would be faced with similar challenges no matter which hole they began the tournament on. They even have the same hazards at almost exactly the same distances. They are both short par 4s, the first hole with water and sand to carry off the tee, bends gently to the right. The 10th hole with water and sand off the tee, bends gently to the left. Both two and eleven are short reachable par 5s and offer great birdie chances for the professionals and long hitters. Amateurs must still stay straight as trouble lurks right in the form of water, sand and trees.

The course begins in earnest at 4, a classic Dye risk reward par four with a severely canted green. While barely over 300 yards, danger lurks everywhere as the second shot must be played over water to a green which slopes off on all sides. Placement is paramount here as the tee shot must be played to the correct side of the fairway to offer the optimum approach to the green. Even pros, who should escape unscathed, have considerable trouble since the approach drops off into the water so sharply. Bunkers in back of the green will catch approaches that are too bold and both puts and chips from the high side risk running back into the creek.

Five, six and seven are each par fours. They were designed long, short long, to keep the pros off balance and provide variety in the design. The eighth hole, the longest of the par 3s, clocks in at over 200 yards and is completely surrounded by bunkers. It perennially plays one of the toughest holes on the course. The par 5 ninth is a genuine three shot par 5 that jumps over a creek and then swings hard left to a green nestled below a dell of mounds and trees. The very small green is designed to accept a wedge shot, but many players miss and walk off mumbling about missing a birdie opportunity.

Like the front, get your scoring done early on the back. 10, 11 and 12 are a relatively short par 4, 5 and 4 respectively. Eleven is reachable in two by many, but water and sand protect par admirably. On twelve, Dye baits you to hit driver to avoid having a semi-blind shot in to the green. Again accuracy is more important. While shorter safer shots will have to be played semi-blind, errant shots from a driver will end up with fully blind approaches.

The pressure level surges at 13, which if it were not overshadowed by its sister at 17, would be recognized in its own right as one of the best holes in the country. A short par 3, water runs all the way from the teebox to the green, which is set in an idyllic dell of tall trees. Again a severely canted green helps defend par admirably. 14 and 15 are demanding par 4s, both over 400 yards. Like the first hole, 14 plays right to left off the tee, then left to right on the approach – an old Donald Ross staple of design and a favorite of Dye as well who likes to keep the player off-balance with varied shot shaping requirements. Keeping the player further off balance, 15 plays left to right of the tee, then right to left into the green. This gives Sawgrass the strategic feel of a rumbling shotmaking roller-coaster.

The 16th is a great risk reward par 5, as it can be reached in two, but the penalty for balls hit to the right, is the water. It is the best chance to get a stroke back on the closing stretch. Players are meant to go for it in two, but if a player lays up, it’s a tough pitch since green slopes toward water.

Playing along the 16th, no professional or amateur can resist taking a peak at the challenge lying ahead of them – arguably the most celebrated par three in the world. The fickle Florida winds can change from moment to moment and even swirl, making the hole as unpredictable as the twelfth at Augusta. Rarely does a leader come to 17 with a bulletproof lead. While, interestingly, no leader on Sunday that has put one in the water on 17 has ever lost the tournament, the mere possibility of epic meltdowns adds to the allure of the hole to the fans and media. Happily, for amateurs, they never have to play the hole with the green as fast and firm as the pros.

The par 4 eighteenth is a fabulous finishing hole that Dye has copied on many other courses. At 420 yards, this cape-style hole that bends hard left it is a stern finishing test and offers a summation of all that Sawgrass is, narrow, watery, penal and demanding of both concentration and execution. Water guards the entire left side of the hole. Shaggy heaving mounds guard the right side of the hole on the approach. A difficult four for any player, touring pros even tighten up. Adam Scott provides a stellar example. With a two shot lead on the 72nd hole, he double-crossed a six-iron into the water. His incredible up-and-down from well off the green preserved his win, but illustrates how eighteen can hand out drama as well as its more high-profile sister by which it is preceded.


Sawgrass is a final examination in golf, an all-around test of a player’s entire game and course management skills. It was designed for a pro tournament with the pros in mind. It remains reasonably playable for the resort guest as well, but that’s secondary. People still come. They see it on TV and have to try for themselves. For touring pros and single digit handicappers, Sawgrass’ subtlety adds the most magic to the experience. Like Augusta National, when the irons shots are accurate, the ball will funnel to the hole and when shots are inaccurate, they repel because they will bounce off the wrong side of the slopes. Amateurs must play Sawgrass conservatively. They also should not be intimidated or distracted – easier said than done.

Although the greens fee frequently tops $250, Sawgrass is actually and excellent value. The course is always in tour condition, the design is one of the best in the world, and the amenities make players feel as though they are tour members for a day. The state-of-the-art clubhouse is a shrine to the tournament, but also boasts replicas of many trophies awarded at various tournaments played all around the country. The portrait of every Player’s winner graces the clubhouse walls. Even the practice facilities are pristine.

Most guests must stay at the Sawgrass Marriott in order to secure a tee time. In low season, Sawgrass can be played for as little as $160. Play over the New Years holiday and you will have the course to yourself.

Monday, December 27, 2004


The scenic 12th green at Richter Park Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 26, 2004


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.


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.


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"...)


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.

Monday, December 20, 2004



Devens, MA

Architect: Brian Silva
Par - 72
Excitement Level – 8/12
Diff. – 6/12
Conditioning - ****1/2
Cost - $90 peak, $50 reduced
Yearly Memberships – Yes, $4,250 play anytime
$3,250 play M-Th
Value - ****1/2

Tees Yards Rating Slope

Tournament 7006 73.9 138
Regular 6379 70.5 130
Senior 5654 67.7 119
Forward 5049 69.4 120

Shaker Road, P.O. Box 420
Harvard, MA

Architect: Brian Silva
Par - 71
Excitement Level – 8/12
Diff. – 8/12
Conditioning - ****
Cost - $75 peak, $50 reduced
Yearly Memberships – Yes, $4,495 play anytime,
$3,250 M-Th
Value - ****

Tees Yards Rating Slope

Tournament 6850 72.3 135
Back 6395 69.5 128
Regular 5914 67.3 121
Forward 5001 67.9 116

In the past ten years public golf in the greater Boston area has flourished. Hometown architect Brian Silva is one important reason why. Silva not only builds interesting designs wherever he goes, he has proven himself a master of several different genres of course design featuring a seemingly inexhaustible wealth of strategic design features. From his parkland gem at Waverly Oaks to his wonderfully authentic Links at Hiawatha Landing (designed with partner Mark Mungeam), to his seaside Captain’s Club, Silva has proven creative, versatile, and progressive. Most importantly, Silva courses are wonderfully inexpensive and impeccably manicured.

Two of Silva’s Boston designs stand out from all the others and, even more conveniently, are located a mere three miles from each other. In the heart of the birthplace of the American Revolution, Red Tail Golf Club (Devens, MA) and Shaker Hills Golf Club (Harvard, MA) are just thirty miles from downtown Boston and a mere drive and eight iron from Lexington and Concord, where valiant minutemen fought and died to shape the destiny of the free world.

Free spirits still abound as Silva has created two bold modern designs, inimitably Silva yet starkly different from each other. Red Tail combines classical parkland style with a good dash of “pine and scrublands” thrown in for good measure in a neo-classic masterpiece. Silva’s trademark sculpted bunkering defines otherwise wide fairways through rolling hills. Shaker Hills, while still possessing the sculpted bunkering, is a claustrophobic roller coaster ride through thick, woods and massive tall pines - a completely different feel though only three miles away from its younger sister. Both feature good alternating shots within the hole (e.g. fade off the tee, draw into the green), and have a good variety of shot shaping requirements off the tee. Most importantly, at $80 most times and $50 at twilight, they are not only the best tandem of courses in Boston, happily they are also the most affordable.


Head pro Jim Pavlik simply says that “At Red Tail our goal is to be one of the best layouts in New England that can be enjoyed by golfers of all handicaps.” Red Tail surpasses all expectations. Opened in 2003 to widespread acclaim, Silva uses elevation changes, sculpted bunkers and naturally occurring pine trees in a modern design plan which insures no two holes are remotely alike to create a thrilling yet eminently playable gem, with many strategic options. Every hole is memorable - there are no weak holes or holes that seem forced or over the top. Four sets of tees offer a fair test to golfers of all skill levels without the player feeling overmatched. Contoured, slick slivers of greens guarded by fiendish drop offs into Donald Ross-like collection areas defend par well on the short par fours and frequently feature what one Red Tail course ranger described as “Sunday pin placements every day.”

The front nine may be one of the best outward nines on the entire eastern seaboard. Every hole is a unique and exciting design and never fails to impress from rolling start to rollicking finish. While many architects wish to offer an easy warm up at the first, Red Tail demands crisp contact and concentration on the first drive of the day - a cross bunker horizontally divides the fairway. Further, the shot plays over a natural hump, adding elevation to the challenge. Fade off the tee, but draw into the green, the player is required to exact various shot shapes right out of the gate. The second features a Silva staple of design, “cathedral bunkering,” a veritable pancake stack of multi-layered bunkers situated on the left side of this dog leg right par five. (Another example of a mountain-like stack of bunkers on top of one another is found at the 9th at Links at Hiawatha Landing.) The 3rd is a gorgeous par three which plays uphill to a deep green. Take enough club to reach comfortably as the fairway slopes severely to the right and shots short or right will result in an awkward uphill 40 yard pitch to the putting surface. Players can take advantage of Silva’s intentionally designed “kick slope” short and left of the green to bounce the ball onto the green and take advantage of the hole’s natural contours to feed the ball to the hole. (There is another on the left side of the seventh green as well.)

Silva loves punchbowl greens (see also # 11 at Hiawatha Landing) and gives us two at Red Tail. The first is at the uphill, yet reachable par five fourth. Better players can use the green’s natural contours to spin the ball to the day’s hole location. The stretch of six through nine features a short-long-short-long combination of stellar par fours. The sixth features the prettiest drive of the day, a long carry over a ravine with water left and trees right. The lake off to the left offers an idyllic view, but do not be distracted from the demanding drive at hand. The eighth measures a scant 306 from the Regular Tees, but the green is a mere sliver and slopes off dangerously on all sides. Nine measures 417 from the regulation tees and requires two solid shots to reach the green safely.

The 10th is listed as the hardest hole on the card and may live up to its reputation. Bending hard to the left, climbing uphill all the way, and lined by trees on both sides which make the playing area particularly narrow, one misplayed shot will damage any chance for a par. The beautiful par 3 11th follows, playing from an elevated tee to an elevated green set at the base of a steep hill. Shots short or right will either find a deep bunker or require a 40-50 yard uphill chip to a small green.

The finish is creative and memorable. After a beautiful drive from an elevated tee at the 400 yard 14th, the approach is uphill to another punchbowl green, more steeply sloped than its front side sister. 17 is the most popular hole with the players. From an elevated tee box, the cape-style hole begs for a long drive cutting the corner on this dog leg right. However, shots short or right find a waste bunker that looks straight out of Pine Valley or World Woods. Finally the 18th is a reachable par five for the long hitter who can carry the crest of a hill, but the second shot will be played from an uneven lie (at best) to a green fronted by water. The entire fairway slopes toward the water, so even third shot approaches with wedges need to be precise. A front right pin position often suckers in greedy, imprudent players and hangs a round crushing big number if played carelessly.

Players of all skill levels equally love Red Tail for its beauty, fairness and inexpensive price tag. A registered member of the Audobon International Signature Cooperative Sanctuary, Red Tail features diverse flora and fauna, including deer and the red tail hawks for which the course takes its name. Ever the historians, locals are as equally proud of the site’s heritage as the former site of the Fort Devens military base as they are of the rich colonial pedigree. General George Patton taught tank maneuvers on course land and before course building could begin the course was thoroughly searched for old munitions. Several old shells and hand grenades turned up. In fact, the storied history of the site and the need to protect the environment actually had a positive affect on Silva’s design. Silva was not allowed to remove the slab foundations of the old fort housings, so holes 2 though 8 and number 10 were built over the top of these foundations.

Luckily for Silva, he was able to use the natural flow the fairway followed over these subterranean structures to fit the shot shaping requirements he had designed for the holes. Two great examples are the draw receptive fairways at 8 and 10. “How about that!” Silva beams, “I was forced into certain parameters by site considerations and environmental limitations and it came out great. I probably would not have imagined that hole had the outside factors not imposed on my work.” Perhaps that is also the hallmark of a world-class designer – making lemonade when the world hands you lemons.


While the regular tees clock in at under 6000 yards, this is dangerously deceptive. The par is 71, so the course already plays longer than the listed yardage. Further, many approaches are markedly uphill, especially on shorter holes. The greens are greased lightning and often feature numerous tiers placing a premium on accuracy. Most importantly, unlike Red Tail, the course is extremely narrow from start to finish. On many holes, driver is not an option or a foolish choice. As one player remarked, “you have to walk down these fairways single file.” Finally, well placed water hazards, tough bunkers, rock walls, natural ravines and the ubiquitous trees lining both sides of the fairways defend par well. Crooked shots are severely punished as play back to the fairway may not be possible and any hole can “scud attack” a scorecard.

After a short opening two holes which should acquaint the player with the tight landing areas and targets, Silva serves up a gorgeous downhill par three guarded by water in front. Following a long par four, the mighty fifth, a massive 570 yard uphill dog leg right challenges the golfer’s length and accuracy. The course’s signature hole and a true three shotter, players must be long and straight on all three shots to reach the green.

The par fours at Shaker Hills are not outstandingly long, but feature well placed hazards as well as the ever present ball-eating woods. A terrific example is number 8, a medium length but uphill par four featuring sand and water running the entire length of the hole. Any mis-hit shot here will make par all but impossible. Similarly, the par four 11th seemingly has no place to put the tee ball except both extremely long and with pinpoint accuracy to avoid the bunker complex which pinches the fairway at the landing area on one side, and the thick woods on the other. The fairway slopes hard left so even hitting the fairway on the fly is no guarantee that the ball will stay in play. Similarly the par four twelfth, a hard dog leg right, may measure only 350 yards, but the swamp all along the right places a premium on accuracy.

The finish at Shaker Hills is thrilling. The gorgeous postcard downhill thirteenth is followed by the short, but equally pretty fourteenth, a gentle uphill dog leg left. Fifteen is easily the prettiest and arguably the best par 5, featuring a wedge approach over a rock-walled ravine to a small guitar shaped green set in its own natural, tree guarded dell. After a beautiful par 3 16th, and the short reachable risk reward par 4 17th, the long 18th requires a drive over a brush filled chasm to the fairway for a fairway wood or long iron home.

Shaker Hills may frustrate amateurs and first timers who play the wrong set of tees or who insist on trying to overpower the course. Better players love the challenge of Shaker Hills due to its demanding, but fair shotmaking requirements and difficult but wonderfully true greens. Many greens have numerous tiers and slopes which, when combined with tour caliber speed, will make good putting a requirement for a reasonable score. The par threes are all postcard gorgeous. Further, three are severely downhill making club selection tricky. Patient golfers will survive this tight, hazard riddled test of golf with a respectable score.

Both Shaker Hills and Red Tail showcase quintessential Silva design concepts. The design is strategic and risk-reward options abound, with dramatic results for both success and failure. There is a great variety of holes, both in length and shape. Finally, the aesthetics of each provide seamless harmony with nature and an atmospheric venue on which to play the game. Best of all, both can be played for the around $60 most of the time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The 13th green at Tobacco Road - Sanford, NC

The 13th Green at Tobacco Road Posted by Hello

The 1st tee at Tobacco Road

The First tee at Tobacco Road - hit it BETWEEN the dunes! Posted by Hello


Tobacco Road may have been built on the mined out pits of a North Carolina sand quarry but it has a distinctively western flavor - from its animal skull logo to its rustic clubhouse (which burned down once), to its wild ruffian of a golf course. The earthy Tobacco Road logos, a dear skull with antlers and a tobacco leaf, were hand drawn by Mike Strantz himself to reflect the history of the property and add to the rugged, outlaw feel of the entire experience. Further adding to the ambiance, old tobacco ploughs bear the signs and yardage markers for each hole. Different forms of blades for cultivating are the four different tee markers – “Ripper” for the pros, “Disc” as the regulation tees, “Plow” for seniors and higher handicappers, and “Cultivator” for the forward tees. Indeed, everything about The Road envelopes the golfer with a sense of adventure.

There are two distinct design features at Tobacco Road – expansive sandy waste areas with traditional white sand and heaving dunes filled with red loam. Specifically, most of the front nine and holes ten through twelve are reminiscent of Pine Valley/World Woods with their expansive sandy waste areas. In fact several of the holes on the front side are remarkably similar to World Woods. Most notably the par five fourth, a short hole with an expansive and deep waste are running from tee to green, looks a mirror image of the fourth at World Woods, also a short par five guarded tee to green by a massive, scrub choked sandy waste area. Interestingly, although there are many similarities to World Woods, which was designed by Strantz’ long-time employer Tom Fazio while Strantz worked for him, Strantz actually never worked on World Woods at all. In contrast, holes one, nine, and the final six are in the style of Prestwick and Ballybunion and play through (and around) an almost other-worldly dunescape. Perhaps in a nod to Old Tom Morris, to aid player’s facing blind shots, in certain places (13 and 15) the fairway contains a board with the shape of the green carved in wood and a tee which marks the day’s pin placement. Frequently, these enormous mountains of sand are covered by the region’s ubiquitous tall pines. Thus the sand dunes are not just a tough lie, but the direct route to the hole will be blocked.

There are no warm up holes here and, as usual with Strantz, the first hole is one of the course’s most demanding and intimidating. The first hole is a three-shot 550 yard par five which requires not one, but two shots threaded between towering, rough-covered dunes. Like two of the massive rock triptychs of the Giant’s Causeway which loom out of the mist and guarding the entrance to Northern Ireland, these two mighty, monolithic mounds guard the entrance to Tobacco Road. They are two great monstrous ball eaters, exacting a one or two stroke tax on those unlucky enough to hit into them. They are as large and ominous as gathering storm clouds. Favor the right side of the fairway off the tee, as failing to “cut the corner” could trigger an opening hole disaster which could haunt the scorecard and psyche all day. Finally, the approach is no less demanding as three enormous, deep bunkers guard the right side of the green. These bunkers feature a collective raised lip which causes the back portion of the green to run away from the player. Approach the green from the left side for the best angle to almost all hole locations.

The second hole begins the “scrub and waste area” part of the course. This short par four features a carry over a waste area which runs uphill and then descends down a hill so that the fairway can barely be soon over the rise. A deep, penal pot bunker sits directly in front of the green.

The fourth is a par five where risk reward options abound. A reachable dogleg left with a question mark shaped fairway,
the second shot must carry the deep and expansive waste bunker. Similar to the strategic decision posed by Strantz’s second hole at Royal New Kent, players choosing to try for the green in two must play the tee shot close to the edge of the waste area. However if they chicken out and wish to lay up, they have a tougher angle to the safe part of the fairway than players who played to the right hand side of the fairway. Shots that fail to reach the green will be lodged at the bottom of the bunker easily as deep and big as its counterpart at the fourth hole at World Woods. The par four fifth hole presents a similar challenge. At a scant 321 yards, it can be driven by longer hitters, but the scrub-choked sandy wasteland can mete out a stiff penalty to errant shots. Safe plays to the right will have anywhere from a 120 to160 yard approach in to a shallow green. Again, the bunker is deep and penal and guards both the front and right of the green. To further complicate the approach, the hole also features a false front green.

Strantz gives out a break at the par threes at Tobacco Road. None of them is longer than 178 yards from the regulation tees and 194 yards from the tips and the majority average merely 150 yards from the regular tees and 170 yards from the tips. Mid to short irons are a welcome relief. Nevertheless, Strantz found a fascinating way to add an ingenious strategic design characteristic to these short holes. The sixth is a perfect example. Instead of runway tees or tees merely staggered by distance, Strantz built five different teeing grounds scattered laterally. The green, which features three distinct tiers, appears very wide but shallow from some tee boxes, but sits deep and narrow from the others. Therefore from one set of tees, the hole tests accuracy and from the other tees, tests distance control.

The seventh is a refreshing change of pace from the scrub and pines look. As usual, the drive will disappear over a rise in the fairway and will carry a long way downhill. The second shot must carry a grassy wasteland very similar to that found on the eighteenth at Stonehouse. The seventh green also features a severe false front and is completely surrounded by bunkers as well as the wetlands.

The par four ninth hole brings the front side to a close with a dramatic flourish. On the teebox, huge tree covered mounds pinch the partially obscured fairway to what appears to be a spandex-tight opening. Once out in this arrowhead shaped fairway, the approach on this 412 yard dog leg left is severely uphill. The green is also dangerously narrow, guarded by enormous bunkers short and deep collection areas on either side. Accuracy is a must. Hit a draw off tee for best angle into the green, then hit a fade into green as its natural contours will feed the ball to right side hole locations. No less an expert than fellow critically acclaimed architect Brian Silva called this the best hole on the course. Strantz originally had designed an even more severe approach and more penal collection areas greenside. He decided on a somewhat more subdued design after being reminded by design partner Forrest Fezler that “Mike, my mom has to play this hole too.” Fezler nevertheless believes that the hole is more intimidating than demanding. When I shared my thoughts on the topic by asking, “OK…then how does your mom play that hole” he smiled and replied “From the Forward Tees…”

Strantz serves up another world-class risk reward par five at the eleventh. Although the hole is short (531 from the tips, 511 from the second box and 486 from the third), another cavernous, scrub-choked waste bunker extends from tee to green. The bunker gets deeper as it approached greenside. Finally, the green is dangerously shallow, especially at the back right. Interestingly, of all the tremendous holes Strantz has designed, he believes this hole would provide the greatest challenge to touring professionals, as the depth of the bunker combined with a tough back right pin placement would wreak havoc with depth perception and mete out severe punishment for errant shots.

The finish is thrilling and demanding. At the thirteenth tee, all bets are off and Strantz ratchets up the intensity several notches. Another long, straight drive is a prerequisite to even having a chance to reach this gargantuan par five in regulation. Here is a prime example of how it is easy to lose perspective. The fairway again disappears behind a massive 40-foot sand dune. More enormous dunes and trees block the direct approach to the green making it nearly impossible to reach in two. The second shot must be played semi-blind to a tight landing area to have even an approach shot to the green, which again, is guarded by two massive 40-foot sand dunes and is fully obscured. Near the cart path on the right side of the fairway, stands a wood-carving peg board of this very shallow, wide, severely elevated green. Balls hit one club long will be in or over the road and, therefore, out of bounds. Left and only a high lofted shot can reach the green. Right and you have the bump and run option. Leave a full shot to green as it calls for height and spin.

The fourteenth is a gorgeous par three which plays to a green set directly at the back of the clubhouse. A large lake guards the entire front and right hand side of the green beginning at the tee box. The hole plays one to clubs shorter.
Interestingly, this is another design feature Tobacco Road shares with World Woods – both courses feature only one water hazard on the entire golf course and on each course, the hazard appears on a par three and runs from tee to green.

Another massive waste bunker rises in front of the fifteenth tee box on this short dog leg right. In fact, on the last three tee shots, fifteen, sixteen and eighteen, all you see from the tee box is a massive waste area. Wooden stakes, or chimney flues, are provided as targets off the tee. The green is a unique u-shape and features hole locations on each of the two distinct sections – it is almost two green in one. Since the sides of the fairway are peppered with the now familiar sand dunes, the approach is semi blind. Be on the left side of the fairway of the tee to attack right side hole locations. Play to the right side of the fairway for the best angle into right side hole locations. After negotiating this same type of terrifying tee shot on number sixteen, the hole doglegs to the left, severely uphill, to a gorgeously framed green complex with waste area bunker rimmed by giant mounds.

The eighteenth is a brutal and unforgettable finish. A long uphill dog-leg right, it is easily Strantz’ most demanding final hole to date. Standing on the teebox, the only thing the player sees is a massive 180 yard long scrub-filled fairway bunker which runs uphill and disappears over a rise. A black flue at the end of the bunker serves as the player’s target line. The hole admirably emulates Pine valley’s famous “Hell’s Half Acre” bunker. “200 yards of hell” commented one of my playing partners. Even if the player finds the fairway off the tee, the approach will be semi-blind over tree covered mounds from the left side. The green opens up from the right, so a fade off the tee is the play to have a clear approach. The front pin placement is difficult as the green is only ten paces across and slopes off into correction areas or into more deep waste bunkers. Back pin placements offer more room for error. If you need a birdie for whatever reason, pray hard. Some say, the eighteenth at Tobacco Road is reminiscent of the twelfth at Gleneagles Kings course in Scotland.


A stunning, one after another thrill ride, Tobacco Road may be the coolest golf course on the planet. It is certainly one of the most unique. Part artistic triumph and part strategic masterpiece, The Road is like a book you can’t put down – each hole is a different chapter that unfolds irresistibly before you. In particular, the par fives are all showstoppers. Two offer heroic risk reward shot options for those brave enough to try to reach in two, while the others are true three-shotters calling for patience and precision to escape with par. The par threes are not only all postcard pretty, but feature variable distances and shot angles, making them play completely different from day to day. Finally, the par fours are imaginative and diverse designs testing all facets of a golfer’s game.

Further, as Strantz’ idol Alistair Mackenzie believed, great courses are meant to be replayed over and over and that is when they reveal their secrets. Strantz’ magnum opus to date, Tobacco Road is a treasure trove of strategic shot options and deserves to be played over and over again to truly savor the richness of its intricacies. Unless you have been to Scotland or Ireland to play Prestwick or Lahinch or Ballybunion, you have never seen anything like it before. Hopefully, Strantz will give us many more like it to come. Although some pundits begrudge the layout’s bold and daring design, failure to include Tobacco Road on any list of the country’s greatest courses is a colossal blunder.

The Road is a difficult golf course but not an unfair or overly penal one. Accuracy, not length is the primary concern. Tee shots must be carefully planned and flawlessly executed to have optimum approaches to the greens. Approaches must also be accurate to avoid the devilish chipping areas. Visually intimidating, the blind shots will frustrate inexperienced players. The blind shots are not only tough because they are blind but because the player is disoriented by being on a topsy-turvy fairway, where he may or may not have anything to aim for. A couple of 20-foot pins would not go amiss so that players at least have a flag to shoot at on thirteen and fifteen. The course may be best suited for match play as the finish is exciting and unpredictable. The ball can and often will bounce any crazy way.

Of the three sets of Strantz pairs, as a tandem, Tobacco Road and nearby sister course Tot Hill Farm are the toughest duo. Those who have difficulty with the rugged, links feel of Royal New Kent can turn the intensity down a notch at the slightly more familiar feeling Stonehouse. Those who have a difficult day at True Blue, will revel in the beauty and comfort of Caledonia. In North Carolina, whether you play Tot Hill Farm or Tobacco Road, precision and patience are the order of the day and the blind shots are more gut wrenching then at their northern or southern counterparts.

Although only 40 minutes from Pinehurst, one of the world’s greatest golf destinations, Tobacco Road has impressed enough critics to be put on the short list of courses to play in the area and competes admirably with such storied company. Exacting, exciting, and extraordinary, everyone must play Tobacco Road once in their life. The course can be played frequently for $60 or less during much of the year, and with stay and play packages starting as low as $133, it is as quintessential a golf value as Bethpage or Bandon Dunes.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The 16th at Tobacco Road

The approach to the 16th at Tobacco Road - Sanford, NC Posted by Hello


This course is so fantastic, it will take up two features. Run, don't walk to the Pinehurst/Sandhills region of NC for the greatest golf adventure you have had in ages...in the meantime, tune in next week for a hole by hole breakdown and more photos.

422 Tobacco Road
Sanford, NC

Architect: Mike Strantz
Par - 71
Excitement Level – 11/12
Difficulty – 11/12
Cost – Depending on season, Peak $75-$115,
shoulder seasons $45-$60, see website for latest pricing.
Yearly Memberships - None
Conditioning - Five Stars
Value - Five Stars

Tees Yards Rating Slope

Ripper 6532 73.2 150
Disc 6297 70.8 141
Plow 5886 68.6 131
Cultivator 5094 66.1 115

They shall beat their swords into plough shares and then beat their plough shares into a golf course…and then they shall try to keep score and they shall beat their clubs against their heads.

“I LOVE TOBACCO ROAD MORE THAN I LOVE MY MOM!!!” – anonymous player (shouting…really loudly…)

Tobacco Road’s designer Mike Strantz once quoted Alistair Mackenzie as saying, “The best holes give rise to the most bitter controversy.” To him, as fellow designer Tom Doak once opined also quoting Mackenzie, “golf course design is all about designing holes on the borderline where strokes can slip away so easily or be regained quickly and dramatically.” In this regard, Tobacco Road a triumphant tour de force. Combining his profound gift for designing great strategic holes with his limitless creative palette for artistic flair, Strantz wove wide, yet sinewy and elusive fairways and well protected greens amid heaving, expansive waste areas and hurly-burly sand mounds. The results are awe-inspiring. Perhaps no other public course in America is as thrilling to experience and has as many strategic options and risk-reward decisions. Part Pine Valley (and therefore World Woods) for its vast sandy waste areas and part Prestwick for its numerous blind drives and approaches, the result is a dazzling and unique synergy flawlessly executed to produce a course rich in risk reward options on a breathtaking canvas. It’s easy to see how players find Tobacco Road the most atmospheric and enjoyable four miles of potential triple bogeys ever designed.

But the road to recognition and respect has been as bumpy as the great rumpled course itself. As Strantz correctly anticipated, the dramatic, bold design has polarized some in the golf community and triggered controversy and frustration along with well-deserved acclaim. Years of target golf on parkland style layouts and the acceptance of “stick the pin” designs as “normal” by American professionals and amateurs alike has led some to opine that many of Tobacco Road’s ancient design concepts – blind shots and shots threaded through towering rough covered dunes – are anachronistic or contrived. Worse still, The Road, as it is affectionately called, is unyielding, consistently requiring shaped shots, a smooth, trusty swing to deal with the challenging shot values, and most of all patience.

Patience and creativity are two traits that have suffered of late when it comes to both critics and the playing public. By and large, blind shots are seen as a nuisance and overly difficult golf courses and unconventional designs are often too quickly dismissed as gimmicky. Some unimaginative and disgruntled players unfairly brand The Road with such a stigma. The very design elements they dismiss so high-handedly are derived from some of the most storied courses in the world. Nobody has a problem with the blind shots at Prestwick or Lahinch, but import them to America and a designer better have ear plugs or a bulletproof ego.

The difficulty of the course is derived directly from three factors. First, nobody is better than Strantz at optical illusion and nowhere do his optical illusions invoke more trepidation, confusion or frustration in a player than at Tobacco Road. Holes look cloak-and-dagger claustrophobic from the tee. Since the tee shots are sometimes blind, players and particularly first-time visitors, are uncertain exactly where to place their shot. (Always remember – when teeing off on a Strantz hole, go over the mound in front of you, Strantz’ fairways are behind the mound…) Adding to the illusion, it is difficult to orient oneself on the course as fairways are the furthest thing from straight ribbons from tee to green. Instead they wind around, over, and through the mountainous sand dunes. It’s one thing where Rees Jones creates inkblot shaped bunkers, it’s another where Strantz designs inkblot shaped fairways and greens.

However, in typical Strantz fashion, the fears from the teebox are misplaced as fairways are actually remarkably wide and this concealed width opens up a wealth of shot options for players, making the course eminently playable and enjoyable by all skill levels…if they hit their fairways. Nevertheless, several holes are not only blind off the tee but semi-blind or blind into the green as well. These greens are not merely well-guarded. Some greens curve around enormous sand dunes, others are recessed into the dune’s face, and still others are almost completely obscured by the dunes. These devilish green settings are often far above or below the fairway level and are guarded by exaggerated chipping areas that even Donald Ross would fear. Challenging to club, hard to visualize, severely uphill one minute, severely downhill the next, and severely around-hill after that, Strantz never lets a golfer catch his breath or bearings. The course rides like an angry, bucking steer. But it is that breathless feeling, that continual adrenaline rush one gets while playing The Road that makes it one of the World’s greatest golf thrills.

The ceaseless optical illusions and exacting shot requirements, especially on the approaches, are mentally and physically fatiguing and the course just gets increasingly harder as the round goes on. The optical illusions lead to uncertainty and uncertainty frequently becomes fear, which is the second and overriding factor in the course’s difficulty. Nervous, uncertain swings lead to disastrous results and wayward tee shots stand no chance of offering players a chance to play to the greens in regulation. Golf scores can turn to bowling scores in the span of just a few holes. More than any other course in the country, Tobacco Road demands patience and restraint bordering on the robotic.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, play the right set of tees for your skill level. This is the easiest problem a player can remedy. Par is 71, not 72 so the 6300 yard tees play closer to 6600. Players who insist on playing a set of tees beyond their skill level will fail to reach the knee of doglegs or may not be able to negotiate the forced carries off the tee.

The course is located only a half hour northeast of Pinehurst, yet despite its unyielding difficulty and proximity to such a renowned and revered golf destination, Tobacco Road has built a devout following among golf connoisseurs as one of the most creative, exciting and enjoyable tracks in the country. How can it compete under such seemingly long odds? Easy - affordability and ingenious design. It is also a quintessential match play course as fortunes of the round change from shot to shot, exactly what any truly great course evokes - and the road features such options and potential swings on each and every hole. With every hole not only not memorable, but indelible in its artistry and world-class in its shot values, Tobacco Road, along with Bandon Dunes, is the most important course to open in this country since Sawgrass and is one of the richest golf experiences in the entire World.

“Tobacco Road is easily one of the most intimidating courses you’ll ever set eyes on, but playability-wise it is actually quite easy. The look paralyzes your brain on overload – hence your swing tightens. But once you play it a few times you’ll get your comfort zone. That is what the great courses are all about, they make you think. And when you pull off that impossible shot, you’ll remember it forever. That’s what Mike wants. Where else can you get a thrill like that?” - Forrest Fezler, Mike Strantz design partner and former tour pro.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Number 2 at Bulle Rock

The 2d Hole at Bulle Rock. Photo courtesy of Steve Czaban and Bulle Rock G.C. Posted by Hello


Bulle Rock Worth Every Penny – by Steve Czaban

1. Play It

Lucky enough to play Bulle Rock GC in Havre de Grace, Maryland on Thursday. Bulle Rock is phenomenal. It is knock your Foot Joys off, awesome. The conditioning of the course, has never been anything but at the Tour quality level. Period. I’ve played there about 5 or 6 times now, and it never disappoints, no matter how dicey the weather may have been the last few weeks. If you want to get a sense of how hard “Tour conditions” are to play under, Bulle Rock will give you a taste. When greens stimp at 10 or more, the precision needed on every approach, chip, and putt will test your game to the max. And I played once on real “Tour” greens, at last year’s Kemper Open pro-am at Avenel. And those greens are even MORE insanely fast and hard. Now Bulle Rock is not cheap, and it takes a good two hours almost to get to from the D.C. market. But it is worth it. No question. Go there when your game is in mid-summer form, take a caddy, and stick around for a fabulous meal afterward, and order the crab-balls as an appetizer. The day will cost about $200 out the door, but trust me, you will NOT feel cheated, in any way.


320 Blenheim Lane
P.O. Box 506
Havre De Grace, MD 21078

Architect: Pete Dye
Par – 72
Excitement Level – 10/12
Difficulty – 9/12
Conditioning – Five Stars
Cost - $145
Yearly memberships – No
Value – Four stars

Bulle Rock was one of five courses selected by writer’s, fans and golf industry professional’s as a “Fan Favorite” for the main volume of A Walk in the Park. Listen to Sportswriter and broadcaster Steve Czaban every night on Fox Sports Radio and visit him on line at www.czabe.com.

MAILBAG! - Guest reviews, interviews and friends

Thanks to everyone who has written in, commented and participated. Coming soon will be the first guest feature - a course review of the terrific Bulle Rock facility in Havre De Grace, Maryland by nationally acclaimed radio and TV sports broadcaster Steve Czaban. Hailing from D.C., Czabe has galvanized a loyal nationwide following to his sports talk radio show on FOX SPORTS NET, and Sports Talk 980. Those of you from the DC area will love his weekly interviews with Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. You can also check out the country's best sportscaster, sportswriter and sports centric website ever at


We also wanna give a shout to Marv Beatty and his fun golf and PGA tour blog "Insta Marv" located at http://instamarv.blogspot.com

Its a great spot for a bird's eye view of what the pros are doing on tour.

This week's question is from Cody in Cherry Hill - "Dear Jay: How many courses have you visited and will you visit and what else will the books and blog have besides course reviews?"

So far the "course counter" sits at 204 courses nationwide that are ranked in the top 100 or top 10 in their respective states. I've hit 36 states so far. There are only about 30 more courses to play. The first volume - the national volume will portray 45 of the countries best golf values and atmosperic designs...true adventure golf. Just to whet your appetite...look soon for features on Bandon Dunes (Oregon), Tobacco Road (NC) and Bethpage as well as some hidden gems which will be featured. Even more courses will be featured here in the blog. Both the site and book will have interviews with prominent architects, playing and teaching professionals and fan and guest reviews...such as Czabe's on Bulle Rock. There will also be fan polls as to your favorite golf adventures and values.

Finally, the AWITP team is gearing up for their annual Florida New Year's swing. We'll be playing PGA Dye Course in Port St. Lucie, World Woods (see last week's feature) and Sawgrass. Look for the black O'Gio walking golf bag with the animal head covers fromDaphne's (the penguin, the buzzard, the antelope and the alligator). If you'll be playing Florida over the New Years holiday, drop us a line.