Golf Course Reviews
As TeeTimes.net continues to grow, we wanted to take a moment to point out some of the fantastic golf courses and destinations recently added to our list of partners.
First up is Myrtle Beach, S.C., America’s undisputed king of vacation golf. Among the Grand Strand courses available for discount booking are longtime favorite Indigo Creek GC and Wicked Stick, John Daly’s first-ever design effort.
If you’ve ever wondered why so many folks rave about Chicago’s golf charms, now’s the time to find out. We feature more than 20 Windy City tracks, including highly rated George Dunne National.
Speaking of top-ranked courses, you can now book Ohio’s finest public course, Longaberger GC, right here at TeeTimes.net. Architect Arthur Hills outdid himself at Longaberger — owned and operated by the company that makes those famous, hand-crafted baskets – and the golf world took notice. Golfweek ranks Longaberger No. 1 in Ohio while Golf Digest places it No. 56 among America’s greatest public tracks.
We’ve also got the best of North Dakota’s best according to Digest, Hawktree GC (left). James Engh’s thrilling, linksy design incorporates just 80 acres of irrigated turf as it tumbles through the Burnt Creek valley.
Swinging down to New Mexico, we’ve proudly added the Golf Club at Rainmakers, Golf Digest’s fourth-rated course in this underrated golf state. It’s one of Robert Trent Jones II’s most scenic efforts.
If it’s scenery you’re after, few places can match the Bay Area. San Francisco’s Presidio GC occupies prime real estate just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The classic, 113-year-old course was once open only to military personnel and honored guests – fellows like Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.
That’s but a brief sampling of our newcomers, and we’re adding more all the time – so visit TeeTimes.net often to find great deals near you.
Now here’s an idea we can get on board with.
Angel Park Golf Club, a stalwart of the Las Vegas scene, now sets aside the first five tee times of each day for golfers who vow to complete 18 holes in 3 hours and 45 minutes or less. The “Express Lane” tee times alternate between Angel Park’s Mountain and Palm courses and have been a huge hit with players who prefer a brisk pace.
While actual times vary with the seasons, Angel Park currently blocks off slots from 7:00 – 7:28 a.m. for speedsters. To ensure that slowpokes aren’t unwittingly caught in the fast lane, golfers must sign an agreement stating that they’ll maintain the pace or face interruption to accommodate faster groups.
Golfers are also reminded of Express Lane rules when booking tee times, again with a note on their cart, and given a final nudge by the starter before teeing off. If all that fails to light a fire, groups falling behind might be whisked to the other course, asked to skip a hole, or slipped back in the queue behind the Express Lane racers.
Golf’s slow-play problems are no secret, especially in resort towns like Vegas. As round times creep ever higher, it becomes tougher to squeeze in 18 holes without devoting most of a day to the links.
Angel Park got the message.
“One of the things we consistently hear throughout the golf world is that it takes too long to play,” said Greg Brockelman, the club’s Director of Golf. “The reality is that most people live very busy lives. Whether it’s trying to catch up at work or other responsibilities at home, people have a hard time carving out five hours to play a round of golf. Not to mention that some golfers just like to play fast.”
They include Vegas resident Lowell Masters, who called the Express Lane “a win-win situation for us. We can tee it up in the morning, and get back to the house with the entire day still ahead of us.”
Angel Park’s pair of lush Arnold Palmer designs make it a favorite of Vegas visitors and locals. The club also features the Cloud Nine Short Course and a natural grass putting course.
Ask most American golfers to name the best state for golf and California would likely be their consensus choice. According to Golf Digest, however, the Golden State can’t compete with the likes of North Dakota, Vermont and Nebraska.
That’s right, the esteemed arbiter of all things golf ranks California 43rd among the 50 U.S. states when it comes to public course offerings. There’s a catch, naturally. Golf Digest’s ratings are based on great public courses per capita – which put California at a distinct disadvantage thanks to its population of 37,253,956.
That means that the 154 California courses rated 4 stars or higher in the magazine’s Best Places to Play guide – the most of any state – are spread more thinly than North Dakota’s six 4-star layouts (per 646,844 residents), Nebraska’s 17 (per 1,796,619 Cornhuskers) and Vermont’s half-dozen (for 621,760 snowbound citizens).
Given the methodology, the survey’s No. 1 state came as no surprise: Hawaii. The tropical paradise boasts 41 Golf Digest 4-star tracks on a population base of just 1,295,178. (That’s one for every 31,590 Hawaiians.) On this count, the magazine gets no argument from TeeTimes.net; we offer discounted rates at many of Hawaii’s finest, including:
Princeville (Prince Course) 5 stars – From $70
Kaanapali (Kai & Royal Kaanapali courses) 4 ½ stars & 4 stars – From $195
Kauai Lagoons (Mokihana Course) 4 stars – From $75
Kona CC (Mountain Course) 4 stars – From $150
Makena Resort (North Course) 4 stars– From $99
As for California, it did earn top honors from Golf Digest travel editor Matt Ginella, who placed it ahead of No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Hawaii and No. 5 South Carolina. “Matty G” rounded out his top 10 with North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida and Alabama.
Which state gets your vote?
It’s no secret that new golf course openings have slowed to a trickle in recent years. Between the glut of courses built in the 1980s and ‘90s and the continuing economic slump, there’s a serious shortcoming of demand for new tracks. That’s why in the U.S., a mere 42 opened in the 18 months ending with December 2010.
The trend is evident in Golf Digest’s decision to forego its annual rankings of the best new courses in America and Canada, instead opting to highlight architecture writer Ron Whitten’s picks for best new overseas destination, individual golf hole, and other highlights.
Hopefully, course construction will pick up pace in the coming years, giving Golf Digest enough choices to resume its yearly rankings. In the meantime, past honorees can proudly proclaim their pedigree. TeeTimes.net offers discounted rates at many of these, including:
PGA West, Stadium Course (La Quinta, Calif.) – No. 3, Best New Private, 1986 (now open to the public)
Treetops Resort, Jones Masterpiece Course (Gaylord, Mich.) – No. 2, Best New Resort, 1987 (then called Treetops at Sylvan)
Treetops Fazio Premiere Course (Gaylord, Mich.) – No. 3, Best New Resort, 1993
Desert Dunes GC (Desert Hot Springs, Calif.) – No. 3, Best New Public, 1989
Kauai Lagoons (Lihue, Hi.) – No. 1, Best New Resort, 1989
Old Corkscrew GC (Estero, Fla.) – No. 4, Best New Public ($75 and over), 2007
No matter how hard we try to stick to a budget, it’s human nature to splurge a little during the holidays. In the spirit of the season, we’ve picked out a foursome of top-notch golf courses that will set you back 100 bucks or so, but are well worth the price – especially since you’ll receive solid discounts by booking here at TeeTimes.net.
Best known for the enormous, raucous crowds it draws to the Waste Management Phoenix Open each year, the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is just as compelling when there’s no one around. For that you can thank the design work of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, who crafted one of their most inventive and flat-out fun layouts here in the desert.
Westin Mission Hills, Pete Dye Course (Rancho Mirage, Calif.) — From $113.40
Not your typical Pete Dye course, Westin Mission Hills tips out at just 6,706 yards. But don’t expect to be spared Dye’s usual assortment of pot bunkers, devilishly contoured greens and forced carries over water hazards. The lovely surroundings alone make the price tag worthwhile.
TPC Blue Monster at Doral (Miami, Fla.) – From $115
Card a par on the infamous 18th and you’ll have paid pennies on the dollar for lifelong bragging rights. The Blue Monster features 17 other great holes, too – we’re mighty fond of the par-4 third and par-5 eighth — and the pedigree that comes with hosting a PGA Tour event for 40-plus years. Winners here have included Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods. (Though we don’t recommend trying their tees at 7,288 terrifying yards.)
Step away from the blackjack table and tackle Bali Hai, located right on the Strip. You’ll know exactly where your greens fees are going when you see this course’s lush trappings – seven acres of water, 4,000 trees and 100,000 tropical plants and flowers. Golf-wise, Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley built a tantalizing test that increases in drama and difficulty as the round progresses.
As Americans prepare their bellies for a Thanksgiving gorge-a-thon, we thought it a good time to reflect on some of the things that make us grateful to be golfers and golf fans. Such as…
Courses where walking is allowed.
Courses that aren’t cramped with condos.
Forged irons with cavity backs.
Balls that deliver spin, but don’t cut when you hit them thin. (RIP balata.)
Tiger Woods’ entering 2011 with a new coach, new outlook, and new accessibility (Twitter, anyone?)
Tiger’s ex-wife Elin Nordegren, for taking the high road throughout her ordeal.
That someone other than Tiger claimed the PGA Tour’s money title and Player-of-the-Year honors, and that those someones were Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk.
Lightweight golf shoes.
Lightweight golf shafts.
Golfers who still carry a 2-iron – and know how to use it.
Beverage-cart girls who show up every few holes – and patiently put up with our obnoxious friends.
The Golf Channel.
Adherents to “minimalist” golf course design like Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
Firmer course conditions brought on by water conservation methods. Golf is better when the ball rolls.
Arnold Palmer, still going strong at age 81. A Ketel One toast to the King.
Golf’s continued standing as a game of honor.
Ryan Moore’s rebellious-yet-traditional approach to golf fashion.
Celebrities who do charitable work through golf, like Justin Timberlake.
Camelback GC, Padre Course (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) – From $59
Indian Hills GC (Riverside, Calif.) – From $18
Deer Island CC (Tavares, Fla.) – From $32.40
The Golf Club at Champions Circle (Fort Worth, Tex.) – From $27
Casa Blanca GC (Mesquite, Nev.) – From $30
Makena Golf Courses, North (Makena, Hi.) – From $59
Las Vegas is known for luring tourists with cheap flights, cheap hotel rooms and cheap buffets. Golf is another matter.
The highest of Sin City’s high-end courses boast some positively scandalous greens fees. Sure, you get a lot of flash for your cash, but not many folks can afford to drop $500 or more on a round of golf. (Especially with the blackjack table beckoning.)
Rates have dropped a bit during the current economic downturn, which has hit Nevada especially hard. Right here at TeeTimes.net, you can book some of Vegas’ top tracks for discounts of 25-50%. We suggest visiting our Nevada page often, then clicking on This Week’s Top Deals as new rates are posted regularly.
When it comes to Vegas value, we’re partial to these terrific courses:
Desert Pines GC – From $79
Pete Dye’s prints are all over Las Vegas. The designer placed a softer touch here than at many of his more notorious layouts, though Desert Pines does feature water hazards on half of its 18 holes. Of course, it’s not called Desert Pines for nothing – thousands of trees dot the fairway edges.
Las Vegas GC – From $49
Tourists don’t exactly flock to the city’s only municipal course – and its oldest course, period – which makes Las Vegas GC a great bargain. It’s a mature, parkland-style track that was built in 1938, but a $5 million upgrade helps LVGC keep pace with its upscale neighbors in terms of conditioning and amenities.
Silverstone GC – From $56
Silverstone’s 27 Bob Cupp-designed holes include the state’s longest par 5, the 653-yard third hole on the Mountain nine. Cupp’s courses are always interesting and he didn’t disappoint at Silverstone, whose bentgrass greens roll quick and true.
How do you overlook a major metro that sits between the western hemisphere’s largest salt lake and a towering, snow-capped mountain range?
That’s what Salt Lake City wants to know.
Golfers tend to ignore SLC in favor of flashy Las Vegas, bewitching Mesquite, Nevada, or the red-rock panorama of St. George, Utah. That’s too bad, because Salt Lake City has plenty of terrific golf courses – and the views to match.
Visitors to Salt Lake City can’t go wrong with this trio of local favorites, all bookable at discount rates here at TeeTimes.net.
Eaglewood GC (North Salt Lake City) – From $38
Great views of Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains: check. Convenient location: check. Top-notch course design: check. Yep, Eaglewood’s got it all, from scenery to proximity to downtown SLC (seven miles away) to a memorable layout by Keith Foster. There’s 600 feet of elevation change from Eaglewood’s highest point to its lowest. In between, Foster weaved imaginative holes criss-crossing hilltops, ponds and creeks to create one of the city’s finest tracks.
Stonebridge GC (West Valley City) – From $55
Best known for his mercurial play and incisive television commentary, Johnny Miller has made a mark in the course-design arena as well. Stonebridge boasts 27 holes of Miller’s handiwork amid red-rock bridges and copious water features. Miller integrated links-style elements like broad fairways and native grasses to ensure a high “enjoyability” factor.
West Ridge GC (West Valley City) – From $23
West Ridge head pro Mike Richards describes this course’s vistas as “unmatched,” and he’ll get no argument here. Like its neighbor Stonebridge, West Ridge presents links-like characteristics in this decidedly un-linksy landscape. Hazards abound — including water on six holes — as do dramatic rises and drop-offs.
Has watching this weekend’s Deutsche Bank Championship, held at the TPC Boston, got you wondering just what a “TPC course” is? And whether you can actually play one?
To answer the second question first, yes, you can. In fact, you can book discounted rates at a handful of TPC tracks right here at TeeTimes.net. (We profile a few faves below.)
To answer question No. 1, TPC is short for Tournament Players Club. The network of TPC courses, numbering more than 30 around the U.S., is a subsidiary of the PGA Tour. Some are private clubs, but most are open to the public as resorts or daily-fee facilities.
One thing they share – all TPC courses are contractually guaranteed to host a PGA, Champions or Nationwide Tour event, although not necessarily on a permanent basis.
Other common denominators: Designed by name-brand architects, TPC courses feature tour-level conditions, facilities and services.
If you’re interested in tackling a TPC layout, read on for our quick takes on three of them.
TPC Louisiana (Avondale) – From $39
Host to the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the TPC Louisiana is a typically original Pete Dye design. The wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta – reminiscent of the swampy Northeast Florida stew from which Dye dredged the very first TPC course, Sawgrass – create all sorts of intrigue. So do the par 4s, a mixture of short and long holes that keep a golfer’s interest level sky-high.
Bobby Weed is a well-known architect in Florida thanks to his expertise at shaping the state’s unique terrain into unique golf courses. Chi Chi Rodriguez helped Weed craft the TPC Tampa Bay, home of the Champions Tour’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am and a harmonious fit with the marshy surroundings. Don’t let the amazing array of critters, including otters, eagles and alligators, distract you from the course. Like the wildlife, the TPC Tamp Bay can bite.
This 36-hole complex boasts one of the PGA Tour’s most fun tracks, the Stadium Course. Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf outdid themselves here, carving a series of strategic-golf gems through the desert. Designer Randy Heckenkemper did the honors next door at the Champions Course, where ravines and foothills mirror the diversity of the holes themselves.
We received a request from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui to provide a mention of a Golf Tournament that they are holding at the Makena Golf Course on Saturday, October 30, 2010. Here is their announcement:
At the Boys & Girls Clubs, we believe every child has the potential to BE GREAT. How can you help Maui’s kids to reach their full potential?
By supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui – Fifth Annual Benefit Golf Tournament, scheduled for Saturday, October 30th at Makena Golf Course, Maui, Hawaii. For more information visit our website at www.BGCMaui.org
When you support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui, you send the message that all young people can BE GREAT!
BE A Leader, BE Giving, BE GREAT
Mahalo for your kokua!
Best of luck to you on your event! We love the golf course.
PS… Have an event being held at a golf course featured on our website? Drop us a line and we will spread the news.