I played 15 unique golf courses in 2015. Four of which I’d played before. One of these was the closest muni; one was one I hadn’t given enough props to in the past; one was a course I don’t particularly like, but the round was comped; the other was a course that I really liked in the past, but went into disrepair, and luckily has new owners who are starting to turn it around.
Eleven courses were new. One of which I can assure you is a one-and-done course. The other ten are listed below, and culminate in my top ten courses played in 2015.
10) Linwood Country Club – Linwood, NJ
For the past three years, my family has vacationed in Ocean City, NJ. This summer was no different. I went for proximity in courses this time around. Linwood CC and Greate Bay CC (mentioned later) are the two closest courses to Ocean City. Linwood is a short-ish, but fun Herbert Strong layout. The views of the bay aren’t quite as numerous as its adjacent neighbor, Atlantic City CC, but it was certainly worth the play. Just mind a couple drives across the entrance road, as seen in the above photo.
9) Miami View Golf Club – Miamitown, OH
Warning: Homer pick. Miami View is one of Cincinnati’s only pure golf clubs, which makes is quite unique in the area. While the clubhouse is small and spartan (something I don’t mind one bit), the focus is on the golf facilities. The course is one of Bill Diddel’s last designs. It’s not a world-beater, but it’s a very fun members course. The par 3’s vary in length, and others take the driver out of your hand. Thanks to a very generous donation of a previous member, Miami View now has a great driving range. Along with a 50 yard chipping area, there are plans in the near future to expand its practice facilities. It’s easy to see why this club has a waiting list at a time many others are looking for members.
8) Sleepy Hollow Golf Course – Brecksville, OH
I finally broke my spell of not being able to play Cleveland public courses in less than six hours. Sleepy Hollow was a bunch of fun. Some of the fastest greens on a public course I’ve ever played. So fast, that later in my round, I saw the grounds crew watering greens, and actually change two hole positions. This was a good thing. The only thing missing at the hole placement of the tough, long par 3 2nd was the clown’s mouth.
7) Keller Golf Course – Maplewood, MN
The third course of my Minnesota golf trip. Has to be the best bang for your buck in United States golf. Recently renovated by Richard Mandell, Keller only costs $25 to walk on weekdays. I’m not a fan of the big tree that blocks the par 3 4th, but the uphill par 3 13th made up for it. And what a great photo to show off the course, but my buddy’s ass in front of a huge tree.
6) Dayton Country Club – Dayton, OH
I’m making it a goal of mine to hit each of the Ross courses in the Southwest Ohio, Indiana (only 2) and Kentucky (only 1) areas. Having already played Hamilton Elks, Miami Valley and Maketewah, I had a chance to hit up Dayton CC this fall. The first couple holes may have more elevation than the rest of the entire course. I’m slightly exaggerating, but not by much. Dayton CC is on a very small property (95 acres). The front 9 doesn’t feel too cramped, but things tighten up a bit on the back 9. A recent bunker renovation was very well executed.
5) Midland Hills Country Club – Roseville, MN
I live about 30 miles from one of Raynor’s best: Camargo Club. Yet, I had to travel two hours by plane to play my first Raynor. While the course may not have all the characteristics of a Raynor, it does have some and has a solid foundation. The Punchbowl at 14 and the renovated Biarritz 12th are two of my favorites on the course.
4) Windsong Farm Golf Club – Independence, MN
Windsong Farm is everything I would ever want in a club. Fantastic practice facilities with a family golf culture the likes of which I haven’t seen before. I got to stay two nights at the club’s on-course lodge; complete with outdoor lighted putting green! The course is a brute and certainly not for the faint of heart. My one criticism of the course is that there wasn’t really a hole that stood out in my mind. Nonetheless, this might be the coolest golf club I’ve seen yet. Also, everything on the menu was outstanding!
3) Greate Bay Country Club – Somers Point, NJ
This course is the closest to Ocean City. Despite enduring a downpour holes 2-6, I managed to get my act together after hole 7 and par 8 through 11; a feat for me. I really liked this Willie Park Jr. layout. The bunkering on the par 3’s was particular attractive. If you’re visiting Ocean City, want to play golf, and are strapped for time, this is the place to play.
2) Town & Country Club – St. Paul, MN
Town & Country Club is the second oldest club in the United States where golf is still played at its founding location. The only other club older is Shinnecock Hills. Pretty good company, eh? T&CC is one of the more memorable courses I’ve played. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. Take, for instance, back-to-back par 3’s at 2 and 3. Take the par 4 10th, which has to be seen to be believed. Take back-to-back…to-back par 5’s. Close it out with a par 3 finisher, and you get one of the more unique layouts in golf. Also, the view of downtown Minneapolis as you come to the crest of the 9th isn’t too bad either.
1) White Bear Yacht Club – White Bear Lake, MN
What can I say? One of those moments in life where you have very high expectations going in, only to have them far exceeded! I can’t say enough good things about the course at WBYC. I had heard about the undulating land, but one can’t really grasp it until they step on the first tee and look for themselves. The drive at the 5th, with a fairly busy road 40 yards out, is the most intimidating tee shot I’ve ever had. From the back tee box, which might be the smallest tee box I’ve ever hit from, the 12th at WBYC is one of the most fun driving holes out there. I was able to acquire one of the triangle shaped flags they have. This will gladly hang in my office; whenever I get around to clearing out the crap in the room that’s supposed to be my office. 🙂
Honorable mention: Though I didn’t get to play it, I did make a stop at Hazeltine National Golf Club; site of next year’s Ryder Cup. Touring through that clubhouse is like going through a museum. Memorabilia from all the U.S. Opens and PGA Championships the club has hosted are on display.
Need Ryder Cup gear? The pro shop is fully stocked. The staff was very welcoming to my visiting and their generosity is much appreciated.
What Does 2016 Hold?
That’s a good question. Locally, there probably won’t be a lot since I joined a club; aside from the 5 Ross courses I’m targeting. Perhaps one or two up in the Cleveland area when I visit my relatives. A family trip in the summer is still up in the air. The location of the 2016 Midwest Mashie is still TBD. Regardless, it’s going to be really hard to beat 2015.