Course Reviews/Travel


Sand Valley Golf Resort - Heathland in the Heartland PDF Print E-mail

 

Heath: shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile,

acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation.


 

Story and photos by Jason Bruno

Perhaps the most anticipated new entry in American golf destinations is Sand

Valley Golf Resort. Mike Keiser's latest golf utopia is located in the "Badger State"

in the Central Wisconsin town of Nekoosa. Earlier this summer we made our way

to Sand Valley to experience the latest golf treasure in a state that is quickly

becoming known for being one of the finest golf meccas in the world.

 

The over 1700 acres of rippling heathland naturescape that features sand dunes

usually only found on the coastlines of Scotland and Ireland is an idyllic setting

for golf. The property at Sand Valley is the type of site that course designers dream

their whole lives about, and having Keiser as the principal only amplifies the

pedigree. Already open for play is the course that bears the resort's name - Sand

Valley. Crafted by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (that officially opened on May 2nd

of this year), the course has trace elements of many of their other fine works,

most notably Bandon Trails and Sand Hills (although Trails does open and finish

along the gusty shores of Oregon's Pacific coast). About the only thing missing at

Sand Valley is the coastline.

 

David McLay Kidd's - Mammoth Dunes, which is now open for 9 holes of preview

play is something to behold, a brawny eclectic mix of designs that's inspired by

a renewed and re-energized original and his evolved thought process regarding

golf course architecture. MD is slated to officially open in the summer of 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

In true Mike Keiser style, the resort at Sand Valley is a natural and modest

setting that's ultra functional in all forms. Not unlike Bandon, the hardcore

linkster will truly appreciate the minimalist vibe here. The Clubhouse that

includes pro shop, restaurant and lodging had just opened the week before

we arrived, and although there were still a few details to be finished up, the

rooms, service and cuisine were spot on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an image tells a thousand words, than this one had me at hello. The

accommodations at the lodge are spacious and the views are grand. After

trekking 8 miles up and down the dunes of Sand Valley, it's important to

shift beyond the grind and experience comfort of the body and mind. No

detail was left unanswered, the beds are just right, the proper shower

(which is a key component of links recovery) which includes a sitting

bench. The in-room Keurig coffee machine is really convenient, and made

for a glorious morning. If that wasn't enough, the views of Mammoth Dunes

at sunset are priceless. Also, just in case you were wondering (and it's

likely you weren't), the carpet in the room rolls the perfect putting

speed of about a 10 on the stimp meter. Sometimes it's just the little

things, through multiple weather delays the flatstick was put to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the back porch outside my clubhouse lodge accommodations

is of the first hole on the newest design at Sand Valley - David McLay Kidd's

Mammoth Dunes.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Another angle of the view from the back porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Leopold cottages are located between the clubhouse/lodge and

the first tee on the Coore/Crenshaw course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Craig's Porch overlooks the 1st and 10th tees and acts as a pre-round and

halfway house eatery. The 18th green also is situated just below, so a there's

another chance after the round to grab another brisket slider. You can't have

just one - they're absolutely delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hangout just below Craig's Porch is another ideal spot to soak in the setting

or just relax before or after the round. You can watch golfers play the first,

tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth holes from here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New construction continues to emerge at Sand Valley. More lodging, a Coore/

Crenshaw short course and there are rumors of additional courses in the future

as well.

 

I'd really like to see Keiser branch out a bit and include a designer that he hasn't

worked with before like Jay Blasi (Chambers Bay), Michael Hurdzan (Erin Hills) or

even ASGCA President John Sanford (Ferry Point) - all very talented and highly

creative minds worthy of a site of this quality.

 

 

 

To say the central Wisconsin weather was uncooperative for golf and photography

would be a serious understatement. Numerous persistent thunderstorms pummeled

the area on day 1 of our visit, we only got in a total of 4 holes. Day 2 was an

exercise in patience and determination, after bolting first off the tee at 6:15 a.m,

we barely completed the front 9 before lightning and thunderstorms once again

blitzed the area, halting us for an additional 3 hours. Then finally, six hours

after teeing off, the 5 footer on the 18th dropped for birdie. After a quick bite, I

met Michael Keiser Jr, Glen Murray (the General Manager at SV), David McLay

Kidd and his globe trotting course design accomplice Casey Krahenbuhl. Kidd

then took me to get a preview of their work on Mammoth Dunes. A huge thrill

since I've been an admirer of David's work for quite some time. He was kind

enough to give me the grand tour and all the while looping the bag while we

discussed course philosophy and some of his prior work. It was an experience

any course design enthusiast would greatly appreciate (for a 30 year landscaper,

turf head and golf scribe, it was as good as it gets).

 


 

 

image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

The par 4 - first at Mammoth Dunes

 

 


(coming soon)  Our conversation with DMK in Bruno's Blog:

"A Mammoth Stroll with David McLay Kidd".

 

 

It should be noted that one of the best things about Sand Valley is the variety

and playability created by the designers here. The tips are a modest 6913 yards

at Sand Valley and the three shortest sets of tees: Green - 5557 yards, Silver -

4757 yards and Royal Blue at 3883 yards. In other words, it's super playable

for everyone who wants to play, but there is one catch - it's a walking only

facility with caddies readily available.

 

 

From the orange tees (6500 yards), the short par 4 - 1st hole plays just

325 yards. A slight right to left shaped shot with a fairway club is the play

here as the fairway falls off to the native area on the right. Nothing more

than a wedge for your approach. This is a welcoming starting hole and a

chance to post a red number on the card right out of the gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

At 395 yards, the dogleg right 2nd requires discipline. No more than a 230 yard

tee shot leaves you just short of the cross bunkers. An uphill semi-blind approach

shot to a severely sloped (back to front) green here on the 2nd hole will be the

first true test of the day. The miss here is short, anything missed pin high left or

right leaves a tough chance to get up and down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 - 3rd is another example of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's affinity

for the designs of C.B MacDonald and Seth Raynor. This modern day "Redan"

is 192 yards but plays shorter because it's slightly downhill and the crest of the

slope will feed the ball towards any hole location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 - 4th is the longest hole on the course at 593 yards from the tips

(557 from the orange tees). It plays directly uphill so three accurate well

struck shots are required here. This particular hole design felt reminiscent

of one of Coore/Crenshaw's lesser known designs - the now deceased Sugarloaf

Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 164 yard par 3 - 5th is a bit of a sleeper. The extreme elevation of the

tee makes it play far less than the actual yardage, but don't underestimate the

challenge here. Notice the far left pin position, it appears fairly innocent from this

view, but there is only a small area to land your ball or it will be repelled off the

green, requiring the touch of a brain surgeon to save par. A worthy short par 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 455 yard par 4 -sixth was not only the toughest hole on the course, but

it was also one that impressed from a design perspective, but it likely won't

be a favorite of the masses. Why you ask? It doesn't have any real elevation

to speak of, or anything really unique visually, but it's a good old fashioned

strap it on golf hole that requires your absolute two best strikes to have a

chance at par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I'm a big advocate of playing different tees during a given round, either to

accommodate your skill set or to create more buzz amongst your group on

a given hole. Many never even consider moving a box up (or back) to make

a given hole play more interesting. The sixth is a prime example, the big

hitter will welcome the exam, while the senior or high handicap player can

easily struggle here. The best players will take the bold line challenging the

left fairway bunker, while the recreational player will have to play around the

sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the freshly cut green complex here on the sixth, we were making

good time trying to beat the weather. This 90 foot shortgame challenge

proved too much for my early morning bump and run skills. No par save

here. That's a championship golf hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 536 yard par 5 - seventh tee sports an elongated bunker that runs

the entire length of the tee shot and then some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you get closer to the green, this linear fairway bunker guards the left

side and acts as a clever misdirection to the right as the fairway veers

back to the left. Easily one of the best designed sand complexes on the

front nine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the bunkering here on the 7th shows the minimalist

style that designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are known for .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the seventh and the predicament of a shortgame

grinder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the demanding sixth, the finishing three of the outward nine are

just a blast and offer legit opportunities to get healthy on the scorecard.

The short uphill eighth is no exception, it played 118 yards, requiring

nothing but a smooth and precise gap wedge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the sight as you walk over the rise after putting out at the eighth,

the driveable downhill ninth might provide the biggest adrenaline rush on

the course. It played 281 yards to the front pin. After a decent drive I was

pin high left in the swale between the trees and bunkers and it took a pretty

creative pitch to get it on and walk out of there with a par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ninth, this one from the very top of the hill. You didn't come

all the way to the heartland to lay up, did you? The tees range from 150 yards to

305 yards, so there's a sensible risk/reward opportunity for everyone - so find the

tee box that gives you a chance and let it rip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the ninth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view of the 541 yard par 5 tenth from Craig's Porch. The line for big hitters is

directly over the center bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The approach at the tenth shows the overall right to left tilt of the green

complex. The best angle to this green is from the left side allowing for

the ground game to be a factor.


 

 

 

 

 

It only plays 387 yards, but the eleventh demands respect and favors a

slight draw between the bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the eleventh plays slightly uphill, anything short will be

repelled back down towards the fairway. Beyond the green, you can see the

mound and thick rough, leaving a slim chance to save par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo from the back right side of the eleventh green shows the severe

tilt from back to front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky was becoming threatening once again as I teed off at the short

par 5 - 12th. The aggressive line is over the trees in line with the white

tee markers, otherwise favor the right side.


 

 

 

 

 

 

With hundreds of acres of native sand visible at SV, this fairway cross bunker

at the twelfth is probably my favorite gnarled creation - it looks demonic and

spectacular all at the same time. Just magnificent stuff by the Cooore/Crenshaw

design squad. I'm thrilled to say that I didn't have to play out of it though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course they follow it with yet another just a few yards closer to the green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 175 yard par 3 fourteenth felt like we were dropped off at Pine Valley, a

rugged beauty that is easily to be enamored with. Overall, the one shotters at

SV are top shelf and offer magnificent variety of design and length - one short

(8th), two medium (3 & 14) and one long (17). Here at the fourteenth, the two

levels require proper distance control to have a decent chance at birdie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tee on the dogleg left 451 yard par 4 sixteenth, easily the most

formidable on the inward side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can tell by the ominous sky that we were lucky to get this round in.

Stay out of this nasty bunker that guards the center of the fairway at the

sixteenth, it's a mandatory pitch out. Par on this hole is quite an achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "Punch Bowl" par 3 seventeenth is a beast. It played all of 226 yards to the

back flag location. Once again choose the appropriate box and torch your Sunday

best over the right mound and let the contours do the rest. Needing two birds

to get back to level, this was going to require something special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're a fan of course design, you're likely to appreciate the green complex

here on the seventeenth, the slopes will assist in funneling even slightly errant

shots onto the elongated putting surface. From there the task has just begun.

Bent grass was a a good choice for the greens at SV, can't ever complain about

making a 3 here on this the toughest of the par 3's at Sand Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 eighteenth is a fantastic finisher. Playing straight uphill at 507

yards from the orange tees. Avoid the fescue on the left, and the numerous

bunkers along the right side. Perhaps your two best swings will give you a

chance to walk off on a high note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bunkering around the eighteenth is vast, and luckily I managed to avoid it,

just clearing the sand with a 3 wood. I couldn't resist capturing this image from

about 50 yards out. A successful up and down for birdie 4 from just in front of

the green made lunch taste just bit sweeter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between, the Mammoth Terrace (above)

and Mammoth Bar & Grill is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy the Heathland

views, and delicious food and spirits.

 

 

 

An Ode to Keiser


As I headed east towards Erin Hills to cover the spectacle that is the U.S Open, it

dawned on me - It's a great time to be golfer, especially in North America, and a

lion's share of that is due in large part to one man - Mike Keiser. It's not just the

golf landscapes like Bandon, Cabot and Sand Valley that he has founded through

his vision and resources, but it's also his incredible conservation efforts like the Wild

Rivers Coast Alliance and the native foliage and plant life he preserves and strictly

demands the same of his course designers on each and every parcel of the properties

that have become links sanctuaries to us all. What he does with his influence and

passion is create and preserve the things that are most sacred - experiences with

nature. Consistently, Keiser makes things better than he found them and surrounds

himself with talented people who share the vision that bonds passionate golfers

that prefer golf in it's most pure and raw state. When he was once asked "What

would you like your legacy in golf to be?" Keiser answered: "He built golf courses

that withstood the test of time."

 

I think we can safely check that box. For that, I say Thank You Mr.Keiser . . .

 

 

 

 

Fee structure for golf at Sand Valley is extremely reasonable:

 

Ranging from Mon-Wed     $85 (low season) - $150 (high season) resort guest

Thurs-Sun  $105 (low season) - $195 (high season) resort guest

 

Mon-Wed    $95 (low season) - $175 (high season) day guest

Thurs-Sun $125 (low season) - $215 (high season) day guest

 

*Replay rates are 50% off posted rates.

 

 


 

9 hole Preview Play now available on Mammoth Dunes (image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Mammoth Dunes par 3 -16th

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Just announced (8/15) - New Coore & Crenshaw Short Course

will begin a complimentary 6-hole loop that will be available for

lodging guests staying Sept. & Oct. 2017.


Also the Heathland Cup will take place Sept. 2nd-4th, 2017 -

54 holes Best Ball Tournament

 

For more information: http://www.sandvalleygolfresort.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


By Jason Bruno

 

Heath: shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile,

acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation.

Perhaps the most anticipated new entry in American golf destinations is Sand

Valley Golf Resort. Mike Keiser's latest golf utopia is located in the "Badger State"

in the Central Wisconsin town of Nekoosa. The over 1700 acres of rippling heathland

naturescape features sand dunes usually only found on the coastlines of Scotland

and Ireland, not in a land locked mid-western setting. Already open for play is the

original layout crafted by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (that officially opened on May

2nd of this year), and David McLay Kidd's - Mammoth Dunes, which is now open for

9 holes of preview play (the Grand Opening will take place likely in July of '18). Earlier

this summer we made our way to the resort to experience the latest golf treasure in

a state that is quickly becoming known for being one of the best golf meccas in the

world.

 

 

 

 

In true Mike Keiser style, Sand Valley exudes a natural and modest atmosphere

that's ultra functional in all forms. Not unlike Bandon, the hardcore linkster will

truly appreciate the minimalist vibe of Sand Valley. The lodge had just opened

the week before we arrived, and although there were still final details to be finished

up, the rooms, service and cuisine were spot on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an image tells a thousand words, than this one had me at hello. The accommodations

at the lodge are spacious and the views are grand. After trekking 8 miles up and down

the dunes of Sand Valley, it's important to shift beyond the grind and experience comfort

of the body and mind. No detail was left unanswered - the beds are just right, the

proper shower, which is a key component of physical recovery, included a sitting bench

in the shower (a wonderful idea that aided in feet/leg recovery). The in-room Keurig

coffee machine is really convenient, and made for a happy morning. Just in case you

were wondering (and it's likely you weren't), the carpet in the room rolls the perfect

putting speed of about a 10 on the stimp meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the back porch outside my lodge accommodations is of

the first hole on the newest design at Sand Valley - David McLay Kidd's

Mammoth Dunes.

 

 


 

 

Another angle from outside our room.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Leopold cottages are located between the clubhouse/lodge and

the first tee on the Coore/Crenshaw course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Craig's Porch overlooks the 1st and 10th tees and acts as a pre-round and

halfway house eatery. The 18th green also is situated just below, so a there's

another chance after the round to grab another brisket slider. You can't have just

one - delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

The hangout just below Craig's Porch is an ideal spot to soak in the setting

or just relax before or after the round. You can watch golfers play the first,

tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth holes from here.

 

 

 

 

New construction continues to emerge at Sand Valley. More lodging,

a Coore/Crenshaw short course and McLay Kidd's Mammoth Dunes

which takes full flight in 2018. There are rumors of additional courses

in the future as well. Would love to see Keiser branch out a bit and include

designers that he hasn't worked with before like Jay Blasi, Michael Hurdzan

or even ASGCA President John Sanford - all very talented and highly creative

minds worthy of a site of this quality.

 

 

 

My only beef with the visit was with mother nature, to say the Central Wisconsin

weather was uncooperative for golf and photography would be a serious

understatement. Numerous persistent thunderstorms pummeled the area on

day 1 of our visit offering no quarter, we were granted a total of 4 holes. Day 2

was an exercise in patience, after starting first off the tee at 6:15 a.m, I barely

completed the front 9 before lightning and thunderstorms once again blitzed the

area before halting us for an additional 3 hours.

Then finally the last putt on the Coore/Crenshaw course dropped for birdie

6 hrs after we teed off at 6:15 am. After a quick bite, I met up David McLay

Kidd to discuss and preview his new Mammoth Dunes layout. See our Bruno's

Blog section for "A Mammoth Stroll with David McLay Kidd".

 

Before we feature the course, it should be noted that one of the best things

about Sand Valley is the variety and playability created by Coore/Crenshaw

(and David Kidd). The tips are a modest 6913 yards on the CC course and the

three shortest sets of tees are Green - 5557 yards, Silver - 4757 yards and

Royal Blue 3883 yards. In other words, if you can walk and swing a club you

can play Sand Valley. Kudos to that . . .

 

From the orange tees (6500 yards), the short par 4 - 1st hole plays just

325 yards. A slight right to left shaped shot with a fairway club is the play

here as the fairway falls off to the native area on the right. Nothing more

than a wedge for your approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 395 yards, the dogleg right 2nd requires discipline. No more than a 230 yard

tee shot leaves you just short of the cross bunkers (shown above). An uphill semi-

blind approach shot to a severly sloped green (back right to bottom left) will be

the first true test of the day. The miss here is short, anything missed pin high

left or right leaves a brutal chance to get up and down.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 - 3rd is another example of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's affinity

for the designs of C.B MacDonald and Seth Raynor. This modern day "Redan"

is 192 yards but plays shorter because it's slightly downhill and the crest of the

slope will feed the ball towards any hole location. I executed the shot to the top

of the slope and it played exactly as it was designed feeding across the green

leaving an uphill 15 footer. Be careful to not overcook a draw into the left bunker,

the native sand is a true hazard at SV.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 - 4th is the longest hole on the course at 593 yards from the tips

(557 from the orange tees). It plays directly uphill so three accurate well

struck shots are required here. This particular hole design felt reminiscent

of Coore/Crenshaw's prior work at Sugarloaf Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

The 164 yard par 3 - 5th is a bit of a sleeper. The extreme elevation of the

tee makes it plays far less than the actual yardage, but don't underestimate the

challenge here. Notice the far left pin position, it appears fairly innocent from this

view, but there is about a 6 foot circle to land your ball or else it will be repelled

in nearly every direction. This hole location offers perhaps the greatest amount of

slope of perhaps any on the course. A great short par 3.

 

 

 

 

 

The 455 yard par 4 -sixth was not only the toughest hole on the course, but

it was also one that impressed from a design perspective, but it likely won't

be a favorite of the masses. I'm a big advocate of playing eclectic tees during

a given round, either to accommodate your skill set or to create more buzz

amongst your group on a given hole. The 6th is a prime example, the big hitter

will welcome the exam, while the senior or high handicap player can get

bludgeoned on a brute like the sixth. The better player will take the bold line

challenging the left fairway bunker, while the recreational player will have to

play around the hazard. In other words, choose your tee box wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

6th

 

 

 

 

A closer view of the sixth shows the 6th fairway bunker and large greenside

sand that guards the right half of the green.

 

 

 

 

Notice the freshly cut green complex here on the sixth, I was the first one

on the course and was setting a blistering pace of play. After a big tee shot

and a less than mediocre approach, this 90 foot shortgame test was presented

(and failed to be executed successfully).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 536 yard par 5 - seventh tee

 

 

 

 

This linear fairway bunker guards the left side and acts as a clever misdirection

to the shortgrass tha trails to the left.

 

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the bunkers at SV shows off Bill Coore's minimalist style.

Many of the Sand Valley's hole designs will remind fans of their fine work

at Bandon Trails.

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at  the seventh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front nine at SV is about as memorable as any we've experienced in

recent memory, a super mix of short/long, challenging and fun. After the

demanding sixth, the finishing three of the outward nine are just a blast,

and offer legit opportunities to get healthy on the scorecard. The short uphill

eighth is no exception - it played 118 yards, requiring nothing but a smooth

and precise wedge.

 

 

 

 

The driveable downhill ninth may be the most fun design on the course. It

played 281 yards to the front pin, which is just about at my maximum for

the big stick, so we had to have a go. What a hole! I was pin high left in the

swale between the trees and bunkers and it took a pretty creative pitch to

get out of there with a par.

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ninth, you didn't come all the way to Nekoosa to lay up,

with tees ranging from 150 yards to 305 yards there's risk/reward opportunity

for everyone - so find the tee box that gives you a chance and let it rip.

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the ninth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view of the 541 yard par 5 tenth from Craig's Porch. The line for big hitters is

directly over the center bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

The approach at the tenth shows the overall right to left tilt of the green

complex. The best angle to this green is from the left side allowing for

the ground game to be a factor.


 

 

 

 

 

It only plays 387 yards, but the eleventh demands respect and a slight draw between the bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the eleventh plays slightly uphill, anything short will be

repelled back down the towards the fairway. Beyond the green, you can see

the mound and thick rough, leaving a slim chance to save par.

 

 

 

 

 

The photo from the back right side of the eleventh green shows the severe

tilt from back to front.

 

 

 

 

 

12th tee

 

 

 

 

 

With hundreds of acres of native sand visible at SV, this fairway cross bunker

at the twelfth is probably my favorite gnarled creation - it looks demonic and

spectacular all at the same time. Just magnificent stuff by the Cooore/Crenshaw

design squad. Having stated such, I'm thrilled to say that I didn't have to play

out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

And of course they follow it with yet another just a few yards closer to the green.

 

 

 

 

 

The 175 yard par 3 fourteenth felt like we were dropped off at Pine Valley, a

rugged beauty that is easily to be enamored with. Overall, the one shotters at

SV are a top shelf and offer magnificent variety of design and length - one short

(8th), two medium (3 & 14) and one long (17). Here at the fourteenth, the two

levels require proper distance control to have a decent chance at birdie.

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

The tee on the dogleg left 451 yard par 4 sixteenth, easily the most formidable on the inward side.

 

 

 

 

You can tell by the ominous sky that we were lucky to get this round in

(and this was after a nearly 2 1/2 hour delay between each nine). Stay

out of this nasty bunker at all costs, located dead center in the middle

of the fairway at the sixteenth. Par on this hole is quite an achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

The "Punch Bowl" par 3 seventeenth is a beast. It played all of 226 yards to the

back flag location. Torch your Sunday best over the right mound and the contours

will do the rest. Needing two birds to get back to level, this was going to require

something special.

 

 

 

 

 

If you're a fan of course design, you're likely to appreciate the green complex

here on the seventeenth, the slopes will assist in funneling even slightly errant

shots onto the putting surface, but from there the task has just begun. There are

numerous ripples waves and knobs in this green that quickly have you realizing

that the the strike from the tee was perhaps the easy step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 eighteenth is a fantastic finisher. Playing straight uphill at 507

yards from the orange tees. Avoid the trouble, and perhaps your two best

swings will give you a chance to walk off on high note.

 

 

 

 

The bunkering around the eighteenth is vast, and luckily I managed to avoid it,

but couldn't resist capturing this image from 50 yards out. A successful up and

down from just in font of this green made lunch taste just bit sweeter.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between, the Mammoth Terrace (above)

and Mammoth Bar & Grill is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy the Heathland

views, and delicious food and spirits.

 

 

An Ode to MK

As I headed east towards Erin Hills to cover the circus that is the U.S Open, it

dawned on me - It's a great time to be golfer, especially in North America, and a

lion's share of that is due in large part to one man - Mike Keiser. It's not just the golf

landscapes like Bandon, Cabot and Sand Valley that he has founded through his

vision and resources, but it's also his incredible conservation efforts like the Wild

Rivers Coast Alliance and the native foliage and natural plant life preserves that he

demands his course designers protect on each and every parcel of the properties

that have become links sanctuaries to us all. What he does with his influence and

Passion is create and preserve the things that we often don't appreciate enough.

He consistently makes things better than he found them and surrounds himself

with talented people who share the vision that bonds lovers of golf in it's most

minimal state. Even the most humble leaders of industry need to be acknowledged,

for they are rare and irreplaceable. Thank You Mr.Keiser . . .

 
Sentry World PDF Print E-mail

 

 

 

By: Jason Bruno

 

Sentry World, located in the central Wisconsin town of Stevens Point has long

been known as the state's first true golf destination. This area, commonly referred

to as the "Gateway to the North Woods" is the link between the rolling farmlands

of the Badger state and the lake country to the north. The vision for this grand

daily fee parkland layout originated with the late (and former Sentry Insurance

Chairman) John Joanis. Joanis hired Robert Trent Jones Jr to design this midwest

beauty that opened to rave reviews back in June, 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

It was Joanis and RTJ II's collaboration that led to the creation of the Par 3

signature sixteenth known as the "Flower Hole".

 

 

 

After a damaging wind storm destroyed numerous trees on the 200+ acre property

over a decade ago, Sentry contacted RTJ II Design to come back and evaluate what

was needed to restore Sentry World to it's former glory. The firm summoned its young

and talented design associate (and native Badger) Jay Blasi to make the assessment.

 

Blasi informed the leadership at Sentry that the storm actually was beneficial to the

course and suggested the removal of a thousand additional trees (thus allowing for

open corridors, angles for more strategic play and improved air flow & sunlight

exposure for healthier turf). Also, upon further discovery, Blasi learned there was

a serious need to replace the outdated irrigation system, drainage, bunkers, and

many of the green complexes. Finally, in 2012 new Sentry chairman Pete McPartland

came on the scene with passionate energy and big picture vision to implement the

plan that was previously outlined.

 

 

There was really only one hurdle to leap for McPartland to bring it all to fruition -

RTJ Design was the company commissioned to do the renovation, but Blasi was no

longer part of their stable, he had left and started his own firm (Jay Blasi Design).

Blasi was McPartland's choice to oversee and implement the major improvements

to the course. To make a long story short, McPartland made it happen, Blasi would

be his point guard on the renovation as the Project Architect (along with RTJ II

designer Bruce Charlton). To spend an hour with Pete McPartland is to realize that

this is a person, and a leader of the highest order (a lunch meeting with Jay and

Pete is not just a treat, it's an honor).

 

 

 

 

Blasi and the RTJ staff quickly got to work, Jay himself spent the better part of

28 straight weeks on the property. The removal of trees opened up site lines,

vistas and enhanced the strategy elements for better players - thus, also allowing

for more enjoyment for all ability levels. Also, several hole routings were changed

or modified - utilizing some parcels of land that were previously untouched. For

those playing the forward tees, the distance was reduced to 4696 yards to increase

enjoyment. The challenge for those who aspire to conquer the sternest of tests

(from the back tees) was incresed to 7145 yards. The new expansive driving range

no longer faces the early morning sunrise glare of the east, and accommodates a

greater number of enthusiastic linksters.

 

 

 


 

 

The renovation completely closed the course for two years, in the fall of 2014

the facility re-opened for a preview. But it wasn't just the course that re-opened,

McPartland and the Sentry Company went a giant step further, they decided to

created an entire mega complex, devoted to golf, tennis, outstanding local cuisine,

and the best reception facility in the area for weddings, banquets and corporate

meetings. A jewel that would serve not only as a company asset but also as a

community treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

PJ's restaurant serves up the local flavor. Anything with cheese in Wisconsin

is a big hit, as well as the native fresh catch. Jay Blasi's go to comfort food

when in town is the tomato soup and grilled cheese. I chose the soup as well,

along with cheese curds and salmon tacos. For just getting off the plane and

driving 2 1/2 hours from Milwaukee (we were in town to also cover the U.S

Open and visit Sand Valley) - this was the perfect pre-round experience.

Delicious is an inadequate description of how outstanding the food is here

(outstanding service as well).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sentry World staple - Farmhouse Ale Cheese Curds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The staff were setting up for a large reception during our visit, this is one of

several halls equipped to handle any special occasion at Sentry World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure you get a good warm up, Sentry World starts off with a challenging

424 yard dogleg left par 4 (blue tees).

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the new designs at Sentry World is the 473 yard par 4 second. Easily

the bully of the front 9, Blasi used part of the old eleventh to craft this hole

that offers great flexibility for tournament play (it can play as a 598 yard par 5

for professionals). A long accurate approach shot is required here, the green

offers a fair amount of back to front slope.

 

 

 

 

 

Any sign of significant elevation change is absent at Sentry World, but harmonious

natural surroundings like this "infinity green" at the par 3 - third is an early indicator

of how special the experience at Sentry World will be. Once a vacant pocket in the woods,

this lakeside parcel is now the setting for the shortest hole on the property. At 151

yards from the tips, it's the perfect chance to catch your breath after the challenge

of the opening holes.

 

 

 

 

 

The 299 yard fourth is a fabulous example of a risk reward drivable par 4.

Avoid Blasi's subliminal invite to go for the green and play less club to the

proper position on the right side of the fairway . . .

 

 

 

 

 

. . . here's the correct angle for an easy wedge. *Blasi took on his own

challenge and paid the tariff when his well-intentioned high draw fell just

short of clearing the hazard. I chose the less risky route, but taking the

"low hanging fruit" option doesn't require an apology after notching the

first circle on the card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 seventh is the toughest of the one shotters at Sentry World (it played

211 yards during our visit) the slightly elevated shallow green requires the proper

club selection. Avoid any tucked pin location here and aim for the center of

this green, 3 is a great score here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 340 yard eighth is another example of variety at the new version of

Sentry World. This tight tree lined hole lends itself to precision over might.

The superb flash bunkering does a fabulous job of framing the landing areas

and defining depth. Simple beauty, nothing tricky here.

 

 

 

 

 

The re-designed 508 yard par 5 ninth gets my vote for the most fun hole on the

property. Using the original tee and green locations as well as the existing creek,

the design team crafted a fairway slot down the right side to encourage aggressive

play to this well guarded green. Although it's listed as a long par 4 for professionals,

I personally don't think it should be, the hole has a thirteenth at Augusta like essence -

it's beauty and temptation all neatly wrapped in one glorious setting . Hit two masterful

shots and you're likely rewarded, miss just slightly (as I did) and you'll be kicking

yourself for ruining a good opportunity to get healthy on the card. My immediate

thought after walking off that green was I want to play that hole again.


 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ninth, this one from behind the green shows all the elements

of strategy, beauty and recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the tenth offers back to back par 5's on the card, this is an entirely

different test than the ninth (playing 612 yards from the back tees), survival

is the theme here - par is a solid score on this monster dogleg right.

 

 

 

 

 

If there is a drivable par 4 on the course to take on - it's the new eleventh.

It Played 280 yards during our visit, and features a green that's now located in

front of the water (previously it was tucked further back and right of the hazard.

Longtime RTJ II designer and Sentry World co-project architect Bruce Charlton

gave his thoughts on the hole, "Creating the new eleventh really allowed us to

focus on increasing the fun factor". Pick the appropriate tee (who says you can't

move up a box to make the hole more of a risk reward challenge) and smash a

low bullet fade tee shot that leaves nothing more than a chip and putt to this

well undulated infinity green. This well crafted design gives you every chance

to put another circle on the card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the biggest change to the updated design at Sentry World is the 139

yard (161 yards from the tips) par 3 twelfth. Located in a previously unsullied

parcel on the property, the design team created a fantastic short par 3 on a

peninsula that requires your full attention - especially if the wind is blowing

(Blasi striped his mid-iron shot here that played much longer than the number

thanks to a stiff hurting breeze that came up just as we reached the tee). Don't

over club as I did here, plenty of room has been provided to the left for a viable

path to escape with par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view of the green complex at the par 5 fourteenth shows off the variable

patterns and heights of cut - brilliant work by Superintendent Matt Smith

and his grounds staff. *Look for our Q&A with Matt Smith coming soon in

our "Masters of the Moss" section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The presentation of colors at the "Flower hole" can be distracting to the task

at hand, so take a few photos and enjoy the scenery on this one of a kind mid-

length (168 yard) par 3 that was inspired by RTJ's visit to Holland's Tulip festival

just before getting started on the original design 35 years ago. Blasi and I took

a few minutes to discuss the flora and all of its splendor, then settled back into

our match that was knotted up at All Square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ground level view of the hole gives you a better idea of just how much effort

the Agronomy/Landscape staff put in to create this iconic scene each spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new seventeenth hole is much friendlier than the previous version

with more room off the tee and a short approach to a severely sloped

green that runs away from the player. This view from behind the green

is among the most serene at Sentry World.

 

 

 

 

 

The 18th tee, a 439 yard uphill right to left dogleg is a worthy finale.

Midwest conifers and evergreens guard the corner, while fairway bunkers

on the right catch any flared drives that fail to draw. Your two best are

required here to finish strong.

 

 

 

 

 

The back center pin sits just over a rise on a shelf, an uphill recovery from

short of the green allows for an aggressive shortgame play - miss this green

deep, and the round will likely end with a miscue.

 

 

Sentry World is a must play when traveling to the midwest. If you're planning

a Wisconsin golf vacation, put this re-imagined parkland Top 100 daily fee gem

on your list, and tell them who sent you . . .

 

 

 

 


For more info: https://www.sentryworld.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

Just about a month or so after the last putt dropped at the 2017 Arnold

Palmer Invitational, we returned to Bay Hill to experience what it's like

to be a guest at the club where Mr.Palmer called home every winter and

spring for nearly the last half century of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational,

which was a celebration of "A Life well Played", and it was an honor to be on

hand to cover the event that won't soon be forgotten. It was a special week

dedicated to remembering Arnie.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On a beautiful spring morning in Orlando, the new statue of The King

forges an unforgettable symbol of an American icon that is missed by

all. The 13 foot effigy stands tall over the 1st tee in homage to the golf

legend that continues to inspire so many.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palmer fell hard for the place when he first visited the club for an

exhibition match back in 1965 (photo above) and "began the quest to

make it his own". The quiet surroundings, abundant wildlife, and a golf

course that fit his eye was exactly what a 35 year old Palmer was looking

for. According to longtime assistant and friend Doc Giffin, "It appealed to

him because of the privacy, he thought he had found a nice, quiet, lovely

place (with a golf course)." In 1970, Bay Hill became his winter home,

and in 1979, the PGA Tour moved it's Central Florida stop permanently to

Bay Hill (which was originally designed by Dick Wilson in 1961).

 

 

 

 

 

 


To this day, remarkably, Bay Hill remains the serene place that Palmer

first laid eyes on over 50 years ago. Located on 270 acres along the Butler

chain of lakes between the ultra affluent communities of Windermere and

Dr.Phillips, the residences of Bay Hill itself are handsomely modest and

unassuming in a locale where gaudy gated mansions are the norm.

In fact, for many years, you could have driven through and seen the four

time Masters Champion coming out of his condo in the neighborhood to

take his dog for a stroll early in the a.m hours.

 

Despite all of the big time tourism development in the area over the last

45 years (Bay Hill is now bordered to the south by Walt Disney World and

to the east by Universal Studios), the place somehow has retained it's

quaint feel, so much so that when you turn west heading into the Bay Hill

neighborhood, it seems as if time has stood still and it's 1975.

 


The intimate charm of the lodge is felt from the moment you arrive. The staff

has a large role in that. It's almost as if Mr.Palmer has infused a micro-chip

of his own welcoming nature into every one of his personnel. While taking

notes during my stay, I constantly referred to it as the "A.P Effect".

 

 


As we learned, experiencing Bay Hill Club and Lodge as a guest is unique

to any other golf destination that we have featured. Yes, it has all of the

customary amenities that you'd expect at other well known world class golf

destinations. It is a private club for its members, but it also doubles as

a big time player in the golf resort industry, not in it's size, but in it's

stature. The seventy room lodge offers 3 restaurants, 3 bars, an aquatic

center, fitness center, spa, salon, Marina (bass fishing), tennis academy,

9,000 sq, ft of meeting space, and of course 27 holes of Arnold Palmer's

personal golf treasure. However, it's Mr.Palmer's culture and DNA that's

branded into the fiber of Bay Hill that makes it the gem that it is today. You

can't discuss a single element of the place without mentioning his influence

and presence here (even today some 9 months since his passing, and likely

for several decades to come). It's a really powerful positive energy that exists

here. It's old school manners, proper presentation and an abundance of kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little cool reminders like Mr.Palmer's "Umbrella" logo imprinted in the

sand ash tray give you an idea of just how well everything down to the

smallest detail is well thought out. The AP "Umbrella" logo is recognizable

worldwide, and perhaps has an even a greater significance to those here

and at Palmer's club in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 

 

 


If someone at the club bestows one of The King's signature pins to you

consider it an honor as I did when longtime lockeroom attendant Rick

Roberts was kind enough to pass a few on to me after spending some

time remembering his boss and friend that he still misses dearly. The

card table where Arnie and his group would gather each day is just about

a medium length birdie putt away from where Roberts' would serve up the

King's favorite - Ketel One. He introduced me to Arnie's close friend and

shootout partner Dick Ferris (who brought Palmer into the fold as a co-

owner of Pebble Beach along with Clint Eastwood and Peter Ueberroth

back in the summer '99).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently a $7 million renovation of the rooms was completed - resulting

in spacious and comfortable lodging, nothing ostentatious. The feeling

conjures up the vibe that you're staying in Arnie's spare room at Latrobe.

Photos from a "Life Well Played" don the walls of every room. In ours was

a black-n-white from the 1965 Ryder Cup Team deboarding at the airport

in England. (Unlike many resorts that rotate stock photos in their rooms,

every picture in every room at Bay Hill Lodge is a different moment in

Arnold Palmer's life - each selected by Mr.Palmer and his family).

 

 

 

 

 

 


The compulsion to pull the curtains away and observe the setting is too

much for any golfer to bear. What a great spot to spend a few days, now

it's time to grab the putter and wedge.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Another view from just outside the room - the practice putting area,

starters booth and 1st tee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On your way to the Salon, Spa, Pool, Lounge, Cafe or Golf Academy

you traverse through this beautiful courtyard and gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mr.Palmer's personal table in the Bay Hill grill room. He would sit in the

chair closest to the door so he could see everyone in the room.

 

 

 

 

 



Palmer's Payne Stewart award is displayed in Bay Hill's grillroom

 

 

 

While on property I spoke with many of the key figures at the club

not only about Mr.Palmer, but also about the day to day operations

at Bay Hill. One of the great people in the industry to sit down with

is Roy Schindele who is the Director of Sales and Marketing.

 

LN How does the loss of Mr.Palmer impact the day to day operations at

the club, and how do you move forward as a staff considering how large

of a presence he was on a daily basis?

 

R.S: "The vibe here at the club comes from the staff that are so proud to have

worked with him (Mr.Palmer) directly - carrying on his legacy comes naturally.

That's indicative of the tenure of the people who have worked for him. We

have people that have been here 37 years, 34 years, 28 years and right on

down the line. Todd (Harris) our Tennis Pro has been here 46 years. If

anything we've stepped up our game and tightened things up a little bit to

his standards and wishes in a very unwavering way" Schindele said.

He continued, "The little things of respect and honor have been carried forward.

For example try walking down the hallway with your hat on, we're going to ask

you to take it off, because that is what Mr.Palmer would do. His philosophy

was consistency, customer service and if you take care of those two things,

the bottom line will take care of itself. It's just a step forward, not necessarily

a monetary decision but what's right for the guest or the member."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dining in the grill room is another excellent experience. The full 180 degree

window view of the the practice areas and 1st tee set the mood for the day.

Sometimes the finest of details come in the pursuit of deliciousness, Schindele

gave us a minute example of one that you're sure to notice with your taste

buds. While in the grill room having breakfast before departing for home, I

made an observation about how spectacular the bacon was - so much so,

that I felt compelled to take this photo (above). The best way I could describe

the "Bay Hill Bacon" (as I now refer to it as) is not by it's texture or taste but

by what I would do for another serving. I'd make the 150 mile trek up the Florida

Turnpike from West Palm Beach just to get a another portion.

As it turns out, Schindele brought it up without me saying a word. "Our bacon

is never frozen from the time it's produced, to when it's delivered here, cooked,

and put on your plate - because we found that (freezing it) it diminishes the taste.

It costs the club nearly triple of what most resorts pay, but again it's not a monetary

decision, it's about quality." Right then I thought "Arnie must have loved bacon as

much as his guests." Once again I jotted down "The A.P Effect".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While a guest, work on your game all you want, the staff will keep you

supplied with pyramids of range balls all day long.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Mr.Palmer's spot on the range is still set up each day in memory of where

he enjoyed spending so much of his time each day before heading out to play

in the daily "Shootout" match with his regulars. During the PGA Tour stop in

March his golf bag was also on display here on the far right side of the practice

tee. Quite often he'd be seen back out here in the evenings tinkering with a new

club or swing thought. Many like Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player

have said that no one ever loved the game of golf more than Arnold Palmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last evening at the lodge I had the entire shortgame area to myself,

oh what it must be like to be a member. Being a guest is the next best

thing.


 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo (above), look beyond the statue towards the lodge - you

can see PGA Tour Pro Dicky Pride working on his putting. He later would

tell me "That is definitely my testing spot," Pride said. "I use the windows

of the dining room as a mirror to check my setup."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close friend of Arnold Palmer and golf legend himself Dow Finsterwald is

a member and resident at Bay Hill. We spent a few minutes watching the

1958 PGA Champion make putt after putt from 8 feet and all he could say

was "they're not going in the center of the cup." Still a competitor at 87

years old. On any given day, you can bump into a golf legend like Dow

at Bay Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superintendent Chris Flynn's Agronomy Team moves through each

golf hole with remarkable precision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main attraction at Bay Hill is always the golf course and it lived

up to expectations, challenging a young tour player and a middle aged

grinder with every club in the bag. We had a magnificent day on Arnie's

championship layout. The 184 yd par 3 seventh (pictured above).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 460 yard par 4 eighth was sporting a tucked championship Sunday

pin (even though it was a Monday). It played as our seventeenth (we

started on the back nine), it's also where I missed an 10 footer for birdie

to keep the match alive. The young pro (Michael Kartrude) had closed

me out 2&1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 438 yard eleventh has danger written all over it. There are no shortage

of right to left approach shots on Arnie's signature course. Afterall it was

the King's natural shot shape. You can see the water level in this photo,

Florida was in serious drought conditions in late April. Now, not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view from beside the 221 yards back tee on the gorgeous seventeenth.

The blue tees where I played from were 177 yards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 458 yard par 4 eighteenth is easily one of the more memorable

finishing holes on the PGA Tour. It has been the scene of so many

victorious Tiger celebrations that were shared with Arnie. In 2016,

it was Jason Day who celebrated here with Mr.Palmer one last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


One of the really cool items inside the clubhouse is this guitar that ZZ Top

gave Palmer as a gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This timeless black and white image from the Masters Par 3 contest shows

Arnie and Tiger Woods playing to a magnificent throng of patrons. It might

be my single favorite golf photo. It was a gift from former Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Ridge to Sam Saunders. Today it hangs in the clubhouse just

outside the grill room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wall of Palmer golf memories in the grill room is a reminder of what a

full life he led and those he shared it with.

 

 

To be at Bay Hill is a treat in itself. It's a Lodge, a private golf club and

resort all in one. To be a Stay n Play guest taps you into that whole

experience, but first and foremost it is Arnold Palmer's (winter) home

and will always remembered and honored as such. Mr.Palmer's family has

done an outstanding job of carrying it forward. The staff here are truly an

extension of him and his legacy. So when you arrive and check in at the lodge,

soak it all in - we did.


When I pulled out of Bay Hill and made the right hand turn onto Apopka-

Vineland road heading for home, I had this hard to describe feeling, it was

as if I had just exited one era in my rear view mirror, and entered into

another looking forward. I thought "Wow, that's powerful. It's a one of kind

intangible sensation you have while on the grounds. I stopped at a red light

a few miles down the road, took out my note pad and one last time jotted

down: "AP Effect".

 

 

 

If you ask me about a lasting vision that I take away from Bay Hill

each time I'm on property - it is this photo. It requires no explanation.

It simply makes me smile . . . #ArnieWould

 

 

For more info or to book your stay at Arnie's Place: http://www.bayhill.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
PGA Golf Club Part 2 - Wanamaker Course PDF Print E-mail

 

 

By Jason Bruno

Hazeltine banners were streaming outside the clubhouse at PGA Golf Club

(pictured above) during our visit to review Tom Fazio's Wanamaker course

located in Port St.Lucie, Florida. Part of the PGA of America's flagship

property at PGA Village, the Wanamaker is one of four Championship layouts

at PGA Golf Club. Named for Rodman Wanamaker - who inspired the birth of

the PGA of America in 1916 and the trophy of the PGA Champion each year

that also bears his name), the course routing rolls through a typical Florida

landscape that includes Slash Pines, scrub Palmetto Palms and greens that

have plenty of undulation to challenge scoring.

 

 


At PGA Golf Club, replicas of all four major championship trophies greet

you at the entry when you arrive - not a bad first impression. (Pictured

left to right): U.S Open trophy, PGA Wanamaker, Masters and the oldest

prize in professional sports - The Open Championship Claret Jug).

 

 

 

 

 


Among the tremendous recent improvements to PGA Golf Club spearheaded

by GM Jimmy Terry is this members terrace and dining area that overlooks

the 18th green of the Wanamaker Course. Certainly not a bad spot to enjoy a

post round meal and beverage. A perfect compliment to the Taplow Pub that

caters to resort guests and public play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most recently it was the Dye course that was renovated (see our review of

the Dye in our previous course feature), before that it was the Wanamaker

and now the Ryder course will be closed for its own renovation this summer.

All of these projects have been conducted under the leadership of Master

Superintendent (or as he prefers "Greenskeeper") Dick Gray - pictured above

with THE Ryder Cup which was on display for a few weeks earlier this Spring.

Gray was named named TurfNet Superintendent of the Year and is the subject

of a Q&A done for The Florida Green magazine by Yours Truly (that comes out

on May 12th).

 

 


 

 

When we visited PGA Village in April, South Florida was in the middle

of a drought, so the courses at PGA Golf Club were playing firm and fast,

almost links like - exactly as we prefer. Therefore, the 520 yd par 5 first

played shorter than usual, a welcoming start to the round on the Wanamaker,

a big tee shot leaves a chance to reach this hole in two.

 

 

 

 

The 165 yard par 3 sixth plays much tougher than it looks. It's downhill

with the prevailing breeze off the right and helping. The right bunker guards

a bail out away from the hazard, but good luck holding this green if you don't

shape it with left to right spin. As you can see everything slopes left and propels

the golf ball towards the hazard. Note the severe false front that rejects anything

that lands on the front edge. Choose the correct weapon, but tread lightly.


 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 seventh plays only 507 yards from the tournament tees. A

generous fairway leaves a decision whether to go for the aggressive

approach or lay up to wedge range. The only place to miss here is short,

everything is likely a big number.

 

 

 

 

 

The ninth fairway showed a bit of turf stress from the recent drought,

but the playability was right where you'd want it. Excuse this rant from

a 30 year turf guy: It's time that American golfers learn to appreciate

what they have known across the pond for over a century - green and

lush rarely equals really good playing conditions. Aesthetics should never

be the primary focus, they should always be secondary to sustainability

and maintaining proper firm and fast playing conditions . . .  or as Dick

Gray told me, "Dry and firm turf will always work for golf, wet and soft

never works."

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 362 yard tenth is a bit of a sleeper, a very tight fairway and undulated

green that is well guarded. Use proper course management and don't try to

over power this one, finesse golf is what's needed here.

 

 

 

 

The fifteenth at 337 yards is one of the more dramatic looking designs on

the Wanamaker, but it plays like an amber traffic light (that's too much caution

for such a WOW golf hole). For me it's Hybrid>>SW or 5 iron>>9 iron because

of the narrow twisty fairway that's situated between trees and water - UNLESS

you do as I do and move up a few tees here to make things a bit more interesting.

I play the middle tees here (287 yards to the center of the green - 271 to the

front pin position). Just pick a target and blast away. Plenty of risk/reward and

what's more fun than taking it on. I drove it into the right greenside bunker,

blasted out and two putted for par, but it was the challenge of the tee shot that

brought a thrill.

 

The PGA Tour moves the tees around everyday for the best players in the

world, so why do most amateurs always play the same tees for every round?

We urge you to think outside the box, challenge yourself and have fun changing

things up every now and then.


 

 

 

 

Heading home, the 442 yd finisher requires a precision tee shot between

trees on the left and sand/water on the right.

 

 

The Wannamaker is the course most often used by the club to host their

events for PGA Professionals, it tests all aspects of your game with plenty

of variety. If you visit this summer be sure to also check out the newly

renovated Dye course. The 54 hole complex at PGA Golf Club (72 holes if

you count *St.Lucie Trail) is the only one of its kind between the Palm

Beaches and Orlando (which stretches for over 150 miles).



 


 

Off to the side of the front lobby and gallery area is this small meeting

room for VIP guests and Ryder Cup Captains. My favorite part of the room

is this Bald Eagle Ryder Cup sculpture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*On April 12th, PGA of America President Paul Levy disclosed the planned

sale of their St.Lucie Trail golf course (that is off property just east of I-95)

and the PGA Learning Center. We have yet to visit St.Lucie Trail, but have

really enjoyed all that the Learning Center has to offer. It will be hard to

imagine PGA Village without the Learning Center being part of its future.



For more info on the Wanamaker and PGA Golf Club: https://www.pgavillage.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Dye Course Restoration - PGA Golf Club PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

 

It's during this time of year when much of the U.S is dealing with frigid

Winter temperatures that we like to focus on the finest warm weather

destinations that offer world class hospitality and golf to our northern friends.

 

There's a big revitalization going on at the PGA of America's flagship golf

property - PGA Village in Port St.Lucie, Florida. Jimmy Terry, the club's

General Manager is leading the effort of a five year improvement plan

and it shows. During the season it's not uncommon for PGA Golf club to

host 600 rounds per day on its 72 holes of Championship Golf. When we

arrived on a gorgeous sun drenched January afternoon the club was playing

host to the annual PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship.


I have to admit it was our first time at PGA Village in many years, word had

reached me from my travel scribe brethren that the recently renovated Dye

Course was worthy of our attention. Since PGA Village is just an hour from

our home base in West Palm, it became front and center on our radar as we

learned of the Dye re-opening last fall. After an amazing lunch at the club's

Taplow Pub, it was off to our round on the Dye.

 

 

 

Taplow Pub at PGA Golf Club

 

 

 

 

The Dye course was the third championship layout built at PGA Golf Club,

opening in 2000 after the two Tom Fazio designs - Wanamaker and Ryder

(formerly known as the North and South courses). St.Lucie Trail rounds out

the stable of championship routings for the club (originally designed by Jim

Fazio, it has also undergone a similar facelift back in 2014). PGA Village is

obviously very involved in growing the game, and the 6-Hole Family Short

course is a great example of that. If tuning up your game is the focus, the

35 acre PGA learning center is one of the finest of its kind in the world.

 

 

 

 

PGA Learning Center features a massive sand bunker complex where

you can practice virtually any type of sand shot imaginable.

 

 

 

 

After 15 years the Dye layout had lost some of its luster, so an overhaul

was in order. Although Pete Dye gave his approval on the work, it was Head

Agronomist Dick Gray and staff that went to work restoring the links style

beauty. "All we did was restore the greens back to Pete's original intent, and

put new skin on them, Gray said."  "Then we just re-faced the bunkers." Gray

and his staff also uncovered bunkers that had become overgrown by bermuda

turf over the years. New Celebration turf in the fairways and Tif-eagle greens

restored to Dye's original dimensions have it looking and playing better than

ever.

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the photo above, it was a picture perfect January

day in South Florida for our spin around the Dye course. The par-5

seventh is very gettable, but the task becomes robust if your tee shot

finds this wicked combination of sand and turf that guards the right side

of the fairway. Not sure what it says about you if you fancy this bunker

compound, but I do . . . maybe it's because Pete Dye has a way of creating

demonic golf landscapes that are beautiful. Whatever the reason, I find

that the more I experience Pete's designs, the more affinity I gain for his

sinister work.

 

 

 

The tranquil setting at the Dye is a blend of some of the best natural Florida

surroundings - mature Slash and Loblolly Pines, wetlands, coquina waste

areas and of course clear blue skies. There are no hardscapes to be seen

(other than the halfway house snack bar between the ninth green and tenth

tees). The complex around the 11th green (shown above) offers more extreme

obstacles the further you get from the putting surface. Note the angled and

raised pot bunker that's circled by 6 ft of thick bermuda rough some 40 yards

from the pin. Is it Picasso, mad scientist or genius? Perhaps all three, but one

thing it's not - is ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Dye gives the golfer a less intimidating visual from the tee here

than on many of his more famous layouts like Kiawah Ocean, Whistling

Straits and TPC Sawgrass, but just like those, hitting the correct side of

the fairway is paramount to having the best angle for each approach.

 

Spending the day on the updated Dye was a blast, conditions were

superb and the course provided more than it's fair share of challenges

(we used every club in the bag). Coming down the finishing holes at

gloaming is a sight and a day that we won't soon forget. We look forward

to our next visit to PGA Viillage, where later this spring we'll feature the

the rest of the links offerings here at PGA Golf Club.

 

 

For more info: https://www.pgavillage.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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