Course Reviews/Travel


Gamble Sands - A New Beginning for McLay Kidd PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

The day after the exciting U.S Open finish at Chambers Bay, I left Tacoma and high tailed it

250 miles northeast to Brewster, Washington to take a spin around David McLay Kidd's latest

design - Gamble Sands. I was invited a while back by DMK design, and finally worked out the

schedule with the staff to make it up there on day 14 of our 15 day west coast trip (that started

at Bandon Dunes before U.S Open week and concluded at Salish Cliffs in Shelton, Washington).

 

 

 


Before we get to describing DMK's layout at Gamble Sands, I would be remiss if I didn't mention

the spectacular vistas on the drive along the Columbia River on our way to Brewster.

 

 

 


The understated ranch style clubhouse blends in perfectly with the surroundings at Gamble Sands.

Gamble Sands which opened in 2014, is a form of course design rebirth for Scottish architect

David McLay Kidd. Early success in 1999 as Mike Keiser's leadoff hitter at Bandon Dunes,

Kidd suddenly found his services in high demand. Feeling the need to live up to his new stature

as a "Michelangelo" of course design, DMK thought his work should produce tougher courses

worthy of the new found attention. The Castle Course at St.Andrews and Tetherow in his adopted

state of Oregon were the result of his resistance to scoring mentality, and although these designs

brought awareness to his work, most of it wasn't positive. As time went on, it became apparent

to many in the industry (including Keiser) that Kidd had lost his way. While interesting, these

designs were way too tough for the average player. Searching for the magic that he once had,

he returned to Bandon quite often and began to realize the error of his ways . . . a shift in design

philosophy took place and the nucleus would be about the overall experience - playability and fun.


 

 

 

The first hole at Gamble Sands is a slight dogleg left that plays 392 from the back tees, the green

(pictured above) is tucked left behind the native desert scrub.

 

 

 

The Gebber family, which is in the orchard and cattle ranch business picked Kidd to design their

course, and in turn Kidd promised to deliver a "layout that would fall from the sky and lay softly

on the land." By the second hole (pictured below) I gained a sense that Kidd was back on his

game.

The drivable par 4 - second is one to behold, at only 262 yards from the back tees (301

from the Championship "Medal" tees) a draw over the cross bunker will have you rolling

the rock for a chance at a deuce. The fun starts early at Gamble Sands and views aren't

too shabby either.

 

 

With very few forced carries, generous fairways, no boundries or water hazards in play, and

large putting surfaces of modest undulations, Kidd utilized the surroundings to create a golf

course that will have you experiencing all of the positive things you love about the game.

Drives carry forever with the hang time of a Ray Guy punt against the backdrop of the clear

blue sky and Northern Cascade Mountains . . . and when they land on the firm Fescue fairways,

they run forever. Yep, I said Fescue. A links surface in a very un-links like setting.

 

 


 

The par 3 - fourth plays 160 yards, notice how Kidd's design allows a run up on the left for the

high handicapper to cut a fade onto the surface, the better player can work a shot into the

diagonal green or take dead aim.

 


 

 

The 497 yard par 4 -fifth is a brute that's well guarded by the large blowout bunker on the right,

the smaller bunker on the left will catch run up shots that stray offline.

 

 

 

 

The Redan style sixth is the bully of the one shotters at Gamble Sands tipping out at 265

yards from the Championship tees. Anything out to the right shaped with a slight draw will

funnel it's way down the slope and onto the green. Being a big fan of Seth Raynor and C.B

Macdonald, this is by far my favorite par 3 at GS.

 

 

 

 

The par 5 seventh plays only 473 yards from the back tee and 344 yards from the forward tee,

and although the approach plays uphill, the tee shot plays straight downhill. An aggressive play

over the cross bunker pays huge dividends. The view (photo above) shows the right to left slope

in the green complex, precision is required here at the seventh.

 

 

 

 

The 307 yard eighth is another great opportunity to put a red number on the scorecard, and

another view to soak in.

 

 

 

 

The 382 yard ninth is another good birdie hole, a tee shot left center leaves the best angle to this

slightly uphill left to right green. If walking, take note - the ninth hole at GS does not return to

the clubhouse.

 

 

 

 

The view from behind the 9th green shows a tier that bisects the upper and lower portions of

this elongated putting surface.

 

 

 

The 12th hole is the third drivable par 4 hole at Gamble Sands. Tipping out at 333 yards, DMK

designed tees for everyone to get home - the forward tee here is just 189 yards.

 

 

 

 

The 408 yard fourteenth challenges the long hitter to carry the sand down the left and allows the

mid/high handicap player to take the safer route down the right.

 

 

 

 

The 467 yard par 4 fifteenth hole is the toughest par coming in, note the tear away type bunker

on the left that has become the go to style of minimalist designers like Doak and Coore/Crenshaw.

 

 

 

 

A greenside view of the fifteenth. Missing your approach here is no bargain to save par.

 

 

 

 

The home hole at Gamble Sands is a very reachable 500 yard par 5. I reached from the left

fairway bunker, narrowly missing my 30' eagle putt. The Fescue greens were flawless, along

Old Mac (two weeks before), Gamble Sands had the finest Fescue surfaces on our trip.

 

Although word is really just getting out about Gamble Sands, it should be an absolute must

play destination for the dedicated golf traveler. After the round, I can happily report that DMK

has found the magic again. The joy I felt walking off the 18th was the same that I felt after

playing Bandon Dunes for the first time. When you factor in the routing, the scenery, the

playability and the playing conditions - Gamble Sands is hands down the most enjoyable

new design (not the toughest) we've reviewed in more than a few years.

 

During a time when golf participation is down and the governing bodies are banning things

like the anchored stroke, the game needs a panacea to turn the tide and bring golfers back

. . . courses like Gamble Sands are a start in the right direction.

 

Special Thanks to DMK Design, OB Sports and the staff at Gamble Sands for their hospitality.

 


For more info on Gamble Sands: http://gamblesands.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
U.S Open Course Preview: Chambers Bay PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington is the site of this years U.S Open

Championship. Back in 2012 we scouted Chambers and thought it would be a

good time to re-visit that review (with some updated thoughts and facts) before

the Pacific Northwest gets invaded by the games best players.

 

 

 

By now you've seen images of the place, and the Lone Fir which stands as an iconic

symbol over looking the Puget Sound at Chambers Bay. Being the only tree on the

property, the conifer almost met it's demise at the hands of vandal years back.

 

 

 

The site where Chambers Bay is, was at one time an industrial mining site, now it's

the design marvel of RTJ II and his design associates Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi.

This first impression overlooking the property from high above (the pro shop and

parking lot sits hundreds of feet above the layout) is simply vast, with an incredible

vista . . .  a site that must be seen by any golf enthusiast or lover of the great

outdoors. Chambers is for all intents and purposes a muni . . . but like Bethpage on

the east coast, the pedigree of the layout is anything but that of your typical

local government run golf course.

 

 

 

 

 

The course appears as a natural beauty, but this layout is anything but that,

it was completely manufactured with over 1.5 million cubic feet of earth moved

about. In the days of Yore, the site was a sand, gravel and rock mine. Sand

being the key element that provides the ideal foundation for links style golf and

the dunes and hollows that were so expertly shaped. Draped in Fescue, you have

an absolute ideal playing surface for firm and fast conditions, a big kudos to the

men in the blue blazers (USGA) that had the foresight to award Chambers this

Championship -perhaps the most outside the box venue of any major in recent

memory. Playing Chambers is a unique experience, not quite as authentic as

Bandon's four 18 hole tracks, but because of the fescue turf it plays more true

to its design than say Whistling Straits does. Although both have vistas that

make either journey unique before you ever attempt your first knockdown 6 iron.

 

 

 

 

The first green at Chambers Bay, the surface is ginormous . . . getting the approach

to the proper level is essential here. Notice the false front and the upper tier on the

back half of the putting surface.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 4 second at Chambers Bay called "Foxy", should be played down the right

side to avoid the large cross bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

The 165 yard par 3 third, bail out right and your left with a near impossible up and

down . . . miss left and take your chances with the enormous/deep bunker. Very

"Redan" like in its design, this little hole will wreck some scorecards.

 

 

 

 

The 568 yard par 5 fourth plays uphill as its name (Hazards Ascent) suggests.

 


 

 

The opposite rings true at the fifth called "Freefall". One of my favorite spots on the

property, players competing at the Open likely won't take a moment to enjoy the

view, but I did.

 

 

 

 

The par 4 sixth called "Deception Point", requires a drive left of the dune on the right

side of the fairway . . . the menacing cloud formation created one of the best images

of the day. Hard to believe this isn't Scotland.

 


 

 

 

 

 

The left to right par 4 seventh (fairway hidden) wraps around the large waste

bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

The view from behind the par 5 eighth. The eighth runs right beneath the gigantic

dune along the left side of the fairway.Anything right falls down a large embankment

where your facing a shot you don't want.The fairway and green are part of the large

tabletop that runs the entire length of the dune and embankment.

 

 

 

 

The par 3 ninth at Chambers, a well placed tee shot that lands left of the putting

surface will funnel down onto the green . . . anything right is obviously an adventure

in the giant sandbox that sits nearly 40 feet below the green. Even with the

exaggerated downhill . . . at 227 yards from the tips it is no pushover.

 

 

 

 

The 398 yard tenth is aptly dubbed "High Dunes", the fact that none of these land

forms are natural is a good example of RTJ II (Jay Blasi & Bruce Charlton's) fabulous

work.

 

 

 

 

The twelfth called "The Narrows", is driveable for the longest hitter . . . but the tee

shot must be a high right to left shot.The green actually sits to left of the fairway

bunker, behind the dune.

 

 


 

 

The sweeping par 4 fourteenth is a design that will be a pivotal hole in the 2015 U.S

Open. My favorite tee shot on the property.

 

 

 

 

The Lone fir overlooks the short fifteenth and the tee on sixteen.

 

 

 

 

The sixteenth trundles alongside the railway and the Puget Sound .

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 seventeenth can play as long as 218 yards, the players will have to remain

focused . . . with the trains that will be running throughout the week. There are

many options for pin locations on this putting surface, interested to see where Mike

Davis chooses set the cup here on Championship Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

The 604 yard par 5 is a worthy finisher

 


 

 

 

Not a bad view lookin back down the home hole as the sun begins to set. The large

concrete structures in the distance are left over remnants from days long ago and

it's industrial origins. With Chambers and the Pacific Northwest adding such a

different vibe, and a unique setting, this might be a U.S Open we don't soon forget.



For more info visit: http://www.chambersbaygolf.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
New South Wales Golf Club - Australia PDF Print E-mail

By Dean Lenertz



The New South Wales Golf Club is located in Sydney Australia, approximately 20 minutes

drive from the Central Business District. It is located in the Sydney suburb of La Perouse.

The course is set amongst the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean. NSW GC ranks among

the top 50 golf courses in the world and currently ranks as no. 5 in Australia.


It was in 1926 when the famed architect Dr Alistair Mackenzie visited the site and was very

excited about the location that he was presented with. Mackenzie mapped the original routing

of the course, but some of the routing was changed due to the army claiming land for World

War II. NSW GC has been tinkered with over the years, but in more recent times Greg Norman

Golf Design has made changes - mostly to green sites.


By todays standard, NSW is not very long - measuring 6829 yards (6245 meters) from the

championship tees. Being a coastal course, NSW’s biggest defense against scoring is the

weather. It’s very rare to play the course on a calm day with no wind. All of the par 3’s and

par 5’s run in different directions which makes it extremely challenging.


The course is Bermuda fairways, tee’s and green surrounds. Up until 3 years ago the greens

were predominantly Poa Annua. It was around this time that the club had decided to re-surface

all of the greens with bent grass. In the 1990’s the club gradually converted all bunkers to the

turf revetted sod face - keeping up with proper links tradition.


The course has hosted several major Australian Tournaments including 5 Australian PGA’s

and in recent times the 2009 Australian Open won by Adam Scott. Due to the remote location

(situated in Botany Bay National Park) and restricted room, it's a challenge to stage large

championship events at New South Wales.


The opening hole is a very short par 4 - 320 yards - rated the easiest on the course. Most

players will hit an iron into the fairway with a short iron into the green. Missing the fairway

to the left is dead and missing right will find sand.

 

 

 


If you attempt to have a go with the driver, the green is elevated with two deep pot bunkers

on the right.





The second hole is a tough par 3 at 201 yards, playing into a strong wind from the south.

There may be times where you may need a fairway wood or even the big stick to get home.

This green is hard to hold especially when it's firm and fast.





The second green with the clubhouse in the background





The third hole is a hard dogleg left par 4 - 416 yards. The tee shot is blind and you need a

right to left ball flight to find the fairway. The approach shot is to an elevated green with

two bunkers guarding the right side.



 




Third Green





The fourth hole is a straight away par 4 - 428 yards. It was re-constructed in 2011 by Greg

Norman Golf Design to alleviate the blind second shot from the fairway. The green is one of the

largest on the course with a deep bunker right of the green.



Fourth green

 


 


One of the greatest Par 5’s in golf, measuring only 512 yards. This par 5 can play completely

different depending on the wind direction. Playing downwind, a good tee shot over the rise will

have you only needing only a wedge into the green. If playing into the wind, you will need a good

drive just to get to the top of the hill . . . and will play as a conventional three shotter. When you

reach the top of the hill the views are some of the best you will ever see.





The view from the top of the hill on the fifth




The sixth hole is the signature hole at New South Wales Golf Club - measuring 193 yards from the

island tee. Being right on the ocean the wind can really affect how the hole plays.




The seventh hole measures at 411 yards. The tee is elevated into a narrow fairway lined with

trees on both sides of the fairway.





The seventh green is undulated and anything that comes up short will funnel back off the

putting surface and down the slope.





The Par 5 - eighth heads back towards the clubhouse and measures 552 yards. The drive needs

to be straight, laying up before the hill that splits the fairway. The second shot is blind over the

hill into the lay up zone of the fairway. For big hitters having a go in two is very difficult as two

large bunkers guard the front of the elevated green.



Eighth green viewed from top of the hill





Eighth front bunker



The ninth hole is a short Par 4 measuring just 372 yards. The fairway splits, and the ideal play

is hitting a long iron/hybrid into the fairway landing zone, leaving a short iron into the green.





Avoid the front left pot bunker at all costs.





Tenth Tee




The tenth is a par 4 playing slightly uphill measuring 394 yards. One of the few holes where

you have an open tee shot. The second shot plays into a small green with three bunkers on the

right and two on the left.





The eleventh hole is a short par 3 played from an elevated tee, measuring 169 yards. This is

one of the highest points on the golf course . . . another hole where the wind tends to be a

major factor.





The twelfth hole is a par 5 measuring 527 yards. A tee shot over the hill will make this hole

reachable in two. If you lay up, you need to avoid the long grass hazard before the green.





A closer view of the approach to one of the smallest greens on the course . . . the four small

greenside bunkers will collect any wayward approach.





This is the start of the “Amen Corner” at NSW, with the next four holes playing extremely tough

when the wind is a factor. The thirteenth hole is a dogleg left par 4 measuring 411 yards. If you

hit the driver and don’t shape the ball right to left, you can run out of fairway. Most players will

hit a 3 wood or maybe a hybrid into the fairway, leaving a short iron into the green.





The approach to the 13th





The fourteenth hole is a classic bunkerless short par 4 measuring 353 yards. The tee shot is

across a ravine needing a carry of about 170 yards. For the longer hitters who want to have a go

at the green they can, but it’s a difficult shot to pull off. Most players will hit over the hill into the

catchment area leaving a wedge into the green. The putting surface is well undulated and

anything long is trouble.


Uphill approach to the fourteenth.




15 Tee




The fifteenth hole is rated the hardest hole on the course - measuring 407 yards. The tee shot is

into a narrow chute, and is extremely challenging when it plays into the wind. Playing the proper

tee box, a drive to the top of the hill is ideal.





16 tee



The sixteenth hole is a dogleg left par 4 measuring 441 yards. A good drive into the corner

of the dogleg is essential for the correct angle into the small green. The green is guarded by

three small bunkers on the left.




The seventeenth hole is a short par 3 measuring 167 yards. This hole is another high point on the

course that’s exposed to the wind. The green has steep embankments on both sides, which makes

it very difficult to get it up and down. The best spot to miss the green here is short.




The eighteenth hole is the longest on the course measuring 554 yards. The green is reachable in

two when playing downwind, but you need to avoid the five fairway bunkers that line the border

of each fairway. The green is long and narrow guarded with five bunkers.


Dean Lenertz is the Asst. Superintendent at New South Wales Golf Club in Sydney, Australia and

is a special contributor to LinksNation.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 
Eagle Dunes Golf Club PDF Print E-mail

By Jason Bruno

 

 

Eagle Dunes Golf Club located just 30 miles north of Orlando proper in Sorrento, Florida is a

Mike Dasher design that opened in 2003. Dasher shaped the hilly and rolling terrain (that's not

typical of Florida, although most are not aware that there is a ridge that runs from Lake Wales

north to Gainesville. Parts of the ridge exceed 300 feet of elevation). At E.D, Dasher created one

of the more enjoyable layouts in this golf saturated region. The modest clubhouse sits at the highest

point on the property, as does the driving range that bisects the first and tenth tees.

 

 

 

 

The 520 yard par-5 first at Eagle Dunes is a downhill tee shot to a fairway that sweeps right, bite off

as much as you choose, but risk being in deep sand or worse if you get too greedy. The hole plays much

shorter than the yardage...longer hitters will have a chance at making three.

 

 


The back tee at the 463 yard par-4 second is over a native area to a fairway that bends

right to left. At handicap No.1, this is by far the toughest hole at Eagle Dunes.

 

 


 

Head Golf Professional Shawn Holmes and his staff are proud of their putting surfaces,

regarded as the truest of any public facility in the area - we could vouch for that.


 

 

The par-5 ninth at Eagle Dunes plays uphill, the moguls that front the putting surface are worthy

of a northeast or midwest course. Add some trees along the rough line and this hole could be mistaken

for Aronimink or Oakmont.

 

 

 

 

At the 437 yard tenth, the tee box sits at the highest point on the property along with the first tee and

the clubhouse.

 

 

 

The 546 yd finisher at Eagle Dunes is a left to right uphill three shotter guarded by a deep bunker

that fronts the green.

 

 

Our group actually played E.D on a November day when an extreme weather front entered the area.

The conditions on the back nine were more like Bandon or Carnoustie than they were Central Florida.

Most of us managed to get it all in despite the 35 mph winds, sideways rain and wind chills in the high

40's. The course held up and turf conditions remained playable . . . probably not many courses around

held up to well that day - E.D was no worse for the wear.

 

In a design era where brutally tough is the new rage, E.D is not that . . . but certainly there is no

shortage of challenges. The variety of risk/reward, short, long, tight, and open holes, has Eagle

Dunes firmly positioned in a category that often gets overlooked - FUN.

 

For more info and starting times: http://www.eagledunes.com/

 

 

Special Thanks to Shawn Holmes

*Due to inclement weather many of the photos used are courtesy of Eagle Dunes GC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
The Lodge at Streamsong Resort - A Getaway Like No Other PDF Print E-mail

By Jason Bruno

 

In it's short time in existence, Streamsong has captured the attention of the golfing universe with

its Red & Blue courses . . . Architects Coore/Crenshaw and Tom Doak masterfully crafted the rugged

sandy terrain that was once mined for phosphate - into two of the most unique designs in America.

Here at LinksNation, we have featured and gushed about these two Top 100 new comers, but with

the recent addition of the new 216 room lodge that opened earlier this year, Streamsong Resort

can now accommodate an eclectic mix of golf traveler . . . and in a setting that inspires like very few

can.

 

photos coutesy of Streamsong Resort

The view from the rooftop at Fragmentary Blue is one to remember.

 

 

 

 

The Lodge is set within 16,000 acres of natural surroundings (inland between Tampa and Orlando,

Florida), and unlike many resorts that feature theme parks and large crowds, Streamsong is an

escape to a serene environment. Tranquil might be the best way to describe the vibe at Mosaic's

Central Florida retreat.

 


 

 

The spacious rooms at the lodge are modern style with warm earth tones, ranging in size from 530

to 1167 sq ft. and feature a separate seating area, two HD televisions, mini fridge, and a classic

American library. The jumbo vertical wood shutters open to water views and sunsets that relax the

mind and inspire for the next days events.

 

 

 

 

The exterior features lush landscaping, an infinity pool, event lawn and deck areas that lead into the

meeting and conference rooms. Other than world renowned golf, the resort offers best-in-class bass

fishing lakes, sporting clays, nature trail, a grotto-style spa, fitness center, and casual and fine

dining options.

 

 

 

 

Sotto Terra is a fine dining Italian restaurant in an intimate setting.

 

 


 

It's no secret that parent company Mosaic is in the fertilizer business - just off the main lobby

entrance is the eatery that bears the symbol used for Phosphate, and features traditional American

Cuisine in an upscale setting. I ate breakfast here twice during my stay . . . superb.

 

 

 

 

Fifty-Nine is the resort's Steak & Seafood themed restaurant, located in the golf clubhouse . . . the

perfect spot after a long day walking the links.

 

 

 

 

Set within the dunes at Streamsong, the Golf clubhouse blends in with its environment.


 

 

 

The biarritz 16th on Coore/Crenshaw's Red Course is among the most memorable long par 3 holes

in America.

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, Tom Doak's 7th is the signature hole on the Blue

 

 

 

 

It should be noted that architect/artist Alberto Alfonso and his firm were the design creators of

the lodge, clubhouse, fixtures and artwork at the resort. Their work has been recognized by the

American Institute of Architects with two Awards of Excellence. “Streamsong is a celebration of

reclamation, of both land and spirit. Since the mining has stopped, nature has taken over and

provided us with the perfect inspiration,” says Alfonso. “Enormous grass dunes, our brilliant Florida

light, water bodies stretching to the horizon teeming with fish and wildlife, a fertile and varied

landscape, are all reflected in the design consciousness of Streamsong. The rooftop veranda

offers a limitless view of our Florida sunsets and embraces the clear rural night sky.”


 

I have it on good authority, that even further additions are on the way at Streamsong Resort

in the near future, we'll keep you posted as plans are finalized. I already can't wait for my next

visit.

 

To experience the splendor of Streamsong: http://www.streamsongresort.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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