Golf related travel

I do not often travel expressly for the purpose of playing golf, but I enjoy golf and will often take advantage of the opportunity to play when I have extra time on a trip. The following notes may be helpful for other casual players:

What to bring

If you really plan on playing, there is no substitute for your own equipment, but to ship it safely you need a protective case and can expect to spend extra time at the airport.  Some airlines make you pay extra, though if you play at least twice you will likely save more in rentals than you have to shell out.  Do show up in plenty of time for the flight, but even when you do your clubs may not make it (happened to me twice out of about a dozen  flights)  Don't be alarmed yet -- most airlines have computerized baggage tracking and can tell you where the clubs are and will deliver your sticks if they miss your flight.  You can rent clubs almost everywhere, and better courses tend to have rental clubs in reasonable condition (though the price of rental sets has been creeping up lately and if you plan to play more than a few times you may also want to check out rental deals from golf shops for multiple days, but be sure the pickup and return process suits your schedule). Resorts often don't charge twice if you play two rounds on the same day, and you can often get big replay discounts, so this is another way to keep the cost reasonable. Therefore what I do most often is pack my shoes (often not available to rent), glove, a dozen balls (not likely to be a major expense, but if you feel awkward launching brand new balls at island greens, why not pack a few you won't worry about?) tees (unless you want to buy them), and a folding umbrella (not as good as a golf umbrella, but a whole lot easier to get in a suitcase).

Resort Golf

If you play on vacation you are likely to play resort golf.  Keep in mind that resort courses, especially famous ones, draw a lot of hackers who want to get the full benefit from their experience, so relax and enjoy the scenery and don't plan on a fast round. Resort golf is expensive, and there are many ways of cutting the price, including staying in the resort, combined lodging/golf deals, "last minute" tee times, twilight rates, and playing twice.  Sometimes you can get ordinary discounts too, like for seniors or juniors or ladies day, so ask.  Some places will give you a discount if you agree to hear a timeshare pitch -- you have to decide how much your time is worth there unless you really are looking to buy a timeshare.

places I've played:


Home to the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail and many resort courses. 

Balantrae (2018) Southern Suburbs of Birmingham

This is an upscale course in a rural area in the far suburbs of Birmingham.  It's clearly designed as a links style course in many ways, with wide fairways and mostly short cut rough, and many greens that allow the ball to be run on.  There's plenty of trouble if you aren't accurate, but anyone who likes links style golf will find this one fun.  They have 5 sets of tees covering a wide range as well as practice facilities.  We found the course staff friendly and accommodating.  It was well worth the price.  You could walk this course (though they don't allow pull carts) but there are some long green to tee distances.

A commend on the RTJ trail.

There are two RTJ trail courses in Birmingham, Ross Bridge and Oxmoor Valley (which has two 18 hole championship courses).  We had intended to play at least one of them but weather did us in.  Ross Bridge is very expensive, and I'm not sure why.  Oxmoor is high ($86 weekend), but not excessive in my view for a premium course.  These courses are spread out and have lots of elevation changes (tough or impossible to walk).  Even from the cart path, Oxmoor looked like it would be a challenge and slow to play.  The other thing that we did not expect, is that when we arrived for an early AM tee time on a day expected to rain all morning we thought we would be the only ones playing and might do it counting on being able to move relatively quickly, something we've done on other courses on rainy days, but we discovered several foursomes already checking in for the times before ours and decided we didn't have the time for a slow wet round before our other planned activities for the day


One of the biggest golf destinations anywhere, with lots of courses available. Expect high prices and carts only on many courses, but good year round playability.

International Club (2/2000) (Orlando)

Orlando is an odd mix of incredibly touristy (South, near Disney, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, etc.) and business (North). This course is in the heart of the tourist district, south of Sea World on International Drive and close to the airport. An interesting course with a good mix of water, sand, and open hopes. The course adjoins development on many holes but it's not close enough to be in play. It was possible to get on at the last minute as a single here (something I couldn't do at several courses in the "business" part of town). The course is pricy but not outrageous for the area ($55) and carts only (though it's flat and easily walkable if not for their policy. They have a range and good rentals. Pace of play was pretty slow (4-1/2 to 5 hours)


Many courses, especially in the Balimore Area.  Many courses are private, but there are some excellent public courses both municipal (county and city) and privately operated public courses.

Diamond Ridge (11/2015), Northwest of Baltimore just outside the beltway

This is one of 5 Baltimore County courses.  The clubhouse serves both Diamond Ridge and the more upscale Woodlands course Both are excellent layouts (The woodlands has bent grass fairways, whiter sand, and is generally tighter).  Diamond Ridge has many up and down holes on the front 9 and is a difficult walk.  The back 9 is flatter, but has some longer green to tee distances.  Wildlife is common, and many holes have strategic choices and interesting routes.  Local knoweldge helps (being paired with a local is a good thing here.)   The facility has full practice facilities and a restaurant.  They have good, but expensive rental sets.

Waverly Woods (11/2015), Northwest of Baltimore just off I70 5 miles east of the beltway.

This is a privately operated public course (looks to be a former country club.  It runs through a housing development, bu the houses are generally behind woods and well out of play.  The course has a challenging layout with a variety of holes.  Elevation changes aren't extreme, but there are some very long green to tee distances making this a more difficult walk.  They have practice facilities (small bucket included in the rate), and cheaper (but lousy) rentals.

Greystone (11/2015)  30 miles north of Baltimore off I83

Another Baltimore County course, and definitely a former private gone public.  The course has bent fairways and greens and is generally in good condition.  Finding it is a bit challenging (make sure you have good directions, it's in the middle of nowhere), but worth the drive.  The course has many elevation changes and holes where placing your drive in the right place is important to scoring.  Lots of blunkers, all in excellent condition for a municipal course.  It's a decent bargain on weekdays at least, especially when they offer the lunch special ($4 extra for basic lunch and a sleve of Titlists).

North Carolina

A big state with lots of golf options.  All the courses I played so far are in the Charlotte area, neither seacoast nor mountains. 

Charlotte Golf Links (11/2012), south of Charlotte

This is a Tom Doak Course built long before he became famous for Pacific Dunes.   It's links style and at least looks like a Links, a neat trick so far from the ocean.  The course has no housing (a big plus in this area since many courses were built in the 1990s to sell houses).  Many holes have woodlands or long (ball eating) rough on both sides.  It has a lot of small, deep bunkers surrounded by long grass.  The greens are almost all raised and undulating.  In November, the course was playable, but not in top condition (greens a bit rough, etc.).  They have only 3 tees, but they will suit most plahers (even the back isn't exceptionally long).  The course is easily walkable, however we were not allowed to walk at Noon on a Sunday (but two guys in the group behind us were -- I think the guy at the desk was just being obnoxious to us that day.  They also one of the worst rental club sets we have ever received (no two irons the same brand, pieces busted off the putter, and the 3W was left handed!  Still, it is a nice layout and fun to play.

The Tradition (11/2012)  North of Charlotte

This is an older course routed entirely through woodlands (no houses).  All holes are tree lined both sides, and most have little creeks crossing them at some point.  Lots of bunkers complete the picture of a challenging layout.  It's walkable, but there are a few long hikes between green and tee and the course could use more signs guiding you where to go in places.  There are 5 sets of tees which cover a wide range of distance and offer options for everyone.  In early November, the course was in fair condition (greens a bit rough).  Still, a good bargain and experience.

Balantyne Resort  (11/2012)  North of Charlotte

This is an upscale resort course attached to a hotel and spa south of Charlotte.  It's in a rather odd setting (what looks like an office park) but the course has plenty of room and if you can ignore the traffic sounds and distant views of skyscrapers it's nicely laid out and scenic.  The resort also has a big golf school and the course is usually in top condition.  The staff was very accomodating to get us out ahead of a small (but slow) outing, and they had excellent rental clubs.  It's pricey for the area but worth it for a traveller who needs to rent clubs and wants a "country club" experience.  There are 4 sets of tees catering to all needs, and keep in mind it's a par 71 so all of them will play like a 200 yards longer set on a par 72 course.

South Carolina

Another state with a lot of different golfing options.

Springfield Golf Club (11/2012), Sourth of Charlotte.

This course is almost literally just over the border from North Carolina.  It looks to be part of a high end housing development, but the houses are way back off the holes and not in play nor generally in view.  The course is one of the most scenic I've played, and the holes lay out beautifully.  Even in November, the greens were smooth and true.  Most holes are tree lined both sides and roll up and down, but the wide fairways and strategically placed slopes and bunkers will keep you in play unless you spray it a long way off line.  They let me walk this course, but it is one off the most challenging walks I've had, with lots of elevation and many long walks between holes.  (Also, be wary of concrete paths entering some holes from the housing developments which are difficult to distinguish from the real cart path leading to the next hole.)  The staff was freindly and helpful.  5 Sets of tees give you lots of playable options on this course.  This course was a steal for the price.

Louisana (New Orleans)

New Orleans is not known as a golf destination but has a climate that allows year round play and has excellent municipal facilities. The city operates 4 courses in City park and another in Audobon park. All are on flat land with mature trees lining most fairways and water somewhere on 1/4-1/2 of the holes. One course (East, as I recall) is the "championship" facility and features more severe bunkering and sculpting of greens and bunkers. Greens fees are very inexpensive, and getting on seemed no problem on a weekday. Rental clubs were brand X but in good condition. *** Note, the city courses were used as a staging area for Katrina relief and I have no idea when, if ever, this area will be returned to golfers)

Other places that were recommended that I did not play included English turn (VERY private), and Diamond Head (2 resort style courses about 60 miles east on I10).

Washington State

The Seattle and Vancouver areas both have many good public courses, many of which are playable all year long. (The area gets 4 months of steady rain starting in about November, and the most playable courses in rainy season are those near Olympia, where mountains block winter storms).  The part of the state east of the Cascades is a desert and has many good courses.

Harbor Pointe (1997) (30 miles north of Seattle)

This is a yuppie housing development/course (That extraneous 'e' is a dead giveaway) about 30 miles north of Seattle. Harbor Pointe was in the top 10 new courses in 1991 or 1992, and was very challenging and in general well maintained (the weak spot was the greens, which had some bare spots, a common problem in the cold, wet, climate). The front nine is in marsh land, with nearly all holes bordered by marshes or carrying marshes. The back 9 runs through hilly woodlands, with good views of puget sound and large elevation changes on some holes. Rental clubs were brand name (Wilson) and in good shape. The price was relatively expensive but not out of line for a quality course. When I played in 1994, there was no clubhouse, just a trailer serving as the pro shop.

Snohomish (1997) (30 miles north of Seattle)

This is an older Muni course routed through piney woods with little water. The course is long and many holes are fairly tight, but not overly difficult. Rental clubs were older and well used. Price in line for a basic muni course.

Willows Run (11/2003, 2011) (Redmond Area)

This is a fairly new complex with 2 18 hole courses, as well as a short 9 hole course and a putting course.  It's on an open and somewhat wet meadow with a lot of long grass and water between holes.  It's very walkable and a reasonably interesting though flat layout with no adjoining housing.  The signature 17th, a long Par 3 over water to a mostly Island green is fun.  Rental clubs were poor.  One thing to note is that these courses are VERY popular, and the parking lot can fill up even on a weekday.  Pace of play was slow, even starting early.  Come early and plan for a slow round.

Riverbend (11/2003)  South of Seattle near Sea-TaC airport off I5.

This is a basic muni style course, actually with both a regular and a par 3 course on site.  It's basic golf on a riverside plain, without much elevation or that many hazards.  There are a lot of mature trees separating holes and several holes played on the other side of the river go through wooded land.  Rental clubs are basic, as are the fees. Easy to walk

West Seattle (10/2017)  Just west of downtown Seattle.

This is one of 3 18 hole Seattle Munis, probably the closest one to downtown and easily accessible by car or bus.  It's a modest course, but has no housing and has interesting holes.  The back 9 is less inspiring than the front, with lots of parallel holes, but many have great views of Seattle.  Cost of play and rental clubs is modest.  There are 5 sets of tees that provide suitable challenge for all levels.  It's walkable, though there are some hills to climb.

China Creek (10/2017)  Southeast of Seattle, part of the Newcastle golf club.

This is an upscale course that's part of a two course complex.  The club has always gotten strong reviews, but is very expensive ($100 to play off season, significantly more for the more famous Coal Creek course.  The layout is very nice, but the condition wasn't consistent with the price.  Maybe that's partly the season, though the thin turf in spots seemed more extensive than just fall.  What really seemed out of line was the cost of club rental ($75, which wasn't made up by including half a dozen cheap golf balls).  The views are stunning, and the price includes the use of the range.  Four sets of tees provide plenty of options.  The few houses on the course aren't in play, but some holes have very tight landing areas between steep slopes, ponds, or forest. 

Sudden Valley (Bellingham -- 1999, 2012)

This course is in a resort development community along Lake Whatcom, about 10 miles east of Bellingham. It winds through houses, but they aren't in play. Front and back nines are very different in character, front nine flat with lots of water, back nine up and down with tight holes and lots of trees. Don't play here if you can't hit something long and straight, especially off the back tees. It's a beautiful course and a definite bargain ($30 weekdays walking -- 1999). It's walkable, though the back is a bit challenging, but LOTS of people walk the course and play fast. Members get the earliest tee times, non members play after 8 or 8:30 AM.

Loomis Trail  (Blain -- 2012)

This is the sister course to Semiahmoo, and is available to the public every other day (even days at the moment).  It was in top condition and had interesting holes cut through woodlands and almost no housing on the course.  It's very walkable (no hills, only a couple of longer walks between holes), and has LOTS of water, much of it difficult to spot from the tee or where you make your shots from -- look hard at the scorecard map or yardage guide to make sure you are picking a safe line.  They have 5 tees stretching from 5,000 to over 7,000 yards, and many holes are quite tight making it play even longer for anyone nervous about hitting narrow fairways.  It's a full service facility with practice facilities, pro shop, food and beverage.  A very enjoyable place to play.

Semiahmoo  (Blain -- 2012)

This is a resort course but open to the general public on alternate days.  It's an older course built into a forest with housing lining most holes, but the houses are well back and mostly hidden by trees.  It's a Palmer course with generous landing areas and smaller, tighter greens with plenty of speed and undulation.  It is walkable, though with more green-tee distances and elevation than Loomis Trail.  There are 4 sets of tees that provide a good range of distances.   It's a full service facility with practice facilities, pro shop, food and beverage.  A very enjoyable place to play.

Avalon  (20 miles south of Bellingham -- 2012)

This facility has 3 9's that are mostly flat and wander through sparse woodlands.  There's little elevation change but a lot of water and more than a few holes have trees that come into play.  There are also rocks and some big tree stumps that enter play on some holes.  Greens are fast and challenging.  The trickiest hazard are many small ditches that mostly lurk in the rough on the sides of holes but sometimes cross the fairway -- check out your landing areas carefully.  All the 9's are easily walkable.  There are 3 sets of tees, a range and snack bar.

North Bellingham  (5 miles north of Bellingham -- 2012)

This is a "prairie" style course -- no trees, lots of long grass and marsh lands.  It has firm fairways and fast greens, but doesn't compare to any of the real links style courses.  The front 9 is relatively forgiving, with wide landing areas and only one "oddball" hole (a par 5 with lots of dips that hide long grass or odd slopes), but the back 9 is much tighter with more water and more hidden hazards.  Wind is definitely a big factor on this course.  It's enjoyable to play, even if I didn't play well.  They have 4 sets of tees (make sure you get the right yardage off the card, since the tee signs are ancient and list the wrong tee colors), as well as a range and snack bar.

Shuksan  (5 miles north of Bellingham -- 2012)

This is a fascinating course that plays through a quarry-like depression Several holes have dramatic drops off the tee and a couple have large climbs to the green.  It's not hugely long, but with a lot of water and long grass areas plays tricky and requires precision.  It's walkable, but challenging, and walkers would find it very convenient to play with someone in a cart who can give them a ride up the 3 or 4 steepest and longest climbs.  Get a yardage book or other guidance to see exactly what the distances to the hazards are and pay attention to which tee boxes are in use.  The greens on this course are cut longer than most and a bit slow when we played at least (July), but can run quickly on any downhill putt.  There are 3 or 4 sets of tees.  It has a range and a full service clubhouse.

The Home Course (South of Tacoma -- 2008,2013)

This is a new course "Home" over the Pacific NW golf association.  The course is built on gravel and the rough areas are long grass growing out of the gravel.  Fairways, Tees, and greens are all excellent (bent greens with only a little poa in 2013), and well maintained.  Clubhouse facilities are minimal for now (a trailer with minimal food and drink), but the golf is great and a good bargain for the area.  A yardage guide with aiming points and distances would be useful, especially since there are a lot of places you will likely face blind shots.  There are 5 sets of tees that play up to 7400 yards.

Salish Cliffs, (Shelton, west of Olympia, 2013)

This is a a new course associated with a Casino.  It's spread out (carts only, don't even think about walking) but has good views and for a 2 year old course is already well grown in.  Their are 4 or 5 sets of tees, and practice facilities.  It's pricy, but not out of line for the quality of golf.  The only real drawback is that it gets lots of casino gust traffic and can play slow

Hawks Prairie (Lacey, north of Olympia, 2013)

This is a 36 hole facility with 2 very different courses.  The links course, relatively new, is not a true links, but most holes have few trees and look "linksy".  The course is quite walkable, and with 5 sets of tees will accomodate any game.  Ther are practice facilities and a bar/restaurant. 

The woodlands course is the original course in the complex and has holes cut through pine forests.  Unfortunately in 2013, the course has in my view been ruined by real estate development The holes have been spread out, making 1/4-1/2 mile a typical green-to-tee distance, often over gravel, destroyed forest, or through neighborhoods, not really walkable at all. (Maybe they should now call it "the wastelands".  A shame, since the course has interesting greens, and some novel hole designs.  In addition to the design issues, the course is clearly suffering from poor maintenance, with many burned out or over watered areas on fairways.  Unfortunately I'd stick with the links and give this one a pass.  (Note that while this course has its own parking and clubhouse, there's nothing open there, so you really have to park at the links course, check in there and if you ride get your cart there).

Washington National  (Auburn,2014)

This is the home course of the University of Washington, about 30 miles south of seattle in woodlands near Auburn WA.  It's a newer course with the main distinctive feature being lots of enormous bunkers.  The course is walkable, though there's a bit of up and down on the back 9.  While the starter said the holes are straightforward, we didn't find it that way, especially on the back, where there are many hidden hazards and blind shots into the green at least if you are a shorter hitter and don't hit it where the course designer thought you would.  Still, it's a very enjoyable course to play, though a bit pricey.  They have 5 sets of tees plus a blended "graduate" set that's the right lenght for me and probably many others (though note that that set of tees includes the white, blue, and black tee positions, and you may find yourself hitting longer shots into the par 3's than you planned.  There are houses, but on most holes they aren't in play.  (some holes are a bit tight with hazards on one side and houses on the others.

Chambers Bay (Tacoma -- 2008,2009, 2011)

This is a unique Muni course built in an old quarry on the coast just south of Tacoma  The  course is links style, walking only, and the course itself is not unlike the Bandon Dunes courses.  It has already hosted a US Amateur, and has been selected to host a US Open (2015) and it should be very interesting to see the top pros cope with it's challenges.  Like good links courses the turf  is hard and fast allowing you to play a lot of interesting running shots.  Unlike Bandon there's no gorse, but the "out of play" areas are sandy waste, or rough gravel dunes (if you go there hope you get into the sand, not the lumpy gravel.)  Caddies are available and highly recommended -- the caddies will give you lots of good tips on lines to play  read the greens as well as helping you keep the ball in play and find it if you go out of play.  It is a challenging walk with a good deal of elevation to navigate (like Bandon Trails, not the ocean side courses).  The greens are Fescue and a bit slow (faster in 2011, but still a bit slow), but due to be sped up for championship play.  If you go, practice getting out of the sand and think  "ground game", not target golf, and you will have a good experience.  Pick your tees conservatively.  (There are 5 available)  ***2011 -- With the fame the course achieved for the Amateur, prices have gone up.  It is now priced like Bandon, but unfortunately can't deliver the same experience.  While we were told in 2008 that there were lans for 3 courses and a hotel, like Bandon, instead the adjoining area has been developed as a public park, with some walking paths going through the course itself.  Noise from people on the paths, trains, and vehicles on the roads is a constant distraction.  Turf maintenance has also been somewhat problematic.  Even after 4 years the greens are shaggy and a bit inconsistent, and lots of areas are riddled with divots that are slow to heal.  It's still a nice links course, but priced high for the total experience.

Sun Willows (Pasco -- 2008)

This is one of the RSG-NW courses, right next to the Red Lion Inn, which has a special golfers package giving you golf, cart, breakfast, and a free drink (the golf package is good at other Tri-cities courses as well).  Sun Willows is basic golf, a flat, older park style layout.  Housing borders some holes and there are plenty of hazards and OB to add challenge.  It is an easy and enjoyable course to walk. (Watch out for in course OB on a few holes)  The greens are Poa and get a bit bumpy late in the day. 

Canyon Lakes (Kenniwick -- 2008, 2012)

Another RSG-NW Course this is a more upscale course set in a housing development.  The houses are out of play for all but really wild shots, but an irrigation ditch runs along several holes and can be tough to see and tougher to avoid.  The course can be walked, but has a lot of up and down and a couple of signficant walks.  The greens are Poa but in excellent shape.  4 Sets of tees are available.

Columbia Point (Richland -- 2008)

The 3rd RSG-NW course this year, this is a shorter course with high mounds separating the holes and a few trees.  The greens are a mix of Poa and bent grass and a bit bumpy, though the course is well maintained.  There are many shorter par 4's with Risk/Reward options to reach or get close to the green and go for birdies, but there is a lot of trouble around a lot of the greens, and the mounds create a lot of bad lies in the rough.  4 sets of tees are available as well as a range.

Horn Rapids (Richland -- 2012)

This is another course used for RSG-NW and very different from the others in the Tri Cities area.  It's a desert course that adjoins the Hanford reservation, and not unlike courses in the southwest in layout (scant fairway areas with rough desert in the out of play areas.)  the first few and last few holes on each 9 play through housing, which isn't particularly in play on most of them.  (It is too close for comfort on a few, especially to anyone who plays a big curve ball).  The course is walkable, though not easy to walk (and there's no water on the course for walkers).  It's a course which benefits from some prior experience, as several holes have big doglegs or hidden features and you won't be able to find the best line on some holes the first time.  It has a snack bar and practice facilities. 

McCormick Woods (Port Orchard-- 2009)

This was one of the RSG-NW courses for the practice round and the skins round course for 2009.  It's a housing development course, but the houses aren't really in play.  You can walk it but there are some longish walks between holes (not much elevation though).  Most holes go through woodlands, with lots of slopes that kick your ball, particularly in the rough.  In 2009, they clearly mis-managed the heat wave and drought and many holes had dead areas in the fairways and most of the rough was dead or dormant -- too bad for a course that could be really great.  They have 4 or 5 sets of tees, practice facilities, and a good bar and restaurant.  Pace of play was a signficant problem on Saturday (over 5 hours), but not Friday.

Trophy Lake (Port Orchard-- 2009)

This was one of the RSG-NW courses for the practice round It's a modern "phony links", and a very good one at that.  The course can be walked, but make sure someone in the party has a cart and can ferry you from 9 to 10 and a couple of spots on the back 9.  There isn't that much elevation, and no housing (yet!).  Lots of mounds, and some holes that definitely need some experience to know where to hit.  They have a nice restaurant with good lunch options.

Gold Mountain  (Bremmerton- 2009)

This was the site of the RSG-NW Saturday rounds.  There are two courses and practice facilities, as well as restaurant and bar (all good).  The Olympic Course is relatively new and has hosted some signficant tournaments (including the USGA publinks).  It's a monster, with a lot of holes where you tee shot is likely to land in the "wet catchers mitt" -- an uphill slope that makes the hole 50 yards longer for you) unless you carry the ball 220+ in the air.  Lots of elevation changes (some holes with multiple rolls of 40-50 feet) mean this one is tough to walk, though you are welcome to do so (get a ride for the long uphill slog back to the clubhouse).  There are some really fun holes here, including the short 18th, where you can go for the green and get a birdie or eagle (or wind up short and doubling). 

The other course (Cascade) is an older course with less dramatic holes.  Many are cut through woods.  It's much more walkable and a bit more playable.  It's harder to hit out of play on this course, though neither course has a lot of OB (don't hit it in the woods though, you will never find it.) 

Both courses have Poa Greens, and heavy play makes them bumpy in the afternoon.  This is a very popular facility (highly ranked by national publications), and pace of play on weekends is glacial (5+ on both).  (The staff was accomodating when we missed our PM tee times by at least 45 minutes, but I doubt the people who we pushed back appreciated that.

Prospector (Cle Elum, 2010)

This course is just off Interstate 90 just west of the pass on I90, about 80 miles from Seattle.  It's in the Suncadia resort, and a great mountain course for the money ($75 with cart).  The turf was firm in spite of LOTS of rain before we played, and the greens are solid for a mountain course (The fairways, still a bit rough in may).  The course isn't walkable and has lots of dramatic elevation changes and great long views of the mountains.  They have a nice range (range balls included in the price), and good resort amenities (The resort is run by the same folks that run Wailea and many other nice resorts you couldn't touch for the money you spend here).  Cheaper lodging is available in the small town of Cle Elum or the larger town of Ellensburg 30 miles down the road.

Rope Rider (Cle Elum, 2014)

This is the sister course to Prospector, also in the Suncadia resort.  It's the same price (Just a bit higher now).  It's a flatter layout that Prospector, but equally fun.  The front 9 has more mysterious holes than the back, which seems a bit more straightforward.  It's flat enough to be walkable, but some very long green to tee distances make that difficult.  Rope Rider has tees that will challenge anyone, but also plenty of freindly options including junior tees and relatively few hazards that have to be carried from the forward tee, and as such is a good option for  a group that includes beginners or shorter hitters.  The course is fully grown in, but it's still new and some amenities (e.g. bathrooms with flush toilets) are still under development.

Wine Valley (Walla Walla, 2010,2011,2012,2014)

This is a new course on the RSG-NW schedule, and a real gem.  One look at the first hole immediately said "Pacific Dunes", and playing the course did nothing to dispell that thought.  The turf is true links, hard and fast, and the greens are fast and tricky.  "Ground Game" is critical here.  The bunkers are raw and nasty, just like Pacific and most of the other Bandon courses (though there are fewer of them and they don't gather balls quite so readily.)  The club house is minimal but the service is first rate (the small restaurant has some unusual food offerings and microbrews), and they have good practice facilities.  Several sets of tees (at least 5) are available to play any level of challenge you are up to.  The course is walkable, but not a walk in the park (some awkward walks between holes and elevation.)  I don't know what the long term plans are for the property, but at the moment it's strictly golf and a steal for the price.

Veterans Memorial  (Walla Walla, 2014)

This is an older course, basically a 50 year old muni, just off route 12 in downtown Walla Walla.  It's relatively flat, but has tree lined holes doglegs, and a variety of hole styles and lengths, as well as tees that will challenge most players.  The greens are Poa and fairways and rough typical of a parkland course (i.e. not hard and running), but it's in good shape and relatively inexpensive.  It's walkable, though there are some substantial dips in some holes (1, 9, and 18 in particular) that add a bit of challenge.

Kayak Point (North of Seattle, 2010)

This is an older course in a housing development maybe 45 minutes north of Seattle (and further off I5 than you probably think you can go :-)
It's a tightly wooded course where most holes are lined with big trees.  The course can be walked, but there is more than a bit of elevation and some longer green-to-tee walks.  It's not hard to play if you hit it arrow straight -- geezer golf works really well here :-)   At the time I played they were running a very good special rate.

Redmond Ridge (Redmond, 2010)

This is a newer course in a housing development, probably previously known as Trilogy.  It's a typical modern housing course with interesting holes -- a fair amount of water and unfortunately many holes with houses (though none really close).  It can be walked, but the last 4 holes are all up and down and long distances and make it tough.  One hole (14?) is an awesome par 4 where you layup to the lip of a cliff then have a long carry to a green way below you.  A decent course, though not the best bargain.

White horse (Kingston, 2010)

This course is across the sound from the north suburbs of Seattle.  (You need to take a ferry, though if you take the Edmonds-Kingston ferry you can arrange a shuttle pickup or take your car and drive 5 minutes to the course).  It's part of a housing development that failed, and was rescued.  All you need to know about this one is the middle name of the designer -- DYE.  I think it must be Pete's daughter who designed it -- lots of bunkers and slopes that guide you towards bunkers, and lots of strategic holes where you have to put the ball in the right place to have a good second shot.  Be sure to get the course guide from the pro shop -- the scorecard and tee markers give you no clues.  The front 9 is mostly through woods, while the back has some housing along it but not in the way.  Definitely worth the ferry ride.

Palouse Ridge (Pullman, 2011)

This is a relatively new course attached to Washington State.  It's an open links style course with big elevation changes, fast fairways, and fast greens.  It has a very nice mix of holes including par 4's and par 5's that are reachable for longer hitters and a lot of variety.  It is walkable, but it is a long walk with lots of elevation and long green-tee distances.  For now the greens are very pure (no Poa).  They have extensive practice facilities and 5 sets of tees.  The restaurant attached to the course is noteable for NOT being a typical golf course restaurant.  Many unusual and excellent lunch and dinner selections, and half a dozen interesting beers on tap.

U of Idaho (Moscow Idaho, 2011)

This course course is actually in Idaho, just barely, but is adjacent to Pullman Washington.  It's an older course with lots of trees and rolling hills.  There are no flat lies on this course, and virtually all the greens and tees are elevated, making it a lot of climbing to walk (no long green-tee distances though and many people do walk it.)  In the summer the locals say it dries out and becomes almost links like, but in the spring fairways and approaches are reasonably soft making it difficult to get any shot to bounce onto the greens.  They have a range and 4 sets of tees that accomodate most players.  

The highlands (Coueur D'alene)

This course course is just off I90 about 30 miles east of Spokane.  It's a housing course, with houses lining one side of most holes, but they aren't tight.  The big pine trees are tight on many holes.  You can walk it, but there's some up and down with ravines to cross and some green-to-tee hikes cross roads and are long.  It's got 4 sets of tees and is on the shortish side for big hitters but everyone else will be happy.   It's reasonably priced (Under $50 riding with tax) for the area.  Like other northwest courses it doesn't open particularly early (8AM) but we had no trouble getting on in spite of a later shotgun outing.  The greens on this course were fine, but the fairways and rough were spotty, with lots of dead dry patches that resulted in lots of unwanted sideways bounce and roll. 


Michigan, especially northern Michigan, has developed into a destination for resort golf in recent years.  The season is relatively short, and the prices aren't cheap, but there are a lot of courses available and many hotels will package room and golf at many different courses for a discount.  (The town of Gaylord has many courses, hotels which will package golf, and a good assortment of restaurants including an excellent brew pub).

Black Bear (Gaylord area, 2008)

The course is just north of Gaylord, visible from I75.  it's a newer style course that can be walked (but there are some long walks between greens and tees), with some housing but not enough to be in play.  The holes are mostly in open meadowlands with a few that have big trees in play. The fairways are bent grass and in good shape.  The greens are extremely difficult, with subtle tiers that can send a putt that is nearly stopped at the hole 50 feet away and make it almost impossible to 2 putt from the wrong tier -- local knowledge is very useful here.  The course has 4 sets of tees and a range with good practice facilities..

The Loon (Gaylord area, 2008)

The course is just south of Gaylord, near  I75.  It is a newer course with most holes going through pine forest and some adjoining housing.  There aren't any big elevation changes here and the greens were in good shape and not extreme.  The course could be walked  though there are some long walks.  There is a good mix of hole types. Fairways are bent grass and in good shape.  Local knowledge is quite useful here, and be careful of the position of water hazards and which forest areas are in play and which are OB, which isn't always obvious when planning a shot. 

Mishaywe Pines (Gaylord area, 2008)

This course is near the Loon south of Gaylord.  It is an older course without a lot of dramatic elevation changes.  It can be walked and doesn't have many long walks between tees and greens.  Some holes here are tight, but there aren't a lot of things that aren't visible.  The course has a range and practice facilities.  Note that there are other things in this area called "Mishaywe", so follow directions to the course carefully.  Note also that another course adjoins it and you can wind up on the wrong golf course at the turn if you aren't careful.

The Natural (Gaylord area, 2008)

This course is near the Loon south of Gaylord.  It is one of the oldest courses in the area and as a result lacks the dramatic contouring of many newer courses and indeed has a "natural" look.  Most holes play through pine forest and though several are adjacent that isn't all that obvious while playing.  The layout is a bit quirky, with a couple of very short par 3's and par 4's and as a result lots of LONG par 4s to make up the distance.  It has the character of an older municiple course (ordinary grass, 3 sets of tees), rather than a resort, but I found it a very enjoyable and affordable layout with a good pace of play.

Elk Ridge  (North of Gaylord area, 2008)

The course is about an hour east of Gaylord, though it is included in those available to Gaylord area packages.  It is very isolated (be careful about directions as those we got sent us unnecessarily on a one lane dirt road).  This is a gorgeous course through pristine forest.  It is definitely carts only (lots of elevation and some long walks.  The "pace of play" objective is nearly 5 hours, which seems long, but it can take a long time if you actually try to play shots out of the woods.  Accuracy is much more important than length here.  A yardage guide would be very useful as there are a lot of doglegs and layup holes.  Note that the course is owned by someone who made their fortune in ham (hence the signature "pig" bunker on number 10) and has great ham sandwiches.  There are some tough carries on this course for shorter hitters, and the combination of elevation and bent grass fairways means lots of angled lies on thin turf which will challenge "flatlanders".

Black Lake (North of Gaylord area, 2008)

The course is an hour north of Gaylord and very isolated.  Mostly it plays through pristine forest.  It is in excellent condition (bent grass fairways and tees) and lots of interesting holes.  This is another "carts only" course (mostly because of long walks between holes though there is some elevation as well).  The carries are better positioned here for shorter hitters, but the course plays quite long even off the white tees.  Bring your A game, enjoy it, and don't expect to score well!  Note that this one is owned by the UAW.  They have practice facilities and 5 sets of tees..

The Polo Fields at Washtenaw (Ypsilanti, 2011)

This is an old private club recently acquired by another private club from Ann Arbor (The Polo Fields has a more modern course there).  I had an opportunity to play as the guest of a member.  Like many older courses, it's a tight layout with lots of mature trees and very small greens.  At the time I played I was working a tournament at Inverness and my observation is that Washtenaw is a very similar style course, with lots of holes that cross ravines, and lots of holes that demand hitting narrow fairways.  The course isn't exceptionally long and has only 3 sets of tees but will provide plenty of challenge. 

The Legacy by Arthur Hills (Toledo area, 2011)

This course is just over the state line going north on US 23 from Toledo.  It's a new layout, reasonably flat but very spread out.  (We were advised not to try to walk the course and were glad we took a cart, though green-tee distance is the only problem in walking).  The course has lots of water and marshes, including an island greeen hole (not especially difficult if you are playing appropriate tees).  Like other Hills courses it has some interesting short holes and tee positions that make it playable at every level (the red tees will probably be too short for some).  This course was also remarkably cheap.  They have a complete practice facility.


Hardly a well known golf mecca, but there are plenty of courses in the Omaha/Lincoln area and some very nice ones scattered beyond.

Triburon (West Omaha, 2013)

This is a 27 hole complex with 3 9s with some holes bordered by housing.  The houses aren't close (but you do get some construction/maintenance noise from them).  They rotate which 9's make up 18 holes and start people on all 3 in the morning, so you can easily play any of them.  All the 9s are easily walkable.  The course was in good condition (In early July), and has tees from around 2,500 to 3,500 yards for 9 holes to accomodate most players.  There are some elevation changes and water on maybe 1/3 of the holes (watch out for hazards that are bigger than what's shown on the scorecard map).  Most holes are quite playable, though each of the 9s we played had one hole that was very difficult especially for shorter hitters because of the carries.

Indian Creek (West Omaha, 2013)

This course is at the far northwest of the Omaha area.  They have 3 9s and rotate which get used.  It was the best bang for the buck of what we played.  It's walkable, though might be a bit strenuous (a bit of up and down) for some people.  The course was in top condition (early July).  There are 5 sets of tees that will suit most players.  Some holes abut housing, but it's always a long way from the course and shouldn't interfere. 

Quarry Oaks (Ashland, 2013)

This course is half way between Omaha and Lincoln along the Platte river at the same exit off I80 as the SAC museum.  It's an upscale 18 hole facility in a rural setting (no housing and few holes adjacent.  The course is spread out and hilly enough that it would be difficult to walk (though they allow it).  There are tees to suit any length of play, but I'd suggest a conservative choice because of the elevation.  Some holes on the back 9 were difficult to follow (i.e. hard to figure out where to safely hit), and the "tip sheet" they gave us was less than perfect.  Overall though a very enjoyable experience, though not a cheap one.


Lots of courses, none especially famous. 

Fox Run  (Council Bluffs, 2013)

This is an 18 hole daily fee course.  It's an older layout, though it seems as if they rebuilt 3 holes on the front 9 to route through a new housing development.  It's still easily walkable.  This course was cheap, but not in great shape (greens were okay, but fairways/rough were ratty and other amenities, like restrooms, in bad shape.  It's basic golf, flat and easily walkable (in spite of some long walks in the "new" holes).  It's busy and you will probably hit slow traffic.  Not bad for basic golf, but not as nice as the courses we played on the Nebraska side of the Omaha metro area.


Missouri has a long golf season and interesting topography. It's not known as a golf destination, but has plenty of reasonable courses. Being fairly far south, you will find a lot of bermuda grass (aka plastic brillo pad weed) in the fairways, but not usually on the greens. I've played several times in the St Louis area, though there are good courses everywhere.

Crystal Springs Quarry (St Louis Area) (2004)

This course is Northwest of the city, near I70 and St Charles. Be advised that Yahoo maps doesn't do a good job of locating the course. The course is a bargain for the quality and quite walkable, in spite of the fact that the first two holes are a steep climb and steep descent. The rest of the course is flat with relatively short green-tee distances. Most of this course is through marsh and pond country, and if you know where to hit it is quite playable. They have 4 or 5 sets of tees to suit any length and ability. Greens are bent, while fairways are bermuda.

Tapawingo National (St Louis Area) (2004,2008)

This course is west of St Louis near the intersection of I270 and I44. It's part of a housing development, though houses aren't in play. There are 27 holes and it plays as 18 and 9 with different pairs of 9's played as the 18 holer every day. The Woodlands course is very hilly, and not particularly walkable, while the other 9's are flat and at least reasonably walkable. This course has some of the prettiest holes I've ever played, and was when we played at least in great shape. Holes are for the most part very well designed with much larger landing areas than may be apparent off the tee. (The first hole on the Prairie 9 is the exception) There are at least 5 sets of tees, be sure you pick what fits you. It's tough from the tips or the "gold" tees at the next level down, but more playable off the more forward tees, 3 of which are rated for Women, a rare case. Service is excellent for the price.

Consider getting a yardage guide here or at least some local advice. Many holes take some local knowledge to play. For example, Number 3 on the woodlands, a par 3 over a pond, seems to play longer than the marked yardage, while Number on 1 on the Prairie, a sharp dogleg to the right which then goes way down a slope you need to know the exact distance to hit your layup drive and not hit it right, or you will be blocked or lose the ball. Another hole on the woodlands (5?) plays across a road not marked on the card and with a big dropoff on the right. Every hole on the woodlands though left us amazed at the views and the fact that in spite of some very scary shots this course is really a joy to play.

Pevely Farms (St Louis Area) (2004)

This is a former horse farm converted to golf course with housing under development. It's about 25 miles southwest of the city along I44, in a very rural area (except for a couple of train lines running near or through the course). The course is in good condition and a relative bargain for an upscale course. It's scenic, though it has some flaws. It is definitely "carts only", with long green-tee distances, but unfortunately also has several holes (more than the staff warn you about) where you cannot get off the path and the paths are often poorly placed (i.e. at the top of steep slopes where your ball will invariably be at the bottom). Even with 4 sets of tees it will play tough for shorter hitters even from the forward tees as several holes have carries of 100 yards over rough to reach the fairway and many have awkward slopes in the landing areas for shorter hitters. One piece of advice is not to play this one on dewey mornings, as thick rough and heavy dew make it tough to find balls in the rough and even tougher to hit them out. The course is about 3/4 open links-style holes over rolling terrain and the other holes cut through deep woods. There are a few holes with ponds, but housing and OB are generally not in play -- the main hazard is the awkward terrain and heavy rough. This course is an Arthur Hills design, a designer who has done many excellent courses. In time perhaps this one will show that way too, but for now it seems a big rough still.

Spencer T Olin  (Alton Illionis, St Louis Area) (2008)

This is an Arnold Palmer designed and managed Muni.  Don't be discouraged by the drive to this course through a city park.  The golf course is well designed with some interesting holes.  We saw deer and turkeys on this course.  It once hosted the USGA Publinks championship.  It was a bit run down when we played in 2008, but still a very interesting course and a good bargain (About $45 on a weekend as I recall).  You could walk this course but there's a lot of up and down, especially on the back 9.  Some holes require some local knowledge about where to hit.  There are several layup par 4's here so don't take your driver all the time.  4 sets of tees make this playable for anyone.

Missouri Bluffs (2008)

This is an exceptional property, on a hillside next to the Missouri river west of St Louis off I64/US 40.  The holes are cut through deep woods with no houses anywhere.  Most of the holes have generous fairways and reasonable rough outside the fairway, meaning you won't wind up in the trees.  Many are bowl shaped so errant shots kick back into play.  There are some dramatic up elevation changes and wildlife (deer, turkeys) is plentiful.  It's pricey, but in our experience well worth it.  I believe you can walk here but it would be quite difficult with some of the elevation changes.  4 or 5 sets of tees make it playable by anyone, but there are some long carries off all but the most forward tees.  The course was in excellent condition (Zoysia fairways and bent greens)

Quail Creek (2008)

This is I believe a Muni course near I44 in the western suburbs of St Louis.  It's in a public park,  but the golf holes are well separated and have interesting elevation.  The course is a Hale Irwin design, and a bargain ($25 was the senior rate we got).  It wasn't in the best shape when we played, but that may be the 4 inches of rain the area had received.  Greens were good (bent), though fairways were a bit seedy.  This course would be walkable in spite of some elevation changes.  (We rode in a rainstorm.) 


Indiana has more courses and more interesting courses than we expected, at least in the Indianapolis area.  We had no trouble getting on courses here, and prices were a relative bargain.  One caution -- lots of courses aren't open Monday AM.  Weird.  Haven't seen that except as a kid playing private courses.

The Trophy Club (Indianapolis area, 2009,2012)

The Trophy club is about 10 miles north of the I465 beltway off I65 (actually off US 52).  It's a decent phony links course by a Pete Dye protegee and has a lot of Pete Dye features (mounds, deep bunkers, lots of banks, etc.).  It's walkable, though has some long walks and a fair nubmber of steep banks to climb from green to tee.  The staff was freindly and amenities good.  It's a course where you want to keep it in the fairway, but you won't lose a lot of balls here even if you are less than perfect.  No housing around this one yet at least.

Ironwood (Indianapolis Area, 2009)

This is a 27 hole facility just east of I69 and north of I465.  It's one that was open Monday AM.  This is an older course and reasonably flat, with a lot of water in play.  We played the Valley and Lakes 9's.  Valley is reasonably open except for 6 and 7 which go through trees (7 is a strange dogleg that requires a big drive just to see the green).  Lakes starts with several long boring par 4's, but finishes with a really tough lakeside par 4 (rumored to be the hardest hole in Indiana by the grounds crew people working on it), a peninsula green par 3, and an interesting par 5.  For $25, it was a good bargain, though not exciting.  It's walkable, though there are some LONG walks to tees.)

River Glen (Indianapolis Area, 2016)

This is an 18 hole course at a semi-private club near Carmel.  Most of the course is on the flood plain of the White river, while 4 holes go through housing adjacent.  The housing isn't really in play and those 4 holes are interesting.  It's not a bad bargain for the price, but the course is nothing special. Lots of doglegs and greenside bunkers and a bit of water but mostly not a lot of trees.  Conditions were a bit rough when we played, probably because of flooding in the not too distant past.  Our major complaint was that in spite of prohibitions against 5somes in several places we ran into the slowest 5some I've ever seen from their ladies league (who teed off 1 while we and others teed off 10) on our 14th hole and they refused to let us play through even though they were at least 3 holes behind anyone else (basically the rest of the league was done.  The pro shop attendant appologised and offered a 9 hole rain check, which we couldn't use, but if you have limited time and expect to play a quick round teeing off near dawn this isn't the course for you.

The Fort (Indianapolis Area, 2009, 2012, 2016)

This is a Pete Dye course in an old military facility.  It's cut through woodlands with lots of tree lined holes, doglegs, and a fair amount of elevation change.  This one is described as walkable, but it would be a tough walk (we rode, our second round of the day).  It was one of the more expensive ones we played ($79, cheaper for seniors), but also one of the most interesting.  Like other Dye courses, stay out of the mounds and bunkers and you will do pretty well, but there are lots of scary shots to be played.  No housing around this one.  Expect to lose a few balls here, but you probably also will find a few in the Fescue.  In 2016 the bunkers were in awful shape.  There had been rains, but not in days -- maintenance is clearly not as quick as it once was

Prairie View (Indianapolis Area, 2012)

This course is probably 5 miles north of 465.  It's a Robert Trent Jones Jr layout and typical of his courses -- generous landing areas off the tee, tight around the green.  It's a fun course in great shape.  Expensive ($90) for non-senious, but a big bargain if you play mid week and are over 55.  We alked, which was odd there (forgoing GPS on the carts, but carts were stuck on the paths).  If you walk you probably need a yardage guide or at least consult the card carefully to see where the next hole is and look for hidden hazards.  It's a fun course, tough but fair -- if you know where you are going.

Eagle Creek (Indianapolis Area, 2012)

This is just west of 465 in the northwest corner of the Indy metro area.  It's a 36 hole muni facility with 2 pete Dye courses.  We played the Sycamore, rumored to be a bit tougher than the Pines course.  Basically it was reasonable for a muni, but clearlyhasn't been maintained as tough as originall designed.  There's no housing though and lots of holes cut through woodlands.  Many ups and downs.  Walkable, but not easy (the final up from the 18th hole will get you, especially if it's your second walking 18.  Recommended for a reasonably priced but nice round.

Bear Slide (Indianapolis Area, 2012, 2016)

This course is about 35 miles north of Indianapolis in the town of Cicero.  It's a modest place with a focus on the golf course.  (not a fancy clubhouse/restaurant).  The front 9 is a prairie style course with lots of long grass and bunkers, while the back is "adventure golf", with holes playing through woods and ravines, lots of little creeks, and some holes you will struggle to figure out.  There are 5 sets of tees (keep in mind it's par 71 when picking, the whites were plenty long enough for me even at just under 6,000 yards).  They seemed surprised when we wanted to walk, but it's not a bad walk at all, and the course has lots of walking paths and bridges to help you get around without going back to the cart path (The two problems you will have walking are figuring out where the next tee and hole are and not knowing the pin positions).  There are lots of tee boxes in different places on many holes so I expect it plays quite differently even from the same tees when they move them.  A very enjoyable place to play and a reasonable bargain for the area.

Purgatory (Indianapolis Area, 2009,2012, 2016)

This is about 20 miles north of I465 on Indiana 37.  This is a great facility, in the middle of nowhere.  It's rumored to be the longest course in Indiana off the back tees but has 5 more freindly options (the tips are recommended only for + handicappers, and this is the only place I can recall playing with 3 sets of tees behind me. and at 6400 still facing plenty of challenge.  This course has LOTS of bunkers and some interesting visual tricks (the 16 looks like a sea of bunkers off the tee, none of which show from the green).  They have a nice range and practice facilities, and a decent restaurant.  No housing around it yet.  A nice outing.

Brookshire (Indianapolis Area, 2009).

This is a Muni in Carmel, near Crooked Stick.  The course is an older course, possibly a former private, with a lot of trees and "interesting" holes.  Lots of doglegs and odd hole lengths, and holes fairly tight together, like many older courses.  This course is busy, but a good bargain ($25 riding or walking).  It's very walkable, though few do it and on a busy day it may be challenging to stay out of the way.  Only 3 tees here and not very long for big hitters.

Hickory Stick (Indianapolis Area, 2018).

This is a real estate devel0opment course about 20 miles south of Indianapolis.  It's designed as an Irish links, and while it doesn't have the firm turf they've done a good job of contouring fairways and bunkers to make it look like links land.  The front 9 is easy and you may feel like you are playing too far forward, but the back 9 plays much longer, with long carries to the fairway off the tee on many holes.  It's got 4 or 5 sets of tees that fit any game and a good variety of holes.  Beware the cart GPS (you can walk this one but there are some longer walks on the back 9) suggests an optimal line but doesn't always warn you where not to hit it.  Many holes on the back have bunkers or water to one side and what's not often clear from the tee is that there's usually a steep bank down to them that will catch a drive not hit far enough or high enough to clear it.  There are only one or two holes in which housing comes in play at all and never severely

Southern Dunes (Indianapolis Area, 2018).

Another real estate course in the southern suburbs, a bit closer to Indianapolis but still very rural.  The houses aren't a factor (rough areas are so wide it's hard to get off the course).  This one is links style with lots of mounds covered in long grass.  None of that came into play for me, but there are a lot of holes that carry some water.  They will let you walk this, but the back 9 is quite difficult to walk, with some very long (over 1/2 mile in one case) walks between holes, mainly to avoid the numerous lakes.  The course was in good shape and played longer than it's yardage (probably due to too much rain recently, but otherwise very nice.  Beware the GPS on the carts gets confused in several places where holes run close, and some of the routes to the next hole aren't well marked.  Pay attention to tee markers, and use the map on the back of the card to be sure you have the right next hole, and be prepared to have to tell the GPS you are playing a different hole sometimes.  4 sets of tees provide challenge to everyone (maybe too much for short hitters on some holes with 100 yard carries  over water to greens).  In addition to the 18 hole course, there's a 9 hole course of short par3's and a practice area. 

Smock Golf course (Indianapolis Area, 2018).

This is an older course built on a large rectangle of land.  It has no housing inside though 3 sides abut roads or in one case apartments, not in play.  The course is basic golf, with lots of water hazards (creeks and ponds on many holes) and a few bunkers.  It was in decent shape for November, and a bargain.  The only real problem was the spacing of the tee boxes.  You can play from 4600 to 6800, but there's nothing between the silver tees at 5300 and whites at over 6400.  6400 is probably playable when it's hard and fast, but even then it's not close mown bent grass and won't get the kind of roll to tame those longer par 4's.  5300 is really too short for may. The course also has a range and practice area

Heartland Crossing (Indianapolis Area, 2018).

This course is part of a real estate development southwest of Indianapolis not far from the airport.  Housing is never really close to the course, and the back 9 has none at all.  The course is mainly open, with some holes going into woodlands.  At one point this was clearly a premium course with lots of large bunkers, well shaped green complexes, and many tee options.  It's one of the longer courses I've seen, stretching over 7200 yards from the tips, but was clearly designed too long for the average player.  The 6000 yard long whites are the shortest option on tee boxes, but two shorter tees use markers in the fairways on many holes giving you 6 choices in all.  When we played the course was showing signs of neglect, with damage in most of the greens (one in fact played to a temporary green), ratty tee boxes, and bunkers with washouts and weeds in many.  It was still fun to play and a bargain, but could have been so much better.

Coyote  Crossing (Lafayette Area, 2018).

This course is just north of Lafayette/West Lafayette.  It's part of a real estate development, but few holes have any houses and none close.  Most of the course runs through woodlands with lots of creek crossings, lakes, and elevation changes.  It has a wide variety of holes and well shaped greens, bunkers, and fairways.  There are 5 tee boxes that fit most games.  It's not easily walkable due to a few long green to tee transitions.  The course was in good shape in November (allowing for recent heavy rain), and a real treat to play for a bargain rate.  In addition to the course they have a practice facility and snack bar. 

Zoellner Golf Course (Angola, 2013).

This is a course run by Trine University and recommended by a freind.  It's an older course, but recently hosted the NCAA division 3 women's championship.  It has a few hills but is walkable, and in great shape.  You can't beat the price, at $9 to walk as a senior. 

Noble Hawk (Kendallsville, 2013).

This is a newer course built into a housing deelopment.  It's flat and spread out, with most holes in the open, and a few on the back 9 in woodlands. If you are a walker, don't let them talk you out of walking it.  There are some long green-to-tee distances, but with no real hills it's not hard.  The course is in good shape and a good bargain, but the real challenge is the greens, which have multiple tiers and are very fast, requiring you to get it close to have a reasonable 2 putt.

Colonial Oaks (Fort Wayne, 2013).

This is an older course in a rural area.  It's a low key course and a bargain to play.  The greens were a little slow, but otherwise the course was in good shape, and the back tees were plenty (too) challenging.  Most holes are "parkland" style, with small trees, but some run through woodlands, and creeks and ponds feature in a lot of holes.

Autumn Ridge (Fort Wayne, 2015).

This is a modern course built in a housing development just north of Fort Wayne.  It's average priced for a course of this type.  The front 9 is relatively open and straightforward.  It also could be walked.  The back 9 is wooded and has more varied and complicated holes.  It would also be difficult to walk with many long green to tee distances.  There are houses on both 9s, but they aren't in play or particularly close to the course.

Chestnut Hills (Fort Wayne, 2015).

This is a modern course (A Fuzzy Zoeller design) on the west side of Fort Wayne.  The course winds through a housing development.  Most holes are relatively open, and while the houses aren't particularly in play, they are close enough that noise from them can be distracting.  It's moderately priced for a course of this sort and was in good condition when we played.  It could be walked, though there are some longer green-tee distances and both 9's start at some distance from the clubhouse.


While not known as a golf destination, the state of Wisconsin has some interesting topography and courses, and  in spite of a shortened golf season they are in top condition during the summer.  Besides, what else are you going to do if you go there?  Eat cheese and wait for the mosquitos to drain you dry?

Whistling Straits (North of Sheboygan) (2007)

This complex has 2 Pete Dye Courses on Wisconsin Farmland that has been completely recontoured and covered up to create Irish Linksland.  It is part of the Kohler American Club resort and you can get bus service to the remote location.  (If you go by car get decent directions as it's not that well maked).  The facilities here, are first class.  Arrive early enough to take some shots on the range and make sure you try some bunker shots -- you will be making bunker shots on your round).  The greens on both courses are hard and fast and both courses lend themselves to links style play (greens that will receive bump and run and let you putt from a long way off the green.  A flock of sheep wanders these courses from time to time.  Really adds to the atmosphere.

Straits Course

The Straits course is the more famous and has hosted a PGA and a Senior Open and is slated for more majors.  It occupies 2 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and is visually the most stunning.  I haven't played this course but as a tournament volunteer who spent a lot of time on it and spent a lot of time talking to caddies, marshals and other course employees I can offer some perspective.  Caddies are required here, which is good.  Lighten up your bag before you arrive because the caddies don't want to carry useless stuff, like lots of extra balls, umbrellas on a nice day (actually it's likely to be too windy for the umbrella to do any good if it rains), and other stuff.  Don't be macho about having to hit off the longest tees.  You will have more fun picking a set you can handle.  You shouldn't lose many balls here because a shot hit off line will likely find one of the over 1000 bunkers, but many of those are unmaintained.  You will likely find yourself in a narrow hard patch of sand with an awkward stance.  The Caddies are mostly very knowledgeable and can help with lines on the course, layup and carry distances, and especially putting lines.  Trust your caddie.  Pace of play is a real problem here -- given the high price and difficulty people take their time in spite of encouragement to move along so expect 5 hours plus if you aren't one of the first groups off the tee.  Most holes can be played by anyone if you pick the right tees as there aren't many holes with long forced carries (18 is one that will be troublesome for some but there is a bailout area that lets you manage it.)

Irish Course

We played the Irish course with Caddies.  You can walk on your own or take a cart here but the Caddies really help.  Don't take a cart here -- you will be stuck on the paths, often way below and away from the fairway, not a very good experience.  If you must take a cart, take a forecaddy for the group who can help find balls and give you club advice so you don't have to make that long walk to the cart twice.  While this course lacks the lake views (you wont see it at all unless you are way off line), it's still a good imitation of Irish Linksland and visually very nice.  It has more water than the Straits course and according to the employees faster, tougher greens most of the time.  Keep it in the fairway or at least out of the "no mow" and it's quite playable.  Most of the par 4's are easily reached, and while all the par 5's cross water you on most you can get close in 2 shots.  trust your caddie to pick the right line/distance.  Consider bump and run around the greens and even putting from a long way off the green, the hard firm turf will make this work  While a freind who played it wasn't impressed, we loved the Irish course and at half the price of the Straits thought it was well worth playing.. 

Blackwolf Run (2007)

This is the other pair of Pete Dye courses that are part of the Kohler resort.  This set has a very different feel from Whistling Straits.  While you can take caddies here and you can walk either course, it's basically cart country and basically american resort course golf.  The courses here are more typical "Pete Dye", with steep slopes, railroad ties, and mystery holes.

Meadow/Valley Course

The Meadow/Valley course is the less famous of the two courses here.  You can walk it, but it's tough due to some long hikes to tees and lots of hills on the back 9.  Get them to ferry you to the first tee as that is literally over the river and through the woods a mile away.  The front 9 here is reasonably straightforward, open holes mostly with generous fairways and obvious approach lines.  The key to enjoying it is again to pick the right tees and not bite off more than you can chew.  Stay out of "Pete Dye's torture chamber" on the right of number 3, and on number 7 make sure you get a straight shot at the green.  Number 8 will challenge you  especially if the wind is in your face, but you can bail out right.  The back 9 is a different beast.  It starts with a par 4 in the woods where a layup is a good option to keep it in the fairway, and the par 5 11th and par 4 12th are both straightforward.  Then the weird holes start.  On Number 13, you have to hit it far enough to get a good view of the green, which is perched on a steep sloped "tree stump" that will only accept a very high iron.  Number 14 doglegs right and downhill to a green almost surrounded by water.  If you hit it long stay right off the tee to get a clear shot.  15 is "Do or Dye" -- all carry to a green surrounded by ankle twisting slopes, and with a deep fissure in the middle of it.  On 16 we never did find the fairway, somewhere left of where any of us could manage to hit it, and hacking up the right is no fun.  Number 17 is another par 3 to a small green, all carry, and while number 18 looked intimidating when I saw it earlier in the round it was actually one of the more playable holes on the back 9.  Not a course we enjoyed as much as the Whistling Straits courses.

Erin Hills (Erin) (2012)

This course is about an hour northwest of Milwaukee, literally in the middle of nowhere.  It hosted the 2011 US Amateur and will host the 2017 US Open (I have no idea how they will handle that given the location).  This is a links style course with decent links turf and lots of fescue (true fescue, the stuff you can play out of, not the "crap grass" which infests the out of play areas on most courses).  It's a big course, where the shortest "men's" tees are 6400 yards long, and they've left plenty of room to stretch the tees back further.  The result is it's a long walk (and you have to walk and either carry your own bag or hire a caddy -- no carts, no pullcarts).  Having a caddie personally or one in your group will signficantly enhance your experience as there are many semi-blind shots and shots where knowing how the landing areas bounce and roll will really help.  It's pricey, but not out of line with other publicly playable US Open courses.  Pick a set of tees you can handle and you will enjoy yourself.  In addition to the course they have a few lodge rooms, a restaurant, and extensive practice facilities. 

The Bog (Grafton) (2012)

This is a public course about 20 miles north of Milwaukee.  It's a Palmer design and reasonably walkable (a few longer green-to-tee walks, but nothing outrageous).  The name refers to an adjacent nature preserve, so expect plenty of bugs and humidity here.  The course is mostly straightforward and pretty playable, though there are more than a few holes with semi-blind shots, so take the time to be sure of your line.  Two holes (8 and 9) have long carries off the tee that might not be comfortable for shorter hitters even off the forward tees.  Otherwise, hit it straight and this will be enjoyable.  The course has extensive practice facilities.

University Ridge (Madison) (2003)

This course is owned by the University of Wisconsin and open to the public, at least when not in use in playing team matches.  It's a typical newer course with many tee positions and a spread out layout.  The course can be walked but there are substantial hills to be traversed and a couple of longish walks between green and tee.  The front 9 is mainly open over rolling hills, while the back 9 has several holes that play through tight woods.  There are no houses in this course and some of the views are very dramatic.  (On the day I played with an RSG group, we watched lightning from a passing storm strike at the taller buildings in Downtown Madison from the driving range).  

The golf courses at Lawsonia (Green Lake, 2015)

This was the site of RSG Wisconsin.  It's a two course complex, once part of a complex run by the baptists, but now apparently independent (meaning they now do serve adult beverages).  In addition to rates to play the courses individually they have an "all day" rate that gives you as much golf as you can get on for and a cart if you want one that's less than the price of two rounds.  During the week you probably can play at least 45 in the summer.  There are two courses, quite different, and both in top condition:
Links Course
The Links course is the more unusual.  This is far closer to true "Links" golf than most courses which get that name.  It's a course originally built in the 1930's and restored to that original design.  Most holes are very open (2 or 3 were in trees, but the trees were removed in 2014 and the only trees you will find are on the sides of a few holes), but the distinctive feature is the steep faced bunkers and elevated greens.  Virtually all of the bunkers have very steep and high faces in front, so you can be faced with hitting a wedge out of a fairway bunker or even punching out sideways.  The fairways are cut short and hard, so in spite of the length it is very playable.  The course is easily walkable (and better appreciated that way)  Most greens are very elevated (They say the signature par 3 7th, which stands up almost like one of those phony posters of golf holes on mountain tops, was created by burying a railroad box car under it).  The greens themselvers have severe slopes and if cut short can play like a major championship (i.e. putt past the hole and it rolls off the green and down a 20 foot slope).  Many fairways are also fringed by long grasses, where you may or many not find and and probably don't want to play it in a lot of lies. Some holes have blind shots, and many have spots where you should be hitting that aren't obvious if you haven't played it, so get local advice, a yardage guide, and plan to play at least twice.  The extreme breaks on the greens are almost guaranteed to surprise you.  Try the putting green first, and pay attention to multiple tiers on the greens.  This is a unique experience and well worth doing.
The Woodlands
The other course at Lawsonia is the woodlands.  This is a more conventional modern design, with holes strung out through dense woods.  This one has some long walks tee to green but can be walked if you are hardy and fast.  Almost all holes are tight making this a tough course for anyone who tends to spray the ball.  One unusual thing is that many holes require layups, making a 200 yard straight as an arrow shot what you really need to score here.  This is another course you probably have to play twice in order to really appreciate because several holes will bewilder you as to where to hit it.  The views are very nice, and you will probably see deer and other wildlife in the woods.  Holes 5 and 6, which were rebuilt to accomodate some yuppie's megamansion, have healed up, but the phony stream on 6 still seems out of place.

Whispering Springs (Fond Du Lac, 2015)

This is a modern course just off highway 23 east of Fond Du Lac.  The course is in a housing development, but the houses aren't a factor in play and aren't partiularly close.  It's walkable, but has a few hills and a couple of long green to tee walks on the back 9.  The course is challenging with many holes playing around little creeks and demanding you carry it all the way to the green to avoid them.  The hole designs are extremely varied, and as a result it's an interesting and memorable experience.  There are 4 or 5 sets of tees covering anyone from hacker to tour pro, and they have extensive practice facilities.

The Oaks (Madison, 2004,2006)

This was the Sunday course for RSG Wisconsin.  It's just off I94 about 5 miles east of 90/94 in Madison.  This is a new course, with some adjacent housing (very little and not in play).  In spite of the name it's mostly out in the open (lots of little oak trees, but I guess "The Saplings" just didn't sell as a name).  There are 4 sets of tees and bent grass fairways, greens, and tees.  Some of the holes are a bit close side to side, but overall it's an enjoyable layout.  It is walkable, with a few longish walks, but not much elevation.  Several holes are difficult to figure out, including number 9 (par 5 with blind shots and layups), 14 (120 yards of marsh in front of the green), and 18 (blind shots, forced carry to the green).  The front 9 is relatively tame, but the back has many long holes playing into the wind, and two holes with long forced carries into greens, which will make this one tough for shorter hitters.

Yahara Hills (Madison, 2006)

This is a Madison Muni course that was the venue for RSG Wisconsin 2006.  The course is right at the intersection of I90 and US 12/18, very convenient.  There are two courses, east and west, very similar in character.  Both are older parkland style courses with mature trees, LOTS of sand, long "no mow" rough at the fringes of the holes, and water on a few holes.  The West course has a bit more elevation change, while I felt the back 9 of the east course had some of the most interesting holes (doglegs).  The course is in great shape for a muni and we played in 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours playing Friday and Saturday of a summer weekend.  It was also clear that the course wasn't fully booked.  Greens are Poa Annua and a bit "Squirrely",  but reasonably smooth if you can figure the speed correctly.  Many holes have elevated greens, and this combined with longish par 3's makes it a bit tough for shorter hitters.  For long hitters many holes have the opportunity to fly fairway bunkers and get a kick forward on the downslope behind them for monster drives.  There are 4 sets of tees, a range, and a minimal pro-shop and practice facilities.

Broadlands (Milwaukee area, 2005, 2007, 2012)

This was the site of RSG Wisconsin 2005.  It's a golf/real estate development about 30 miles West of Milwaukee, somewhat challenging to reach from the Interestates.  The course sprawls a bit over rolling hills and is well laid out.  It's walkable, but there are some long  green to tee hikes, and a lot of holes have elevated tees requiring some climbing.  You are rewarded with a lot of downhill tee shots and the opportunity to hit it a LONG way.  The staff was very nice here.  4 Tees are available as well as a complete practice range.  There are several interesting "risk/reward" holes, incluing several short par 4's which can be driven by some, but the driver brings more hazards into play.  Most holes are on open meadow land with areas of high grass, but water comes into play on several holes. 

Morningstar (Milwaukee area, 2005)

This was the site of RSG Wisconsin 2005's sunday round.  This is a membership club open to the public, near I43 about 30 miles west of Milwaukee.    The course runs over rolling hills, with most holes in meadow or woodlands.  There are some water hazards, but mainly the hazard is long grass and rough areas.  They have 4 sets of tees and a full range.  The course would be tough to walk due to elevation changes.  There are a lot of interesting holes on this course, and many that really require some local knowledge, starting off with the first, a par 5 with an upper and lower fairway and a blind second shot from the top level to the bottom.  Other holes go over rises in the middle, while the 7th and 18th share a huge drop (with a lot of the downslope under repair when we played).  Many holes offer risk/reward options.  One downside when we played was that the membership didn't seem all that welcoming to outside play.  Perhaps this was a result of slow play and "carts on paths only" on the front 9, but being hit into and getting hostile comments for following the directives of the club staff (with respect to carts on the back 9) didn't enhance our day.

Autumn Ridge (Manitowoc area, 2007, 2010, 2015)

This is the best course we found in this area, very different in character from others.  The holes play through an area of woods, ravines, and sharp slopes and are routed over a lot of carries.  It's a tough course, especially from the back tees, but one with great views and the opportunity to use the slopes to your advantage.  It is walkable, though difficult.  The 9th and 18th holes will both challenge you to find the right line, as will several others.  A few holes have very long carries which can be avoided by moving up or using optional tees (recommended if you aren't comfortable.  3 sets of tees are available).  Note that 6, a par 3 over wasteland, seems to play a LOT longer than marked. 

Fox Hills "National" course (Manitowoc area, 2007)

This is a typical "Phony links" course -- no trees and artifical mounds and bunkers, but rather mushy turf and a lot of ponds.  It's not a bad course and has some interesting holes (like the 6th which offers the chance to take a shortcut via an island in the pond).  We found distances on some holes didn't seem right (like the 17th, which played longer than marked).  4 sets of tees are available.  The course can be walked and we had little trouble getting on on short notice in peak season.  This course is part of a golf "resort", with 27 other holes that seem more ordinary in style.

Wander Springs (Manitowoc area, 2007)

This is probably a more typical course for this area than the others.  27 holes are here, and they rotate which 2 courses make up the 18 hole course.  All 3 nines play on relatively flat terraine and through older pines and spruces, with the Springs and River course having substantial water hazards.  This is very walkable and most people playing early walked (though many starting after 9AM on July 4th didn't, go figure).  3 sets of tees are available.  The back tees don't seem to get much use here, but were quite playable.

White Eagle (Hudson, 2011)

This course is really near Minneapolis.  It's clearly part of a real estate development, but is a very nice course on it's own.  The course wanders through woodlands and ravines.  It's not walkable (miles of cart paths between holes), but playable at all levels.  Many interesting holes feature big elevation changes, doglegs, and other strategic design features.  They have a range and 5 sets of tees.  The clubhouse is minimal.  They offer both "one round" and "all you can play" packages.  All rates include carts, which as I say are required.


Another Northern Location that turns out to be remarkable golf course infested.  In spite of a short season and hard winters Minnesota has a lot of great courses, especially in the Minneapolis area.  Some of those we played were:

Edinburg, USA (NW of Minneapolis, 2011)

This is a muni course deisgned by Robert Trent Jones Jr, and like most in the area a good bargain.  It's easily walkable and relatively flat.  The front 9 holes go through housing areas, but on most holes houses aren't especially close.  The back 9 is mostly in open country.  This is a strategic course where golfers of all abilities can play well provided you play within your ability (i.e. don't try any hero carries), and think about where you want the ball to go.  The course isn't especially long (but the back tees are long enough for anyone but tour pros :-).  They have full practice facilities.

Inver Woods (Near US 52, SE of St Paul, 2011)

This is a real gem.  The facility has both a normal 18 hole course and an executive 9 holer, which conveniently keeps the junior and senior leagues from clogging up the big course.  The courses play through a block of wooded land with no housing.  Many holes have big elevation changes.  The course can be walked, but it is challenging. (several long stairways to be navigated leading up to or down off elevated tees.)  Sloping fairways can either give you more roll here or funnel you into bunkers or ponds.  It is a very scenic course, with wildlife, and a real bargain for the cost.  I think they have 4 sets of tees.

Mississippi Dunes (Near US 61, SE of St Paul, 2011)

Getting to this course is a bit of an adventure, down local roads south of 100th st off US 61.  The course itself fronts the Mississippi and is built on rolling sandy land with sections of forest and scrub vegetation.  The deep bunkers and lots of dunes give it a bit of a links feel, but the turf isn't hard enough to be real links.  There are no houses on this course.  It is quite walkable though there are some longer green-tee walks.  Many holes have highly elevated greens with shaved banks that mean a missed green will mean pitching up from a tight lie in a collection area at least 6 feet below the green.  Many also have signficant carries off the longer tees over long grass or scrub.  Lots of the greens have ridges and tricky breaks.  The course has 4 sets of tees long and short enough for anyone, and a practice facility (not near the clubhouse).

Rush Creek (NW of Minneapolis, 2017)

This is an upscale course with a golf academy and a 9 hole par 3 northwest of Minneapolis.  It's a newer course through marshland and trees, and once hosted an LPGA event and the USGA MidAm championship.  It's pricey (near $100) but well maintained and a first rate design.  There are 5 sets of tees, but most won't want to play longer than the middle (blue) or even the white (6100 yards).  The greens are tricky but roll clean (bent with no poa), and it doesn't play quite as long as the card would indicate due to short fairways and plenty of roll.  One thing to note is that they have a large maintenance staff who can get in the way if you start early in the morning.


Las Vegas is well known for a growing number of resort and tournament courses. Less well known is the Reno/Tahoe area which has about 50 courses varying from simple munis to the famous. Golf is possible in Reno most of the year (little snow and very cold weather), while Lake Tahoe and some of the surrounding communities get enough snow to close during some part of November-March.

LakeRidge (Reno) (11/2000)

This course is in the hills southwest of Reno (off McCarren Bvd) and winds through real estate development. The real estate is mostly not in play. The course has some dramatic elevation differences and very scenic views of the mountains in the distance. It is challenging but offers 4 tee positions to choose a level you can play. The Signature hole (15) is a par 3 with an island green requiring a 220 yard carry off the white (normal mens) tees!. The hole tee is at least 100 feet above the green so it doesn't play that long but is still very intimidating. (I may have stumbled on a reasonable line of play by shanking a 4 iron near the 16th tee short of the water, and then able to make an easy pitch onto the green and nearly sink the putt for a very ugly par.) You can walk this course, but there are some long green-tee distances (including two tunnels under roads), and significant elevation. The course is expensive ($85 in season, $40 off season) but well maintained and and quite intersting.

Rosewood (Reno (11/2000)

This is a Muni course east of the Reno Airport (1/2 mile east of Mcarren). It is a flat course in an open area with nice mountain views. Most holes are surrounded by marshland on two sides. In spite of the marshes, landing areas are fairly generous and the course is very playable if you pick clubs for accuracy rather than distance. The last 4 holes are bordered by open water and seem much harder than the rest (perhaps just a psychological effect). The course is inexpensive ($25) and easily walkable. Beware that the marshes attract hundreds of ducks and geese. Perhaps the problem is seasonal, but in November most of the course was covered with goose droppings and we often had to chase the geese away from greens or landing areas.


Oregon has in recent years developed many first class golf courses, most in the Portland area or near Bend.  It's also the site of Bandon Dunes, probably the best pure golf resort in the country.

Bandon Dunes (Bandon Oregon) (6/2000, 10/2005, 10/2009)

Bandon Dunes is a unique resort, the closest thing to heaven for a golfer on this side of the Atlantic at least.  After a modest start in 1999, the resort now has 3 courses plus a 4th in planning as well as lodging, practice facilities, and food.  It's pure golf (not much else to do there for non-golfers, though the town of Bandon 10 miles away has other amusements).  All the courses are walking only with caddies available, though you can hoof your own sticks or put them on a pull cart (they provide some really nice ones for free)

Some general comments -- all 3 courses are REAL links style golf -- very short hard fairways and greens so the ball runs a long way, with deep bunkers everywhere and wild land bordering the holes.  Bandon and Pacific Dunes are seaside, while Bandon Trails is on the hills above the dunes for the most part.  Save your sand wedge for the bunkers (and use it everywhere, you will need all the loft you can get even in fairway bunkers in most places) -- wedge shots don't play well off the hard turf, but you can play a lot of low running shots including putting from 50 or more yards off the green.  Look for alternate routes that use the terraine.  Many greens are best approached by bumping the ball off the sides so that it funnels into the green, rather than a direct line which puts bunkers in front of the green in play and demands you hit something with LOTS of spin to stop it.  Note that in spite of a lot of other courses these days being described as "links", you probably haven't seen anything like this, with fairways as hard and fast as putting greens, unless you have been to Scottland or Ireland -- the muddy soil most places just won't support it.) The courses all feature "Gorse", a prickly plant that eats golf balls (and sometimes golfers).  It's a thick evergreen as much as 8 feet high.  Balls that bounce on the sides of gorse bushes sometimes survive, but if it goes in on the fly it's gone, don't even think about trying to get into the bushes.  Taking a Caddie is expensive, but will give you a big advantage, especially the first time since they know where to hit the ball.  (In fact it's probably essential for someone in your group to have a caddie for the first round on any of the 3 courses since the green-tee routes are not always well marked and it's not always clear where to go.  Come prepared for wind and rain at any time, but if you are lucky you won't need it.  The remoteness of the place and the fact that it's walking only keeps a lot of casual golfers away.  It's not intimidating to play, just different, and the staff is great at making you feel comfortable.  Tee times are now hard to get (especially if you want to play 36, which is quite possible), but you can sign up long in advance if you are staying in the resort (a variety of options).  Keep in mind that pace of play is probably 4 to 4-1/2 hours now because of the popularity of the courses, and there aren't any artificial lights so it gets dark soon after sunset especially on the Trails coarse.  As of 2009, greens fees were $220 for the first round each day and $110 for a second, and a caddie will add another $75-$100.

There are 4 sets of tees on each course.  None is long by "normal" standards, but this isn't a normal course style in the US.  It's about bouncing and rolling the ball and you will probably find the white tees (second from longest) plenty of challenge.  One very nice thing about Bandon is that shorter hitters aren't at a big disadvantage because it's more about being in the right place than hitting it long, and the fast turf is very kind to a low running ball and doesn't demand a 270 yard carry to a dead landing off the tee as many more conventional courses now do.  Probably the best way to experience Bandon is with a group of freinds.  Don't be afraid to play matchplay -- it's a perfect spot for it as you can shrug off that screwed up hole where you went in the gorse and took 3 to escape the bunkers and get your opponent the next time.

Some other tips for the Bandon resort -- don't bother with a ball fisher or an umbrella -- there's only one pond on all 3 courses, and it's just extra weight.  Umbrellas aren't useful in the wind.  You are better off with a good rain suit and waterproof cover for your bag.  Also, don't bring one of those big "Cart" bags unless you are planning to put it on a pull cart.  You don't want to hoof a big bag over the hills, and the caddies hate them and will probably exchange your big bag for some little carry bag anyway.  The food is good and filling and not overpriced.  All 3 courses have grills near the first tee that serve good breakfast and lunch fare, and all have a half way house accessible from at least a couple of holes mid-course.  (Bandon Dunes is the only course that returns to the start after 9)

Bandon Dunes Course  This is the original course and the most "finished" looking.  It has deep pot bunkers with powdery sand in them, and the turf is a bit longer than on the other courses (though still fast enough to play your links game.  Many greens and tees are elevated, and you will probably face a few blind shots.  There are several spectacular seaside holes.  The Gorse isn't in play as much as on Pacific, but will get you on at least one hole on each 9.

Pacific Dunes Course.  This is the second course and my favorite of the 3.  It seems rawer than it's neighbor Bandon and like the holes were simply set on top of the dunes land and the bunkers just hollowed out.  If the bunkers on Bandon are intimidating, the ones on Pacific look like something out of a horror flic -- deep holes with overhanging lips (in some cases almost closing over you) with rough dunes sand and mud in them -- a real challenge to get out of.  The turf is the hardest and fastest of the 3 courses, and Gorse is in play on many holes.  The back in particular has several spectacular par 3s (check wind conditions as they can play many clubs different morning to afternoon).  Unlike the Bandon course 9 doesn't return to the clubhouse (A new clubhouse was built for Pacific in 2008, with a nice restaurant that also serves dinner)

Bandon Trails Course.  This is the 3rd course and different from the first 2.  While the first two and last 2 holes are in dunes land, it's not near the ocean and most holes run through forest.  The Canadians in our group thought it looked more like the courses of the Canadian Rockies, but the turf is still linksland -- hard and rolling, and it has the same monstrous bunkers as Pacific Dunes.  The bunkers are more hazardous here than anywhere else, as anything that isn't hit perfectly is likely to trickle into it. This course is a hike to walk, with several holes with significant elevation and a couple of longish walks from green to tee.  Probably best plan to not play it twice in one day (pick one of the others for your second round, especially since the seaside courses get more light at sunset and let you play later.  The trails has some interesting and demanding holes, including at least one that gets curses (14) for it's narrow green and sloping fairway, and it may get some rework, but there are reachable par 5's and par 4's as well.

Old Mcdonald Course.  This is the 4rd course and won't open completely until mid 2010.  In late 2009 10 holes were open for preview (at half the full greens fee.  The course is a tribute to the designs of Blair McDonald, a pioneer architect responsible for extracting many design features from traditional scottish courses and applying them to courses he designed in the US over 100 years ago.  You can see most of this course from the 14th tee on Pacific Dunes, but the view doesn't do it justice.  The course has only 2 holes which touch the ocean side, and does not have the dramatic elevation changes of some of the others, but the holes are very strategic in design -- you have to hit the ball into the right place to take advantage of places the fairway will roll and avoid bunkers.  The greens are the most distinctive feature, much larger and more dramatically contoured than any of the other courses.  for Our "preview" round they were running at 9.5, at full speed there will be many places where you will not be able to advance towards the hole and stay on the green.  Many holes are design tributes to famous holes (e.g. there's one with some features of the 17th at St Andrews).  These aren't copies, but rather holes that feature common design elements.  It is interesting that as of October 2009, the entire course seems ready to play.  The reason for the delay may be as much difficulty of access (there is no clubhouse and preview rounds require taking a shuttle from thepractice range over a gravel road to a primitive hut which serves as the start point)  Anyway, it should be fully ready next June.

Sand Pines (Florence, Oregon) (10/2005)

Florence is a seacoast town just north of the Oregon dunes.  The course,  a Rees Jones creation, is a mix of holes cut through the pine forest and holes in the open "fake linksland" (flat fairways between lines of artificial dunes).  It was in superb condition and not busy (from the size of the parking lot I doubt it is ever really busy) and a good value.  The soft, lush fairways will not roll much and the course will play longer than the tee markings.  There are 5 tee boxes (don't even think about the tips here unless your name is Tiger).  The course is quite walkable (and to my surprise a lot of people were walking, yeah.)  I think this one would have excited me more had I not played Bandon Dunes the day before.

Pumpkin Ridge (Portland Area) (10/2005, 10/2009)

This course is west of Portland near US 26.  It is a two course complex, one private and one public.  The facility has hosted several USGA competitions (not sure which course hosted which).  The courses are similar (at least visually).  The holes go over rolling terraine and through woodlands for the most part, though the trees are generally out of play.  I played the public (Ghost creek) course.  Nice lush grass well groomed and some of the best groomed bunkers I've seen anywhere.  There were four tees on the card, but only 3 in use.  The "middle" tees (blue) played much longer than marked, perhaps because therey didn't place the markers for the tips.  The greens were good even with recent Aeration.  This course has a season pass that may be a bargain if you play 2 times or more (for about 2 greens fees you get 2 rounds + future discounts). 

Herron Lakes (Portland Area) (10/2009)

This course is just off I5 at the columbia river.  It is a 2 course complex designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.  The approach through an exhibition center in an industrial park doesn't seem promissing, and the clubhouse is minimal, but the courses are good and well maintained and an excellent bargain.  Don't expect the level of perfect conditioning of pumpkin ridge, but the course is adequately maintained and the holes are interesting.  I played the Blue course, which is links like (actually more prairie-marsh), featuring lots of water and mounding.  The other course has more natural contours.  Both are easily walkable.  There is also a substantial practice facility here.

Lost Tracks (Bend Oregon) (6/2000)

Bend is a mountain sports resort town on the east side of the Cascades. There are over a dozen golf courses in the area, some famous (Sunriver Crosswater, Abbey Glenn). Despite some of the travel brochures mapping Bend in the mountains, it's not. It's in a flat pine scrubland cut by the Dechuttes river, and most courses will give you views of distant peaks, pine lined fairways, and stream/pond crossings, but not a lot of elevation changes.

Lost tracks is on the south side of Bend and has housing development underway along it, but not obtrusive. The views are good. Many holes have sharp doglegs around pines, making accuracy and accurate distance to dogleg corners critical. One par 3 has an island green reached by walking through an old railroad car. (Worth a picture, particularly if you put your tee shot 2 feet from the pin like I did!)

Wild Horse (Pendleton Oregon) (5/2010)

Wild Horse golf course is attached to the Wild Horse Casino, a native american run business.  (unlike some of these establishments I observed many native americans employed as staff by the course.  It's a good prairie style course -- few big trees, lots of mounding, and reasonably fast running fairways.  The greens are good, firm, and fast, though they are getting a fair amount of Poa grass which makes short putts a bit of an adventure.  With 4 sets of tees it plays well for most abilities (but a bit long from the forward tees unless it's really dry).  They have a decent range and practice facilities and a minimal restaurant on site (more options in the Casino or the town of Pendleton 5 miles away).  Not scenic, but solid golf.


New England isn't known for golf, but there's plenty there, and the courses are often quirky and scenic.  Unlike other places I've travelled, Public Golf isn't is second to Private in the Boston area, but there are good courses and it's unlike golf in most other parts of the country

Sagamore Springs (2017)

This is an old Public course claiming to be the first in the area, nearly 100 years old.  It's a shorter par 70 layout, but plenty challenging with elevation and many tight holes through the woods.  Many holes have rocks in the fairway or rough as well.  Not in the best of shape when we played it but playable and accomodating.  Note that the shortest tees are very short, and most short tee players will want to play the next set up.  It's not long even from the tips, but with many long par 3s and tight holes plenty of challenge.

The Meadow at Peabody (2017)

This course is a gem.  It's a newer (2001) layout built on an industrial wasteland, but you would never know it.  The holes feature major elevation changes, woods, rocks, and interesting design.  It was in good shape when we played it (2017).  Don't let the relatively short lenght fool you, it's plenty of challenge.  There are 5 sets of tees rated, though only 4 markers were out when we played (The tips have only plates in the tee boxes showing the location.  The course is totally unlike the modest residential neighborhood you drive through to get to it so don't be fooled.  Again, the staff were very accomodating and it was an enjoyable experience.


Ohio like many midwestern states has a large number of courses and a good ratio of players to courses.  One thing to note -- many courses in the Columbus area have no drinking water, and more than a few have no benches on the course (blame the lawyers for that).

Shaker Run (South Dayton Area) (7/2005)

This is a 27 hole course about half way between Dayton and Cincinatti not from from I75.  It hosted the 2005 Public Links chanpionship, at which Michelle Wei competed.  We played the 18 original  (Woodlands and Lakeside 9's) which were the ones that hosted the Public Links about a week after the championship.  (RSG Cincinatti played the course 2 days earlier).  The course runs mostly through wooded country and has some elevation changes.   There are 4 sets of tees and a full range and other facilities.  No housing now adjoins the course, but I believe that is eventually planned (construction was underway in some areas, not particularly near the courses).  This is another course where local knowledge is important.  There are some challenging short par 4s, including  number 3 on Woodlands with a big drop about 200 yards off the tee to a small lower fairway and a creek in front of the green.  (I'm still not sure how to play this one), and 6 on the woodlands which is a big dogleg around trees requiring the choice of a very precise layup or a long shot over the trees off the tee.  The 9th and 8th front water all the way with carries on both shots.  This was a very enjoyable place to play, my only complaint would be that given that a major competion was held on the course a week earlier I was surprised by the condition of the bunkers (gravelly and hardpan) and that several greens were infested by "flying Hypodermics"  (huge wasp/bee creatures that were drilling holes in the greens and surrounding bunkers).  The course has GPS distance on the carts and the system seems to work well.

Pipestone (South Dayton Area) (7/2005)

This is an 18 hole Arthur Hills course not far from I75 at the south end of Dayton.  We played here on a rainy day and me with a very bad leg and still enjoyed it.  The course goes over moderately rolling territory (though not as hilly as Shaker Run) and mostly through open areas with a few trees.  There is little housing near the course now.  This course can be walked.  4 sets of tees are available, as well as a range.  Most holes are straightforward, but many go over rises and some really require local knowledge to play well (18 curves left with a severely rolling fairway and hidden hazards that is best played by trying to stay near the right side.  One problem is that the hole maps on the scorecards are absolutely awful, failing to show that a creek crosses most of the holes on the front 9 at some point, while showing large areas of water on some holes that simply wasn't there.  Another small knock on the course was that everyone was forced to play at a slow pace behind the slowest group on the course rather than encouraging that group to let others through, which in our case resulted in getting caught in a rainstorm we probably would have beaten if we had been able to play through.  Courses need to be more serious about "pace of play" programs and establish more agressive pace targets.

Eagles Landing (7/2011)

This course is just east of Toledo, near, but not on the shore of Lake Erie.  It's very near Maumee State Park, which also has an 18 hole golf course by Arthur Hills.  This one was likely built as part of a housing development, and there are some houses, but they aren't in play.  It's an interesting and spread out layout with lots of water and long grass in play and some short dogleg par 4's that provide risk/reward.  In spite of a couple of longish walks green to tee it is a very walkable and flat layout.  Note that this isn't an easy layout to find from Toledo -- you drive past an oil refinery and through a power plant that are unfortunately dominant views from some holes, but the marshland and occasional views of lkae Erie make this an interesting course and a great bargain.
There are 4 sets of tees and a practice range.

Hickory Woods (Cincinnati) (6/2010)

This is an older course in rolling hills.  The course is north of I 275 and a bit difficult to find.  Many holes have big dips on them somewhere over the hole and many go through deep woods.  This par 70 layout has 6 par 3's, all tough and most featuring big elevation changes and slopes that make judging clubs difficult.  This course is a regular for RSG Cincinnati.  It is marginally walkable, though tough (the back tougher than the front).  Best advice for playing is to play for position on many holes, meaning driver is not always the best club.  There are 3 or 4 sets of tees and practice facilities. 

O'Bannon Creek (Cincinnati) (6/2010)

This is a private course very near Hickory Woods and another regular for RSG-Cincinnati.  Like Hickory woods many holes go through trees and have large elevation changes.  It is more walkable than Hickory woods, though several members of the RSG group described the location as the humidity vortex of the area (i.e. plan on oppressive weather.)  It is another par 70 with lots of par 3s, and another course where strategy pays off over brute force in planning shots.  There is no housing adjacent to the course.  Local knowledge really helps here in figuring out where the creeks and bounces go.  3 sets of tees and practice facilities are available.

Stonelick Hills(Cincinnati) (6/2010)

This is a brand new upscale course east of Cincinatti just of US 50 (8 miles east of 275).  The first few holes go through dense woods, but most of the rest are in open country, with lots of lakes and long grass between holes.  The first few are challenging enough to be discouraging, with lots of trouble off the fairway, and routings that make it tough to figure out.  This course is NOT walkable (huge green-tee distances), so use your cart to go up and look ahead when you can't see the landing area to understand where to hit it rather than be surprised when the fairway ends in an abyss 100 yards short of the green (as it does on 4).  While this looks to be an expensive housing development in the making, I don't expect houses to be built between the golf holes (not enough room) and at the moment there are none adjacent to it.  The course has 5 sets of tees long enough to challenge anyone, plus good practice facilities.  Course conditions were first rate, especially considering how new the course was.

Mill Creek (Near Marysville) (2012, 2015)

This was the Friday AM course for RSG Ohio 2009 and 2012.  It's off US 36 east of Marysville and was according to local legend at least the course where Ben Curtis learned the game.  It's basic golf, an older course with holes cut through mature trees and some water in play.  Like everything else in this area the course is a bargain.  The course was in good condition and layout was enjoyable and compact (adjacent holes, but no housing in play).  It is an easy walk.  There are 3 or 4 sets of tees, but no range.

Buck Ridge (Near Marysville) (2012, 2015)

This was the Friday PM course for RSG Ohio 2009 and 2012.  It's off US 33 east of Marysville.  This is a newer course and very open, with few trees, lots of marshland, and bent grass fairways, greens, and tees.  Don't be fooled by the primitive look of the parking lot and clubhouse, this is a good course and is well maintained.  It's a reasonably walkable layout with some longer walks to tees and several holes at the end of the front 9 that play uphill.  There are 4 sets of tees making it playable for a wide range of players.  There are several sharp doglegs and holes with crossing creeks requring good shot placement so study course maps and markings before just hauling out a club.

Marysville golf club (Near Marysville) (2015)

This was a pre-tournament course for the last RSG-Ohio.  I think this was once a private club but now a public course.  The layout is interesting with lakes, trees, and several holes with big doglegs.  It's an older course with natural contours.  There are tees for most abilities but a few holes do require you carry hazards and some are awkwardly placed for shorter hitters.  The course was in okay shape when we played (August, not a great time of hear for courses in this area in general), but maintenance is clearly minimal.  Play seemed fairly light though making it easy to play two rounds in a day.

Indian Springs (Near Mechanicsburg) (2009, 2012, 2015)

This was the Saturday course for RSG Ohio 2009 and 2012. It's off Ohio 4 and US 36 about 20 miles west of Marysville. This is a mature older course with holes cut through woodlands and some holes with water or signficant elevation changes.  The layout now has 18 holes (used to be 27, but one 9 was closed).  The slopes and trees make this a course where you have to pick club and line carefully, figuring how shots will bounce and where trees will come into play on your next shot.  What looks like a great drive down the middle may run sideways into the woods or may leave you behind a tree.  4 sets of tees offer a variety of options, though the forward tees are longer than most.  This is a challenging course, especially for a shorter hitter, but an enjoyable one to play if you can keep it straight.  It's a very scenic course as well.  It is walkable, though there are some hills.

Darby Creek (Near Marysfille) (2012, 2015)

This was the Sunday course for RSG Ohio 2009 and 2012. The course is off Ohio 4 and US 36 10 miles west of Marysville.  It's a newer course with the front 9 "prairie style (open holes with lots of long grass and some water.  The back 9 has several holes cut through trees and some fairways with rolling hills.  It has 5 sets of tees offering a lot of playing options and everyone will find a set that is comfortable.  The bent grass greens and fairways were in good shape and give lots of roll (sometimes a bad thing for errant shots).  This is a course where a little local knowledge will help in picking a line on a dogleg or deciding where the ball will bounce and roll on a sloping fairway.  Check the hole maps on the cardF carefully as there are some small creeks that may not be apparent but will eat golf balls even when dry.  The course has a grass tee range and putting greeen.  It is easily walkable.

The National Golf Links (Near Springfield) (2012,2016)

This was a bonus course for RSG-Ohio  2012. The course is between Interstate 70 and US 40 (AKA The National Highway, the reason for the name) about 40 miles west of Columbus.  This is a newer course with holes cut through woodlands.  It has some very interesting holes and is a great bargain for a low price.  It's a small operation with a small clubhouse, minimal snack bar, and small range.  There are adjacent holes, but they are never close, and no housing in play.  Other than suffering a bit from drought and what's clearly a low budget (shaggy greens, neglected bunkers), it's a great course.  It's walkable, but not an easy walk due to a lot of elevation changes and some longer walks. 

Split Rock (Near Grove City) (9/2010, 2013)

This was a Friday course for RSG-Ohio.  It has rolling terrain with a few creeks and several holes that pass through trees.  In spite of few bunkers the terrain makes it reasonably challenging, and it's a scenic course.  Maintenance is minimal here -- fairways don't seem to be watered, though greens were in good shape.   It is an easy to moderate walk, though note that the course is one of the few I have encountered that does not have pull carts for rent.

Foxfire Golf course (Near Grove City) (9/2010, 2013)

This was the Friday PM course for RSG-Ohio, one of two courses at the same location (see below for the players club)  It's an older course with mostly flat terrain and few holes with large trees, though many holes have lots of small trees in the rough and the fairways are quite narrow.  While the scorecard distances off the whites are long on the back 9 especially, we found many holes with the tees moved up to play much shorter and as a result make it quite playable. There are some holes on the back 9 with unusual challenges, like a tree in the middle of the fairway or a blind tee shot or approach shot over a hidden lake.  Note that fairways aren't watered here so the course can be very hard in dry weather.  It is easily walkable.

The Players Club at FoxFire  (Near Grove City) (9/2010, 2013, 2016)

This was the tournament and match play madness course for RSG-Ohio, at the same facility as the Foxfire course.  It's a newer and more upscale design, with a mix of open (prairie style) holes and holes cut through dense woodlands.  Unlike the Foxfire course most holes have reasonably generous fairways (some noteable exceptions on the wooded holes on the back) and only a couple have the kind of nasty little trees in the rough.  There is a lot of water on this course, especially on the front 9, and some very challenging holes and narrow holes on the back 9.  Course condition was great, even in a dought,   It is easily walkable, though note that the course does not return to the clubhouse after 9.

Cooks Creek  (Near Ashville) (2016)

This is a modern course now owned by the family of senior tour pro John Cook.  It's a challenging course with water and wooded holes but generous fairways.  There is no housing on the course and while it's just off US 23 it's protected from traffic noise and has the feel of playing in a wilderness area.  The course had deteriorated before being acquired by Cook recently (2016?) and there were still some things in need of repair, but the playing surfaces (tees, greens, fairways, bunkers) were in good shape.  This course would be a difficult walk, with hills and long green-to-tee distances.  It has enough tee options to be playable at all options.  There is a range and practice area (the range and practice green were not in great shape, but I would expect that to improve over time.)

Mentel Memorial  (Near Galaway) (2016)

This is a Columbus municipal course in the southwest suburbs.  It's a compact layout with no adjacent housing and easily walkable.  It has water hazards and bunkers and many dogleg holes but is not extremely difficult or fancy.  Maintenance is as you would expect for a decent muni -- fairways are okay, greens good, but the rough areas are unwatered, dry, and hard in the summer.  There are tees for all abilities (though nothing will stretch a long hitting scratch golfer).  The course has a range and practice area.

Phoenix Golf Links (Near Grove City) (9/2010, 2013)

(THIS COURSE HAS CLOSED) This was the Sunday course for RSG Ohio 2010. This is a newer course on a reclaimed landfill (several referrred to it as "stinky links", though the landfill doesn't smell much).  It's mostly "prairie style" (mounds, long grass, no trees, but not hard links turf), with the last two playing through woodlands and not on the landfill.  The setting isn't especially scenic (between I71 and a cement products plant) but it has a nice view of downtown Columbus.  The course has a good mix of holes, though few big doglegs.  The only water hazards are on the last two holes, but you can lose a lot of balls in the long grass adjoining many holes, especially if it's windy.  The course seemed well maintained (except for the bunkers, which were spotty).  It's not hard to walk, except for a long walk up a hill to the first tee and an even longer walk over the hill back to the clubhouse from 18, which finishes nowhere near the clubhouse or parking lot. 

Chapel Hill  (35 miles NE of Columbus) (9/2011, 2014)

This was the Friday course for RSG Ohio 2011. This is a nice course out in the country with the unusual feature of having a Chapel as the clubhouse.  It's a mix of wooded and open holes, with a few lakes and some elevation changes.  There are 3 tough par 4's with long carries over lakes to the green, and 3 or 4 short par 4's that present birdie opportunities.  The course has an all the golf you can play rate that includes lunch (3 sandwiches and 6 drinks including beer!), with a cart if you want it (the course is reasonably walkable with only long walk you make twice to reach 5 of the back 9 holes and return.  There is some housing around the course, but nothing in play.  A very enjoyable course with plenty of challenges

Clover Valley (30 miles NE of Columbus ) (9/2011)

This was the Saturday course for RSG Ohio 2011. This is a newer "prairie" style  course with bent grass fairways, few trees, and lots of long grass, marshes, and lakes.  When dry it probably plays like a links (we played it VERY wet and muddy, when it doesn't)  There is a good variety of holes and many that offer interesting risk/reward lines of play.  The long grass and marshland eats balls, so bring enough.  The course is quite walkable.  There are at least 4 sets of tees that provide adequate options for everyone.  Also practice facilities and a minimal restaurant.

Champions  (Columbus) (9/2011)

This was the Sunday course for RSG Ohio 2011. This is an old country club Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr, converted to a Columbus Muni.  It has small bent grass greens and fairways and nearly all the holes are tight and treelined.  No houses in play but some holes adjoin other properties.  The course adjoins a small river with some holes down at river level and some on a plain maybe 30-40 feet higher, and as such many holes have elevation changes and/or ravines.  There are 3 sets of tees and it looks short, but don't be fooled -- it's a par 70 so it plays like a par 72 that's 400 yards longer (shorter hitters will find even the forward tees too long.  Greens were in good shape, but maintenances of fairways and other areas seemed a bit haphazard.  Still a very interesting layout for a muni and well worth playing.


Kentucky has many courses, especially in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where we played.

Lassing Pointe (Cincinnati area) (6/2010)

This course is about 20 miles south of Cincinnati just west of I71/75.  Normally I expect anything using the word "pointe" to be an upscale housing course, but this is a muni, with no housing adjoining it for now at least.  It's an older course but in good condition with rolling fairways.  Most holes are fairly open and few have big elevation changes, but it's a moderate walk with a long haul between the 9th green and 10th tee (or the clubhouse).  This is another "strategic" course often offering multiple choices of routes and has many holes where driver may not be the best choice off the tee.  4 sets of tees make it quite playable by all abilities and enjoyable.  The course has practice facilities and a restaurant.

Northern California

The area from Napa south to Monterrey has many world famous courses and a year round climate. (Though watch out for wet season (winter). Rain and wind can be pretty miserable to play in, and many courses become quagmires in wet weather, much more so than in the South or Midwest which receive even more rain. (Your feet sink in to your ankles every place you step except on tees and greens, unlike what I encounter even on holes that are regularly flooded in the Midwest. Must be something about the soil). Also one of the highest ratios of golfers to courses anywhere, so expect crowds and high costs. Good information is available through the On Course web site on this area because of the high traffic of computer literate golfers.

Summitpointe (Milpitas, near San Jose 2/97)

A newer golf/housing development. The course is hilly and most people take carts, especially on weekends, but walking is permitted and green-tee distances are short. The course is on hills overlooking San Jose and the south bay, with scenic views everywhere, and no flat lies anywhere. Greens are fast with decieving slopes because of the slope of the overall landscape. The front 9 is open, on a sloping hillside. The back 9 is very tight through a Canyon. Several holes require you to land tee shots in the rough on a slope to avoid bouncing well off line and downhill. The course has reasonable rentals. The weekend greens fee ($60, including cart) is reasonable for the area. The course has a small practice range where you can hit irons only off of well maintained artificial turf onto small target greens. They use "floater" balls and retrieve them from a lake adjacent to the target area. I had no problem getting on the course on a Sunday AM as a single.

Santa Teresa (1/99) (San Jose).

This is a muni course, about 10 miles south of downtown San Jose along 101. The course is still a bargain for this area ($44 weekends walking). It is an older course with lots of mature trees and seems well maintained with fast greens. It seems average in difficulty. It is well away from 101 and many holes adjoin a mountain park. The front nine is flat, but interesting (sharp doglegs, trees). The back 9 has more up and down, with spectacular views. In spite of the elevation changes the course is readily walkable.

FountainGrove (3/2009) (Santa Rosa)

(UPDATE -- 2004 -- This course is now fully private -- you can't play there unless you are a member of a club with a reciprocal play arrangement, though the Fountaingrove Inn may be able to arrange play for their guests, but tee times are restricted (we arranged to play there Friday AM, but not Monday or mornings on the weekend).  This is an outstanding resort style course just north of Santa Rosa. The course winds over hillsides through housing, but housing is never a factor on the course (other than to gawk at) It has a wide variety of hole settings, including marshlands, canyons, and many with dramatic elevation changes. You can walk this course, but it has a fair amount of elevation and some long walks between tees (Interestingly enough a lot of members walk in the early morning at least) This is on the pricey side (~$100), but as pretty a course as I've played anywhere. It's also worth noting than in spite of playing during a wind whipped monsoon that turned the fairways into mush, the greens were firm and quite puttable. Several holes have dramatic views and a couple have carries of 150-200 yards off the back tees, but the forward tees avoid most of the long carries.

Hunter Ranch (Paso Robles, Every year since 2010)

This is a great inland course.  The front 9 has a lot of "big" holes on gentle hillsides with some live oaks on the sides and occasionally in the fairway to add challenge.  The back 9 has 7 holes that carry water -- some with long carries and is challenging.  The course is walkable, but will wear you out.  Score your birdies on the front as the holes on the back will present a challenge to figure out where to hit it (Especially 12, where off the tee it looks like about 150 to dry land the size of a two lane road)  This course is a good bargain ($60) for a top course in excellent condition.

The Links at Del Hombre (Paso Robles, 3/2008)

This course is variously referred to as Del Hombre, the Links at Paso Robles, or just the Links.  It's a links style course, and grew on me over time.  When I rolled up I wondered why I had made a reservation here as the clubhouse is a trailer and the holes are flat and not that varied.  On the other hand it has a lot of ingredients of links golf, open layout, rough rough, but not close in play, hard rolling turf, and big greens with a few strategic bunkers (a lot of which are now grass turf, not sand, not sure this was planned.  It's definitely a bargain at $28.  It has a low rating (it will give you a clue when a guy in a tasting room told me if I shot 88 at Hunter I'd break 80 at the links -- I didn't, but mainly because it was foggy and I didn't know where holes went.  It's easily walkable.

Chalk Mountain (Atascadero, every year since 2010

This is a Muni course in a town between Paso Robles and San Luis Abispo.  It's a natural style course in which the holes play up and down on rolling hills and canyons.  With a variety of holes and good scenery it could be a great course with a little better care, sadly, greens, fairways, and tees were all a bit shabby when we played there.  (It probably was an indication when we showed up early on a very frosty morning and the pro shop guy sent us right out saying they never waited for frost -- all the mowers were out already as were two groups in front of us crunching through the morning ice).  Several holes require strategic shots -- you have to lay up or play to a particular area to have a next shot, and many have sloping fairways.    As of 2016, they have some sheep in a fenced area between 6 and 8, to go with deer, woodpeckers, and lots of other wildlife.  It's cheap (about $25 senior rate) and walkable, though there are a couple of good hills to climb on the back 9.

Bodega Harbor Links (every year since 1995) (Bodega Bay)

This a great seaside links style layout.  The course is not directly adjacent to the ocean except for a couple of holes played behind a line of dunes, but most holes go up and down over hillsides with sweeping views of the ocean and harbor.  There are houses along most fairways but they are not in play for most folks and not obtrusive (One big plus, not many people in them even on the weekends).  (My wife says it looks like little cottages on cape cod).  You can walk this course but it's work, with the first 4 holes playing up a substantial hill.  Several holes here will test your ability to follow them -- the 5th, a double dogleg par 5 playing down the hill and the only hole where OB -- just a crude fence -- is a serious hazard, and featurning a blind drive and challenging approach.  The last 3 holes (known as the pit there), play through a marsh behind the beach.  16 is a short par 4 taking more club than it says to clear the marsh (don't go for the green), 17 a par 3 over water to a green pasted up against a bank full of bursh, and 18 -- a bewildering hole played up to the hillside and then down to the green requiring precise placement of all shots and for a lot of people a layup.  This is one of the best courses I've played in the area, and not crowded or expensive.  As promissed in 2008, the greens are now all redone in bent grass -- very smooth and nice -- probably the best greens we played in Northern California

Hiden Valley Lake (3/2004) -- 20 miles north of Calistoga

Getting to this one is half the fun -- It's along route 29 north of Calistoga, but the first 10 miles of road from Calistoga climb up over a mountain pass with good views but don't plan to do it fast.  The course itself was disappointing.  One of the promotions for it said the same architect that built Torrey Pines built it -- if so Torry Pines was a much better property.  The front 9 is entirely flat, soggy in spring, and adjoined by modest houses.  The houses aren't really a factor here.  4 holes on the back 9 climb up a hillside and are quite interesting, with the 15th featuring a tee shot off a cliff to the valley below, but the others are like the front -- flat and not all that interesting.  Most of this course would be easily walkable, but the climb from the 12th tee to the 14th green is over 250 feet, a lot of it gained on the cart paths between the holes.  Rental clubs here were basic muni rentals.  The course is inexpensive and not as crowded as those closer to Napa and San Francisco.

Adobe Creek (3/2002) (Petaluma

This is a public course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, on a flat plain in Petaluma. The course is typical of the Jones Jr courses I've played, with lots of mounding along the fairways and reasonably generous landing areas, especially off the forward tees. Half a dozen of the holes are bordered by housing but it's generally not a real problem. A couple of holes on the front side have tight out of bounds, and there are several water hazards. Though not an exotic course, it's a bargain for what you get.

Oakmont (3/2007) (Santa Rosa)

This is a retirement community east of Santa Rosa off highway 12 (enter at the oakmont entrance and go until you see the clubhouse for the west course on the left, east course is 2 streets further down a side road marked with a sign). The West course is a regulation 18, winding through housing but with good views of mountains and vinyards in the distance  We played this course in 2007.  It's a great bargain for the price and has a good mix of holes, but don't expect the greens in top condition early in season at least.  This one will play as a normal 18. . The East course  is an executive course, par 63 with a mix of mainly short par 4's and long par 3's. The hole mix means you will definitely play some unusal clubs. The front 9 is ordinary while the back 9 has some spectacular holes, and many requiring risk/reward decisions on both 9's. Best advice here is leave the driver in the bag most of the time, and check that you game is up to your ego on some of those carries. Note that the east course facilities are fairly minimal, and if you want to rent clubs (not much better than typical munis) you have to get them from the west course. None the less well worth the charge and a memorable experience.

Northwoods (3/2010) (Guerneville)

This is a 9 hole Alastair McKenzie course tucked in beside the Russian River near the coast.  It was reportedly built as part of a 1920's country club now defunct.  The holes are cut through a redwood forest and big trees line every hole.  There are houses tight to the outside of the course (definitely in play, with lots of netting to protect windows), but no hole has houses on both sides.  The course shows some signs of neglect, but the layout is still interesting and well thought out.  Because of the trees wind is rarely a problem here but rain and wet can be.  3 sets of tees are available, all a bit short by modern standards, but the tight fairways, trees, and tricky greens make up for it.  It's a good bargain for what it is.

Indian Valley  (2017, 2018) (Novato)

This is an 18 hole course tucked into the hills of Norther Marin county.  It's next to a reservoir and is scenic and can have wildlife.  The course is modest and not expensive to play.  It hasn't been in top condition in the spring, but it's not in bad shape.  The front 9 can be walked relatively easily, while the back 9 has much more elevation change and is a tough walk (even if the tram that takes you up from the 12th green to the 13th tee is working.  It has tees for every ability and a range of sorts (you might hit off mats into the lake.)

Crystal Springs (3/2016) (Burlingame)

This is an 18 hole course that plays between a reservoir and I280.  It's right on the San Andreas Fault, but don't let that worry you.  This would have been a fun course if it were dry if we were in shape to walk, but it's not much fun if you are stuck riding and stick on the cart path because just about every hole is on a side hill and the cart path is always on the high side of the hole - nowhere near where your ball goes.  It's a busy course, being very near San Francisco, and has no great pedigree (like Sharp Park), but it's an interesting layout and aside from the struggle with carts on path would be fun.

Windsor CC (most years since 1999) (Windsor)

This is a muni course just north of Santa Rosa in the town of windsor. Basic golf, flat and with a fair amount of water. The junior (Hogan, Nike, .com, or whever bought it this year) used to play an event here. This course always seems highly regarded by the locals. There are a number of tricky holes with multiple water crossings that play tough, but it's a fun layout and not terribly crowded if you play early.  Conditions vary a lot depending on the local weather (it's subject to being too wet)

Mountain Shadows (3/2000) (2004 -- Course has another name now with "Fox" in it) (Rohnert Park).

I'd give this one a pass for a while. The courses are just off 101 about 45 miles north of the Golden Gate. This complex has 2 18 hole courses attached to a small resort development. Unfortunately it also seems to have soil that winter rains converts into a hog wallow. When we played, only 2 9's were open, and both pretty unplayable. (Fairways and rough all tracked with deep footprints in the muck). The courses are interesting, though surrounded by less than elegant residential development, and in the midst of what has become a busy suburb of both San Francisco and Santa Rosa. The courses are flat and reasonably walkable, but watch out (whether walking or riding) for crossing some busy streets)

Sharp Park  (3/2010) (Pacifica)

This is an older Muni just off route 1 just south of San Francisco (In fact it's part of the SF Park system that runs it's more famous cousin Harding Park).  It's an Alastair McKenzie layout that has suffered a bit from lack of maintenance and tends to be wet in the spring but it's still an interesting layout and a good bargain.  The front 9 has several holes on the mountain side of 1 with some signficant elevation, whiile the back 9 is entirely on the coast side adjoining a fresh water marsh.  While the course is ocean side, it's behind a dune line so you will hear the ocean but not see it except perhaps from the hillside holes.  There are 3 sets of tees marked, though not out on the day we played.  Like many older courses it's a bit short and tight by modern standards, but still scenic and well layed out.  Quite walkable in spite of a couple of long walks (through a tunnel under the highway).

TPC Harding Park  (3/2018) (San Francisco)

This is started as a muni course nearly 100 years ago, but was reworked in the 1990s and now run by the PGA tour as a "TPC" course.  That mean's it's expensive, but very well maintained and has the history of hosting several major tournaments.  In spite of being in the city it's easy to reach from major roads and mostly doesn't feel hemmed in (a few holes run along a busy street, and later in the day there are pedestrians, some with dogs on some of the cart paths.  The course is very scenic, with large trees lining every hole.  This isn't a course for novices.  All the tees are long (the shortest is nearly 6000 yards, which plays even longer near sea level with damp air).  The fairways are generous though and those trees really aren't in play on most holes unless you hit a horrible shot.  There's only one forced carry (and none off the forward tee).  The course has a range and other practice facilities, and a 3rd 9 (looked well maintained but not championship level).

Half Moon bay  (most years since 2000) (Half Moon Bay)

This is a 36 hole complex about 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Route 1. Both courses are pricey ($140-170), but there are specials and a half price replay rate.  The setting is spectacular, ocean side and open linksland. There are 2 courses here, the ocean course,which is all open, and the old Course, which has more holes in among developed areas but also some ocean front. The Ocean is easily walkable and more enjoyable that way (though almost nobody does), but the Old course is really carts only, Both are worth playing, though We liked the open layout of the Ocean better.  The Old course actually has more interesting hole layouts -- lots of doglegs, but housing isn't my idea of scenic. We found the Old course played a lot longer, partly because the houses restrain my driver a bit and partly because the grass on the fairways is longer and stickier meaning you don't get a big run downhill.  (We were told this is a spring phenomenon).  Excellent (and pricy) rentals and generally first class service (sometimes including free fruit, tees, logo ballmarkers, etc.) make this a good option for a tourist in search of a memorable round. The open windswept setting of the Ocean Course makes wind a factor everywhere and many holes have spectacular views of the ocean. Stay out of the shaggy long grass on some holes as it is very difficult to escape from. Most landing areas are ample, and well designed to be playable by even short hitters (who cut off the longest carries). A new Ritz-Carlton hotel just opened at the site of the course doesn't seem to have effected  availability of tee times, and it's a nice Scottish looking building, but the sight of corporate drones walking the seaside paths with their phones and PDAs doesn't enhance the experience.  (One thing I'd sugggest is playing early so you can park in the original course lot where you have access to your bag instead of the valet garage).  (Walkers are a major problem on the 18th on the old course, where it's tough to hit your second because of all the crowds on the left side of the hole).  (As of 2006, more housing in the area seems to mean more locals walking dogs on the seaside paths too) Parking, though, is a problem unless you have an early tee time. They will find a place for your car, but it may not be where you can get at it to ditch your warmup jacket or get out an extra sleeve of balls you forgot. The hotel looks like it could be in St Andrews, but don't believe what you see. Under that weathered exterior is a mass of steel and concrete beams that never saw the 20th century.

Pasatiempo (3/2004) (Santa Cruz)

We had a spectacular day for this older Alastair MacKenzie design (in fact he lived in a house on this course).  This is a course with a championship pedigree and still hosts a college golf tournament.  The holes wind up and down through the hills above Santa Cruz which is mostly out of site.  Housing lines the holes and on a few it's close enough to be a factor.  It's expensive to play ($145 + a cart if you want one) and has first class (and expensive) rentals.  It's semi private with members playing early usually and the mid day being relatively empty.  (We teed off at 9:30 with nobody behind us for 2 hours).  The course was in top condition, with smooth greens, great fairways, and everything else in great shape. The holes are all interesting with several that will challenge you to find a line:  Number 10, with a long carry over a ravine and a green fronted by a pit full of bunkers, Number 11, where your secont must carry a long stretch of ravine, and Number 16, a tricky dogleg with another interesting carry which a member we were playing with at a time told us was MacKenzie's favorite.  A couple of things to note -- The "Forward" tees on this course aren't especially forward or forgiving here, something in common with a lot of older courses, and a couple of the holes on the front (6 and 7) are VERY narrow.  The acres of wire mesh protecting the houses on number 6 suggest that when this one was built golf was played by better, or at least straighter golfers!

Stone Tree (Novato, 3/2005)

This is a newish upscale course with some real estate development, but most holes border other holes or open land.  It's a Johnny Miller Design we played with a couple of local freinds who kept using the phrase "potato chips" to describe the greens -- hard, fast, and with lots of funny slopes that mean a shot landing near the pin may finish a hundred feet away off the green.  Somewhat more than half the holes play through flat marshland, and the others play up and down through hills.  You can walk this course though tee-green distances and elevation are a moderate challenge.  The biggest hazard for most is keeping the ball in play as wild land marked as a lateral hazard separates most of the marshland holes and the rough absolutely swallows golf balls whole.  The greens and fairways are in top condition and the service was excellent.  There are 4 sets of tees, quite playable off the front, and no range but a "warm up net" with free balls to hit into it.

San Juan Oaks (Hollister, 3/2005, 6/2016)

This is a new Fred Couples design, so far without any real estate development (though some is threatened).  Holes run through open land in dry hills south of San Jose.  I played with two RSG regulars and locals there who described the course as tough but fair, and I agree -- greens fast but not goofy, and designs that reward good shots but always offer playable lines for those who can't carry long hazards or hit precise targets.  Most holes are fairly open, though trees come into play on a few where you have to place your tee shot precisely to make the next one open to the green.  The course is walkable (we all did it), but the back 9 especially has a lot of elevation on it and walking will be a fairly slow round. The course has 5 sets of tees and a range and pracitce area.

In 2016, the course was still nice, but a bit rough in areas like it's getting some wear.  It gets less play than some others in this area, which is just fine, and has great wildlife.

Coyote Creek (Morgan Hill/San Jose 7/2016)

This is a 36 hole facility designed by Jack Nicklaus right off 101 just south of San Jose.  We played the Valley course, which is public.  You can still play the Championship course, which is semi-private at restricted hours.  The course we played was not I think one of Jack's better efforts.  The holes are cramped and many are parallel, and even though the weave the front and back holes together so you are rarely playing next to the next hole you play it feels too cramped, and there are no really memorable holes on the course.  Still, they have 5 sets of tees for any level of player and the price is not unreasonable

Cinnibar Hills (San Jose, 7/2016)

This is a 27 hole facility just south of San Jose;.  It's up in the hills and has no housing.  The course is scenic, and in great shape. It was busy on a weekend in spite of being expensive, but a good experience anyway.  All 3 9's are interesting, and some holes really require local knowledge, but it was fun to play.  The clubhouse has an extensive collection of golf memoriabelia -- trophy replicas, old clubs, tickets for the masters and other tournaments.  You could easily spend an hour just looking at the stuff.

Eagle Ridge (Gilroy, 3/2005)

This is a real estate development just west of Gilroy in low hills.  Most holes are bordered both sides by houses (reminded me of Phoenix).  Mostly they aren't in play, but the prospect of hitting with so many expensive windows in play may intimidate some.  There are a few holes that are open and gorgeous, going through ravines and up and down in the hills in land that's probably too steep for building, but who knows.  The front 9 has lots of sand in play and the holes are tight, while the back 9 is more open.  The course can be walked, but it's over 6 miles with some elevation and most will want to ride.  It has a range and 6 sets of tees.

Poppy Ridge (Livermore, 3/2006)

This is a 27 hole complex in the wine country of Livermore.  The course is owned by the Northern California Golf Association, like it's more famous sister, Poppy Hills on the Monterey Peninsula, but isn't as expensive or hard to get on.  It's an excellent open course like San Juan Oaks in character.  It's walkable, but there are some long walks between holes and some elevation to be navigated.  Rentals are good and reasonable.  There are 4 sets of tees and a range on site.

Wente golf course (Livermore, most years since 2005)

This is an 18 holer that goes up and down over the hillsides and through the vineyards.  This is definitely a cart course (Even the nationwide tour which used to play here in late March gets to ride up to the 1st and 10th tees).  The mix of holes is very nice with some nice short par 4's as well as some monsters that  leave you challenged.  There are 5 sets of tees, though not all will usually be out.  (Middle will give you plenty of challenge, though do look at some of the places the tips play for for a good laugh.)  (**Note that in 2015 they were replanting a lot of the vineyards, which doesn't really effect play but it's less scenic)

Pacific Grove (most years since 2000)

This is a short par 70 muni on most lists of the top 50 courses everyone should play -- the reason is the back 9 which is on seaside dune land and set by the same designer who built the nearby Pebble Beach -- for a muni price.  The front 9 plays out and back through a corridor in the city with holes running parallel.  It's not excessively tight and the links style (most greens are open at the front and bump and run and putt off the green works well) means you can get around without too much trouble.  The back plays through dunes and ice plant, but with fairly wide fairways.  Keep it in play and you will score well.  The course is a steal for what it is.  It can be hard to get on, depending on when you want to play and how you book.  Some years we have found it packed from before 7AM, but in March of 2010 we teed off without a tee time (they lost it!) at shortly after 7 and nobody followed us for at least an hour and a half -- bright sunny warm day too, go figure.  Note that it's often foggy and/or rainy early here, so a later tee time isn't a big problem if you can afford the time.  It is very walkable and has 3 sets of tees (most will want to play the blue (back) tees)  (Note -- this course has one of the largest pro shops and best selection of golf shoes I've seen anywhere, and puts them all on sale in the spring.)

Black Horse (Monterey Area, 3/2006)

This course was part of Fort Ord, now redesigned and open to the public.  It's sister course Bayonet is more famous but the two are very similar in character (Black Horse is a bit easier for shorter hiters because the par 3's are more reasonable in length.  Most holes go through narrow fairways loosley lined with pines and cypress trees.  It's not seaside but many holes have good views of the ocean and Monterrey.  The and last holes are probably the toughest and most memorable -- both big par 5's with bends and slopes.  Other holes feature steep slopes where the ball can run a long way off a green.  Most holes have no housing or OB, and there are no water hazards.  There are 3 sets of tees and a range.  The course is clearly well drained as it played hard and fast even after an extended period of heavy rain.

Southern California

Southern California has true year round golf in many places, though if you play in winter watch out for frost at higher elevation courses.  Like other mountain environments (e.g. Denver) frost tends to hit late and stick around a LONG time when it does form even when the air is relatively warm and can really screw up your plans.

Oak Valley (Beaumont, 2/2007)

Played this course or RSG-SOCAL.  It's a nice mountain course with most of the holes running through open country and most running out and back through a wide canyon.  It's carts only (boo) with a couple of long walks where the course crosses a power line.  4 sets of tees cater to all abilities and there is a range available (Range balls included in the fee).

SPGA Courses (Beaumont, 2/2007, 2/2008)

This is a complex with 2 first class 18 hole courses and a range.  It's very near the Oak Valley course.  The Legends course is the more spread out, and as of when we played it had a couple of holes with rough walks (you can walk here, but make sure someone in the group has a cart and can ferry the walkers over the roughest walks).  There are a wide variety of holes on this course including a lot of "strategic" holes which offer choices in play.  Bear in mind that almost the entire back 9 plays up hill and into the wind.  The Chamipons course is easier to walk but as tough or tougher to play.  The Champions has a lot of holes with deep bunkers and interesting challenges on the greens (multiple levels and collection areas).  On the par 5's, look for the 3 shot route since these are well designed strategic holes where a good second shot layup offers most people a better chance to get the 3rd one close for birdie than trying to go in 2.  A couple of par 4's on the front 9 may be reachable for some, again some judgement of the risk is well rewarded.  Pace of play is S.L.O.W. here on weekends at least.  A yardage guide is a good investment in understanding the risk/reward holes a bit better but doesn't offer much in the way of playing tips.

Note that in January of 2008 the courses were sold to a new owner who will change the name (east valley or some such).  Service seems to have declined a bit (it was hard to get a prompt lunch and there was no real evidence of marshaling).  The golf courses are still in good shape, though the presence of a lot of unsold plots of mud on some holes mars the mood a bit. 

Empire Lakes (Rancho Cucamonga 2/2007, 2/2008)

This is a nice 18 holer in an urban setting.  The course is tucked in between offices, appartments and factories, but they only adjoin the holes on the outside of the course.  It is walkable, though you will get bored going through the tunnel under the road 4 times.  The course has a range and 4 sets of tees.  There are some interesting risk/reward holes, like 18, which offers the potential to reach in 2 if you can find a good lie hitting driver and aren't afraid of the water left, and number 3, which offers the opportunity to bite off as much of the pond as you can carry.  Our host for the event described some other holes as reachable by the Nationwide tour which plays an annual event on the course, but clearly not for the rest of us.  A variety of holes and while it's relatively flat most of the holes feature some elevation and a lot of doglegs. 

Temecula Creek Inn (Temecula, 2/2007)

This is a resort complex with 27 holes.  If you show up early you may get your choice of 9s to play an 18 hole round.  We did not play the creek 9 (described as flat with lots of trees).  We played the Oaks 9 (some elevation, plenty of trees and holes abutting wild land), and the Stone House 9, lots of elevation and nowhere near other golf holes or housing (there is a freeway running in sight o the course).  These courses are interesting and the setting, especially on stone house is very nice.  There are several blind holes on Stonehouse and the advice of the starter to follow the fairway direction off the tee is good advice.  On most holes the worst trouble is to the right.  All the 9's are walkable with a little effort.  There is wildlife here.  We saw hawks and eagle, and a bobcat.  The resort has a nice (and pricy) restaurant, with wine tasting in the valley (though WAY too much urban blight between the course and the wineries).

Oak Quarry (Riverside, 2/2008)

This course is indeed set in a quarry (according to some the quarry that supplied most of the limestone that went in the cement of LA's freeways).  It is carts only due to long rides between holes and lots of elevation changes, and definitely target golf, but a lot of fun to play.  If you pick the right tees and play strategically (i.e. play your shots to the place that gives you the best chance at the next one rather than bombing it as far as you can), it's quite playable.  Many holes have spectacular views and look scary, but aren't tough if you play to the safe side.  The greens are hard to read because of the prevailing slope of the area towards the southeast.  They have a nice clubhouse as well.

Rustic Canyon (Moorpark, 2/2008)

This is a links style course set  on a valley floor northwest of LA.  For now it's mostly a rural setting with houses and roads visible only on a few holes on the front.  Little earth was moved to make the course with many holes crossing usually dry creek beds.  The greens are surrounded by close mown and firm areas which allow bump and run and LONG putts, if you read the breaks.  (hint, nothing breaks up the canyon).  The course is walkable, though there are some goodish walks between holes.   Don't be put off though by the length of some of the holes -- most of the long par 4's play downhill and play a lot shorter than those yardages.   It's a real bargain, especially for the area.


Colorado has many courses, some in the mountains and many in the front range cities (Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Ft Collins, Boulder). Season length varies dramatically with elevation and location, from year long in some of the front range locations to only a few months in the high mountains.  ***One note -- watch out for LONG frost delays here.  Unlike lower wetter areas where frost forms only when it's very near freezing and quickly thaws after sunrise, frost can form here with the temperature in the 40's and last 2 hours or more as the temperature rises into the 60's.  Locals know not to count on morning tee times in the fall. 

Denver Area

Denver has many good courses and a long season. My limited experience here suggests that Denver may have more walking golfers than other places I've played.

Arrowhead (2010,2013,2016)

This is an upscale course about 25 miles southwest of downtown, nestled in the red rocks zone at the base of the foothills.  It is one of the most visually spectacular courses I have played.  Virtually all the holes play through red rock formations and many offer panoramic views of the Denver area.  There are houses along some holes, but they aren't in play.  You will likely see deer if not other wildlife.  The fee is steep, but it includes everything range balls and golf cart (It used to include food and non-alcoholic beverages too, maybe they only do that some times.).  The service is first rate too.  This course is not very walkable (I don't know that they will even let you try) due mainly to elevation changes and a few long walks.A good splurge course, especially if you are looking for a unique experience.  They have 4 sets of tees stretching from 5300 to over 7,000 plus a short range and short game practice.  One thing to note if you like to play early.  The course is apparently often subject to high winds from dawn until 9-10AM.  Afternoons are often placid, even if the morning was very windy.

Buffalo Run (10/2010)

This is a muni course about 15 miles northeast of downtown off I76 at 112th.  It is a prairie links style, with reasonably firm turf and no trees.  Many holes have views of the front range and denver.  There are houses on many holes but not close enough to be in play.  There is nothing really special about this layout, but it is a good course in good condition and has a reasonable variety of holes (though few doglegs).  The course is flat and walkable, though there are some long distance between holes.  They have 5 sets of tees and a full range and other practice facilities.

Common Ground (11/2010)

This is a muni course in Aurora, an inner city suburb of Denver.  (Get a good idea of where it is from the course because there has been a lot of redevelopment in the area and older maps and GPS maps probably won't show it or the streets accurately.  It is actuallyoff 1st street just west of Havana).  The course is a redesign of an old Muni by Tom Doak (architect of Pacific Dunes), and designed as part of a renewal project aimed at getting more people into golf.  It's a relatively flat piece of land and a very walkable course.  The drive to the course isn't pretty (it's a long way from interstates) but the course is mostly sheilded from it's urban environment and it has good views of the mountains and downtown in the distance as well as plenty of wildlife habitat.  The most noticeable feature of the course is the bunkers -- lots of fairway bunkers all with steep grass faces that while not deep like a true links will force a mid to high iron to escape and cost you at least half a stroke.  The course is long, with a lot of long par 4s, but the greens on the long holes all accept run up shots.  The greens are very tricky, with the key to be in the right area or risk a 3 putt.  The course is very walkable, but whether you walk or ride pay close attention to the routing as many green to tee walks cross others and you can easily wind up playing the wrong hole.  Don't count on playing early in the fall and winter -- the course is apparently subject to LONG frost delays.  They have 4 sets of tees, a complete practice facility, and a pitch and putt junior course.   The clubhouse is minimal for now, with a larger facility planned. 

Deer Creek (10/2013)

This daily fee course is tucked between route 470 and developed land on the southwest side of Denver.  The highway is effectively screened from the course, and most of the course has no buildings close to it.  (Some holes on the back 9 have houses close enough to hear the dogs bark, but not seriously in play.  It has many interesting holes and many that run through marshland, so wildlife is common (as are waterballs :-)  Landing areas are adquate though as long as you play smart.  The course is walkable without much elevation change, though there are some long green-tee distances (none longer than getting to the first tee from the clubhouse).

Riverdale Dunes (10/99, 2016)

This is an upscale muni with 2 courses, the Dunes is a links style course designed by Pete Dye that hosted or will host a Nike tour event. There is an older more conventional muni layout. I played the dunes on a day with 40 MPH winds, and enjoyed the course in spite of the wind. Adequately challenging, but not impossible. (it was great fun to reach the 576 yard 3rd in 2 with the wind behind me but less fun to be short of the green with 3 full shots on a 420 yarder coming back!) The course probably plays harder when the grasses in the rough are thicker, since I lost no balls in spite of several errant shots. 

Riverdale Knolls (10/99)

This course operates from the same clubhouse as the dunes, it's an older Muni, nothing special. Watch out for ditches crossing the fairways on some holes and expect a lot of roll on the relatively dry fairways. Basic golf, nothing more.

Evergreen GC (10/99)

This is a short course up in the mountains, reachable either from I70 or by a windy and scenic canyon road from Morrison. Many holes are tight with trees both sides and steep side slopes. One par 3 requires a blind shot between trees and over a rock formation (looks tougher than it is at 110 yards). Many other holes have blind tee shots. Not the best maintained course, but scenic and quite different from anything you encounter in the flatlands. Walkable for anyone in reasonable shape (no long walks to tees, but plenty of up and down), and reasonably priced.

Fox Hollow (10/96, 2016)

Another upscale muni with 3 9's The Canyon and Links layouts are up and down over open terrain with dry grasses between holes and lots of lateral hazards due to gulleys. The Meadows 9 is flat, with lots of water. I played the canyon and meadows 9's on 10/30, a day that started nice and turned very cold. One note -- The course now requires soft spikes. I unfortunately didn't have them so I played in street shoes. The Canyon layout was a real challenge and very different for a flatlander. Lots of elevation changes, sidehill lies, and blind landing areas. The Meadows is a flat course with lots of water, again enjoyable. Both layouts are quite walkable (though the canyon has some pretty good climbs on it), and I was pleasantly surprised that most folks on these courses were walking. Greens fees were $30, with club rental another 10 (Ok ordinary clubs, but a Sun mountain bag!)

Highlands Ranch  (8/2013)

This course was origianlly privately owned, now operated by the Universityof Denver.  It's a Hale Irwin design and about half the holes wind through housing while the rest wind through a marsh and canyon area.  The holes are interesting, and there are lots of tee positions (4 sets of markers, but lots more tee boxes on most holes meaning widely varied positions).  The greens are very fast and have lots of subtle slopes.  The course is walkable, but not easy -- it's very spread out with several "stupid long" green to tee distances, and holes 8 and 19 play signficantly up hill. 

Black Bear (Parker)  10/07

(Update -- as of 2013, this course is now private, not open to the public, bummer).  We played this course because it has some affiliation with Bear Dance and Riverdale dunes, both of which we found great courses.  Black Bear is in a real estate development about 10 miles east of the foothills.  Houses line most holes but mostly are well out of play.  There are lots of elevation changes and arroyos feature in many holes either crossing the hole or lining the hole.  Landing areas are fairly generous if you don't push it.  The course isn't especially scenic, but it's well layed out with a variety of holes.  Greens were slow and bumpy in October, but still playable.  It is not walkable (too long between some greens and tees and lots of road crossings and underpasses).  It has 5 sets of tees and a range.

Fossil Trace (Golden) (10/07, 11/10, 2012, 2013, 2016)

This is a muni course in the city of Golden.  The course is routed through old mining land but in the city limits (the front 9 loops some kind of correctional facility.  There are many spectacular views of the mountains, and many holes have spectacular features (number 1 has an old chimney in the fairway and several holes have rock outcropings.  There is a fossil exhibit between holes on the back 9.  You can walk this course, but it is a bit spread out and there are plenty of elevation changes.  The course has some very unusual holes, several where the green is set in a bowl so that errant shots are reflected towards it (not always a bargain, since with reasonably fast greens many will roll over the green.  Bunkers here are deep and deadly -- ankle twisters to get down into and then you are likely to have an awkward stance and need a vertical shot.  Pace of play was on the slow side (4-1/2 hours) but not horrible given that this is not an easy course to navigate.  It is very reasonably priced for the quality of the course and well maintained.  The only real complaint we had was the GPS system in the carts, which was constantly beeping and issuing useless warnings (road crossings, fix ball marks, fill divots, etc.) or advertisements, each of which required a button push to dismiss (it actually surprises me that they don't have accidents from drivers trying to figure out how to clear the junk while navigating narrow twisting paths.)  One thing to note -- after 11/1 the course plays Carts on paths only and they cover many of the bunkers.  Carts on paths is a real pain on this course because on many holes the fairway is bowl shaped and the cart path way above it, meaning you can do more walking back and forth to the cart path than just toting your clubs up the fairway.

The Golf Club at Bear Dance (Castle Rock) (10/02, 10/07, 7/08, 7/11, 8/13, 9/14) 

This is a new course originally built and owned by a group of Phoenix area pros. It has great mountain scenery, holes with lots of elevation change, and lots of interesting holes. This course is carts only, and probably fairly priced. No holes are adjacent (if you miss the fairway you will be in wild land) and the few houses near the course are well out of play. The course was only a year old when we first played it (In October) but the turf was good almost everywhere and the greens were fast and true. Wildlife clearly is abundant in the area (though we weren't lucky enough to see much. Judging distances and altitude changes (at an average near 7,000 feet) is part of the challenge, but the holes are designed with large landing areas and 5 sets of tees (5,000 to 7600 yards) make it playable and enjoyable for everyone. Some of the memorable holes include number 6 (the bear), a short sometimes reachable par 4 with a set of traps shaped like a bear paw between you and the green; number 7 (bobby jones) a long par 3 over a pond, number 16 (the hawk), a par 4 with a huge drop off the tee and mountains beyond, and number 17 (Tom Watson) a short par 3 with waterfalls. To play here pay attention to slopes in the landing areas to keep your ball from bouncing off the fairway. The course is 7 miles south of Castle rock and a little tricky to reach so get directions, but it's well worth the drive.  Note that in 2007, the course was if anything  better than in 2004.  The greens are lightning fast.  The only downside is the course doesn't really manage it's pace of play, and as it is getting popular this is a real problem, we played a 5-1/4 hour round here in late October!  In 2008 we played a morning round -- 4 hours and delightful.  In 2011 on the 4th of July it was again well over 5 hours, and the management pushed our tee time back without telling us apparently to accomodate a group of 8 people playing slowly and giving each other lessons, then really didn't do much to manage it.  In 2013, we played weekday afternoon on a full course, but finished in not much over than 4 hours, probably because the weather was threatening and some people quit.  (NOTE -- unlike midwestern courses, they do not monitor the weather or chase you off if lightning threatens, you play at your own risk).  Basically it's a nice course, but if you go play real early and hope you get lucky on pace.

Red Hawk Ridge (Castle Rock) (7/08, 7/11, 9/14) 

This is a I believe a muni, somewhat similar to Bear Dance though housing is closer on this one (thought still not in the way).  Lots of very elevated tees and big ups and downs make this a carts only course.  Very nice quality, somewhat hard to get on and good for the price.  I played from the Tips and it wasn't outrageously long even for a short knocker due to altitude and lots of downhill holes.  The course is just off 25 in central Castle Rock.  There are 4 or 5 sets of tees and practice facilities.  This one is a real bargain for the price, but again, play early if you can.

Plum Creek (Castle Rock) (8/13) 

This is an older Pete Dye course originally designed as a private club but now open to the public.  It's currently a bargain ($35 senior rate) for an interesting course.  It does go through housing, but the houses aren't close and has some very interesting hole designs (many devious Pete Dye features including railroad ties and lots of pot bunkers.)  There are 5 sets of tees and when we played all were set forward of their positions on the card.  The overall facility seems a bit run down (no ball washers, limited signage, etc.) but the course is in great shape and is a great bargain.

The Ridge at Castle Pines (Castle Rock) (9/14) 

This is a mature housing development course near the more famous castle pines club that hosted the International PGA event for years.  It's a mountain course with lots of up and down and interesting holes, but it is a difficult course for anyone with trouble walking, even in a cart, because on many holes there are areas where the carts are forced on path and way above or below the fairway.  It's a Troon golf managed facility and in great shape.  We found the greens as fast as any we played, and other areas in great shape.  Several holes are difficult to figure out the first time, like 6, a massively uphill short par 4 that requires a precise high flying layup, and 16? a dogleg through the pines that requires you to hit right to have any shot at the green.  There are tee options for everyone.  The course would be extremely difficult to walk due to long green-tee

Saddle Rock (9/14)

This is an upscale muni that has hosted several state tournaments.  It's a bargain, but would be difficult to walk (long green-tee distances and lots of elevation gain and loss especially on the front 9).  It's a long course, with the whites playing over 6500, but the distance is mainly on downhill holes so it doesn't play that long.  The course was in great shape for us and fun to play, but not gimmicky.  Most holes are lined with houses, but they aren't particularly close and not in play for most people.  There are at least 5 tee positions that will provide challenge for anyone, as well as pratice facilities. 

Shining Mountain (West of Colorado Springs) (7/11)

This course is just off Colorado 67 about 15 miles west of Colorado springs and north of US 24.  While it's in a mountain setting and at about 8200 feet, the holes play in a wide valley and don't have a lot of dramatic elevation.  There are nice distant views of the mountains as well.  You can walk this layout, but it is very spread out with some long green to tee distances, and several holes on the back 9 have elevated tees that are a bit of a climb.  Again, early is good, as it gets popular by 8:30 in the morning.

The Raven at 3 Peaks (Silverthorne) (2008) 

This is a tough mountain course in Summit county.  The price is quite high, but consistent with other courses in this area (short season and spectacular scenery).  While the members we played with said there was one guy who walked it I wouldn't recommend it.  There are lots of up and down holes and some very long walks tee to green.  Wildlife was abundant (they have a resident fox who steals things out of golf carts.  Pace of play was good, and the quality of the fairways and greens was excellent, particularly considering the course is at 9,000 feet.  The part 3's are very long off the tips if you want to play them, but there are tees available for every ability.  They have an excellent range and practice facility.

Four Mile Ranch (Canon City) (2008) (2011, 2014)

This is a very new course (open 7/2008) in Canon city, (near royal gorge).  The course is on rangeland and was laid out with minimal earth moving, so fairways go up and down over mud hills and the area outside the fairway is likely to be dried mud desert.  The course is generously laid out though in that on most holes the fairway is in a low spot so balls bounce off the adjoining hills back into it, and many greens are bowl shaped and collect errant shots.  The greens have lots of interesting slopes and some have extreme slopes and multiple levels, making it possible to play shots off slopes to get it close even with little green to work with.  We had a blast on this course, in spite of some blind shots and interesting angles.  It was in great shape for a very new course, though the road there (dirt) and the clubhouse (a trailer) will need some work.  There is a range and putting green, though it's clear this is an evolving facility.  We walked the course with no trouble (they were generous in providing lots of water), and discovered after the fact that apparently we were the first to do it.  It's a bit of walking, but there aren't any outrageous green-tee hikes nor a lot of up and down.  (Note that in 2011 over the 4th of July wekend nothing had changed -- dirt parking lot, trailer clubhouse still there, but the course is in great shape and a lot of fun.  We walked it on a day that probably reached 100, and they brought out 3 or 4 water bottles for us on the course.  While they appologised about the "crowd" and pace of play, few would feel the pace was slow.  This is probably the most dramatic of the "Jim Engh" courses I've played, with several holes that feature blind approaches and lots of bowl greens that collect shots.  Lots of holes have opportunities to play off "backboard" slopes on or behind the green and it's worth considering alternate lines of play whenever you have long putts or are on the wrong tier of the green.

Redlands Mesa (Grand Junction) (2011)

This is a decade old course that got a lot of acclaim when it opened as one of the best new public courses.  The scenery is nice on the front 9 and spectacular on the back 9.  It's a mountain course with houses adjacent to many holes on the front -- but not especially close or crowded.  You may see wildlife on this course (Coyotes, rabbits, lizzards, etc.).  It plays like other Engh (designer) courses I've played -- some interesting holes with blind shots to the green, greens with lots of levels, but bowls that will funnel shots towards the green if you hit it in the right place, and firm turf that plays well with bump and run.  You can walk it -- it's not an easy walk, but my wife and I did it on our creeky and artifical joints in 3-1/2 hours.  If you walk take note of tee positions and don't always follow the cart path -- there are shortcuts.  They have 4 or 5 sets of tees that will work for anyone and practice facilities.

Eagle Ranch (Eagle) (2011)

This is a development course designed by Palmer.  It plays a lot like other Palmer courses I've played -- solid, but nothing particularly special.  Most holes have houses adjacent and most people won't get near them, but if you are prone to wild shots you can hit them.  There are some holes that are very challenging (forced carries, small bailout areas, etc.), and some need some local knowledge to know where the landing area is.  You can walk it, though there are some long green-tee walks.  At almsot $80 (walking) or $100 (riding) -- it seems overpriced, but everything in the mountains comes high.

Kings Deer (Montrose) (7/2008) 

This is a course laid out in a rural housing development just north of Colorado springs.  In spite of being well away from the mountains it's high (7600 feet) and most holes play through marshy gulches.  It's billed as links style, and while the holes are laid out that way (2 holes paralell with marsh in between), the turf isn't linksy and there are more forced carries and greens that will not accept run up shots than that would imply.  The course was in excelllent shape though.  We walked this course and picked it in part because the fact that it offered a walking rate suggested it was walkable, but it was a very good hike, with a lot of long walks between holes.  The course has wildlife (foxes, deer, etc.) and great views of Pikes Peak, in spite of being in houses (I think it would be very difficult to hit a house as they are well back on huge lots).  They have a range and 4 sets of tees.

Great Sand Dunes (Alamosa (6/99)

This course was a delightful surprise, it is now closed to the public (i.e. gone) as the result of the resort that it was part of being acquired by the Nature conservatory as wildlife habitat.  The description here is left for Posterity.  It sits near the entrance to Great Sand Dunes national monument, 40 miles by road from the nearest town (Alamosa), and about 160 miles by road southwest of Denver. We stumbled across a billboard on our way to the dunes. The course is part of the Zapata Ranch resort, which has a few rooms and a dining room, stables, and other guest facilities. This is a very inaccessible place because the mountains block access from the north and east. The course sits at the edge of a huge plain behind the Sangre De Christo mountains. (The sand dunes, up to 750 feet high, are located there because local winds trap the sand behind the mountains). Remote location makes it easy to get on and relatively inexpensive ($45, including cart and rental clubs). The layout is relatively flat and walkable, with some long walks between tees and greens. There is water on many holes, often as narrow ditches that trap rolling shots. In spite of the lack of vegetation in the surrounding area, many holes are lined with large Cottonwood trees. Greens were in poor condition when we played, but views are spectacular and the layout is enjoyable.

Pine Creek (2018)

This is an upscale course in the Colorado Springs area, across I25 from the air force academy.  The layout is interesting and the views of the mountains are good, but many holes are hemmed in by housing, and playing in the morning the first few holes are into the sun and uphill making finding your shots difficult.  The course was in good shape, though it's pricey.  There are 6 rated tees (including 3 hybrid combinations) that cover most abilities, though many holes have forced carries in the middle of the hole that are difficult for shorter hitters.  The big downer for us was the policies of the course, which dumped several very slow foursomes on the back and turned our quick (90 minute) 9 into a 4-1/2 hour death march to finish 18, as well as the policy of forcing carts to the path over 100 yards short of the green.  Pros may be good enough not to play shots from that area, but most players will, and reaching the ball while advancing your cart on the path is a pain. 

Springs Ranch (2018)

This could be a very nice course, if it weren't so neglected.  It's on the northwest side of Colorado Springs, adjoining a shopping mall.  Housing isn't in play, adjoining only a few holes on the outside of the course, which hugs a mostly dry wide creek bed and has a variety of holes.  There are 4 sets of tees (though none rated for women).  Greens were good, but fairways were ratty and many bunkers abandoned and rough.  I doubt this course will survive, as the owners have clearly started selling off land for development cramping a few holes.  It's a bargain, and pace of play was fast. 


Oklahoma is not a place with a big reputation for golf, but it has been the site of several major championships and home to many tour pros.  We played several courses in the Oklahoma City area in conjunction with the 2014 US Senior Open.  We were surprised to find that contrary to all those songs and stories about plains and prairies, the dominant features of courses in this area are trees and water -- in other words it's parkland golf like most other areas.  Oklahoma City and the surrounding suburbs all have muni courses that are in decent shape, and there are many public courses as well as some famous (and difficult) private courses.  Most courses in this area have bermuda grass rough and fairway, and bent grass greens.  It is my impression that many more courses in this area are par 70 or 71 than is typical

SilverHorn (North Oklahoma City, 2014)

According to a local I spoke to this was one of the first "upscale" public courses in the area.  It's still nice, but no longer unique.  THe holes wind through woodlands and creeks cross them on many holes (The two front 9 par 5's each have several creek crossings requiring you to play between islands of fairway).   There are no houses on this course and the layout is quite open with it being rare that two holes are close enough for golfers to be on the wrong hole).  This course could be walked, but there are some longer hikes green to tee and summer heat means few people do.  They have 4 or 5 sets of tees that cover a wide range (the forward tees are actually pretty short.).  The staff here was very freindly, and even gave us yardage books when we said we were not local.

Fairfax (Edmond, 2014)

This is a public course that is part of a housing development.    Many holes border or cross ponds or creeks.  About half have houses along the holes, but generally not close enough to be at all in play.  The edges of the ponds cut into several holes (2 and 4 come to mind) so be aware of where the water is.  The course is flat enough to walk, but there are some long green-to-tee distances (it seems like some holes may have been moved to accomodate development.  The course was in excellent condition when we played (greens fast and true).  There are tees to accomodate all levels.  Note that the coffee creek course also in this area is supposedly similar, though at the time we were there they were suffering extreme winter damage to their greens and we did not play it.

Lincoln Park West Course (North Oklahoma City, 2014)

This is one of the Oklahoma City muni courses, according to locals the best.  At the time we visited they were building a new clubhouse and the construction made getting around to the first and 10th tee a bit awkward, but the course was in good shape (slower greens and a bit rougher than Fairfax.)  It's a wooded course, with water on some holes, and some interesting elevation changes.  This course would be quite walkable.  As a muni it's reasonably priced and draws a big crowd of local seniors.  There are tee boxes to accomdate all players.  Note that Lincoln Park is a 36 hole facility with a second 18 hole par 70 course that's basically similar.

Earlywine Nort Course (South Oklahoma City, 2014)

This is one of the Oklahoma City muni courses, which we picked primarily because it is very close to the airport and we could get a tee time that accomodated our schedule.   It's a wooded course with creek crossings on many holes.  It seemed to me that the trees were a bit overgrown on this course, with many holes having trees stretching far enough into the fairway just ahead of the tees to leave only a narrow opening, which made it difficult to see where to hit and when the group ahead had finished.  There was plenty of challenge though and the course was in reasonable shape.  There are tee boxes to accomdate all players.  This facility also has a second 18 hole course.



Austin is home to many interesting courses. The general terrain is dry, wooded, and somewhat hilly, so the courses tend to have some elevation and trees/brush along fairways. Conditions are different in different parts of the metro area. Austin has year round golf, very hot in the summer, and temperate most of the time in the winter. Bermuda grass is used in the summer, with annual grasses overseeded in the winter to improve greens and fairways. This means a period in the fall when courses are wet and shaggy as the annual grasses grow in.

Austin is also home to Golfsmith (I35, not far north of the airport), which is definitely worth a stop. Their club making supplies, retail store, mail-order operation, custom club-fitting, and schools for both clubmaking and general play are all housed in a single gigantic building.

Forest Creek (30 miles north on I35)

This is a failed private club/housing development now operating as an upscale semi-private course (daily fee plus members). The course is relatively flat, but most holes are tree lined and water is present on about half the holes. Best advise for northerners is stay out of the woods (thick underbrush and tough to recover from), and watch out for the bermuda grass (bad lies are common and the grass effects the ball more than you expect). Aside from playing a miserable game, I enjoyed my day considerably here.


Tour 18 (Northeast of downtown and just east of the airport, 2008)

This course has replicas of 18 holes from famous courses.  Some are more famous and recognizeable than others, but it's an interesting concept.  The replica holes I recognized (17 at TPC sawgrass, 11, 12, 13 at Augusta, 18 at Harbortown, etc.) were all pretty good, though not perfect.  The course is very spread out, definitely carts only.  3 or 4 sets of tees make these holes playable by anyone even if your game is not up to tour standards.  The course seemed to be quite busy, even in October 3 weeks after a major hurricane.  They have a range (complete with those signs that identify the players so you can pretend to be your favorite), and good rental clubs.  There are a few houses around some holes, not in play, and one good thing about the course is that it is set back far enough from major roads so you don't have a lot of road noise (you do have jets from the airport though)

Bear Creek Golf World (West of downtown just off I10, 2008)

This is a 3 course complex which has two normal length and one executive 18 hole course.  We played the President's course, which was just basic golf -- lots of parallel holes separated only by a few trees.  The Presidents course has no bunkers (The master's looked better but was closed for maintenance), but enough hazards to be interesting.  It's low priced and worth it.

Black Horse (30 miles North of downtown, 2008)

This is a two course complex designed by Peter Jacobsen (with assistance).  Both layouts are said to be similar, though the South course that we played has several holes on the back 9 that run through an old quarry turned marsh that are a bit different.  Most of the holes run through oak woodlands.  The Quarry holes include several that have blind shots.  A yardage guide would be nice, but they are pricy here.  The south course itself can be walked, though it's a long haul from the clubhouse to the first tee.  (I believe all rates include the cart anyway).  This was a pricy round ($75 with $45 rentals) but everything about the place was first rate.  There is some housing but not in play.

High Meadow Ranch (45 miles North of downtown, 2008)

This course is in a high end housing development at the far edge of the suburbs.  you drive in past mansions on 10 acre lots, and they are building more around some of the holes.  Unlike the others we played in Houston, this course has some elevation and as a result probably the best mix of holes of any we played.  Interestingly the course is arranged as 3 6 hole "loops" each with a bit different character.  We loved the Woodland loop, which lived up to it's name and had no housing, while the other two had some holes that ran through houses or other urban development.  The houses aren't in play (in spite of signs that warn you not to hit one), and the holes are innovative.  The course was deserted when we started at mid day, and the rentals were economical, if basic.  The staff is accomodating.  They have 5 sets of tees and a range.


This information comes from trips in 1991, 1993 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2016. All the resort courses, and many private courses, will let you play whether you stay there or not. There is a discount for guests of the resort, but if you have the cash and they have a tee time, you can generally play whether you are staying there or not.  (Hualalai is the only exception I know of off hand).

Rates range from outrageous to astronomical (up to $300/round) by my standards. In general you will pay the most to play courses that host pro tournaments. Many offer more sane rates for natives, and you may be able to play a lot cheaper if you can somehow establish a local ID or play as the guest of a native. (I don't usually advocate cheating, but I see no excuse for this kind of geographic discrimination). Some courses offer discounts for "Twilight" play. "Twilight" usually begins anywhere from 1:30-3, and most courses have a limit of 6:30-7 when you MUST be off the course, hence twilight players aren't guaranteed the ability to complete 18. You usually can, though, particularly if you start early. You may also be able to sign up for and pay for a twilight tee time and get off early if the course isn't full. Another strategy is to start very early in the morning and plan to play two rounds.  Starting early has many benefits -- less wind, a fast first round (assuming you play fast), and finishing late AM, usually a good time to get on for your "standby" second round.  In summer you may even manage 3 rounds in a day. Many resorts with multiple courses will let you plan a second round on any of their courses for a more reasonable (half price or less) greens fee, and will generally let you play a different course if they operate more than one. A good bargain. (Particularly if you are renting clubs from the course, which is usually expensive but you don't pay a second rental fee for the second round.) Yet another strategy is going with one of the activity bookers that claim to get you a better rate. No personal experience here, but be aware that some of these people are really selling timeshares, and you may wind up having to waste some of your vacation time listening to a sales pitch to get that good rate.  Finally, sometimes you get lucky and get "normal" discounts, like a senior or junior day discount, so ask for info if you want to save and may be eligible.

There are a few true muni courses in Hawaii, which have much lower greens fees, but also tend to be very crowded and most are fairly basic layouts. The locals pack these courses and play in 5 somes. The Wailua course in Kaui looked to be the best of these.

Almost all courses require carts (usually included in the quoted rate). Some limit carts only to the cart path, others let you drive where you like. Hacking down the left rough with your clubs stuck at the right hand edge of the hole is a frustrating and exhausting experience. Some courses get very windy in the afternoon, others don't. If you care, find out. Courses higher on the hillsides are more likely to get windy than those along the water. Rental clubs vary a lot in quality. All tend to be good to start with, but some suffer from having lots of duffers hacking through the lava fields. Rental rates from the course are high, but it's still a good deal though if you only play once or twice and dont want the hassle of slogging your own clubs on airplanes (and now the substantial expense attached to checking a second or third bag on several flights!)  There are also local golf shops on the larger islands that will rent clubs at a more reasonable rate than the resorts. Worth doing if you play a lot in one place.

We had no problem getting on any course the day we wanted to play, except on Oahu (where we gave up after being unable to locate a place on two different days.) Calling the course for a tee time usually works better than working through your hotel, and you get the same rate.

The free guides at the airports give basic information on golf. At various times there have been island specific or area wide golf guides listing lots of detail (e.g fees, hours, pace of play, brands of rental equipment, etc.) The tourist guides are more more basic. They also tended to have special offers (but beware that they are often way out of date and list courses that may not be open due to maintenance or even going out of business).   Again, check with your hotel/condo. Many get discounts at courses even if they aren't directly adjacent to a course.

The biggest challenge for us in playing here was the greens. Greens are generally burmuda grass and have lots of grain, an alien phenomenon to us northerners. Conventional wisdom is that they break to the ocean and to the west, but expect to be surprised. Elevation changes are interesting as well, and often more than you expect, since the whole landscape slopes gently towards the ocean and distorts your sense of perspective.

Some specific experiences

Makena courses (Maui) (2004):

*** Note, we were told by locals in 2010 that the South course is no longer open to the public (closed or private), while the north course is open it was in questionable condition because of financial difficulties at the course.  In 2013, the north course was closed for renovations as well.  It looked to be near opening in late 2014.  This may more may not continue so enquire locally).  This was a single course, now split into two. Both are nice layouts, with most holes bordered by lava wasteland and two holes on the south course along the ocean. Significant elevation variations and lots of sand traps and water. Standard greens fees were $110 (resort guest) or $135 (others). Good rental clubs. Very little wind at any time of day. In 2001 we played the North course, which has no ocean side holes but several interesting holes and dramatic elevation changes. One (about number 8?) has a fairway split by a ravine, and another (15?) a long par 5 all downhill that's fun to watch your ball roll on. In May 2004 we played the south course.  Less dramatic elevation changes than the North but it inherited the 3 holes with some Oceanfront exposure from the original course.  For a resort course and especially one designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, I thought this one was tough -- many holes had narrow landing areas and bordered wild land (scrub covered lava) on both sides meaning a lot of lost balls, especially for tourists playing with rental clubs.  No development in play though, which is nice.

Wailea courses (Maui) (2016, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2004, 2001, 1998, 1996 and 1991):

Wailea has 3 courses, Blue, Gold, and Emerald. We played all 3 in 2001 and 2004 The Emerald and Gold are similar in character and share a common clubhouse. Both have great views of the ocean, and Molokini island (in fact many holes seem to have been aranged so the island appears in line with the green, perfect for pictures.)  The emerald is supposed to be a bit easier but doesn't play that way for me.  It has two holes that share a double green.   The Gold course once hosted the Senior Skins and charged a bit more, but in 2013 at least the price was the same for both.  In any case the replay rate, about half the first round, is the same for both.  This one has a couple of short par 4's which can be exciting, and a bit more up and down than the Emerald.  The holes on both courses mostly border other holes or lava hazards, but the layout isn't cramped. The courses are away from the ocean, and relatively flat. There is very little water on these courses. Rental clubs were excellent (Used to be Nikes, now TaylorMade). The Blue course is the oldest and somewhat easier. The blue course is more spread out and has more holes bordering housing, though it isn't opressively close. (There are still  areas of this course that are through wild land.)  Service and amenities at Wailea are the best we encountered.

Kahili course (Maui 2010, 2013, 2014)

This course was I believe formerly known as Sandalwood.  It is near Maalea Harbor above the highway to Wailuku on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains.  There are two courses here, Kahili and a private course.  The Kahili course is enjoyable, with most holes playing along the mountainside bordered by other holes or wild land.  No houses are on the course (as of 2013 at least), and the course has mature trees and nice greens.  It is a relative bargain (about $100) for a resort course, though rentals were expensive, they were also excellent quality.  There is more wind here than in Wailea/Makena.  Depending on the tradewinds this can make play here challenging.  Note that Kahili is run by the same people who operate the private Kamehameha course adjacent to it and they offer packages with rounds on both courses for a discount as well as a la carte golf on the private course (for signficantly more than Kahili, we haven't done it.)

Maui Nui course (Maui 2016)

This course was was formerly known as Silversword and at least one other naime (somethin glike Elihair).  It is just off route 31 in Kihei on the road to Wailea.  It's a public course that costs about half what it costs to play the resorts, both in greens fees and club rentals.  It's busy, with a lot of play from locals, and not as pristine as the Wailea courses (all the ponds were being dredged and restored when we were there in 2016, but as a course it's a sound test with interesting and challenging holes and the playing surfaces were all in reasonable shape even if the greens were a bit slow.  Note that all the tee boxes seemed a bit foward of the card distances so don't be intimidated by the length.  We found this an enjoyable course, even if not perfect.  Another thing to note is that the wind comes up here in the afternoon making play challenging.

Challenge at Manele (Lanai 2001):

This is one of two new resorts on Lanai, an island previously devoted to pineapples. It's an excellent layout on cliffs above the ocean, with 3 or 4 holes directly on the tops of the ocean cliffs and the others winding over hillsides. The course condition is first rate. Off the longer tees, most holes have carries of varying length off the tees, but the short tees eliminate almost all of them. There are a couple of long carries in the middle of par 5 holes that may be a problem for short hitters. You can play this course or the other course on Lanai without staying there (The resort hotels on Lanai are priced in the stratosphere), by taking a ferry from Lahina. Still pricy, but the ferry operator packages tee times and transfers to make this easy. One thing we weren't impressed with here was service. The food/beverage cart made only one pass while we were on the course and they had no restaurant open at the golf course. (A problem because it was quite hot there and the course does not adjoin the hotel). Maybe it's better in season when they are busy. Note that when we played (June 2001), there was a lot of construction work on the hillsides surrounding the course which will be sprouting million dollar golf villas like weeds. For the most part these areas are out of play, but they will spoil some of the views. Also in June of 2001 the other (Koele) course was under repair with only 9 holes open.

Kona Country Club (Hawaii 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007,2010, 2016):

***Note that as of 2016 the Ocean course has re-opened, and seems the same as before.  The Mountain course looks abandoned and lost, for now at least.  The Ocean course is still not in a lot of the local guides, and whether for that reason or others lightly used.  The price is competitive with other resort courses, but I suspect competition from the public courses in this area is cutting into their business.

This was  actually 2 courses, the Ocean course and the Alii (or sometimes Makua) course (Now closed -- 2016), in the Kailua area. The holes wander through the resort development, but don't seem crowded by it in most cases (though facing OB on both sides on most holes can be daunting). 2 par 3's and parts of 3 other holes border the ocean on the ocean course and are very dramatic. The Mauka course (also known as Alii country club) iwas up away from the ocean and had some big elevation changes (and very dramatic views.) The back 9 on this layoutwas on open land and really spectactular (In 2010 there were a lot of wild goats on this 9).  The Ocean course is more hemmed in by resort development but has 2 or 3 holes on each 9 that adjoin the Ocean, including two par 3's with waves crashing around the green and a par 4 where you tee off over the ruins of a Hawaiian Heiau (temple) and a spouting blowhole.  These courses were uncrowded and a good replay bargain. In 2010 we got a senior day discount (less than half price) for being 55.  There was very little wind here at any time of day.  Kona CC has hosted an LPGA tournament and has raised the rates a bit, but still a good bet. 

Makalei (Hawaii 2013,2014):

This is an 18 hole upland  course that was a private course once and reborn as a public daily fee.  It's a Dick Nugent design with elevations ranging from 1850 to 2850 feet and sprawled broadly on the mountain.  Nearly every hole goes up or down the mountain.  It is said to be the 3rd toughest in the islands (presumably from the longest tees), but we found it  quite playable.  The distinctive feature is peacocks on nearly every hole, apparently a gift from a local to the first owners, and they have multiplied.  You probably won't get the spectacular views advertised (too high and near the mountain to stay clear), and don't count on a late afternoon round being dry, but we had no trouble starting at 9:30 and staying dry.  Unlike most courses in Hawaii, this one has bent grass greens that are much more puttable for us northerners.  ***Note, with the closure of the Kona courses this course is now the closest and most affordable place for residents of the Kona area to play and as a result is a lot busier than before, so book early and don't expect a fast round.

Waikoloa villiage (Hawaii 1993):

This course is well away from the ocean, with moderate elevation changes, lots of sand, and limited water hazards. The environment was a bit disappointing to us as many holes have condos or houses along the sides and it has more the feel of a municipal course than a resort, but the fees are more reasonable ($70 including lunch or breakfast, or $40 for twilight).

Kilohana (Kauai 2010):

This is an older course in the Poipu area. It's a Robert Trent Jones Jr design, and away from the ocean. Many holes border wild land, some border housing. It's relatively short, but challenging and has some interesting archealogical features incorporated in the course. It seemed a bit run-down when we played it in 1996, but we gave it a second try in 2010 and found it in very good shape and a bit busier than I recall.  They have reversed the 9's since the first time we played it, which unfortunately means the course closes with two long tough par 4's, so get your scoring early!

Puakea (Kauai, 2004,2007,2013, 2016):

This course just opened it's full 18 holes when we played it first. It's on the outskirts of Lihue, between a shopping center and some ravines.  It has good distant views of ocean and mountains, but certainly not ocean front golf.  This is a public course, not associated with a resort, and a good bargain when we played it for the experience, especially for rental clubs, still in good shape but much less than the resorts.  It has some dramatic holes that go into or across jungle filled ravines, and a lot of water (ponds) for a Hawaiian course.  In 2007, the shopping center had gotten a bit busier and is an ugly backdrop on some holes, and there is more housing on the course as of 2016 (but not in play), but others play through undeveloped land.

Turtle bay (Links at Kumulina) Oahu 1998, 2013, 2016:

This course is connected to the turtle bay resort. Their are two courses, one by Fazio and one by Palmer.  We've only played the Palmer course and enjoy it, though it's long, and the location gets lots of wind and some showers

Kaluakoi (Molokai) (2007, 1998):

This was a real undiscovered gem. The island of Molokai is the least developed of the publicly accessible islands, with only one resort area with one hotel and 3 condo complexes, plus the golf course. There are no traffic lights on the whole island, and only prop planes land at its airport. The course is excellent, though the fairways were not in top condition when we were there. Holes wander from ocean side up the hills. About 5 holes border the ocean, and few border any buildings (non obtrusively.) Scenery is spectacular. The best part, though, is that you can get on any time you like, and rarely if ever have to wait for anyone (playing as a twosome we waited 30 seconds to make our approach to the green on the 36th hole). It's also a bargain, $80  for the first round and $1/hole therafter (you can probably play 3-4 a day if you want to.) . It does get windy here in the afternoon, so don't expect to score later in the day. Molokai has another 9 hole course, also rumored to be good and uncrowded, but it's up in the wetter part of the island and often gets afternoon rain.  (Update in 2007 -- The Kaluakoi resort went under late in the 1990s and the golf course was closed for some time, but is now re-opened, even though the hotel has been abandoned  It's still a great layout, though the conditions are less than perfect -- the greens are a bit slow and the fairways a little rough, but it's hard to complain about a place where you can play all day  cheaply with oceanfront holes  and spectacular views on every hole.)  (Update 2010 -- alas, Kaluakoi went down for the second time and seems to have returned to the local desert flora.  Maybe at some future point this wonderful course will be reborn again.)


Montana has a short golf season but many good courses in the "resort" areas

The Old Works (Anaconda) (2006,2014)

The Old works is a Jack Nicklaus design built on a superfund environmental cleanup site -- an old copper smelter.  The scenery is great (mountain views, remnants of the smelter and mining operations, and the course is well designed and in great condition for a mountain course.  The bunkers are unique -- filled with a black sand derived from smelting slag, but it plays like good normal sand.  The course is still a  bargain at $55n(weekday) and travellers will appreciate the good (Calaway) rental clubs for a reasonable rate that includes half a dozen balls.  5 sets of tees make it playable by anyone, and most holes are layed out so that if you pick the right length you have reasonable playing options.  The most distinctive feature of the course is the black scinter in the bunkers.  It plays like sand, but you need to dig in your feet to avoid slipping in it.  Mostly the holes are quite playable, but strong winds will make it challenging.

Buffalo Hill (Kalispel) (2017)

This is a public course in "downtown" Kalispel, the major town on the west side of Glacier National Park.  While it is literally in the middle of the city it doesn't seem urban because it's built on bluffs and floodplain with mostly nothing that near.  Several holes have big slopes (up, down, or sideways), making it challenging and also a bit tough to walk.  There are only 3 sets of tees (and the markers are confusing, muted green, blue, and grey), but they cover most abilities.  We found the course to be in excellent shape.  It's pricey ($70 plus cart) in season, but so is everything in this area.  Note that this course, like many others, doesn't open all that early in the AM.  7:30 is often the first tee time if not 8.  Courses are never busy in the afternoon, but it can get hot and windy.

North Dakota

North Dakota may be the most out of the way state on anyone's golf agenda, but it does have some good courses.

Bully Pulpit (Medora) (2006, 2014)

This is a new course built in the North Dakota badlands.  It's a tourist area with access to Theodore Roosevelt National park (the name is a reference to one of Roosevelt's names for the presidency) .  The first 9 and first few holes of the back are merely good.  Flat but well laid out and reasonably scenic with views of the badlands.  The last 5 are special, routed through the badlands with tees and greens perched on eroding bluffs and fairways in the canyons.  The course is reasonably priced with good rentals and can be walked (though the last 5 holes will challenge your climbing)

New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a short golf season, but as a summer resort area has many good courses.

Bretwood (Keene) (2009)

Keene New Hampshire is one of those out of the way places few people go unless they have a reason (it happens to be where my mother-in-law lived for 35 years)  Bretwood is a public facility, originally 18 holes expanded to 36 in the 1990s.  The two courses are similar, with holes laid out mostly in the flood plain of the Ashuelot river, which comes into play on many holes.  The two courses are similar, with 4 sets of tees on each.  Distances are marked every 50 yards and sprinklers are marked on some holes.  Fairways are ordinary grass with bent grass greens.  There is a range and other practice facilities.  The courses are a bit short by modern standards, but lots of trees and water make up for it and make them challenging for all.  Rates are reasonable and best of all you rarely need a tee time (they don't even take them weekdays).  There is an "all you can play" rate as well as club rentals (real cheap, but don't expect many of your clubs will be of the same make).  The courses are quite walkable and most locals walk. 


General observations: There are lots of courses in this area, most of which seemed interesting. There are both flatland courses and mountain courses, but all have spectacular views. Most of the courses are walkable and very reasonably priced. All these courses and probably most of the others are now spikeless. Here are the ones I've played.

Salt Lake City Area

Wasatch Mountain (10/97)

(Canyon and Lake 9's) This course is in a beautiful mountain setting. The course itself is relatively flat, scenic, and easily walkable. The holes border eachother or woods (not housing) and are not crowded. It is very playable if you pick your tees appropriately. A great bargain for the price. (Warning -- the road from Park City and Brighton to this area shown on rental car and yellow pages maps is rough dirt and difficult, take US 40, much quicker and easier.

Mountain Dell (10/97, 10/2005)

(Canyon course). This complex has 2 18 hole courses, which appear to be an older 18 that was split and expanded. The older holes are realtively closely packed and flat, while the newer holes are more spread out, bordering trees and brush. The Canyon course is walkable in spite of significant elevation changes. The Lake course has more elevation and is more spread out, but we saw several walkers on it as well. The setting is spectacular except for close proximity to I-80. Also reasonably inexpensive for what you get, but not as well maintained as Wasatch.

Bountiful ridge. (10/97, 10/2005)

This is a new Muni and my favorite of the courses I played. Excellently maintained and routed, the holes are adjacent but not crowded. Green to tee distances are mostly short and it is quite walkable in spite of a couple of significant climbs. The course is a bit tough to find, at the top of the developed area on the foothills in the town of Bountiful north of Salt Lake.  (Get off the freeway at 89 north and just get up the hill, but there isn't a real direct route).  It has great views of Salt Lake and the surrounding mountains.  A real steal at the price.

Sonebridge. ( 10/2005)

This is a new Links course with a top designer (Johnny Miller), but was a real disappointment for us.  It's a flat layout not too far from the airport and walkable, though there are LONG walks between some holes.  It's "fake links" style, open with a lot of long grass and no trees, but soggy turf that won't play bump and run.  The 18 holes we played play as basically a circle two holes wide around an office park, though OB isn't a real problem unless you are real wild.  Most holes have water to carry or on the side.  The quaint stone bridges described in the literature are really stone facing on concrete viaducts under 6 lane roads that enter the office park in the middle of the course.  The real disappointment though was lousy maintenance, attributed by a couple of locals I played Bountiful Ridge with on the same trip to a recent acquisition by a management company trying to recover the price -- ratty fairways, weeds in the bunkers, and bumpy greens with bare spots in places.  This could be  a good course with a little more care.  Maybe it's better in prime season.

EagleWood. (10/97)

This is a real-estate development course very near Bountiful Ridge (a gravel road connects the two, probably shortly to be paved). It winds through housing, which while not particularly close is definitely visible and occasionally in play. You can walk this course, and I saw a few people doing it, but there is lots of elevation and some long walks between greens and tees (I rode, my second 18 of the day). This course has the most dramatic views, and unusual shots (huge downhills, blind shots over hills, etc.) of the four I played. It was also the most expensive ($28 riding).


Beaver Utah is about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City on I-15, and access point for a small ski area and lakes and hiking. They have a unique 9 hole Par 34 layout, which we paid for the princley sum of $9 each (including a 2 bags of rental clubs, no 2 of which were the same brand). The course itself isn't bad at all, a little water, but mainly a flat parkland course, but it's the only course I've every played where one hole plays through a horse racing track. You climb over a low fence (with a sign saying watch for horses) to reach the tee of a par 5, play your tee shot through the infield, then on your second shot must carry the far end of the oval (played like a lateral water hazard) to a landing area near the green. An interesting experience, well worth the price, and probably the only golf for 50 miles in any direction.

Cedar Ridge (2012)

Cedar Ridge is an upscale muni in the town of Cedar City, on I-15  about 25 miles north of St George.  The course has holes that play through desert and foothills, and some that play through housing (though not close.  It is a scenic course with interesting holes, but the most notable feature is hundreds of Utah Prairie dogs on the holes in the flattest areas.  The critters are protected so the course mainly leaves them alone meaning there's some risk of losing a ball down one of their holes (didn't happen to us).  Other than that the course was in excellent condition and remarkably uncrowded (no problem getting on at the last minute Saturday around noon.  The course is walkable (with some hills and one long green-tee walk in the housing area).  A good bargain for the experience.

New Mexico

Less well known than Arizona, New Mexico has similar landscape and a variety of top notch courses, including some on reservations in conjunction with native american resorts.

Paa Ko Ridge (2016)

Paa Ko Ridge is between Albequerque and Santa Fe, east of the Sandia Mountains just off NM 14 (The turqouise trail).  It's a housing development course with 27 holes.  At over 6,000 feet it's a mountain course, with lots of elevation changes and the potential to see wildlife.  At the time we played housing was not in play, though they are continuing to sell lots some close to holes.  The staff is freindly and the course is well maintained.  There are 5 sets of tees, but most will find the longer tees beyond their ability (I've never gotten the commonly stated extra 10% at this altitude).  The course has full practice facilities, a good restaurant and very good (though very pricy) rental clubs.


The Phoenix and Tucson area have a large set of high quality courses, including some that are world famous. Rental clubs and tee times are readily available at most, though the famous courses are hard to get onto (not difficult for a single or a standby, though). Courses in this area are VERY expensive to play in peak season (winter) and very cheap in summer. Pricing is very complicated, with the price you pay dependent on season, who you are, who makes your reservations, etc. If it matters to you, get some quotes from different sources. There are several outfits that offer discount cards which get you substantial bargains on playing courses. If you play there often it might be worth checking out. Unfortunately most courses in this area except for a few Muni courses are carts only. Many of these layouts are quite walkable otherwise. There is a lot of variety of style in the courses in this area, with only a few being classic desert golf, with small patches of fairways and greens surrounded by desert wilderness and large elevation changes. Many are bordered by small strips of desert and hemmed in by housing, and some have large amounts of grass and even trees. All grass is bermuda of some variety for summer hardiness, and most courses are overseeded to stay green in the winter. The rough, however, is not overseeded on many courses and is likely to be hard and fast in the winter (expect any ball landing in the rough near water to go in).

Papago Park (4/01)

This is a muni course near the airport. The entrance is difficult to find. It's on 52nd street between Van Buren and McDowel. From the North (McDowel) a small sign points towards it but the actual road is an unmarked and unremarkable lane in a row of commercial buildings. This is one of the top rated muni courses in the country and deserving of the reputation. The holes are routed through scrubland, with no adjacent buildings, and while only 2 holes have water, the wastelands on both sides of just about every hole will give you plenty of trouble. While the desert landscape isn't as dramatic as some of the pricier courses, it's interesting and there's plenty of wildlife, and the course has many mature trees. The course has little elevation changes. Greens, tees, and bunkers were in excellent condition, and fairways good. The best playing advise is as usual stay on the fairway and you will stay out of trouble easily.

You can easily walk this course, and the greens fees are surprisingly affordable for Arizona. I rented clubs (reasonably good condition off brand, with an interesting twist -- they give you a beat up club to use if you play from the rocks and urge you not to beat the rest up. The guides say this course is difficult to get on, but I did not find this the case (midweek). I showed up early (5:15) to be assured of getting on early as a single, and went out with the first group. I noticed many 2 and 3 somes on the course during my round so there would be plenty of opportunity for people coming out to play as singles to get on.

Aguila (11/2001)

35 Ave and Baseline, Phoenix. This is a new (2000) Muni course south and west of Downtown. The entrance is on 35th avenue (west of central, not 35th street), south of Baseline Rd. As a new course it has no mature trees and the desert landscaping is still a bit rough, but it is an excellent layout and a super value. Like Papago, if you want to play as a single show up before dawn and take a number. This course is not as busy though. Strips of desert separate most holes though the desert here is only a modest hazard most places (watch out for washes though which eat errant shots. The biggest hazard here is the deep fairway bunkers which are difficult to escape. There are a couple of short par 4s tempting a long carry over water to the green. The course has 4 sets of tees, practice are and range, putting greens, and a modest clubhouse snack bar. Greens fees are a real bargain and good all day (walking). The layout is very walkable.

Whirwind (11/2001)

Gila River Indian Reservation, south of Phoenix. This is a new (2000) resort course not yet priced like Scottsdale. A second course as well as hotels are planned here so it is sure to get busier. The course is near I10 south of Phoenix, exit Maripoca road south and look for a side road opposite the race track marked towards the golf course. This is an excellent layout with generous fairways and strips of desert separating the holes. 4 sets of tees are in play. The course is well marked and easily playable if you stay away from the bunkers and the desert. Most holes require short carries of desert off the tees and some have short strips of desert across fairways, but good planning will allow any lenght player to negotiate all of them. There is very little water here. The course is easily walkable though there are some long green to tee distances, and one price walking or riding. (On the day I played Our group seemed to be the only ones walking even though with carts restricted to the paths, many people riding were getting a lot of excercise trudging accross fairways to play shots from the far side.) The course has a putting green and range (range balls are included in your greens fees as is a useful yardage guide booklet.) and an excellent restaurant.

The Pointe at Lookout Mountain (12/97)

(Tapatio Cliffs Hilton, entrance off 7th street just south of Thunderbird). This is a resort style desert golf course. Houses are in sight on some holes, but never close, and most holes are routed through desert preserve (North mountain park). Several holes have huge elevation changes. Some holes require long carries off the back tees, but the forward tees are very playable. Several holes offer birdie possibilities. This course was totally overseeded and green in December.)

Stonecreek GC (12/97) (North Phoenix, Entrance off Thunderbird at about 50th street).

This is a mid price public course routed primarily in the flood plain of a mostly dry creek. There is little real desert on this course, but more water than is typical and the dry creek (full of rocks) is a hazard on many holes. Accuracy is most important.

Rancho Manana (3/2001) (Cave Creek, 20 miles north)

This course is in the hills in a housing development, but only about half the holes have housing bordering. It's relatively short par 70 course, but narrow and difficult enough to be challenging. Play the blues if unless you are a short hitter and bring a lot of balls. The front 9 wanders up a hillside and has 2 par 3's which play dramatically downhill. The back side is flatter with 3 par 5's. Again Accuracy and staying out of the desert is more important than distance -- leave the big dog in the bag and you will enjoy this course. They have a range, putting green, and snack bar. The course is not far off Cave Creek Road, but you can't see the holes from the road and the entrance is not well marked.

Tatum Ranch (12/97) (Cave Creek, 20 miles north).

This is an upscale public course in a housing development. Houses border most holes, but there is a buffer of desert. Fairways are reasonably narrow. The desert is raked and groomed here, making it easier to play out of and find balls in that on courses with raw desert. This is a very pretty course, with lots of interesting desert vegetation and some wildlife, and is excellently kept. You have to be able to hit straight on this course as even a modest fade or draw will take you accross the fairway.

The Legends at Arrowhead (2/99) (Glendale about 4 miles west of I17 and 2 miles north of 101. Entrance is off 67th street.)

The clubhouse is an unimposing trailor, presumably temporary. This is a nice upscale layout, but all holes are lined by housing. The course sprawls through several housing areas, and is definitely "carts only" (long distances to tees in some cases). Fairways and adjoining rough are reasonably generous, so errant drives rarely wind up in back yards. The course has a lot of water, some forced carries. The most interesting feature is the greens, which feature multiple tiers, bumps, and breaks, but they are well maintained and putt true. The rough (bermuda that goes dormant in the winter) was very dead when I played (late February), and anything near a pond would roll in. This course was easy to get on mid day as a single, probably typical in price for Phoenix in winter ($80-$100, cheaper very late). 4 sets of tees are in play. The course had a full size range and decent practice greens for putting and chipping.

The 500 Club (11/01) (Glendale, off Pinacle Peak road, about 2 miles west of I17.)

This course is a gem. Well maintained and interesting, with no adjoining housing. Fairways either adjoin desert at the edges of the course, or are separated by rough desert areas. Relatively inexpensive for Phoenix area in winter, with an inexpensive replay rate. Best of all it is easily walkable (only one significant hill climb and no long walks to the tee) and walking is allowed. The staff is accomodating and seems genuinely interested that you enjoy the course. The course has little water and no forced carries, though watch out for the lake between 1 and 9 (which can't be seen from 9), and 3 small ponds between 10 and 18) 3 sets of tees are in play. If you are playing with locals, ask about potential hazards as several greens have grass bunkers which are not visible from where you hit your approach and make it difficult to run the ball onto the green. If you don't play the back tees, at least look at the view off the elevated tees at #4 and #12. The course has a full size range and good practice facilities, as well as a snack shop. The unusual name reflects the fact that one of the owners is race car drive Tom Sneva.

Lake Powel National (6/2012), Page AZ

This is a muni course built around 2000, which sprawls over the cliffs that surround the town. All holes have dramatic views of the lake, Glenn Canyon Dam, and surrounding red rock country. Houses adjoin a few holes but are not in play. Some holes have dramatic elevation changes (mainly playing way downhill, including a par 3 with probably 200 feet of drop). Desert vegetation is also spectacular. Page has a year round season, hot in the summer and frosty in the winter, but playable.  This course would be difficult to walk because of long distances between tees and greens in 2 or 3 holes, and the sun in the summer can make it seem even longer. It's reasonably priced for a desert course, and usually uncrowded.  Note that shortly after we played in early June 2012 the course was due to go under new management, which might change pricing or conditions.

Toronto Canada

The Toronto area has many good courses. While the season is short by US standards, it's often playable through October. Toronto also is Canada's most congested metropolitan area, so keep in mind travel times when making tee times.

Lionhead (10/98) (In Brampton, about 40 miles west of Toronto)

This is an upscale course complex with two courses. Carts only at all times, but some break playing both courses in one day as we did. This facility bills itself as Canada's finest public golf, which it may be. Excellent clubhouse, rentals, and pro-shop. The courses were both in excellent condition, even in late October. The Master's course is somewhat easier, Links style, with extensive mounding and not many trees on myst holes. The Master's has few forced carries, but does have water on about 8 holes. The Legend's course is a monster, many forced carries over a river that plays much wider than it looks. Also many holes with trees or water fringing both sides and requiring precision.

Pheasant Run (10/98) (In Newmarket, about 40 miles North of Toronto)

This is a semi-private club with 3 nines. The nines vary somewhat in character, but all run through woods with lots of elevation. I played the Uplands and Highlands. All are easily walkable, though you will get exercise climbing the hills. This course was a relative bargain. Some holes are very tight, with deep woods on both sides

Western Canada

The resort areas of the Canadian Rockies and Okanagan Valleyof British Columbia have many good courses.  Conditions will vary with season and altitude (the canadian rockies courses have short seasons and lots of wildlife that can be tough on courses, but spectacular scenery.  The courses in the lower Okanagan region have longer seasons and less challenging growing conditions.

Silvertip (7/2009) Canmore Alberta

This is a resort course just east of Banff and enjoys spectacular mountain scenery framing just about every shot on every hole.  The course has abundant wildlife and a variety of tee options that make it playable by anyone.  It's definitely carts only (some very long distance between holes and LOTS of elevation changes).  Best advice here is not to try to overpower the course but play strategic layups off most tees to keep the ball in play.  Anything off the fairway is likely to be lost and certain to be dead.  The course is pricy, but as a one time experience it's memorable.

The Rise  (7/2009) Vernon, BC

This is a a housing development course just west of Vernon at the edge of Canada's wine country.  It's a Fred Couples design, opened in 2008 (no clubhouse yet in 2009), and definitely carts only (LOTS of elevation changes).  Nevertheless the course was a good bargain for spectacular views and interesting holes, with very good course conditions for a 1 year old course.  The only real complaints here are that there are lots of blind shots, and Freddy clearly believes mere mortals actually get more distance off the tee than golfers in the past, since while overall hole lengths are moderate, many holes have long carries to the fairway off the tees, especially on the front 9.  Best advice is move up a set of tees if possible unless you are a long driver for your handicap.

The Bear (7/2009) Kelowna, BC

This is a a resort course in an older resort including hotel and real estate development outside of Kelowna (actually north of Kelowna across from the airport.  There are two courses here, the Bear, by Nicklaus, and the Quail by a renowned Canadian architected.  The Bear is said to be easier, but it's plenty tough.  It's walkable, but just, with lots of severely elevated tees that make for tough climbs between holes and a couple of long green-tee walks.  The front 9 plays through pine forest and accuracy is essential.  (Remember of course that Nicklaus played a fade and designs holes to accomodate that shot shape).  The back is mostly more open with some water holes.  The facility has a full range, putting greens, and extensive pro shop and restaurant.  The complaints here are that they don't seem to get out all that early to maintain the course (hence you can face footprints from the previous day in the bunkers at 11AM and greens that are stomped up at any time.  (The greens are alas, Poa, very fast and somewhat unpredictable).  The last 3 holes are a tough finish for a resort, two 420 yard 4's and a monster par 5 all with tough green areas.  Not what resort guests want to finish with.

Canoe Creek (7/2009) Salmon Arm, BC

This is a new course that for the moment has neither a resort nor a real estate development.  It's a walkable course with a bit of a scottish links feel (deep pot bunkers with sod faces around the greens, long grass in the far rough, and most holes suitable for a bump and run game).  The course was in great shape, and not crowded (played alone and unhurried starting at 8AM on Sunday).  The tees are a bit awkward (nothing between 4600 and 5600 and nothing between 5600 and 6600), but because of the ability to run the ball a bit things don't play as long as you would think.  The first 4 on the back 9 are very different in style (tough holes you have to position the ball well on).  The staff is freindly (free yardage guide and lots of advice).  It's not an easy walk given the elevation, but there isn't much artificial, and a good bargain

Greenacres (10/2014) Richmond, BC (Vancouver Area)

This is an older public course in the Vancouver area.  It's very flat and walkable, with mature trees and some water hazards.  It's not extremely long, but trees along and between holes make it play harder than the length, as does the mix of hole lengths (many par 4's are longish.)  Pace of play was good, even as a walk on on Sunday AM.  The course gets mostly local traffic (not tourists), who know the course and play fast, and it's a good bargain.  Note that they do not have golf carts during wet season, but have plenty of pull carts for rent for anyone who doesn't have one and can't carry.  Get directions to the course if you play since while it's very near a freeway there are no exits particularly near and getting to and from the course takes a bit of doing.

Morgan Creek (10/2014) Surry, BC (Vancouver Area, very near the US Border)

.This is an upscale course that plays through a housing development.  It's an interesting layout with gentle hills, varied holes, and lots of water.  It plays through houses, but they generally aren't close enough to figure in play.  This is one of the few courses in the Vancouver area that has continuous cart paths and thus carts available all year, but it wouldn't be a difficult walk.  (Most locals walk).  It's a pricy course, but very well drained and in excellent condition even in late October after 2 weeks of constant rain.


Pennsylvania has a lot of golf.  Most of the course we played are in the Philadelphia area, which has a well earned reputation for it's premier privates, but has some nice publics as well

Glenn Mills (SE of Philly, 2006)

This is an upscale course on the grounds of what was known as a "reform school".  The course uses the kids sent there for grounds work and caddies and trains them in the golf industry, and has sent many on to successful careers.  The course is interesting, with lots of varied landscape and holes, and the service is first rate (it's a priviledge to work there and the kids know it).  The only down note for us was we played on a day that was fiercely cold and windy. 

The club at Shannondell. (King of Prussia area, 2018)

This is an old club gone public near the town of King of Prussia northeast of Philly.  It's a shorter course (par 70 and not long for that), but has mostly dogleg par 4's and 5's through woodlands, which makes it play much longer.  When we played they had a long wet summer and the course was suffering from that (bare spots, mud, etc.).  The bunkers are neglected, but the greens are good.  It's fun to play and fairly priced ($49 riding on a holiday).

Jeffersonville (King of Prussia area 2018)

This is another old private gone public.  It's a real gem -- a Donald Ross course that retains much of it's original design and good condition, in spite of the fact that the course buildings (pro shop, restaurant, etc.) seem a decaying ruin.  The course has lots of steep little bunkers in strategic places and small elevated greens which roll off into collection areas.  It's a bargain at $60 for a holiday rate.  It's not long (par 70), but plays tough but fair.

Downington Country Club (Downington, 2018)

This is about 40 miles west of Philadelphia near US 30.  It's a well maintained course in pretty good condition for the weather.  Many of the holes are parallel, but they are adequately spaced and varied enough to be interesting.  There are tees to challenge anyone and still be playable from the forward tees.


Yes, you really can play golf in Alaska, and at the right time of year you can play 24 hours a day. There are not many courses, but there are courses in the Anchorage area, in the Palmer-Wasialia area, and in Fairbanks, along with at least a couple on the Kenai peninsula and a 10 hole pitch and putt near Denali park.

Kenai muni course (1997,2002, 2011, 2018) Kenai

This is a real bargain for a very challenging course. Fairway grass isn't perfect in this climate, and you can be playing "winter rules" in July, but the greens are reasonable, if slow, and hole layout is excellent. Be warned that the rough is likely to be very rough (bog, uncleared forest land, tundra, foot high grass, etc.)  In July of 2002 the fairways in this course were in bad shape, but again this is Alaska, and the greens were just fine.  The course plays quite long for shorter hitters with lots of long par 4's.

North Star Golf Club (2011, 2018) (Fairbanks)

This course claims to be the northern most USGA rated course.  It's one of two in Fairbanks that advertise to visitors.  Greens are slow and rough (think astroturf with gravel filling in the spaces), but playable.  Fairways have lots of undulations and uneven grass.  It's clear that this far north they have a serious problem with Permafrost.  Never mind though, this is an experience, and a pretty good deal.  They have a package for visitors including rental clubs, cart if you want it (the course isn't hard to walk),  greens fees, and souvenir towel (a nice one) and ball for something like $70.  The holes are mainly bordered by long grass or in some cases wet tundra (don't go there).  It was a good experience for us, once you got used to how hard you had to hit a putt.  Don't expect to see a lot of wildlife though in spite of how it's advertised.


Austrailia has many fine golf courses and an avid population of Golfers.  American visitors are welcome on most courses, but check ahead.  Club rentals are available most places, especially in resort areas.  Carts are common in resort areas, not necessarily elsewhere.  For the most part, you play just the same way you do elsewhere, but there are some things to note.  Australian courses are measured in Meters, not Yards, so that 150 marker is really about 165 in yards.  Many courses have freqneunt competitions, and visitors can sign up, though you may have some trouble establishing your handicap.  While playing, we encountered some terms we hadn't heard before, probably the most significant was "Ambrose" competition.  This is what American's call a Scramble, with everyone in the group hitting from the same spot and then picking the best shot for the next one.
We found in general that early morning tee times were more available than we expected and suspect Australians and maybe especially resort guests aren't as likely to be dew sweepers as Americans.

The Vintage (2003, 2011) Hunter Valley

This is a new course in the Hunter Valley area (Pokolbin).  We had a great time, in spite of high winds that made scoring difficult.  Pace of play was relatively slow, probably also because of the wind and a competition on the course in front of us.  The most notable feature of the course is the deep bunkers which appear everywhere, and long grass, which might remind you of scottish courses.  There is also water everywhere off the course, so expect to lose a few balls..  Rental clubs were available (excellent quality).  Housing is being developed with the course, but it doesn't seem to be intruding on the course.

Royal Pines Resort (2003,2015) Gold Coast

This is a golf resort in the Gold Coast area south of Brisbane.  It's a hotel with 2 courses, one of which hosts the Australian Ladies Masters.  (Note, in 2011 there were only 27 total holes, with 9 freshly redone and another 9 being rebuilt for the competition course.  The course is still first rate.)   The east course is the most famous, hosting the tournament, but we liked the West course a bit better because it has a bit more elevation.  Both courses have wide fairways and a fair amount of water if you get too far off line.  Pace of play was good on both courses.  Rental clubs are available (brand X, but servicable.)  The resort is in the Gold Coast area but away from the coast.  A good place to stay if you don't like the crowds and noise of the beach district.  It also clearly caters to Japanese visitors.  Expect to see lots of water birds on this course.  Greens and fairways from here and just about everywhere in Queensland are Bermuda grass so expect surprising breaks.

Emerald Downs 2015) Port Macquarry

This is a local golf course in a housing area.  It's not long or particularly challenging, but has incredible wildlife, including the occasional Koala on the course (we didn't see any, but we saw Kangaroos, parrots, and many other birds).  Rental clubs are basic, and the greens fee is cheap.  Nothing but snacks on the property, but it's a fun experience and a good bargain.

{aradise Palms(2015) Cairns area

This is part of a golf resort inland from the highway near Palm Cove, north of Cairns.  The course is excellent, lots of contours in on the greens and fairways and almost links like.  There are MANY hazards -- just about every hole has deep wild areas just off the fairway, but fairways are generous on most holes.  Lots of wildlife (especially birds), and excellent rental clubs.  Pricey, but probabably the best course we played in Australia

Twin Waters (2003) Sunshine Coast

This course is part of a development in the Sunshine coast area north of Brisbane.  It's loosely attached to a Novotel resort but open to all.  This had a more casual feel than the other resort courses we played, with lots of local play.  The course was challenging, but forgiving if you planned your shots carefully and not one where you lose lots of golf balls.  Many holes though are separated by wet forest areas so you will lose them if you miss badly enough.  There are many birds on the course and if you play early you will probably see Kangaroos grazing on some holes. Many holes here require strategic decisions, laying up to the best spot on the fairway or planning multiple shots to reach a hole without risking

Brampton Island Resort (2003)

By normal standards this would certainly make the list of  the worlds worst golf courses, a 6 hole pitch and putt with matts for tees and weeds for greens and fairways, but it's still a blast to play.  The course is part of the Brampton Island resort, which occupies an island in the Whitsunday region that is mostly national park wildnerness area.  Most of the holes are about 70 meters with one l50 meter hole and several the require shooting over or around trees.  The fairways and greens are covered by some kind of tropical weed that passes for grass, making putting an adventure, as does the ubiquitous kangaroo poop.  The resort supplies a 6 club set free to guests to play any time, and even organizes night golf from time to time.  (really fun because at night the course has about 100 kangaroos grazing on it).  Don't see it as a golf course, but as a way to get some excercise and an opportunity for some fun matches under unusual conditions.


Few people would think of France when thinking about golf, but actually France has many courses and the French are very enthusiastic players.  We took the opportunity to play a round while attending a conference.

Golf du Medoc (2007)

Golf du Medoc is a 36 hole mini-resort in the French wine country outside of Bordeaux.  The courses aren't in the Vineyards, but very near the Medoc area growers and the courses are very convenient to Bordeaux.  The two 18's are similar, links style courses with firm turf and little water surrounded mainly by scrub vegetation (mostly thorny and/or toxic, don't even think about collecting a ball hit into the Gorse).  The greens were moderate (not real fast) and very undulating.  Time spent on the putting greens before the round won't be wasted.  Many holes dogleg and there are enough trees to make it desirable to be able to work the ball on some holes, but the fairways are generous and just playing down the middle won't hurt you.  Both courses are very walkable and most players do walk, though electric carts are available if you must ride.  Pace of play was good (4 hours on a busy Sunday).  Some curiosities for players from the US:  Distances are marked, when they are marked at all, in Meters, with a giant Wine bottle marking 135 meters (about 150 yards) on most holes.  There are no bathrooms or snack bar on the course and the only water is a couple of faucets labeled "Eau Potable" (drinkable water), but there are no cups to drink it with.  Make use of the clubhouse when you are close to it.  Four sets of tees are available.  You can rent clubs (but be sure to warn them, I don't think they have many sets), and we had excellent rentals with good quality stand bags.

Golf de Pessac (2008)

Golf de Pessac is a public complex with 36 holes near the Bordeaux airport.  They have a nice restaurant (but don't expect anything cheap or speedy there) and practice facilities.  The holes are a reasonably good variety and on mostly flat terrain with some creeks and ponds.  There are buildings or houses along some holes at the sides, but that's rare.  The course seemed adequately maintained (as well as expected in late October).  We rented "demo" clubs, each a reasonable set of clubs in a decent stand bag.  Again, almost everyone walks here, many with pull carts, though there were a few riding carts on this course.  Distances are marked by poles at 135 meters (about 150 yards) and markers in the fairway and 50, 100, and 150 meters.  There was no snack bar, restrooms, or water on this course, so use the clubhouse.  They had 4 sets of tees.  Pace of play was reasonable.

Golf de Camyrac(2008)

Golf de Camyrac is a semi-private club which seems to be played mostly by the membership.  They have an 18 hole championship course and a 9 hole "executive" course.  (People tell us that you need to pass a proficiency test to play a normal 18 holer in France, though they don't apply that requirement to tourists.  We had a strange experience here, playing behind a "competition".  The competition was groups of four players with two pairs each playing scramble rules.  Most of the pairs seemed to be husband/wife.  Everyone was walking with pullcarts, and from what we could see most were decent golfers, but the pace of play was dreadful -- over 5 hours.  The only compensation was the group ahead  of us, the last in the competition, took pity on us and allowed us to share the refreshments (wine, cheese, bread, fruit) provided to the competitors on about the 15th hole.  The course itself is very tight, with a lot of holes that have houses to one side or the other.  I never felt in serious danger of hitting a house, but it was tight hitting the fairway on many holes.  One hole has an island green, and there are other water hazards.   4 sets of tees were available, two mens and two women's.  The rentals here were not so good, but cheap.  You got a half set (3W, every other iron and a putter) and a carry bag.  I think carts were available here but we saw nobody riding on this course.  They too have a restaurant and bar, but on the day we played the competition had it locked up.

Warren Montgomery