Making no concession to the recession, our traveling man has a list of new courses where the grass, at least, is greener.
Author A.G. Pollard Jr.
OFF THE FAIRWAY, news isn’t good. The market’s down, prices are up and headlines are scary enough to give a man a hitch. But in times like these, golfers have a great advantage. While everyone else is hiding in their basements, developers with bravado are opening new resorts and courses all around the world. It’s time to take advantage of their creations and forget our troubles for four hours at a time. Think of it as a head-in-the-sand (trap) approach to life, the one time when you’re actually happy to see numbers drop into the negatives.
So tune out the rest of the world, and lug your clubs to these noteworthy new courses.
University Place, Washington
Tee off on this brand-new Robert Trent Jones II course located just outside of Tacoma and you’ll understand how it managed to land both the U.S. Amateur (2010) and the U.S. Open (2015).
Jones turned the treeless site of a former quarry into this corrugated links course featuring towering dunes, grassy wastes and magnificent views of the adjacent Puget Sound. As with any good links course, play is heavily influenced by weather.
Coyote Springs, Nevada
The only trouble with golf in Las Vegas is that it’s in Las Vegas, a place that can easily draw you from the putting green to the green felt.
Fear not: Developer Harvey Whitte-more has a plan to remove the distractions by building an entirely new town chock full of courses some 55 miles north of Vegas—squarely in the middle of nowhere. If Whittemore’s grand scheme comes to fruition, the hamlet of Coyote Springs will grow to 43,000 acres and 160,000 homes. But that’s 40 years and the reversal of the credit crisis away.
Right now, the fledgling town’s main draw is The Chase, a new Jack Nicklaus–designed course that will one day be joined by nine other courses within the PGA Golf Club. Jack laid down a pretty good marker on a course with wide fairways, fascinating green complexes and lots of strategic angles to play. Just don’t hit the ball too far; the government’s super-secret Area 51 is only a mountain range away.
Meadows of Dan, Virginia Most mountain golf courses are actually built in the valleys between the surrounding hills. Not Primland. British architect Donald Steel laid his holes high atop a bluff above the Dan River, just across Virginia’s border with North Carolina, giving this course more ups and downs than the Dow.
Forget bulldozers, it took tons of dynamite to carve this beauty out of the Blue Ridge. The fairways are immaculate and the greens run hard and fast, but the air up there is clean and crisp, and the views are stunning.
Normally, golf is an afterthought at this outdoorsman’s paradise; the resort is famous for its grouse, pheasant, deer and turkey hunts, and the fly-fishing in the Dan is top-drawer. The log cabin accommodations are comfortable, and the on-site restaurant is excellent—especially if you bag your own birdie.
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Our new president is a golfer, but don’t expect to see him tee up at the usual playground of presidents, the Burning Tree Club, due to its restrictive membership policies. Obama could do a lot worse than heading out to this new daily-fee course developed by Landmark Land, the company that gave us PGA West and Kiawah Island.
It’s a beautiful layout in the rolling hills, thick woods and watery environs of the Maryland countryside, and the service and conditions are on par with the area’s ritziest country clubs. Just don’t try to find out who designed it—apparently Greg Norman did some initial work, and Jeff Potts and even Landmark Land’s own Chris Cole are listed as co-contributors. There must be politics involved. The president would understand.
TETHEROW GOLF CLUB
Scotsman David McLay Kidd is one of the hottest golf-course architects on the planet. He made his bones with the old-style links course at Bandon Dunes, and lately has given duffers The Castle Course at St. Andrews, Macrihanish Dunes on the Kintyre Peninsula and now this high-desert masterpiece in central Oregon.
After a forest fire swept through several years ago, the Tetherow site was left virtually bare except for few lonely trees, which now block your approach on several holes. The rest of the layout is tucked away in clefts and crevices, surrounded by native grasses and naturalistic bunkers. It’s hard to make a golf course feel simultaneously desolate and lush, but Kidd has pulled it off.
THE CLUB AT TOWER RANCH
Kelowna, British Columbia
The Okanagan Valley on the western slopes of the Rockies is truly a hidden paradise. Lake Okanagan is as long and deep as Loch Ness, and the surrounding valleys are filled with fruit orchards and an amazing collection of vineyards and winemakers. There are some great golf courses, too.
Tom McBroom, Canada’s leading course designer, did the work at Tower Ranch, a broad-shouldered brute of a course. There are a lot of risk-reward choices to make and elevation changes galore, yet somehow McBroom has managed to create 18 holes with only two uphill tee shots. Physics must work differently up north. In any case, the tee box views of the lake and the fast-growing town of Kelowna are well worth the greens fees.
A.G. Pollard Jr. has long traveled the world in search of great golf…and to avoid having to actually get a real job.