Google has a feature known as My Maps where users can create a map of anything that interests them. Of course, you know that for me, that means golf courses.
I’ve been working on putting the map together for a few months but got derailed with tax season and all the extra time at work. Now that I’m past that, I had the time to get it finished.
You can check it out in all its glory here. I’ve also included a link to it on my “Courses Played by State” page that you can access from the top menu on my homepage.
I’ve added links to each of the map points to guide you to posts I’ve done on the courses. Hopefully, it will be a helpful resource if you’re going to be visiting any of these places. As always, let me know if you have any questions on any courses.
I never went over my thoughts on the changes to the PGA Tour schedule that went into effect for the 2018-2019 season. It just seemed that everyone had said it all. That being said, the PGA Championship moving to May was the biggest outcome of the changes.
People are not used to change but with the PGA Championship, we should be. It’s been played in almost every month on the calendar in its history. Hell, the format used to be match play. With that history, moving to May fits.
Personally, I like the move. For better or worse, the tournament was languishing in August. People kept treating it as the least important major. I don’t like that treatment at all but everything is tried in the court of public opinion these days. Slotting it as the second major amplifies the importance of the event. When you add the fact that we are coming off of Tiger’s Masters win, the PGA couldn’t be happier.
Additionally, the move should open the tournament to new venues. New York in May is not ideal for this version of the tournament but Southern courses should be back in the running. Previously, trying to go South in August made for brutally hot conditions. I’d love to see PGA’s on the West Coast and throughout the Southeast. Can’t wait to see what we have in store on that front.
As far as picks for this week, like any other time, who knows? I don’t like the forecast for Tiger. Cooler temps mean he won’t be as loose. Also, backing up a major is supremely difficult. Brooks Koepka seems to be rounding into form like usual. I think he will be a factor in majors for a long time to come due to his power game and sufficient putting.
Other than my thoughts on those two, I like the chances for Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. Really going out on a limb! Bethpage is long and difficult and you need to hit the fairways. Those guys fit the bill. Enjoy the tournament this week. In the meantime, check out my tour of Bethpage here.
A few years ago I did a post about golf courses I had played that had since shut down. You can check it out here.
In working on a Google My Map of the golf courses I have played (coming soon), I came across some more places that have closed their doors since that original post. Some of them were probably already gone and I simply missed them.
So in the spirit of the earlier post, here are my thoughts on these now gone golf courses.
Bonnie Brae Golf Club (Mauldin, SC)
This public course was located close to where I grew up and live now. Another friend of mine used to live across the street from it. It was very affordable and fun enough to play. The back nine was solid.
Interestingly, its fifth hole was one of the worst in SC. You had about a 10-yard distance gap to land your tee shot on the dogleg right. If you didn’t go far enough trees blocked the green and if you went too far you were in the trees. Add a green that was sloped so much you couldn’t hold a shot and you have a travesty of a golf hole.
The course was shuttered to make way for real estate. As of now that development has not happened.
Bramber Valley Golf Club (Portsmouth, NH)
I only played this place once with one of my cousin during a childhood summer. Not much stood out about to me and my memory of it is almost non-existent.
Charlotte Golf Links (Charlotte, NC)
I only played here once in a company outing. It was a scramble format and I played with three people who had played no more than a combined five rounds of golf. It was interesting to say the least.
The club was part of the Carolina Golf Trail group that had loads of financial trouble. It was closed abruptly leaving many with questions. This article was helpful in piecing together the story.
Wicked Stick Golf Links (Myrtle Beach, SC)
This John Daly designed course was the site of a buddies round back in college. On one hole a friend wanted to drive the cart to a neighboring gas station to stock up on beverages #facepalm. Based on what I could find this course was just sold and shuttered to make way for housing.
Location: 900 Yeamans Hall Road, Hanahan, South Carolina
Original Architect: Seth Raynor
Additional Work By: Tom Doak & Jim Urbina
Course Access: Private
Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
Rust: 6,783 yards, Par 70, 72.8 Rating/134 Slope
Yellow: 6,280 yards, Par 70, 70.7 Rating/130 Slope
Silver: 5,792 yards, Par 70, 68.0 Rating/126 Slope
The golf world consistently surprises me through the connections I make in it. In July I was playing The Homestead (Cascades) with two other singles. As we got to talking my quest came up. One of them asked if I had played Yeamans Hall and I responded that I had not. He promptly offered to host me. Golfers are so generous!
Fast forward to January and we had a tee time set up on my birthday! I took the day off work and headed down to the SC coast to experience a place I had long read about and salivated over.
Yeamans Hall is the definition of understated. You turn off a busy road in North Charleston and come to a dead end with a small guard house and gate just on the other end of railroad tracks. Boom, that’s Yeamans Hall! I didn’t get a photo of the gate but you can search for it, it’s pretty great.
As you pass the gate you take a leisurely drive through a sandy road to get to the club. The history of the land dates back to the course’s namesake, Sir John Yeaman, who was a colonial governor of South Carolina. The overall plan for the land was put together by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park.
Yeamans Hall is primarily known as a northern member-owned club. It was founded by businessmen from New York. To this day the club still has 35 cottages on site for “proprietary members”, usually the family of these founders.
The original vision for the club began in 1916 with grand designs. 250 home sites and two golf courses were planned for the location that was a day’s train ride from the founders home state of New York. For whatever reason, the project didn’t move ahead until 1924 when Seth Raynor came in to do the golf course. In 1929 the stock market crashed and put everything on hold.
The membership at Yeamans Hall is still primarily non-resident Northerners. Most of their activity takes place from late fall to the early spring. One of the coolest thing about Yeamans Hall is that they host a “summer association” of golfers who are not otherwise members. It’s a unique idea and one I wish more clubs would endorse.
I was lucky to play Yeamans Hall when I did instead of in the early 1990’s. In 1998, Tom Doak was brought in to restore the course. Like many gems from the 1920’s, greens had shrunk/changed shape and bunkers had been filled in.
Doak’s team increased the total green square footage by 75%! The greens feature Raynor’s trademark squared edges and undulation. Pin positions will greatly affect how hard a hole plays. You’ll see what I mean when we get into the tour. I highly recommend reading more about the restoration work here.
Alright, let’s get to this tour! We played the yellow tees (pictured below) so all yardages are from those markers.
Hole 1 – 397 yards – Par 4
The first greets you with a wide fairway that moves to the right. You’ll want to be on the right side of the fairway to approach the green. The entrance road crosses this hole about 130 yards short of the green.
You can see the road in the photo below as well as the edges of the Principal’s Nose bunker on the left. This green is massive with severe contouring.
Right away we see the Raynor trademark of squared off green edges. The putting surface is about three times the size of a normal green but some parts are not playable. The depressions on the left are like missing the green.
Hole 2 – 345 yards – Par 4
This hole is the Leven template where the pin position dictates strategy off the tee. You will want to be on the opposite side of the fairway from where the pin is. In the restoration this green grew by three times! A bunker sits on the outside corner of this dogleg left.
Flags near the left bunker are tough!
Hole 3 – 127 yards – Par 3
This short hole can be affected by the wind coming off the water. The green features a thumbprint depression that makes for some interesting putts and greatly decreases the effective target size.
Beware of the back bunker, par is all but out the window for you if you hit it here.
You can see the outlines of the depression in the photos below.
Hole 4 – 410 yards – Par 4
The fourth is on one of the flatter pieces of the property. It is a bottle template with a centerline bunker providing the challenge from the tee.
The approach plays to one of the best greens. The false front is epic and must be carried. The bunkers on each side make for almost no room to miss.
The 2019 Masters started like most other editions of the tournament for me since I began my professional career. It always usually falls around tax day making it difficult for me to watch the entire coverage as I used to in my pre-work days. Thankfully, the Masters app and website make it much easier to stay in the know. With three screens cranking out work my phone acted as my window to Augusta.
Readers of this site know that I’m a big fan of Tiger Woods. I was optimistic that he would contend at the 2019 Masters but I didn’t see him winning it. He just didn’t seem all the way there with his game (shows what I know). Watching his first round on the feature group coverage, I saw him miss a lot of putts but still grind out a solid 70.
Friday’s round brought real hope as he caught fire on the second nine in a round that could have been even lower. He didn’t gain ground on Saturday with a 67 but stayed within reach to set up a thrilling Sunday.
I was in my office watching earlier than usual due to the weather and early on it looked like Francesco Molinari was not going to blink. Everything changed on the 12th hole where it seemed all of the contenders dunked tee shots into Rae’s Creek. Tiger’s always smart course management guided him to the middle of the green, away from the pin. What followed over the next few holes was incredible.
When Tiger got to the 15th tee, I determined work was going on the backburner for an hour or so even though it would keep me there later. I had feature group coverage and the broadcast going with alternating audio.
I never felt I was seeing the Tiger of old but the feeling of excitement for his play was definitely tinged with nostalgia. My heart was racing for his shot to 15 green and the tee shot at 16 that he nearly holed. Watching him make a bogey on 18 was almost too much for the stress coming from the tournament and a looming tax deadline.
Seeing the final putt drop made me think about his previous Masters wins. I immediately thought of 1997. The 2019 Masters win was not like that one of course but I thought of it because that was the first Masters I attended. I went with my Grampa. It was the first time for both of us, me at 12 and him at 71. I saw all my favorites, including eventual champ, Tiger Woods during that Tuesday practice round. That day will always be extremely special to me.
With the mock turtle necks back (not recommended for anyone not named Eldrick T. Woods), I thought of 2005 when he had the same two-shot lead after heroics on 16. I was glad in 2019 he was able to get it done in regulation. My bedtime came earlier with the earlier return to work!
The word that keeps coming up in my head for this win is joy. Watching Tiger let out a pure sense of joy at the win was something we never used to see and I like the change. The embraces with his family at the end were heartwarming to see. The number of players waiting to congratulate him was incredible and they looked like they were transported back to their youth.
Tiger has his share of haters and detractors. Those who will never let him live down his past. It is not required that they forgive him. I, however, chose to a long time ago. None of us are perfect. But from those transgressions, he has continued to be, what seems like, a caring father to children that he clearly adores. His win is a great story of redemption in relation to his golf. It doesn’t absolve him of the personal stuff, nor should it. But that’s really none of our business. He works through that struggle every day on his own.
I will always remember the 2019 Masters as one of the best tournaments I’ve ever witnessed. Nantz’s call of “a return to glory” was fitting. Well done Tiger.
Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club – Played November 2018
Rankings: Golf Digest Public #47, Golf Magazine Public #50
Location: 1005 Midland Road, Southern Pines, North Carolina
Original Architect: Donald Ross
Additional Work By: John Fought
Course Access: Public
Walking Rules: Carts Available
Score Card Information:
Medal: 7,062 yards, Par 71, 73.5 Rating/134 Slope
Ross: 6,436 yards, Par 71, 70.8 Rating/129 Slope
Regular: 6,021 yards, Par 71, 68.6 Rating/126 Slope
Executive: 5,630 yards, Par 71, 65.5 Rating/115 Slope
Forward: 4,936 yards, Par 71, 68.1 Rating/116 Slope
I’ve always taken the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off. Usually, that means golf for me. Sometimes I hang around my town but for this past year I decided to head up to the Pinehurst area and play Pine Needles. This wasn’t my first time to the course but I had my camera this time.
Just like Mid Pines, this course underwent a Kyle Franz restoration in 2017. Like Mid Pines, Pine Needles has a strong connection to the Bells, specifically Peggy Kirk Bell. She is a legend in golf and I suggest doing some research to learn more about her.
In 1954, she and her husband bought and restored Pine Needles. It was here that she introduced Golfari (Safari of Golf), a program that taught thousands of people to play this great game.
While instruction is at the cornerstone of its history, Pine Needles is no stranger to big-time competitions. They have hosted the US Women’s Open three times with a fourth coming in 2022. The winners are a murderer’s row featuring Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, and Christie Kerr. In 2019, the course will host the US Senior Women’s Open for the first time.
It’s always fun to return somewhere great that you’ve played. I never know what I am going to get for a pairing but I was lucky on this day. I got Bob and his son, along with Bob’s friend Jim. Bob and Jim are retirees in Pinehurst and from what I can tell they are living the good life! After some good-natured small talk on the first tee, we put tees in the ground and got started. We played the regular tees.
Hole 1 – 462 yards – Par 5
There is a real chance to go for this green but everything on the hole guards against it. It plays uphill for the first third and doglegs right. The green is small and incredibly contoured. It may seem like a pushover but beware.
Hole 2 – 419 yards – Par 4
You have a formidable challenge on this hole. The tee box is slightly elevated but trees come quickly on the left. The green is domed and you absolutely do not want to go long.
Hole 3 – 126 yards – Par 3
I’ve always loved this hole and it’s the one I most associate with Pine Needles. The water isn’t really in play. The green has a tremendous amount of slope and is not a large target. The middle of the putting surface is a great start.
Hole 4 – 342 yards – Par 4
While not long on the card, the uphill slope of this hole makes it play more stout. The sandy area on the right is definitely in play, making a draw favorable. From the fairway, you cannot see any of the green so be aware of the pin position.
Hole 5 – 171 yards – Par 3
No frills here just hit the green and avoid the bunker on the right. Getting in that thing is a score killer.
The scale of the green is really revealed from the back side. Note the quick run off on the left side of this photo.
Hole 6 – 378 yards – Par 4
The landing area is blind here but there is a good bit of room to wail away on the driver. Keeping your line up the left side gives the best angle to the green.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, golf has some new rules for 2019. It’s not worth anyone’s time to rehash all of the changes in this space. What I do want to do though, is go over what has worked and what hasn’t.
Some members of the PGA Tour have had difficulties/issues with the new rules. A few have been justified, others not so much. There are a few rule changes I want to highlight and give my opinions on. Let’s do it.
Leaving the pin in
Now we are allowed to leave the pin in when putting on the green. The goal of this change was to speed up play. Well, what if someone wants it in and someone wants it out. Boom, slower play. I’m surprised this got through the final cut. My opinion is this will be changed back to the old rule as soon as possible.
Lining a player up
The tour has realized that this rule has been ridiculously applied. Varying standards have been in place and none have seemed right. This change seems to introduce more confusion and opinion into applying the rules. Any change that does that is bad.
While I think it’s silly to drop from knee height, I get the rationale. In theory, the ball should carom less and stay within the relief area. That’s all good but I think you should be able to drop from knee to shoulder height. That being said, pros should be penalized if they drop incorrectly. You get paid to do this, learn the rules.
Touching the ground, moving loose impediments in a penalty area
A huge round of applause for this change! Remove confusion and keep things uniform. You still can’t ground your club in a bunker but this change makes sense.
This and that
Most of the other changes seem good to me. Removing penalties for inadvertently moving a ball during search and on the green rings true. The rest of the changes don’t seem to affect day to day play at your home course.
All in all, I think the changes are good. That being said, there seem to be a couple of missteps that I mentioned above.
I’d like to see the pin rule changed back to the old way. Additionally, I’d love to see out of bounds markers removed from the game to speed up the pace of play. Other than that, play on under the modified rules most of us all play under anyway!
Location: 450 Cherokee Valley Way, Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Architect: P.B. Dye
Course Access: Public
Walking Rules: Carts Available
Score Card Information:
Gold: 6,612 yards, Par 72, 71.7 Rating/134 Slope (Men’s)
Blue: 6,100 yards, Par 72, 69.3 Rating/126 Slope
White: 5,469 yards, Par 72, 67.5 Rating/118 Slope
Silver: 4,771 yards, Par 72, 63.7 Rating/116 Slope
Red: 4,308 yards, Par 72, 65.3 Rating/116 Slope
I admittedly have some history with this Cherokee Valley dating back to junior golf. We’ll get into that in a bit.
This mountain-like course just north of Greenville underwent ownership change in 2017. From the website, it seems they have taken the course in a good direction. I’m happy for that because Cherokee Valley is an affordable, public track that can be quite fun. Golf needs plenty of those.
I mention above that the course can be fun, which is true as a whole, but some holes are silly. You’ll see that in the photo tour. Thanks go out to Brian again at Virginia Golf Guy for help with the pictures.
I teased that I had history here. Some of that involves large scores on certain holes (I’m looking at you #2). Overall though the history is positive. My high school played our region matches here and we always won comfortably. Ever since, I’ve associated Cherokee Valley with good feelings.
I haven’t been back to play it much over the years but I think you will see from the photos that it is worth a visit. Also, the photos and hole descriptions should help you if you’re reading this before you play. You’ll need that help in certain spots, believe me!
Finally, they may have switched the nines since these pictures were taken, so keep that in mind.
Hole 1 – 350 yards – Par 4
The round gets off to a mild start with a dogleg left. Longer hitters can cut the corner but you only need something 200-210 yards down the middle.
Hole 2 – 540 yards – Par 5
As I said above, this hole has eaten my lunch in the past. It is straight uphill making the listed yardage an under-representation of how long it plays. Due to the meandering fairway, the hole is a testament to target golf all the way to the green.
Hole 3 – 190 yards – Par 3
This one shot hole is slightly downhill but on the longer side. You don’t want to miss left or long.
Hole 4 – 378 yards – Par 4
This is probably the silliest and my least favorite hole on the course. It really only requires 160-170 yards off the tee before you run out of room. Once over this stupid hill the hole goes progressively downhill to the green.
Hole 5 – 289 yards – Par 4
Five is a fun risk/reward hole. The risk is the creek that touches most of the hole. To get to the green you have to take on this water and hit a big draw. The conservative play to the fairway is an option to make birdie as well.
Hole 6 – 166 yards – Par 3
Not much to see here, straightforward par three.
Hole 7 – 521 yards – Par 5
Here we have one of the more dramatic holes on the course. The tee shot plays to the raised and blind fairway. Once you get to the top you see the drop down towards the green that is guarded by a large pond.
Hole 8 – 461 yards – Par 4
This long and straight hole requires you to hit a solid drive to have a manageable distance into the green. Once you get there you must deal with a sharp face on the front of the putting surface that will repel indifferent shots.
Hole 9 – 422 yards – Par 4
This dogleg left goes around a bunker on the inside corner. There is ample room to the right but that line leaves a long way home to the green.
Hole 10 – 422 yards – Par 4
This hole is the same distance at #9, which I think is a bit silly. The preferred line is up the left side. The green has some mounding next to it but not much else in the way of danger.
Hole 11 – 143 yards – Par 3
Eleven plays uphill but is not long at all. Be careful in club selection though since you do not want to go over this green.
Hole 12 – 479 yards – Par 5
You should be licking your chops since you can almost taste a birdie on this short par five. The landing area is plenty wide. The steep slope in front of the green should be the only thing preventing getting on in two.
Hole 13 – 365 yards – Par 4
Left, left, left is the mantra here. The land runs away the further right you go. This is very evident at the green.
Hole 14 – 500 yards – Par 5
The landing area here is pretty tight. If you are not planning to get home in two, a shorter club off the tee for position makes a lot of sense. The layup area is wider. From there you’ll play to a small, raised green.
Hole 15 – 226 yards – Par 3
You can get the best view on the course from this tee if the skies are clear. The hole is severely downhill and you don’t want to miss long. Club selection is difficult here. The optimal miss is short and to the right.
Hole 16 – 387 yards – Par 4
I’ve found this to be a tough driving hole. The fairway is narrow and the ball hangs in the air forever from the elevated tee. Make sure to focus on your line.
Hole 17 – 363 yards – Par 4
This tee shot plays into a funnel that puts most balls into the middle of the fairway. The green is slightly uphill from the fairway.
Original Architects: Frederick Hood & William Flynn
Additional Work By: Gil Hanse
Course Access: Private
Walking Rules: Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
Blue: 6,934 yards, Par 71 , 75.0 Rating/145 Slope
White: 6,400 yards, Par 71, 71.9 Rating/139 Slope
Green: 5,581 yards, Par 71, 67.9 Rating/130 Slope
Yellow: 4,934 yards, Par 72, 65.0 Rating/123 Slope
I was able to play Kittansett Club through the New England Series, a tour through some of New England’s best courses. I had randomly found the NES through some internet sleuthing and was happy to get an opportunity to play Kittansett.
As I mentioned in the post on Vesper, Nik would be joining me for this round. The NES is pretty laid back, which made the day fun. I was happy for that atmosphere because the wind was blowing something fierce and scores would be high!
I encountered plenty of traffic on a Monday morning drive from New Hampshire but I made it to the club with plenty of time before my round. After signing in and getting a shirt in the pro shop, I killed some time hitting putts. The course had a lot of rain the day before so some parts were soaked. Thankfully, most of the course had drained spectacularly well!
Kittansett was founded as a way to reduce costs for the local Beverly Yacht Club. Beverly’s clubhouse was only open for a short portion of the year in general, but was actually used only on two weeks of official race days. Using it for golf as well would make it more cost effective.
The building of the course is a bit of an anomaly. The club worked with Donald Ross and the firm of Toomey & Flynn on plans for the course. They used Flynn’s plans, but one of the founders (Frederic Hood) took over for the construction. He served as superintendent until construction was finished.
It seems the restoration work from Gil Hanse has brought back the great character of the course that had vanished as time went along. Unfortunately this happens with many old clubs. Hanse removed trees to expose the grassed over rock formations from the original design. This also opened up views of the bay, especially on 2, 16, and 17. Hanse’s crew also worked on the bunkers and improved drainage.
Kittansett translates from Native American to “by the sea”. It lives up to that translation. I highly suggest you visit their website. It doesn’t have a ton of information but the overhead view of the course is wonderful.
We played the white tees for the tournament, so all yardages are from those markers.
Hole 1 – 415 yards – Par 4
The first hole shares a fairway with 18. This wide swath of land was the wettest we would encounter all day. With the wind, the hole was playing closer to 475 yards. You have all the room in the world left while a hazard comes into play on the right. Chose your shot shape but you can swing away.
You can see what I mean on the moisture below.
On a dry day, running your second shot up onto the green is a viable option. Not so much for me.
Hole 2 – 415 yards – Par 4
While the yardage for this one is the same as the first, they are dramatically different holes. The wind is usually with you, giving you options on the tee. A couple mounds guard the left side of the fairway. It’s best to hit your drive just to the right of them.
Anything in the right side of the fairway will get an open angle to this green. The beach is not far behind the green so be careful on downwind shots.
Hole 3 – 155 yards – Par 3
The third is the most recognizable hole at Kittansett. The green is plopped right in the middle of a beach. You have to carry the water and some sand to make it. This shot is diabolical with a stiff wind.
Below is the view from the back of the green.
Below is my view from the front.
Hole 4 – 360 yards – Par 4
It may look like it but the water isn’t really in play. The fairway is quite wide, however high grass comes in on the left. If you can find the short grass this is a green light special, shout out Johnny Miller!
Hole 5 – 395 yards – Par 4
I was a little confused about where to go on this tee box. There is a good bit of room out there with the preferred line being to the right of the clump of trees in the middle of the photo.
The putting surface has a ton of back to front slope. You don’t want to playing from behind the green.
Hole 6 – 385 yards – Par 4
This hole bends to the right. At the bend the hole emerges out of the trees to the exposed green. Wind can easily beat your ball down into the greenside bunker.