Course Reviews – August 28th

After reviewing my overall rankings and reviews so far, I think my Tier 2 is kind of becoming a catchall for me when I feel a course shows a lot of good design features, but has one or two flaws (in my mind, that is) that make me uncomfortable ranking the course any higher. Because of this, I might be reanalyzing some of these courses in comparison with each other and adjusting tier rankings accordingly. Just something to keep in mind if and when I eventually post rankings recaps.


As a reminder, a portion of the courses included in the reviews are being played in my society for PC, the CLV Course Review Society. The rounds are pretty casual and far enough apart that you don’t have to play everyday, so I encourage you to stop by if you are on PC.


The Davies Course at Troon West – mav78 – Tier 1

When the desert theme was introduced as an option in TGC1, there was an influx, maybe even a deluge, of desert courses released. They seem to be much fewer and farther between in TGC2, so it was nice to have this one come up on the schedule. The textures used and the wide expanse of green fairway on some holes made for a real nice look. The course is not as sharp as the best courses when it comes to bunker sculpting and planting, but it’s still a visually pleasing course. I enjoyed the hole designs here the most, even if it played quite easy. Many fairways here utilize central hazards, forcing you to choose a line to the hole, and the greens are open and inviting for all length of shots in. Most greens feature subtle ridges and tiers, although watch out on the back 9 for a couple of real big breakers to keep you honest.


Pewter Dunes – mattf27 – Tier 3

True to its name, this course excels in recreating a dune landscape on the coastline. The holes are quite creative and make great use of the meeting of dunes and water. If it was a little rockier, I would almost say it might have a Monterrey Peninsula CC – Dunes course feel. Overall, I can’t say enough about how nicely the land flows here. The holes are very nice in appearance, with plenty of width and scale to match the environment. Length seems to be the main defense here, but most of the greens are quite large to accept long shots, while the shorter holes provide much smaller targets to aim for. There is plenty of variety here to warrant multiple return trips.


Kiawah Keys – tastegw – Tier 2

The most notable feature of this course that you will notice immediately is the soft and slow greens. It’s literally a huge change of pace from the average course, and takes at least half a round to get used to. The need to choose your line carefully off of the tee combined with a need to be aggressive towards the pin makes for a real strategic challenge. The course doesn’t look a whole lot like the Ocean Course, so I assume the Kiawah name is only a coincidence. It’s a very nice looking seaside course, though, with great sculpting, bunkers, and small details. Those who adapt quickly will go low here, but those who don’t should give this one time to come around for an enjoyable back 9.


Roseland Hills – bigcat023 – Tier 2

This course presents one of the more realistic parkland settings in the game. The office park type buildings surrounding the course are much more believable than skyscrapers, as I’ve played a course that doesn’t look too much different from this one, albeit flatter, and without a massive waterfall. So essentially the same I guess! The use of elevation and green angles is nicely done here. There is a long back set of tees at 7400 yards, but I played the Blue tees at about 7000 and the course did not play very long. Combined with the decently wide fairways, this course needs to rely on its greens to defend par. I found that dialing in the right approach distance and avoiding big breaking putts presented just enough of a challenge to keep this round interesting and not too easy.


Glenelg Golf Links – Black and Red Courses – mrvinegar206 – Tier 1

The difficulty of a reversible course, other than the whole reversible part, is that the first round has to be interesting enough to entice the golfer to play the second round, otherwise the novelty is lost. Perhaps there is no better endorsement of this course than to mention that after my first scheduled round here (Black), I looked forward to my round on the reverse (Red) route. I enjoyed the difficulty of the greens here the most, which was rightly moderated by the medium green speeds. Sticking an approach shot close is difficult here, so lag putting is the key to a low round. The fairways are a bit narrow in some areas, and have a nasty tendency to feed balls from the middle of the fairway to the rough, but with a little experience these can be avoided enough that they don’t sabotage the round.


Hookenslice – Airik – Tier 1

The name of this course concerned me a bit, and some prior research prepared me for some type of concept course. Before I get to the design, I will just say that the course is quite good visually, more than I expected. The surrounding Steppe environment is believably designed, and the abundance of lush green fairway and rough provides a stark contrast to the surroundings. To the design. Many holes on this course share fairways, so the course is meant to be forgiving off of the tee. For someone like me use doesn’t use landing cam, picking out a line to play on and find a flat lie was a test of my aiming skills, but the course is forgiving enough that it was enjoyable. For most, though, you should hit every fairway without much trouble or thought. I thought maybe the course would be too gimmicky and video gamey for me overall, but a nice set of greens really elevated the round for me.


Empress Hills – arcticfury – Tier 2

The look of this course is very reminiscent of a modern links-style design, and it pulls it off very believably. The bunker design, long grass, and use of elevation is all Pantheon-worthy. I love this style of course. Unfortunately this one is too video gamey for me. The main drawback here for me is the fairways. I’m all for correct shot placement off of the tee leading to advantageous approach shots, but many holes here direct middle of the fairway drives into extreme sidehill lies, or off of the fairway completely. For someone who doesn’t use landing cam, this course is patently unfair without any prior knowledge. The greens are also designed to deflect even slightly errant shots far away from the hole. I imagine this design will be great for top level tournament play and defending against ultra low scores, but for a casual evaluator, I had a tough time finishing this one with any enthusiasm.


My Latest Release

Ross Society Country Club

This was a fictional design ported over from TGC1. It is a traditional Parkland-style country club drawing influence from many great Donald Ross hole designs and meant to resemble some of the great country clubs in his portfolio, such as Oakland Hills, Oak Hill, and Plainfield. It needed plenty of updating before it was ready for TGC2, though. A majority of the greens were touched up, if not significantly changed, to provide for 4 interesting pin locations. Hole 13 underwent a little surgery on the tee shot to make it more interesting, and Hole 18 was completely remade into a new hole.


  1. BK on August 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Craig, I love your course reviews. You mention that in the future you will be doing another course recap where you list out the courses in each tier. Is there a way you could post an up-to-date list of your course tiers, separately, where we could keep track? That way we would not have to click through each of the blog entries to see where you’ve ranked a course. Just a thought! Thanks for doing these.

    • Craig LeVasseur on August 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Yeah, that’s the plan. I just haven’t decided yet how frequently to post the rankings, and which ones to include. Maybe post-Labor Day I’ll put something together at least recapping the Pantheon and Tier 3 levels, which should be the best of the best, and I’ll do a more full-scale reveal once I near 100 courses.

  2. Don Schultz on August 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Craig. I too very much enjoy and appreciate your course reviews. My son and i intend to go thru your catalog of courses and give em all a try! So again, thanks as it helps us cut thru the thousands of courses available to play. We’re both new to TGC franchise and are now fans of TGC2. I came from TW14 and Rory and wont go back lol!

    It’s my first venture in course design and was wondering if you take requests to review a course. I designed it for my son,, my best friend and myself to play as a course where we live in south louisiana. If you would do me the honor of reviewing Bayou Self GC (ver 2.1) I would be extremely grateful and can certainly handle the critique. If it’s worth while, we’re just trying to get some folks to play it so it will at least be handicapped rated when we continue to play it.
    If im imposing, my apologies; but i sure would consider it an honor.

    Warmest regards,
    member – ChaChingSchultz
    South Louisiana
    Age 64

    • Craig LeVasseur on August 29, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Thanks for the message Don!

      I have gone away from the practice of taking course play requests, because it’s impossible for me to keep up with the demand. You’ve made an excellent case, though, so I’ve added it to my list. I don’t know when I’ll get to it, but I’ll try to squeeze it in when I get a chance. I may indeed critique it, but I also always try and look for one or more positives in a course to take away.

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