In a new feature that I ambitiously hope to present each week, I will be playing and reviewing each course being played across all of the TGC Tours this week. As you may know, my list of courses to play is quite extensive, and my average time to reach a course on the list is around 6 months right now. This endeavor will hopefully allow me to provide some more timely reviews, and I encourage you, the community, to offer your thoughts, as well.
The Tarantula Golf Club
Designer: Keith Callahan
Firm / Speed: Med-Firm / Fast
Notes: I played pretty poorly on this one, so I will try to keep that from affecting my review. The colors were great for a desert course, planting was nicely done, and overall really good sculpting, as expected. The uphill, into the sun approach shot on the 6th sticks out to me as one of the best looking shots on the course. The narrow and firm fairways were much talked about on the forum, and they were pretty much as advertised. The greens had a more forgiving firmness to them, but many pins were perched precariously next to steep runoffs.
From a competition standpoint, I can see how this will challenge the best players, and should work nicely for that goal. From a more casual perspective, I’m not a huge fan of the fairway designs or the pin placements, as they have a very artificial, video game feel to them, and wouldn’t be immensely enjoyable to play with real clubs in hand.
Dinosaur Valley Golf Club
Designer: Brodie Nielson
Firm / Fast: Firm / Med-Fast
Notes: It’s not hard to see how this could be a difficult Tour course. Most tee shots are tight and pinched in by bunkers on either side that gather nearby shots. The greens are firm, and nearly impossible to hold in a tailwind (which I had most of the round, of course). It’s hard to hold too much against this course visually, as it was released in 2014. For the time it was released, it’s not a bad looking course, and the planting is done nicely.
I have several problems with the course, though. First, there are a handful of strange blind tee shots, which are out of line with the more straightforward nature of the rest of the course. Second, the abundance of tee shots that must land between two bunkers is monotonous when faced on nearly every hole. Lastly, the greens are not overly difficult for putting, but many aren’t designed to hold the long shots required in, especially in a tailwind.
Country Springs Golf Club
Designer: Mike Shoemaker
Firm / Speed: Med-Firm / Med-Fast
Notes: This is one of the greenest and most parkland feeling Boreal courses since perhaps the great Dewdrop Ridge. The wide fairways and abundant use of heavy rough go a long ways to giving this course a unique feel in a heavily used theme. The design is mostly classic, but with a few holes with great elevation change thrown in. There are a few bumpy areas, especially between tees and fairways, but for the most part it is pretty nicely shaped for a course that is now over a year old.
While the greens are large and the back pins generally accommodate the firm settings, too many have the unfortunate feature of a front to back slope at the front of the green, which kicks every ball to the back of the green. A chip in from the back of the green is not difficult here, but some more back to front sloped greens would make for more interesting approach shots here.
The Course of St George
Designer: Mick Pitcher
Firm / Speed: Med-Soft / Med-Slow
Notes: If you have played any of Mick’s courses, you know that he is never lacking for creativity. It is certainly present in this course, with the multi-colored trees, criss-crossing holes, and plenty of eye candy surrounding each hole. I love the wide fairways here. After the few holes that cross paths and err a bit on the fantasy side, the course really settles in to a very playable and realistic course. The soft and slow greens make for an easy course, but can definitely throw you off for part of the round if you are used to fast greens. There are a couple of long forced carries to the green, such as on the first hole, which I am never a fan of, but thankfully the soft greens make them playable here.
The 11th green maybe goes a little too far and could be softened a bit, but otherwise it’s a more than fair round. The overly easy par 5’s will contribute to some very low rounds, but a good mix of holes otherwise, and a nice course
Red Rock National
Designer: Nick Weisgerber
Firm / Speed: Med-Firm / Med-Fast
Notes: This course does a number of things exceptionally well. It takes rough desert terrain, and runs very smooth and lush holes through it. I think this is the dream of every desert resort owner. It also uses very straightforward and subtle holes in some places, especially early in the round, and makes excellent use of med-firm conditions. Later in the round, many of the holes give you the opportunity to use large slopes on the green to feed the ball to the hole, which is always fun to play, and it’s done very well here.
Despite the fact that the subtle holes and more sloped holes both work very well and are excellently done, this doesn’t really make for a cohesive 18 hole experience. Particularly late in the round, where several holes go steeply uphill in order to set up grand views of the course coming back downhill, it feels somewhat like a different course than the beginning of the round.
Favorite Venue of the Week: Red Rock National
Despite some issues with cohesiveness, this is still a very impressive course, and immediately vaults into my Top 5 desert courses.