Designer: Bryan Boomer
Firm / Speed: Med / Fast
Notes: Riviera has long been one of the highlights of the PGA Tour season, and the George Thomas design has been studied and praised by countless architects. While sadly there is no one theme in TGC that does justice to the Los Angeles topography of and surrounding the course, this recreation does a great job of highlighting the unique features of this property. The holes wind through tight, tree-lined corridors, and the rolling terrain can always leave you with an unbalanced lie at any time.
The strategic designs of each hole are challenging by themselves, but even more difficult when adding lightning fast greens to the equation. In the Thursday edition, the frequent use of front pin locations is excessive, in my opinion, as the hole designs and conditions defend each hole enough.
One other minor complaint is the Redan hole, #4, which is one of the most studied and iconic holes on the course. The hole is a true Redan, and part of the fun of playing the hole is using the fairway to the right of the green to feed the ball in to the hole. Unfortunately the fairway in this rendition is sloped away from the green, and does not allow for the use of a fairway runway.
Outside of this minor complaint, it definitely feels good to finally be able to play Riviera along with the pros, and feel some of the pain that they feel when playing a difficult course!
Designer: T. Yetlzman
Firm / Speed: Firm / Fast
Notes: One of the very best firm and fast courses that we have available. The greens are reasonable and the pins are located far enough back on the green to have a chance to get close, but the course is hard as a rock. It’s links golf as it should be, but still very playable, and always a fun round.
The highlands update improves the one thing that the course was lacking, which is visuals. The better grasses and better textures now give this course a proper authentic look to go along with how well it plays.
I really have nothing else to add to that. It looks good, it plays great, and it’s links golf… go play it!
Designer: Nick Weisgerber
Firm / Speed: Med / Med-Fast
Notes: I have strong memories of this course, as the original version of Coyote Canyon was the site of my first and only Top 10 finish on the PGA Tour, so it felt good to be back. Not only did I remember a lot of the holes on this course over a year after I last played it, but I also remembered several shots from that tournament. That is a testament to the hole designs.
Visually, this one is neck and neck with Nick’s other new desert course, Red Rock National, and I think I would give a slight nod to Red Rock. That one has a more realistic feel, where this course is a little more eccentric in it’s appearance. I will say, though, that the rough outline around the bunkers looks fantastic. Strategically, I would definitely place this one above Red Rock. There really are no weak designs to the course, and you must always consider where you are placing your shots. For example, the par 5’s feature large greens, and are usually in play for reaching the green or two. In many cases, you might have a better chance at an up and down for birdie by laying up, instead of leaving yourself with a 70-80 foot putt, or facing a pitch shot to a hole perched on a ledge with a steep backstop.
These are the strategic decisions that I enjoy, and that I find vastly superior to designs where the decisions are mostly already made for you. All things considered, I have to place this one just above Red Rock National, and both courses very high on my list.
Designer: Mikael Thunberg
Firm / Speed: Med-Soft / Med-Fast
Notes: This course looks more like Pine Valley than Pine Valley does, it’s uncanny. Where this course differs from Pine Valley is the size. Pine Valley is huge, with long hole and wide fairways, where Fossmill is much shorter and narrow, to the point where it can start to feel claustrophobic at times. I can’t lie, I prefer a more open experience with lots of shot options, and some of the holes here simply give you no option other than to hit a small fairway. On the other hand, several holes are very creatively designed, and the strategic process of determining shot strategy and the correct club can be interesting. The holes also open up at the greens, which are generally quite large. You can end up with some longer than average putts at times, but the speeds run closer to medium, giving you the opportunity to be aggressive with your putts.
Side note, the 15th hole (I think), with the sharp dogleg left and a tree placed right in the middle, is eerily like the 14th hole at Tullymore in Michigan. I know Mikael is from Sweden, so I will take it as a coincidence only.
As a tournament venue, I think this one should produce moderate scores, and will definitely reward the most accurate and consistent shooter over the course of 4 rounds.
Designer: Bryan Boomer
Firm / Speed: Med / Fast
Notes: This is a difficult course with the benefit of all aids on, so patience will be required on the TST this week, and maybe a little practice, too! Could this be the week that the TST scores and PGA scores mirror each other?
Favorite Venue of the Week: Muirfield 2013 Open
Another tough decision this week, but had to go with one of the best courses in the game, in my opinion. Others may disagree about particular courses, but I think this is another fantastic week of selections from top to bottom. If you agree, please take a moment to acknowledge the course selectors, as it’s a tougher job than you might think to produce excellent course selections each week.