TGC Tours This Week: 3/14 – 3/19

PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational

Nusantara

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Designer: Dale Burger

Theme: Tropical

Firm / Speed: Med / Med-Fast

 

Notes: If you have followed me at all, you know that my preference for play is real courses or realistic fictional courses. It took me about 4 holes into this one to realize that this course was not going to provide the ultra-realistic experience that I prefer. In order to provide a fair analysis of this course then, I had to adjust my lens.

 

Taken as a fantasy-style course, it’s pretty clear that this was designed by a player with a lot of experience competing at the highest levels in TGC, with the intention of providing the stiffest test possible to the best players. Really, some of the shots that are required here, including occasional 15 yard draws or fades, for example, are shots that would likely not be possible in real life, but are are commonplace in video game golf. These shots can be further complicated by unhelpful winds, so there is an element of luck based on both what strength and what direction of wind you get.

 

Some acknowledgement is definitely due for the interesting presentation of challenges that you will face at Nusantara. The variety in holes and unique features will certainly keep things fresh through four rounds. In order to score well here, you must really focus and concentrate with each shot, and know where to miss and where to absolutely not miss. Based on some of the ghost balls that I included in my round, it is certainly possible to put up a decent number under par here, in contrast to my round.

 

In that regard, it should serve the purpose of challenging the top players on Tour. I can’t say that it’s an experience that I would put myself through again just for fun, though.

 

European Tour: Hero Indian Open

Humboldt Bay Golf Club – Eureka, Califronia

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Designer: Andre Quenneville

Theme: Highlands

Firm / Speed: Med / Fast (183)

 

Notes: This one starts with a bang, with the first hole immediately heading for the coastline, followed by another coastal hole at the second. The third hole then turns in-land. It’s kind of like a less sand dune-y version of Spyglass Hill. But whereas Spyglass is limited by the plot of land that it occupies and never returns to the coastline, Humboldt Bay does not feature such restrictions and returns as often as it would like. The result is one of the best looking courses in the game.

 

This is another course that is designed to be tough and test the best in the game. As such, it’s always hard to accomplish the creation of a difficult and yet enjoyable course to play. This one doesn’t do it the best, but it does do it “better than most”, a la Tiger Woods at Sawgrass.

 

The fairways are quite narrow here, but really it’s the greens that provide most challenge. They are fast at 183, and feature some of the sharpest breaks that you can get without seeing yellow and red grid lines. The pins are also carefully placed in sections of the green that must be held, or the ball will be carried away to a different section.

 

There is a lot of visual intimidation to this course, and while it does play quite hard, I think it actually looks harder than it plays. That might be easier for me to say after holing out twice for eagle in one round, though, so take that statement with a grain of salt.

 

Web. Com Tour: Brasil Champions Presented by HSBC

Grey Raven G.C.

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Designer: Seth Campion

Theme: Rustic

Firm / Speed: Firm / Med-Fast (163)

 

Notes: The overcast weather and the somewhat muted green colors of the Rustic theme combine to create a setting for this course that is fitting for its name. The grey sky, a bit of mist, and enough trees to keep the sun from peeking in really makes for a dark and murky atmosphere.

 

When you tee it up here, I hope that you have a cart, because this is going to be one long walk. The course measures at over 7700 yards, which is long even for tour pros, let alone the poor TGC golfer. It’s a bit misleading, though, as the course is a par 74 with 5 par 5’s and only 3 par 3’s (I think, if I did my math right). There are still plenty of 450+ two-shotters and 200+ one shotters, though, so practice your long iron and woods game before coming here.

 

Despite the length, the course does play a little easy. The main defense here are the greens, which are firm but plenty large enough to hold approach shots. The pins are protected by being perched on top of mounds or ridges. While sometimes necessary to create a real challenge, the tactic is overused here and can be expected on a majority of the holes.

 

Overall, it’s a fine course, if a bit quirky with dark atmosphere and huge length, that will offer you plenty of opportunities for a nice score.

 

Challenge Circuit: Nice Shot Championship

Pittsburgh Field Club (Thurs.)

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Designer: Pete Kohelis

Theme: Rustic

Firm / Speed: Med / Fast

 

Guest Review by Clay Schlegel:

The first hole offers up a steep elevation change off the tee box which may give you the wrong impression on how crazy the course may play. In actuality though, the course is set up fairly straight forward and has the vibe of your local municipal course. Planting is at a minimum with the rough only broken up with scattered tree-lines. In essence, the only thing that seems to be missing is the drink cart.

 

Now, of course, this is not just some random municipal course. This is actually a recreation of the actual private golf club which once hosted the PGA Championship in 1937. I am not familiar with the real course so I cannot comment on how accurate this recreation is but I will give the designer the benefit of the doubt.

 

In terms of how it plays within the game, it is safe to say the course is well made. It will not wow you by any means but it will play solid and true. The fairways are not overly wide but are fairly easy to hit and its bunkers do not seem to really come into play. Unless there are some strong winds, you may feel free to leave the cover off your driver for the entire round.

 

The greens are receptive to approach shots but will offer a fast surface to test your putting skills on. Most putts will feature some sort of break so do not count on scoring something straight. Leaving yourself an approach below the hole will be very beneficial in scoring low. However, if you do find yourself above the hole or pin-high, count on playing a conservative putt to limit the dreaded three-putt. The course has a good mix of long and short approach shots and will feature some pin locations to keep you honest. However, most holes will reward you with a birdie if played well.
Overall, the course is simple and plays very solidly. The municipal atmosphere of this private club recreation is spot on. Unfortunately, unless you have a connection to the real course, this is not a design which has the flair to really seduce you into coming back for more.

 

True Sim Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational

Pacific Dunes

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Designer: Rod Simpson

Theme: Boreal

Firm / Speed: Med / Med-Fast (165)

 

Guest Review by Patrick Lawless:
Pacific Dunes Golf Club is an older course, originally submitted to TGCTours way back during the early 1900s. OK, so it’s not quite that old, but it is around for more than a year which, in TGC, is akin to being around for an entire century. The course features wide, flat fairways and receptive, mostly flat greens. The course layout is very straightforward, so it all comes down to whether you can avoid the hazards and judge the wind correctly on your approach.

 

The course is built in the Boreal theme, and coniferous trees tightly line the fairways and surround the greens. There isn’t a whole lot of additional planting or rock work here, but the course focuses on the task at hand, and that task is playing golf.

 

For the True Sim Tour, sightlines are important, and this course does an adequate job directing the player down the fairway while sneaking in the occasional hidden hazard. Players need to take extra care on the 18th in order to avoid the water that fronts the green, providing one of the few risk/reward decisions and an exciting finish to the tournament.

 

Some of the sculpting isn’t quite up to today’s high standards, but the course provides a fair no-aids challenge and should be a lot of fun for the True Sim Tour this week.

 

True Sim Tour: Hertz Championship

Oakmere Golf Club

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Designer: Martyn Shaw

Theme: Countryside

Firm / Speed: Med / Med

 

Notes: This is less of a review than an anecdote. Back when I was selecting courses, I chose this course to host on either the Web.com tour or the CC Tour (can’t remember which). This was Martyn’s first course, and I was blown away by the level of design for a first-timer. Apart from a few small things that Martyn, aka Han, cleaned up for me, the course was tournament ready right away.

 

Therefore, it is no surprise to me to see the TST tour returning to this site. It was a great indicator of where Martyn’s designs were heading, as he has since released several more excellent courses, including what by all accounts appears to be a truly exceptional RCR of The Belfry. Oakmere should be a fair test for all involved… just be sure to find the right tier on that 4th green!

 

Favorite Venue of the Week: Pittsburgh Field Club

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I’m a sucker for a good real course. The trifecta of the Field Club, Fox Chapel, and Oakmont so close together in this area of the country makes it that much more interesting for me as I try to finish off my Oakmont creation.

 

Ragefest of the Week: Nusantara

It’s tough not to pick Andre’s course again this week, but I think if you can handle the greens at Humboldt you can handle the course as a whole. With Nusantara, there is just the possibility of the wind making some holes excruciating. It’s the PGA Tour, though, so you should be on your game anyways!

 

Birdiefest of the Week: Grey Raven/Pacific Dunes

There is no clear winner this week for me, so I will have to go with the easiest course that I played, Grey Raven, and guess that Pacific Dunes will be fairly easy for the TST this week. Grey Raven is not a classic birdiefest at 7700 yards, but if you get the hang of it you can put up a nice number.

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