First, I must apologize for our recent absence from posting. LG and I have run into a number of more important things, and until blogging starts paying us, I’m afraid we must split our pursuits. Thank you to our loyal readers for your support.


Today I review a golf course that I really like–for whatever reason, I’m not sure–Bradshaw Farm. Located in Woodstock, GA, Bradshaw farm is a 27-hole golf course with a really nice layout (at least, part of it; we’ll discuss later). The course is nestled over and around rolling hills and plays down into a valley for part of it. The bentgrass greens are typically in OK shape, although they were a little torn up on my most recent visit. With an abundance of water and a number of different hole shapes, the course has an interesting feel to it.

At first drive into the parking lot, the most obvious feature of the golf course is the bright red barn that is used for the clubhouse. Although the course has feelings of a once-private conversion to public, I cannot recall the course ever being private.

Bradshaw Farm is currently run by American Golf Corporation, who I have previously commented on in As such, my expectations for this course are never very high. However, when I go, I am usually surprised by how interesting I find the layout to be.

As seen in the scorecard below, none of the three nines is over 3,500 yards from the tips. The course feels shorter than that as well, as playing down major slopes gives the feeling that the player can hit the ball a long way. Many tee shots are hit through a shoot over trees that opens into a fairway. The bunkering is well-placed not only to push the player in the correct direction, but also, many of the bunkers will save players from losing a ball, providing a less-penal alternative to a lost-ball penalty or a hazard drop. The course has several “blind” shots, but it is usually clear which direction you must hit the ball. I rarely feel as though a shot is unfair or that I have no options.

My tee time was the first of the day. In the photos below, the eerie mist that seems to cover the Georgia mountains in the morning looms over the course.

The course provides an excellent opportunity to see some of the beautiful country of northern Georgia, including a horse-farm that touches two holes.

The original course had only 18 holes, which are currently the “red” and “white” nines. The “blue” nine was added later. In my opinion, the red and white nines are clearly superior to the blue. The red–one of my favorite tracks in all of Georgia–starts off with a daunting 70-foot drop to a bunkered fairway followed by a shot over a creek to the green. The following holes play up, down, and around large slopes in the fairways and provide many interesting looks at greens (the photo above of the red barn is the 9th hole of the red nine).

The white nine retains some of the character that the red nine has, but it is much more flat. The photos below show the first tee of the white nine. As this tee shot plays into a valley, the remaining holes have little elevation change.

The blue nine is a strange and poorly-laid out nine. The holes are essentially flat and have many places where even a shot in the fairway leaves a blocked approach. The blue nine can allow a player to hit good shots without scoring and hit bad shots while scoring. Altogether, it plays similarly to the other two nines but lacks the character of a well-planned golf course.

As for the drawbacks, Bradshaw Farm’s first knock is that it is run by American Golf. Perhaps in association with that, the course closes one of the three nines every day, and unless you call ahead you cannot tell which one will be. Although typically the course plays red to white, white to blue, blue to red, that has been changed in the recent trips I’ve had to the course. Also, for my trip at the beginning of the summer, the greens were well-maintained, quick, and receptive. At my most recent trip, they were sandy, spotty, and slow. This inconsistency makes me wonder what I will be getting on each trip and generally makes me not want to drive 45-minutes to an hour away on the off chance that the course will be in bad shape. At $40 or so on a weekday, it’s a toss-up as to whether I’ll return regularly.

Maintenance: 6
Layout: 8
Price: 5
Proximity to Atlanta: 6
Management: 1
Overall: 7

Yet another treat – a 57% discount at Half Moon Bay Golf Links (The Old Course) – is the subject of this review.  A word of caution for Golfnow users: While the last two rounds I’ve played through Golfnow have been marvelous, this one was less than stellar due to the fact that Golfnow did not warn me that the reason the rate was exceptionally good this weekend was that the greens had recently been aerated (within the last week).  I know that I should be skeptical of deals that appear to be “too good to be true,” but greens fees at 50% off are not “too good to be true” for normal conditions when a course is not able to fill its tee sheet.  At minimum, I believe that Golfnow should warn purchasers somewhere beyond the small print that the course has recently been aerated, if that is the case.  That complaint aside, even aerated greens cannot tarnish my impression of the Old Course at Half Moon Bay.

Sunday was a picture perfect day in Half Moon Bay, CA.  70 degrees, clear skies, and a slight N-NE wind made for a perfect conditions for good ball striking.  As the round progressed, and as we got closer to the ocean, the wind picked up and became more of a factor in shot selection and strategy.  My sense is that these conditions are not necessarily the norm for this course.  Playing at Half Moon Bay should come with the expectation of high, gusty winds and generally gray conditions.  Though the marine layer will burn off over the course of the day, the wind will pick up as well.

The Old Course reminded me, in a few distinct ways, of the Presidio Golf course in San Francisco.  This is not all-together surprising since the two were designed by Arnold Palmer.  Both courses provide distinct risk-reward opportunities, generous landing areas on longer holes, distinct aiming lines, and the occasional forced carry over clear-and-present danger.  In the case of the Old Course, the par-5s generally had open landing areas, par 4s generally tell you the exact line to take via a fairway bunker or natural depression in the course, and the par 3s provided all the clear-and-present danger necessary to create exciting shots.  The 16th hole also provides the prototypical Palmer “hero” shot.  A well-placed drive leaves a short iron or wedge approach to a raised green guarded by a ravine.  The ravine cuts sideways across the fairway at an angle that punishes a hook or an overcooked draw.  If the pin is cut on the left, the middle of the green is the best target.  Unfortunately, this reviewer did not take a great picture of the approach on the 16th hole, so below is the picture from Half Moon Bay’s website taken from the back of the green toward the tee.

A quick note about the facility as a whole:  Half Moon Bay is home to two courses: the Old Course and the Ocean Course (designed by Arthur Hills).  Though one of the two gentlemen playing with me made the off-hand comment that “the locals play the Old Course,” I got the sense that this was more or less the case after talking to the starter and pro shop staff.  The Ocean Course provides wonderful scenery and interesting golf holes, but the Old Course provides a more interesting and complete test of a golfer’s skill.  That being said, I personally think the comparison can be likened to choosing between chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies: I’ll take either at any time, and the more I get, the happier I am.

The Old Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links

The Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links

If there was one complaint I had about the Old Course, I think it must be that I felt as though I was playing golf between houses the entire round.  When I think about my favorite holes on the course (16-18), part of the reason I enjoyed them the most was that they did not have any visual distractions around the course architecture.  It may also be that I am a sucker for ocean views, but I’ll let the views from 17 and 18 below speak for themselves.

17th Tee

18th Tee

The signature 18th hole at the Old Course is simply outstanding.  Though this course does not have the fame of Pebble or Cypress, I would argue that the scenery and the feel of the 18th at the Old Course is on par with those courses.  The ocean breeze is most definitely a factor on this hole, generally creating a strong crosswind that forces the high ball hitter to start the ball over the water if a reasonable approach is desired.  The preferred trajectory here is a low, running shot that does not run so far as to leave a severely uphill approach.  In keeping with the theme of this course, the rolling hills in the landing area will likely prevent a flat lie for your second shot.  Most players will miss left on the approach for fear of going near the water on the right.  One of the most interesting parts of this hole is the amphitheater setting created around the green.  The approach is played directly into the rear entrance of the Ritz-Carlton where lots of seating is available for the hotel guests.  During this trip, there were several people seated and watching groups come in.  The pressure is squarely on your short game and putting if you are at all intimidated by a large gallery.  Take your best shot and be sure to tip your cap to the fans.

18th Green

Overall, Half Moon Bay offers two wonderful courses that will both challenge and delight.  The courses are difficult and beautiful.  If you are lucky enough to get a chance to sneak out, be sure to check the aeration reports.  Even with the 57% discount, $80 is a bit pricey to me when the greens are essentially sand boxes.  I will certainly be keeping an eye on for my next chance to take a loop at Half Moon Bay.

Cost: 5/10
Maintenance: 8/10
Greens: n/a – aerated
Layout: 8/10
“Fun” factor: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Today, I review yet another gem of the Monterey Peninsula – Bayonet.

A quick shout-out to for making this round happen. I had, on Wednesday (9/28) expressed my dissatisfaction with my recent rounds at Palo Alto Muni and Shoreline to JK when he suggested I run down to Monterey and get in a real round. In order to assuage curiosity, I logged onto and searched for cheap tee times for the coming weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find an 11:10am tee time on Sunday for $54 (rack rate $120). Considering I had just paid $49 to play (read: suffer) the Palo Alto Muni for 6 hours, I jumped on the deal. Thank you, Golfnow! On to the review!

While I was driving out of Mountain View towards Seaside, the weather looked somewhat unfavorable for playing a nice course. During my warm-up and first two holes, the sky remained close to the picture above. As I finished my 3rd hole (actual 12th hole), the sky broke and the Monterey Bay was visible from all parts of the course.

The golfing experience is always colored by those with whom one plays. Today, I was joined by a true gentleman named we will call Dan. He was a joy to play with and very knowledgeable about his golf (having played 60 of the top 100 courses). It was lucky for me that Dan had also played Bayonet in his travels. His notes were very helpful tee to green.

The course is part of a 36-hole military affiliated complex just north of Monterey. The slogan is Bayonet and Black Horse: the best 36 holes on Monterey Bay. Attorneys and sticklers for detail will have to agree (Pebble and Cypress aren’t technically on Monterey Bay). Don’t let the military designation make you skeptical, at least 18 of the 36 of some of the finest holes I’ve had the opportunity to play in my time in Northern California.

The Course:

The condition of this course was immaculate. Little did I know, but my round was the day before a Monday Qualifier for the Open. From the appearance, however, this condition is the usual faire for Bayonet and Black Horse. This course will also be hosting the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship (Not to be confused with the Major – though the top 20 do qualify for the PGA Championship). Those honors may give you a sense for the prestige and quality of the course, but the layout is impressive and very playable for any golfer.

From the tips, this course demands long, accurate tee shots. The rough, while not difficult to get out of, makes holding these hard, fast greens nearly impossible. You’ll definitely want to be hitting out of the short stuff on this course. This course does afford the American golfer the unique opportunity to play a few bump and runs, as well as longer “running” shots into the greens, but again, accuracy off the tee is the only way to setup those optional routes. I was surprised and ended up having to adjust for actually getting roll with my 60* wedge on this course. No longer was I able to short side myself and get up and down. For once, strategic planning had to go into planning my approach shots. I hope I get the chance to repay this course for the damage it did to my short game’s ego. One nice thing about the hard and fast greens, though, was that my confidence that I am a good putter was reconfirmed. I made some longer putts and some breaking putts that normally would have lipped out at my usual courses due to JK and my nemesis, the “lumpy doughnut.”

One note: If you are considering making a trip, do it soon. Construction is underway on several houses that will sit between some of the prettier holes on the course. Some of these houses will sit very close to the greens and will likely throw off the aesthetic of the course. Moreover, I personally dislike the claustrophobic feeling of playing between houses. It’s also better on my score, generally, to play out of the trees than someone’s backyard. One quick story on this point: I drove my tee shot on the par-4 5th hole way right. The dirt layout of the house that will soon occupy that spot setup a clean, unobstructed second shot of only 111 yards to the green. I like to think that I made par out of someone’s guest bedroom on that hole.

I was also informed during the round that this course was recently redesigned and rerouted to include some holes from the old Black Horse course. Though I am unable to locate any substantive details of this redesign, I can say that the result was a success in my book.

The Facility:

The Bayonet and Blackhorse Facility has one of the best practice complexes one could hope for. The redesign appears to have moved the driving range from near the 18th to near the 1st hole. While this does create some problems if you hit your Titleist 7 into the sea of Titleist practice balls that showers the left side of the first hole, it does not undermine the quality of the range. The range has three hitting areas (all with grass tees), a large bunker with REAL sand and nearly every lie imaginable and a REAL green to hit onto, a large undulating practice green, and even a chipping/pitching area with yet another REAL green. Of all of the practice facilities that I’ve visited in Northern California, I think I would have to take this one in my backyard. Oh, did I mention the whole facility has bent grass greens as well? They must know their audience at the PF.

One detail that often goes overlooked in reviews is the quality of the power carts. While JK and I both prefer to walk, we aren’t going to pass up free carts when they are included in the greens fee. Bayonet had exceptionally nice carts which included free water bottles, tees, and towels for cleaning clubs.

During my round, I stopped in at the watering hole at the turn and was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t being terribly ripped off for food at a nice course. I paid a total of $10 for a handmade turkey sandwich, chips, and soda. On the other hand, I normally like to procure a yardage book from nicer courses that have them. In this case, while the course had one, I refused to spend $20 for it. For those who can’t live without them, this one was the equivalent of a tour yardage book with all kinds of crazy slopes and angles written in. I’m pretty sure 90% of the measurements wouldn’t be useful to 99% of the people that play these courses, but who am I to tell them not to have them?

Bits and Pieces

While there is no “near-hole-in-one” from Bayonet, one other item from the course bears mentioning. The starter that greeted me prior to my round was exceptionally nice. He welcomed me, asked me about the course, asked whether I was playing in the Qualifier (one day…), and remembered my name as I made the turn. Starters, and the staff generally, like this can really put the feather in the cap of a nice course. So to you, sir, if you ever read this, thanks for being a nice guy. You are doing a great service to your employer and I hope he repays you in kind.

JK Notes:

I played this course (well, one of these courses) several years ago with my brother-in-law. Much as you describe, the weather was something I remember well. It was warm to start the day. Just when it was getting a little hot, the fog rolled in from the Monterrey Bay and cooled us off, only for the sun to run a few holes later.

What I remember of the course, it was very fair, moderately open, and very enjoyable. I’m glad you made the trip down–and this is an excellent review.

This week’s review covers a course I have wanted to play for awhile and finally got the chance to recently.

City Club Marietta is a municipal golf course in Marietta, GA. Although my impression of munis is usually that they’re not up to snuff, I had higher hopes for this course. I thought I had played all of the munis in and around Atlanta, so it was good to see that there was another out there.

In reality, the course was better in my imagination.

City Club Marietta is a very, very short course located on an old military site. The terrain is fairly undulating, with a large hill leading down into a valley through which the holes play, the hill being perhaps the most notable feature of the course.

At under 6,000 yards, the course is EXTREMELY short. It almost feels like playing an executive course. Par 5s are not greater than 500 yards, which seems very odd when coming from some other courses around. The course makes up for some of the length loss with tightness. However, nothing can make up for it completely. For example, the second hole is a 250-yard par 4. Even though it’s a dogleg with trees and a little uphill, I can probably hit a 4-wood onto this green from the tee box. And the trouble near the green isn’t so daunting that I would shy away from hitting it either. Although I admire some holes under 300 yards for being cleverly designed, this one does not offer any “risk” to go with the reward of going for the green.

Speaking of, the greens are nothing more than OK. I was surprised to find that they were bent grass, but they were not tight, had inconsistencies, and generally were just OK. Moreover, the course was not marshalled. My friend and I played the front 9 in about an hour and a half, but got caught behind a slow group that never let us through on the back side.

This course reminded me of Cobb County’s version of Bobby Jones Golf Course. Each county has a muni that plays about the same way. It’s designed to be very easy so beginners can play it, but inevitably it is just too much hassel to be worth playing for an experienced player. Moreover, they’re too expensive. $39/person on a weekday afternoon is WAY too much to play this course.

One interesting note as well: driving to the course feels very strange. The clubhouse sits as a nice, southern building. However, it appears that a Hilton was built next to the clubhouse a number of years ago. As such, when driving into the parking lot of the course, there is almost no signage to tell you that you are in the correct place. Instead, you see giant Hilton signs to the massive Grecian Empire hotel. Only when you near the front of the hotel do you find a sign directing you to the golf course on the left. Although it makes for an interesting view from the fairway on 9 and 18, the course has a strange feel to it–almost as if the hotel is an insane asylum, or the hotel from The Shining.

Moreover, the course is in an odd spot. Although it’s not far from Marietta, it’s kind of difficult to get to. I felt like there was too much driving away from the highway for as close as it looked on the map.

On a high note, however, I hit what is probably one of the top shots of the year for me. A 355-yard downhill par 4 10th, this was the result:

That is my ball mark to the right of the pin. Literally, I LANDED 5 feet right of the stick. Although I missed the eagle putt, that ball was KILLED. So that was a high point. The view from the tee is below, although you can’t see the green (it doglegs to the right).

All in all, the course is just not up to snuff. Too short, too bad of shape, too crowded. At $39/person, I would recommend skipping this one.

Cost: 2/10
Maintenance: 3/10
Greens: 3/10
Layout: 2/10
“Fun” factor: 3/10
Proximity to the City: 2/10
Overall: 2/10

This review is long overdue. It is overdue not only because LG and I played it a few months before starting this blog–and it would’ve been a tremendous subject at that time–but also it is overdue because LG and I both feel that this is one of the top courses we’ve ever played.

In April of 2010, LG and I traveled to Las Vegas for a golf & gambling week to celebrate our nearing graduation from law school. We had a great time and played some great courses, one of which we both reviewed for our first course review of the PF (here and here At the same time, we made a trip to Mesquite NV to play what has been hailed since its opening in 2001 as one of America’s 100 top courses: Wolf Creek.

At $195/round, LG and I played 36 that day (the rates were a little lower in the afternoon, but April is still the most expensive time of the year to play). We were the first car in the parking lot at 6AM and the last car to leave at 8PM. We stayed overnight at the Virgin River Hotel, Casino, Eatery, Bowling Center, and Ice Cream Parlor (although it’s actually only a hotel/casino, it actually does have all of those things). Am I ever thankful I did that.

Wolf Creek is an amazing golf course. It is unlike any other place I’ve played–including some of America’s top 100 and several PGA Tour spots. The course is an amalgamation of what LG and I call “17 signatures holes (and one afterthought hole).” At almost 7,000 yards from the tips, the course actually plays fairly short given the massive elevation changes and the desert air.

The reason LG and I are reviewing this course now is that we recently returned on our trip to Vegas a few weekends ago. At the end of August/beginning of September, the rates are as cheap as you can get. The course was in rougher shape than when we played the first time, as the fairways had been burned out and were ready for overseeding. In fact, we played the day before the course closed for two weeks in preparation for overseeding. However, the price was right, and at only $55 per person, it was well worth the return trip. (note, pictures in this part of the review are from April.)

As a reviewer, the course is just downright fun. There are MANY holes where standing on the tee makes you shiver, if not for the amazing views then for the torture of the shot you’re about to hit. Many balls are hit from elevated tees, where the player must blast the ball 50 to 100 feet down into a canyon below. The course is EXTREMELY challenging off the tee but actually quite easy from the fairway. Many shots into greens were under 160 yards, making for some pretty simple approaches. Although there are dead spots, the course plays pretty fair.

And, if you’re not shivering from the views or the challenge, you might actually be shivering from being 100 feet up on a ledge with no guard rail. Some of these places…well…it doesn’t feel right. Both LG and I almost fell into a canyon trying to retrieve a ball he hit. Although the staff tells you not to go into the desert, it’s not that difficult to trek in and find your ball most times.

I must say that my favorite hole of all is the one that is ranked #4 most challenging, the par 4 14th. After a few fairly easy holes, the 14th comes with a huge carry over a ravine into a split fairway. The view is tremendous, with a large, freshly-cut green hill as a backdrop for which to aim. The green is fun. The first time we played, LG hit the cart path right of the green, and the ball kept going and going down the hill. LG had a full 8-iron to get back up near the green, but he pulled it off.

(LG Commenting:)
After the beautiful 14th, the golfer is then treated to one of the shorter drives to the 16th tee.  Wait, 16th?  Sorry, we forgot the 15th.  To us, so did the designer of the course.  We described the course as 17 signature holes and one “afterthought” hole because the par-3 16th just feels a little out of place.  Even from the back tees, this tiny little par three measures only 125 yards from the tips and plays significantly shorter because it is straight downhill.  During our first adventure to Wolf Creek, JK and I came to this hole thinking, wow, I hope 16-18 leave us with something to think about.  After JK teed off however, he looked over at me and said “Hey.  Just hit it in the hole.”  I replied, “Yeah, okay.”  “No, seriously.  Just hit it in the hole.”  At that time, we were playing from the blue tees which left us exactly 116 yards to the flag.  I took my PW and hit one of the first shots where I remember thinking “wow, that was pure.”  The ball drew slightly as though drawn by the flagstick.  It landed about 3 feet passed the flag and rolled back toward the hole.  JK and I watched and sank to our knees as it lipped out and rolled to the left of the flag.  With that memory in mind, I was looking forward to the 15th more than any other hole during our second trip.  This time, I made the mistake of overclubbing and, well, that’s where the story of JK and me almost falling in the canyon came from.

My near hole in one on this trip, however, came from the par-3 11th.  That’s right folks, I’m about 15 feet away from 7 holes in one if you count them all up.  This time, the 11th was playing around 215 yards from the tips (straight downhill).  JK hit some absurdly short club like a 7 iron while I was hitting my hack 5 iron.  I had the honor from the devilish 10th hole (somehow double won).  After putting a good move on this ball, it landed just short of pin high and right of the green.  We watched from the tee as it trundled down the sidehill slope and rolled straight toward the pin.  We both watched fixated as it slowed near the flag and stopped 2 feet short of the hole.  JK was kind enough to concede the bird.  Maybe I’ll get that Ace next time, Wolf Creek.

All in all, Wolf Creek gives the air of a top-ranked, championship caliber golf course with the finest accommodations. The clubhouse grill is top notch as well, serving great food and great views of the course. Every hole is an opportunity for a computer background photo. At $200/round in peak condition, it’s certainly not cheap, but it is completely worth it for every golfer.

Price: 6/10
Value: 9/10
Experience: 10/10
Condition: 9/10 in April, 6/10 in September
Course Accommodations: 8/10
Cache: 9/10
Overall: 9/10. Even though there are literally hundreds of courses in and surrounding Las Vegas, I will continue to return to this course on most of my trips there.

After about a 13-year hiatus, I recently had the opportunity to return to a good golf course in Alpharetta known as the Trophy Club of Atlanta. At 6:52AM on a Thursday morning, the course was only $29/person on, so I decided it was a good chance for me to return. Before my review, I’ll give a little background to this club.

For those who don’t know, there have been several major players in the Atlanta golf scene over the years. Most of the conglomerations end up dissolving somehow. The current such conglomeration is Canongate Golf Clubs, which has privatized many courses around the perimeter of the city of Atlanta, specifically bringing in distressed public and formerly independently private clubs with the allure of corporate funding. Although it’s a neat idea, it hasn’t panned out well as the membership rates have continued to dwindle over the years. Before Canongate, Eagle Greens had purchased a number of courses in Northeast Atlanta (between Atlanta and Athens, generally), but they went out fast in a blaze of glory.

However, before all of these was a small coalition of courses known as the Champions Club. Champions Club originally owned Champions Club of Gwinnett, Champions Club of Atlanta, and Champions Club of Appalachee. The “Champions” logo went under and was rebranded under new ownership, the “Trophy Club.” The Trophy Club of Gwinnett eventually cut out of the group and became the Country Club of Gwinett. The two remaining Trophy Clubs were eventually bought by mega-conglomerate American Golf Corporation. I’ll spare you all a rant on American Golf Corporation, but needless to say, they’re not one of my favorite management companies.

What does this mean for today? Well, not a whole lot. The course is what it is. However, what it tells you is that the course shares a shell with some “sister” courses in the area, all being similarly short, tight designs that are generally well-laid out and fair. Understanding these things can let a player know whether to go to either of the other two courses, assuming the player forms an opinion after playing one of them.

The reason I haven’t played this course in 13-or-so years is not because I dislike the layout. In fact, I have played Country Club of Gwinnett many times in the last few years (not since this blog started, though. Maybe I need to return. Hmmmm). It’s just that 1) it’s in Alpharetta, which is a ways from my usual stomping grounds, and 2) it used to cost far too much. The only reason I played it before was that I had a junior golf tournament there. I still remember driving out with my dad. The course was pristine back then. I played terribly but I remembered the course well. Some of those holes stuck with me all this time. Quite an interesting memory.

But enough mumbo jumbo…on to the review.

Trophy Club of Atlanta (in its current iteration) is a public golf course in Alpharetta, GA. The course features champion bermuda greens which both my playing partner and I found to be unbelievably challenging in that their speed on downhill putts was TREMENDOUSLY faster than the speed on uphill putts. Although they are certainly well-kept, it seemed as if breaks were very hard to read because the influence of the hills was so tremendous. A downhill putt would roll so quickly that it didn’t take the break. An uphill putt was very much influenced by grain. Those who read our blog regularly know that LG and I are very into putting, and a good putting experience (not necessarily putting up great numbers, but enjoying our experience) is important to an enjoyable round.

What I did find interesting is that, at 6700 yards from the tips, the course is an interesting 72.5 rating. Many of the holes are short but tight, requiring precise driving to keep the ball in play. My playing partner and I hit a lot of irons off the tee (and, I’m sad to admit, many of them were very poor). While it’s a completely different feeling from hitting drivers all day (which can wear you out mentally), it certainly wasn’t easy.

The upside to this, however, is that the greens for most par 5s were reachable for me, even from the back tees. Of the four par 5s, I hit 7-iron right of #2, 5-iron just short of #9, 6-iron onto #10, and 3-iron onto #18 (into wind). I do hit the ball fairly long (drives in the 310-range), but two of the holes were manageable even if I didn’t have quite the length advantage that I do.

Interestingly as well, the course plays around a rather large man-made lake in the center of the property, just like Country Club of Gwinnett, with other holes winding through neighborhoods. Shot making is pretty critical, and it just so happened that I had a good ballstriking day, but keeping the ball in play is CRITICAL on this course.

At $29 with cart, the course was definitely worth the cost.

As always, however, I must state that there are several drawbacks. First, the greens. Bermuda just sucks. Any course that has it is not going to get much credit from me. So far, the only course I’ve played where the bermuda was not noticeably different from bent was at East Lake Golf Club (site of the Tour Championship). Even there, however, the underpinning of the surface was VERY hard, so stopping the ball on approach shots (especially with V-grooves) is not an easy task. These greens were highly variant in speed from one green to the next, and many breaks were unreadable due to the influence of the grain on the speed. Lipping out 10-foot putts is not a fun way to play the game, and it happened to me all day. Additionally, the rough is inconsistent. In some places, it was no different from the fairway, in others it was hardpan, and in others we literally lost balls because they were sitting down in the thick shrubbery. Although I don’t mind SOME risk/reward holes where I might have to take out a 5-iron on certain days, the par 4s on this course were abominably short. Only 3/10 par 4s on the entire golf course (we played the first hole from forward tees on the starter’s request) were over 400 yards, and the ones that were shorter were WELL short–339, 326, 367, 374. While the layout was interesting, there were many spots where you could get in A LOT of trouble without knowing it would be so bad (just like Country Club of Gwinnett, which now I am feeling more and more like I should review). A few trips around the course doesn’t guarantee you’ll know where to hit it either. It had good elevation changes on some holes and really ugly layouts for others. And many of the holes played too close to houses.

All-in-all, the course was definitely worth the price of admission. If it weren’t so far away, I’d probably go back. But knowing it has bermuda greens makes me more hesitant about getting back out there.

Price: 8/10
Condition: 7/10
Greens: 6/10
Green Stimp speed: 7/10
Layout: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Proximity to Atlanta: 5/10
Overall: 7/10

Namaste, PF Readers!  Today, we review the New Delhi Golf Club.

A little background on how I got to play.  A business contact was able to arrange a tee time for me at this course.  The website ( seems to suggest that this is a public course because it lists greens fees.  The issue is getting a tee time.  Only members are allowed to reserve tee times.  Once this was arranged for me, however, I realized exactly how exclusive this club is.  For example, my group was a threesome that included a retired three star general in the Indian Army and a retired three star general in the Indian Airforce.  Powerful company indeed.  On the back nine, I was paired with the former Chief Justice of the Indian High Court.

Upon arrival, a group of caddies descended upon me.  Two of them promptly began to argue about who would be allowed to loop for me because I had never played here.  Once resolved, I paid the exorbitant sum of about $100 total for greens fee, caddie, two sleeves of Pro v1x’s, tees, rental shoes, rental clubs, and two bottles of water.  While this sounds like a deal any of us would take in America, I was essentially bent over a barrel by Indian standards.  A little local knowledge goes a long way.

As far as a review, I must say the course was stellar.  The layout was challenging, the course, minus the greens, was in pretty good condition, and the views were amazing.  some of the holes were more narrow than almost any other course I’ve seen, but the course is located in the heart of downtown New Delhi (real estate is not cheap here).  Parts of the course had less grass than we are used to on American courses.  This made for some interesting muddy/dirt lies in the middle of the fairway.  Part of my hesitation in providing my top ranking to this course is the fact that I didn’t get to play it as the designer intended.  The rental clubs I was provided were of such low quality that I was unable to play the driver and I broke the three wood on the first swing I took with it.  (again, local knowledge).  All in all however, the course provided a rich golf experience that I hope to relive with my own sticks.

My favorite story of the day, not surprisingly, comes from one of the holes where I had my “shot of the day.”  The seventh hole is a long par 3 that played 185 yard from the blue tees.  The two retired military men had taken their shots as I had run back from the facilities.  They were waiting around the green for my approach.  I hit the “6” iron that came complete with a tennis grip to about 6 feet and received the loudest ovation I’ve ever received on any golf course for a single shot.  I was slapped on the back and bought a round of beers for that shot alone.  I wish it had gone about 6 feet farther, but for that reaction, I’ll take it.  The result is shown below:

One other feature of golf courses that we generally fail to review is the wildlife.  It is impossible to think about this course without thinking of the peacocks.  They were everywhere!  In particular, they were very social.  One came close enough for me to snap this picture on the third hole.  In fact, the caddies carry sweet treats to entice the birds near for pictures for tourists.  See below!

All in all, I must say this trip to the other side of the world (12 hour time difference) found me playing some very interesting and unique golf.

Layout: 8/10
Greens: 4/10
Fairways: 7/10
Cost: 9/10 (conversion rate based review)
Location: 9/10
Staff: 8/10

Overall: 8.5/10

17th Tee

Today’s post focuses on a course near and dear to my heart, Mystery Valley.

Mystery Valley is a municipal golf course in Lithonia, GA–very close to Stone Mountain and to Southland Golf course, the subject of a prior PF review (see The course, nestled between majestic pine trees, plays 6700 yards around several lakes. Although not the longest test, Mystery Valley presents a fair challenge that rewards good shots and punishes bad ones.

Along with nearby Sugar Creek, Mystery Valley is the municipal golf course of DeKalb County, GA. The course opened in 1966 and has remained largely unchanged since Then. Although some landscape is different since when I started playing there in the early 90s, the layout is basically the same. The brother of famed Atlanta golfer Charlie Yates was the first head pro at the course. It is even rumored that Bobby Jones walked the grounds at one time.

However, none of this history is apparent when arriving at and playing the course. A long, winding drive previews the front 9 to the player as he drives into the course. A modest clubhouse with a chipping green, putting green, and substandard driving range greet the player.

At first glance, the course doesn’t look like much. However, it’s layout–meandering through the natural hills and elevation changes–provides a great test to the average golfer and some great opportunities for the advanced one. There are a good number of risk/reward shots for the long hitters as well as a number of bailouts for the average players. The fairways usually have nice green grass and are mostly wide and inviting.

Although not terribly fast, Mystery Valley is one of the few municipal golf courses in Atlanta that has not converted to bermuda greens. The bent grass is usually well-maintained but can become a little shaggy on certain days and after rains. And despite the work required for maintaining the greens, an average player can still walk on weekend mornings for under $30–plus, the course is especially easy to walk since it was built before carts were mainstream and is set up with tees in close proximity to greens.

Like all courses–and especially municipals–Mystery Valley has its drawbacks. There are several holes that border on unfair. For example, the par-3 second hole includes a green that is so severely sloped that certain pin placements are virtually unreachable. Bunkers typically lack sand and are very inconsistent if sand is included. Because it is a muni, weekends are typically packed, and 4.5-hour rounds should be expected; note, however, the course management takes their jobs very seriously, and only in very strange situations will a 5-hour round occur.

As stated, this course is very near and dear to my heart, as it is the place that I learned to play. If it were a private course located in the center of Atlanta–and if it had a little more length–it would be a likely spot for a tournament or at least a desired track. The enjoyment of the layout is comparable or superior to Druid Hills, East Lake, and Dunwoody Country Club, just to name a few. However, because it is municipal, it gets little credit for the true gem that it is.

There are many drawbacks to Mystery Valley–certainly. However, it is the course that I continually return to because 1) it is a fair course and 2) it is a fair price.

Layout: 9/10
Maintenance: 7/10
Greens: 8/10
Cost: 9/10
Value: 9/10
Practice Facility: 5/10
Proximity to Atlanta: 6/10

Overall: 8/10

NOTE: At the current time (July 2011), Mystery Valley is undergoing construction to repair drainage systems. Please be sure to call the proshop at (404) 469-6913 to ensure that construction is complete before your round.

Today, I review the golf course at Stone Mountain Park. Specifically, I review the Lakemont Course.

Stone Mountain Park is close to where I grew up. As such, I am pretty familiar with the park and its attractions. When my friend recently suggested we visit the golf course, I thought it would be a good subject for review here on the PF.

Stone Mountain Park ( is a park built around a natural monument east of Atlanta, GA. “Stone Mountain” is a monolith–essentially, it’s a large outcropping of granite. Although it is technically not a “mountain,” it is definitely a large rock. Many years ago, crews carved a picture of Civil War heros into the side of the mountain–similar to Mount Rushmore, but not quite as grandiose. The park has many attractions–including the laser show, a walking track around the mountain (about 5 miles) that joggers and cyclists use for exercise, a trail to walk up the mountain, and a ski lift for those who don’t want to walk. From the top of the mountain, you can see 7 states (or so I’m told).

Stone Mountain Park also includes two golf courses–and, to understand some of the nuances, you must understand the history. The first, Stonemont, was designed and built by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1969. The Stonemont course lay by itself for almost 30 years, until, in 1988, Stone Mountain Park built the Lakemont course. The Lakemont course encompasses much more of a resort feel to it and was intended to focus at least some holes around Stone Mountain’s new man-made lake. In order to do this and to maintain two full 18s of play, Read the rest of this entry »

One of the best things about having a golf blog is having the opportunity to do a write-up of great golf courses. In line with others, this week I review Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth, GA.

I have been playing Cobblestone off and on for the last 15 or so years. Every time I go back, I am reminded that it is one of the more fun layouts near the city of Atlanta.

Cobblestone is, oddly, a municipal golf course maintained by Cobb county. Unlike many munis, however, it’s not a golf course that was just clear cut out of some trees and plopped in place. Serious earth was moved to put this course in place. The result is a layout that intrigues.

Cobblestone is placed at the very southern tip of Lake Acworth. 8 of the 18 holes play on, over, or around the lake, giving many picturesque vistas. The 11th hole (shown below–that tree is actually growing out of the marsh at the southern tip of the lake), a 436-yard par 4, plays to a wide fairway some 250-yards out, but necks down after that to only about 20 yards across. The green on the 11th sits less than 2 paces from an embankment to the lake, making for a very tough approach shot with a long iron.

At 6700 yards from the back tees, it’s not terribly long. However, the 73.5 rating (on a par-71 course) shows that it has some bite. 12 of 18 holes include hazards noted on the scorecard, and several others include treacherous shots.

The appeal of Cobblestone is not only that it is challenging, but also that it includes a good mix of golf holes. At par 71, the course includes four par 5’s that are all reachable–two that are flat that play under 530 from the back tees, and two that are well-downhill at 542 and 570. I had a 3-iron into the 570-yard par 5 9th when I played it recently. Although I’m a “big hitter,” we are talking about reaching par 5s, which short hitters would not consider. The course has a good amount of elevation change as well, which is rare for courses this close to water. Part of this can be seen from the views of the par 3 16th below.

Moreover, Cobblestone includes a good mix of holes. There are doglegs in both directions. There are holes that play over water and holes that play through the trees. There are some wide fairways and some narrow fairways. Some long par 4s (the 2nd, for example, at 472 yards, and the 14th at 461) and some driveable par 4s (the 17th, at 316 and about 60 feet downhill, and 4th at 313, shown below). Some long par 3s (the 8th at 240), and some short ones (the 16th at 133 over water). Cobblestone tests all parts of your game and gives a great opportunity to see how you play all your shots.

Cobblestone is a surprising muni, both for its quality and its beauty. The course is truly a gem of a layout.

There are always drawbacks, however. The condition of the course the last few times I’ve been out has been less than ideal. Far less. There was a temporary green on the 1st hole (which the staff did not warn us about). This comes less than 10 months after a full renovation where the course was converted from bent greens to bermuda (which I dislike anyway), leading me to wonder if they are capable of maintaining the course. The fairways were in good shape in many places but also had a good amount baked and dry spots as well as muddy puddles–in other words, it was very inconsistent, even when in the fairway. I guess the staff have never heard of bagging mowers, because they were still dragging the fairways to pick up the grass clippings when we teed off–not something you want to see (see the picture of the fairway at the 11th, above). Bermuda greens–I guess that’s all I have to say about that. At $56/round, I would have expected more. And it’s not exactly close to Atlanta. I guess there’s a reason why all the courses worth playing aren’t built anywhere near the city of Atlanta, but I’m starting to get sick of driving 45-minutes outside of the perimeter just to play a course worth playing. While the course is fun to play, there’s a reason why I don’t get out there but once every other golf season or so. Still, it’s always enjoyable, and I love a good layout.

Layout: 10/10
Greens: 7/10
Fairways: 7/10
Other Maintenance/Upkeep: 6/10
Cost: 5/10
Value: 6/10
Location: 7/10
Staff: 8/10

Overall: 7/10