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

As JK mentioned in his previous post about Southland, our goal at the PF is to review courses that the average joe can play.  Enter Shoreline Golf Links.  This great little muni is located in scenic Mountain View, CA very near the headquarters of Google.  The course offers a full length golf experience at a reasonable price.  Who could ask for more?  Here’s the run down:

3 practice facilities – chipping, putting, and a practice bunker

18 holes- 4 sets of tees:

Red – 5437 yards – 66.5/116
White – 6061 yards – 69.3/123
Blue – 6608 yards – 71.9/127
Black – 6996 yards – 73.5/129

1st Hole - 579 yard par 5

Large Driving Range – Small bucket 5, large bucket 9 – range cards available

Full service pro shop with decent selection of gear and good deals on occasion.

Great bar/grill/snack shop

Resident rate can get you out at twilight for $21 walking (excellent deal for this area; I’ve finished 18 several times with this rate on the weekends)

The downsides:

1) JK and I played this course together when we were both working in Palo Alto.  We were both incredibly impressed by the volume of goose poop that littered this course.  We both recommended to the pro shop that the course retain a pack of dogs to help reduce the problem.  Seriously,  this amount of poop could be used to fertilize any number of “green” projects around the state.

2) We played the course in the mid-afternoon.  By the time we reached the back nine, the wind had kicked up so violently that we really had no chance to make any kind of score.  The notorious Bay wind really bears its teeth in the afternoons on this course.

3) The par 3s are not really that great.  As I play more golf, I realize that I tend to judge a course more by the quality of the par 3s than any other holes on the course.  These holes tend to be the most scenic and provide the best drama in most rounds of golf.  While I love the set of par 5s that this course offers, the par 3s probably equal out the rating.  Three of the four are long forced carries.  While I have no issue with this kind of hole, I find these three to be rather repetitive.  The par 3 eighth hole, however, has a very interesting green and a tricky bunker that make it an enjoyable hole.

Goose Poop

Review and conclusion:

After our initial negative experience, I was hesitant to revisit Shoreline.  After moving to Mountain View, however, I had little choice.  Time to play golf has become increasingly limited so even a windy round is highly welcomed.  After a few weekend rounds here though, I must admit that first impressions can be deceiving  Shoreline is as interesting a layout as almost any muni I’ve had a chance to play.  When compared to the Palo Alto Muni, it’s certainly the more interesting track.  The course opens with a 579 yard par 5 that plays uphill (I almost got there in two!) and does not get much shorter.  The back nine has some of the more interesting holes, to be sure, but the par-5 ninth and tenth (back to back par 5s!) offer two major scoring opportunities.  The 9th is a paltry 519 yards and its mate is 525.  An ace on either par three that bookend this pair puts you in prime position to do what Phil came up just short of at last year’s Masters – three eagles in a row.

Overall, if you are in the area and have time to get round of golf in, I’d highly recommend Shoreline over the other munis in the immediate area.  Not to knock the Palo Alto muni, but I’d rather pay less to play a more interesting layout with some goose poop on it than a long, boring track where you can see nearly every single flag from any place on the course.  It also probably doesn’t help my bias that I nearly aced the par 3 fourth hole (see below and POTW 6).

Near Ace - Par 3 Fourth

Greens: 6/10
Fairways: 5/10
Other course maintenance: 3-4/10
Cost: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Pace of Play: 7/10
Pro shop/clubhouse: 8/10

The Verdict: Great casual round, but if you’re looking for high end golf, look elsewhere.