New, remodeled designs destined to be bucket-list worthy come in all sizes. Work of Tiger Woods, Gil Hanse, David McLay Kidd headline the list
Several dozen new or significantly remodeled golf courses are scheduled to open in 2021. Among those, Morning Read contributor Joe Passov picks five of his favorites. Four courses are based in the United States, will be public-access, will take three hours or less to play and will cost under $100. The final pick is in Thailand where an 18-hole championship spread will mimic the greatest lost course in American Golden Age golf.
Pebble Beach Short Course | Monterey, Calif.
In his 1996 book, The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, author/architect Tom Doak said of the par-3 Peter Hay Golf Course at Pebble Beach. “You’d have to be insane to waste any of your time on the Monterey Peninsula out here.” Perhaps a visit later in 2021 will change Doak’s mind.
That unassuming course is gone. In its stead is an ambitious creation from Tiger Woods’ TGR Design. Still nine holes and draped atop the old tract, the reoriented layout will spotlight four holes playing directly at Carmel Bay. Holes range from 47 to 106 yards, and eight of the nine holes feature a precise yardage tied to a historical event at Pebble Beach. The eighth, for example, is 92 yards, 1992 being the year Tom Kite won the U.S. Open. Or the 100-yard ninth, signifying Woods’ own U.S. Open win in 2000.
The purest homage is the 106-yard second hole, a replica of the stunning par-3 seventh on Pebble’s championship course, right down to the yardage. “We know not everyone who comes to Pebble Beach will have a chance to play the U.S. Open course,” said Woods, “so we wanted to create the opportunity for all visitors to experience one of its most famous holes.”
Pebble hasn’t yet named its new spread, but given Woods’ track record of crafting superb short courses at destinations such as Mexico’s Diamante, Texas’ Bluejack National and Jack’s Bay in The Bahamas, it will undoubtedly be called a winner.
Belmont Golf Course | Richmond, Va.
Seventy years after Sam Snead won the 1949 PGA Championship at the Hermitage Country Club, the course now known as Belmont was facing extinction. Redevelopment awaited. Then a rescue arrived for the 1916 A.W. Tillinghast design — well, for much of it, anyway.
The Love Golf Design team, comprised of Davis Love III, his brother Mark and lead designer Scot Sherman, produced what many in the community believe is a win-win. Gone is the tired and cramped 18-hole course. In its place is a 12-hole championship layout comprised of holes Nos. 7-18 from the old course that are either refurbished or reimagined, plus a six-hole short course where each green complex pays homage to a great Tillinghast-designed par 3.
With a new massive putting green and 1-acre range, Belmont will serve as an ideal home to the First Tee of Richmond. And while it’s always disappointing to lose a major championship course with a Tillinghast pedigree, students of design will surely embrace the tribute to him from Love Design.
The Baths of Blackwolf Run | Kohler, Wisc.
With its superior service and facilities, plus four Pete Dye-designed top 100 courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, Destination Kohler has long been renowned as one of the greatest golf resorts anywhere. If there was one knock, however, it was that it lacked a golf option for the modestly skilled player. Problem solved.
Dye protégé Chris Lutzke and owner Herb Kohler are introducing The Baths of Blackwolf Run, a 10-hole par-3 course, with holes ranging from 60 to 160 yards and a 2-acre putting course modeled after the Himalayas at St. Andrews. Interwoven into the layouts are four water features, known as The Baths, which not only reflect the purpose of the parent company, but which will serve as handsome hazards.
“It is important for these courses to aid in our continuing efforts to grow the game by creating opportunities for players of all skill levels,” Kohler said. “The Baths will do it with the Kohler touch to create a unique experience.”
Ballyshear Golf Links at Ben Rakat Club | Thailand
One of the greatest works of pioneering American architect C.B. Macdonald will reappear in Bangkok in August. Gil Hanse and partner Jim Wagner have carved out a hole-by-hole replica of the greatest course of the Golden Age, the Lido Golf Club in Lido Beach, N.Y., that no longer exists. For design geeks, this is akin to the reappearance of architecture’s Holy Grail.
Lido was an engineering marvel and the handiwork of Macdonald and Seth Raynor when it opened in 1917. A survey of top professionals by New York’s Metropolitan Golfer magazine in the late 1920s ranked it second in America, behind only Pine Valley.
Lido even boasted an 18th hole that resulted from a 1914 design competition in Britain's Country Life magazine. The winner was a relative unknown named Alister MacKenzie. While MacKenzie was already a practicing architect in England by then, it would be another 12 years before he would venture to the United States and to Australia, to create Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne, the courses that made him famous. Still, a combination of the Depression and World War II shuttered the club for good in 1942.
On flat, featureless land, Hanse convinced the owners that the concept would bring something completely different to golf in Thailand’s capital. It surely will.
Quicksands at Gamble Sands | Brewster, Wash.
Seven years after earning the consensus pick by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest for best new course of 2014, Gamble Sands gets a little brother, the 14-hole Quicksands. Both bear the design imprint of David McLay Kidd.
Situated in north-central Washington amid the Columbia River Gorge and snowcapped northern Cascades, Kidd’s first par-3 course — and the first of its kind in the state — occupies a 25-acre site rippled with rolling sand dunes. When it opens this spring, it will feature holes that range from 60 to 180 yards and will definitely not epitomize all-or-nothing shot values.
“A lot of ‘one-shotters’ in the world don’t allow for a ground game, you have to carry it to the target,” Kidd said. “With Quicksands, we are encouraging the ground game with giant slopes and movement to allow golfers to be creative and use the ground. If four golfers play a hole four different ways, that will be fun and differentiate the experience.”
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