Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ryder Cup- Day 3 Preview

Bubba WatsonLuke Donald
Webb SimpsonIan Poulter
Keegan BradleyRory McIlroy
Phil MickelsonJustin Rose
Brandt SnedekerPaul Lawrie
Dustin JohnsonNicolas Colsaerts
Zach JohnsonGraeme McDowell
Jim FurykSergio García
Jason DufnerPeter Hanson
Matt KucharLee Westwood
Steve StrickerMartin Kaymer
Tiger WoodsFrancesco Molinari

Well, those are the pairings for tomorrow. A quick rundown says that Tiger will get his win in what will most likely be a meaningless match and that the Cup will likely be decided by the Furyk match.

In the first match, there is really no way to determine how it will end. If the Bubba that won the Masters shows up tomorrow, or the one that played in Four-Ball matches this week, and the match might be over early. However, Donald is a recent World #1, so count on him to put up a strong match. This match could go either way and depending on how fast one golfer or the other starts off will determine how the momentum goes early in the day.

Europe will need to win 8 points on the day to retain the Cup. Since the current format was adopted in 1981, only 4 times in 15 Ryder Cup matches has a team scored that many points on the final day, two of those by teams trailing going into that final day (1997 and 1999) So obviously history is on the side of the Americans but it would not be unthinkable for the Europeans to score the 8 points needed to retain the Cup. In the event that Tiger Woods is needed for the win, we can know that he's going against the man he defeated in singles competition in 2010 at Celtic Manor. The Americans are certainly hoping the final match of the event is not needed to determine whether or not they win the Cup.

Ryder Cup Day 2- Afternoon Session Results

The afternoon session went fairly well for the Americans. Better than was predicted here, in fact. The Americans came out of Saturday with a 4 point lead in the overall standings, a deficit that has only overcome once, by the United States in 1999. That bodes well for the American team tomorrow.

Matches:
J. Rose & F. Molinari vs. B. Watson & W. Simpson
This match went as expected. The American juggernaut of Simpson and Watson simply would not be denied and beat this team of Euros in much the same way they beat Lawrie and Hanson yesterday. These two Americans obviously play well together in Four-Ball competition.

D. Johnson & M. Kuchar vs. N. Colsaerts & P. Lawrie
This was a back and forth match with the Americans not wrapping up victory until taking a lead on the 17th hole with Dustin Johnson's key birdie and then halving the 18th hole.

T. Woods & S. Stricker vs. S. Garcia & L. Donald
This may be giving the match more credit than it really deserves, but to me, this match was about the face of modern American golf facing off against the modern face of Spanish golf. These two have squared off numerous times over the years in the Ryder Cup with Gracia taking the win all but once. Woods has been the great individual golfer who wins majors and Garcia has been the top notch team golfer. This match seemed to be one for the ages. The US was down 3 after 4 holes and 4 down after 9 before Woods came alive and made 5 birdies in 8 holes on the back nine including a spectacular birdie on the 17th hole. Steve Stricker missed a putt on the final hole that would have given the US a half point in the match; Stricker makes about 6 of 10 putts from between 5 and 10 feet, sadly for him one of the 4 had to come on the 18th hole of the match with 8 or 10 million people watching. But if ever one wants to see quality golf played in team competition, this is the match for it. Two titans of their generation paired with two great workmen gave us one of the finest matches I can remember seeing.

J. Dufner & Z. Johnson vs. R. McIlroy & I. Poulter
The US team got off to a strong start winning the first two holes and seemed to be going strong prior to the 13th hole. From there it was almost as though the European team flipped a switch, Poulter especially. McIlroy birdied the 13th hole to put the Euro's one down in the match and Poulter birdied the final 5 holes in what must be one of the best closing stretches in the history of the Ryder Cup. This one could have easily gone to the American side, but Poulter found the magic when it mattered the most and the Europeans pulled out a victory.

This all leads to a split in the matches in the afternoon. Tiger lost, as was expected, sadly. This leads to what should be a solid day on Sunday.

Ryder Cup Day 2- Morning Results and Afternoon Pairings

So a bit late in this given that the afternoon matches have started, but he comes a slight preview nonetheless.

The morning session went better than the American side likely thought it would. Yesterday's stellar team of Webb Simpson & Bubba Watson suffered a down to the wire defeat in the first match of the day; it would appear this team is slightly better suited to play Four-Ball over Foursomes, which was mentioned in the preview here last night. Sometimes Johnny B knows what he's talking about.

The final score of the Mickelson & Bradley vs. Westwood & Donald match says more than a paragraph worth of words: 7 & 6. That's just a beating, no other way to spin it. How this American team has been left out of the Afternoon matches is simply unbelievable.

Jason Dufner & Zach Johnson defeated the Euro buzz saw Nicolas Colsaerts and his partner Sergio Garcia. Same as in the first match of the day, Colsaerts play in Four-Ball yesterday afternoon did not translate over to Foursomes this morning.

In the final match of the morning, Jim Furyk & Brandt Snedeker got revenge over the the Euro team of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. This had to be a victory the US side was not expecting.

So winning the morning session 3-1 and going up 8-4 overall is most certainly as good a result as could have been expected.

For the afternoon:

N. Colsaerts & P. Lawrie vs. D. Johnson & M. Kuchar
This match will likely hinge on how well Colsaerts plays. Another round like Friday afternoon and a blue flag will be on the board, almost certainly. Otherwise, this match is a toss-up with no real way to predict a winner.

J. Rose & F. Molinari vs. B. Watson & W. Simpson
This match should go to the Americans given the play of the American team yesterday. One would expect Rose to put up a solid fight but that young Molinari will be the key to that team. Ring this one up for the Americans.

S. Garcia & L. Donald vs. T. Woods & S. Stricker
Through all their struggles, Woods and Gracia are still, for the most part, the faces of golf in their respective nations. It's been 13 years now since these two squared off at the 1999 PGA Championship on this very golf course. We can only hope for this match to provide the same level of entertainment that their duel provided back then. But, sadly, safe money would be on Woods continuing his typical gruesome play in Ryder Cup team matches. A US loss is likely and a half point should certainly be considered a win here.

R. McIlroy & I. Poulter vs. J. Dufner & Z. Johnson
Hopefully Dufner can continue to channel his inner Curly and play 'dumb' in this match as well. He has performed better than expected thus far in the Ryder Cup. This will be the match that defines Rory's year in this Ryder Cup. He is currently 1-2 in team play. A win here will allow him to take it upon himself to have a winning record in the Cup. Don't forget that McIlroy is the #1 player in the world. Expect him to rise to the occasion here. Euro victory is likely.

Certainly we will all be watching to see how it turns out, but the projection here is for the Euro's to win the afternoon session 2 1/2 to 1 1/2.

Overall projection: 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 USA leading.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cahoon Plantation Golf Club-Chesapeake, VA

This course is a very unique golf course. Being located in the Virginia Tidewater region typically means the course will have bermuda fairways. But this course was built with bent grass fairways. It is the farthest south non-mountain course that this writer knows of with such fairways. The course has also seen some substantial evolution since it's opening. Originally this facility had 27 regulation holes and a par 3 course. It is unknown why the course owners elected to close some of the holes, but the lure of money from housing almost certainly played into the decision. 

On top of having bent grass fairways, the course also has very few trees, at this time anyway, to obscure the views of the hole and impede recovery shots. One thing that it would seem that the course has dropped from it's promotional material is comparing itself to the great links of Scotland. While the course is fun to play, it is most certainly not a links course, nor does it play firm and fast like links courses. But this is still a fun course and the bent grass fairways certainly makes it worth a little more effort to play.

Holes to Note
Hole #1: Par 4, 393 yards
The day starts off nicely with a reasonably short par 4. The hole features an anti-strategic bunker on the left side of the fairway that is opposite the best line into the green. This hole functions as a perfect start to the round and really describes the entire course. Very good conditioning. Wide open looks. Little strategic interest. Modest greens. 

From this location, the green is located on a line extending from the third teeing area. The bunker on the far left is the anti-strategic fairway bunker and the next bunker visibile is a greenside bunker. The best play is to keep the ball away from that bunker and into the right side of the fairway.

Even though this tee shot nearly found the rough, it provides the player with a perfect line to the green. From here, the green is accessible at it's longest part. The green is shaped and angled like a Redan, but as you can see in this image, the run-up nature of the Redan is not allowed here.


Hole #7: Par 5, 583 yards
This substantial par 5 must be played over water twice for those players playing from the back tees. From the tee the player should play his tee shot as far right as he can in order to allow for even a slight chance at going for the green. On the second shot, the player is left to determine if he feels like he can carry the second hazard on his shot or not. In order to carry the hazard on the second shot, the player will likely be looking at a carry of 260 yards or more.
From the tee the player is confronted with this view. The safe line is to play on a line towards the point where the tallest trees fall down to the shorter ones in the distance. The more aggressive line is to play over the taller of the scrub trees in the foreground.

The second shot has little of interest. The player either chooses to go for the green in two shots or he picks his lay-up yardage. This player laid back to around 100 yards, leaving a relatively easy shot to the green.

Hole # 11: Par 4, 401 yards
This hole is of note for all the wrong reasons. This is one of the holes added to the property when it was decided to turn part of the old course into housing. From the tee the player is faced with a forced lay-up shot. There is a hazard that is blind in the first image, though barely visible from the far left portion of the tee, that takes driver out of the player's hands. There is also another pond running down the entire left side of the fairway with a long beach bunker running right into the water. The fairway is then squeezed further by a row of houses down the right side. Once in the fairway the player is left facing a virtual forced carry (it is possible to bunt the ball around the hazard, but not a likely choice for most players) to the green that is not only fronted by a pond, but also fronted by a bunker. And on top of all this, the cart path, perfectly maintained portland concrete by the way, goes directly across the fairway. This hole is just a train wreck.
The tee shot should be played towards the bunker that can be seen in the center of the image. There simply is no bailout area here. If the player hits a shot more than sightly off line, he's looking at a drop in the bunker by the pond or a re-tee. Not the best situation.
This is the tornado-in-a-trailerpark approach shot that awaits the player. Just look at it and ponder.

Hole #15: Par 3, 137 yards
This short par 3 over water might be the best par 3 on the course. The hole is simple and understated. The pond is a necessity given the low-lying nature of the course but with the short shot it should not come into play. The green is well defended, having the run-off to the pond short and the three bunkers to the rear. Even with all the defenses, the player is given a solid opportunity to make a birdie before a difficult closing stretch.


Hole #17: Par 4, 411 yards
This dogleg left is complicated somewhat by the fact that it typically plays with a helping breeze. Long players must be careful as they may well run out of fairway beyond the dogleg. Being off the fairway here is no bargain as this fairway has more containment mounding than most on the course. The player will certainly have nothing close to a level lie.
From the tee the player should aim for the tree that is nearest the fairway on the left. This will leave the longer player with plenty of room to hit the fairway. The shorter the player is off the tee, the further right he should aim.

From around 125 yards, the large and deep grass bunker that directly fronts the green is an imposing hazard to the player. This used to be a sand bunker and it is not known why the configuration was changed, though it is not the only one that has been changed.

Hole #18: Par 5, 561 yards
It is never ideal when a tee shot is played over a street of any kind. This one plays directly over one of the major streets coming into the neighborhood.  Certainly the view from the tee is very 'busy' because of that. This is also a very difficult tee shot. Though it is not evident in the below image, the fairway plays as a peninsula from the tee. The inlet can be seen just above the cross-walk and the pond runs significantly down the fairway on the right. The entire left side is pond. The bunkers that are visible work in two ways. First they are saving bunkers, keeping the player from hitting into the water, ideally. Second, they are strategic targets because any player wishing to go for the green in two shots must play close to them. The second shot is merely a number and target shot because there are no bunkers or other hazards of that nature, beyond the fronting pond, on the second shot. To the green, the player looks at a shot over water to a green heavily defended by bunkers. This is certainly a solid closing hole due to the risk/reward nature of the hole.
From the tee, a very busy sight confronts the player. Water must be carried off the tee, then avoided both left and right. On top of that, bunkers must be avoided if the player wishes to go to the green in two.
From around 260 yards, the player is confronted by this. Pond running down the entire left side and then crossing over in front of the green. If going to the green in two from here, the line is between the two trees in the left-center foreground, just beyond the fairway. Players laying up should aim between the clubhouse and condo's more to the right.
If the player chose to lay-up, this is the approach that he must play. No easy shot here.

Overall, this is not a bad course. Some of the holes are good, some are fair, and, of course, as noted, at least one is just an absolute train wreck. But this course is certainly worth the rate they charge, especially for the oddity of being able to play a wall-to-wall bent grass course this far south near the coast. For equal parts architectural quality and novelty, 4 out of 10.

Ryder Cup- Day 2 Pairings and Thoughts

The matches for the Saturday morning session have been released and perhaps the most shocking thing about them is that Tiger Woods has been left off the pairings for the first time in his career. Though given his play during day 1, this is not surprising. Now, on to the matches.

Webb Simpson & Bubba Watson vs. Justin Rose & Ian Poulter
This has potential to be another blow out from the team of Simpson/Watson or a tough match between two teams that both won on Friday. Conventional wisdom would suggest that Bubba Watson might not be the best golfer for Foursomes given his ability to hit the ball from one side of the course to another, but Capt. Love obviously has confidence in him. The Americans would be well served to get off to a strong start here to keep the good momentum from Day 1 on their side.

Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson vs. Lee Westwood & Luke Donald
The Americans are certainly hoping this team keeps up it's solid play and can pull out another point in this competition. Westwood should be riding high after today's play, getting a win over Tiger Woods. If Bradley and Mickelson can maintain their solid play this should be a point for the American side.

Jason Dufner & Zach Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts & Sergio Garcia
Given Colsaerts world beating play Friday afternoon, this one will likely have the Americans sweating it out, possibly for a loss. Dufner & Johnson won their Friday morning match but that was against players not nearly as hot as Colsaerts and Garcia.

Jim Furyk & Brandt Snedeker vs. Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell
One has to suspect the Northern Irelend pairing will not be changed out for Saturday afternoon either, given their fair results on Friday. Expect this match to turn out the same as it did on Friday morning.

Projected Saturday Morning session results: 2-2
Projected Overall: 7-5 USA leading

Have to wait and see what the actual matches bring and then on into the afternoon.

Ryder Cup- Day 1

Today was certainly a day for the young guys on the US Ryder Cup team.

Tiger Woods continued his poor play in the Ryder Cup going 0-2 in the days matches while Phil Mickelson was buoyed by the strong play of Keegan Bradley and went 2-0 on the first day of play for the first time in his career. The shot Phil hit on the 17th hole in the afternoon Four-Ball match was simply magnificent. The day's good play gives the American team a lead going into the second day for only the second time since 1995.

The first match of the day with Rory and Graeme facing off with Furyk and Snedeker went much as one would expect before the Americans ran off 3 birdies in 4 holes on the back nine to extend the match. Indeed, the American team was lucky to make it past the 14th hole, as was mentioned on this site in the preview. From there, the teams of Mickelson & Bradley and Dufner & Z. Johnson won their matches, showing that perhaps these matches will hinge on the play of the  younger players on the American side. After those matches, the perpetual Ryder Cup underachiever Tiger Woods went off with Steve Stricker and Woods did what is somewhat standard for him in the Cup, that is, of course, lose. So with that, the American team came out of the Morning session with a 2-2 tie, which given recent American failures in Foursomes is solid.

In the afternoon, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson came out of the gate like men beating out a fire and wound up winning the match 5&4, which is closer than the match really was given that the Americans were up 6 through 8 holes. From there the young teams came out and won two more matches before Woods & Stricker lost to the exceptional team of Colsaerts and Westwood; Colsaerts had 7 birdies and an eagle on his own ball. But that put the Americans up 3-1 in the afternoon matches for an overall lead of 5-3 after Day 1.

Captain Love should announce his pairings for Saturday shortly, though if he has any intelligence at all he will under no circumstances break up the pair of Mickelson & Bradley while breaking up Woods and Stricker quickly. But whatever he does, he need not stop this train while it's got good momentum. More to follow once pairings are released.

Ryder Cup 2012


Obviously Captain Davis Love III does not share the NHL superstition of not touching the Cup prior to the win. Hopefully his grasping the Cup goes the same way it did for Sidney Crosby when he grabbed the Prince of Wales Trophy prior to the Stanley Cup.

Recent history is not the best place to look if one is to have high hopes for American victory. The American team has won only 4 times since 1985 and two of those wins are rather controversial. And indeed the record of American players is just as bad as the team record. Hopefully, though, having 4 rookies on the team will give the team a needed infusion of new, "dumb" talent. Dumb meaning not having those demons in the bag from multiple losses. Hopefully these rookies step up and take some control because if we are to go with history, waiting on Tiger or Phil to lead the charge to victory will only lead to 2 more years without the Ryder Cup.

Hopefully the American team can start off well in the Friday morning Foursomes session. However, the first match, on paper, does not look very appealing. The inconsistent Jim Furyk teams with the currently hot Brandt Snedeker to face World #1 Rory McIlroy and his countryman and good friend Graeme McDowell. The Americans will likely be lucky to make it past the 14th hole in this match. The two middle matches seem relatively even on paper. The anchor match of the morning has Tiger Woods, who, despite his records elsewhere, has been a perennial underachiever in the Ryder Cup, and Steve Stricker facing off against Justin Rose and good friend Ian Poulter. That should be a solid match.

A perfect situation for the Americans would be to come out of the session leading 4-0, but considering recent American mediocrity in Foursomes, a 2-2 tie would be a good result. The Americans need a good start to the event to make sure the Chicago crown is energized and even a bit rowdy heading to the afternoon matches.

And, if there is any question of this writers objectivity during the upcoming matches, let us settle that quickly:
Clear enough??

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Golf Book Reviews: A Nasty Bit of Rough (David Feherty: 2003)

This book starts off with the unbelievable and goes forward to being absolutely hilarious. During any number of times through the book, you will likely find yourself laughing out loud, possibly to the point of tears. In the course of the book, we go from a competition where the good guys win, to the bad guys getting over on them, and finally back to the good guys coming out on top.

The main characters are all old friends of Feherty's "Uncle Dicky." Most of these men are old war veterans. And it's such a various cast as to be completely unbelievable. Among the (formerly) all male membership, the craziest character is a person who underwent a sex change operation so that the club wouldn't have to accept a new, female member. The imagination Feherty must have to come up with that is incredible.

And that is really just the tip of the iceberg in this book. From cover to cover, this may be the funniest book on golf you will ever read.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Navistar LPGA Classic-Final Round

Stacy Lewis held off the low scoring defending champ Lexi Thompson today to win her third LPGA Tour event of the year and sweep the two events in Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. She shot a total of 35 (THIRTY-FIVE, just to make it clear) shots under par in 8 rounds on the Trail this year. Who knows how many more birdies she had in practice rounds. That number either flies in the face of how supposedly difficult the Trail courses are or shows how vastly better Tour players are than the rest of the golf world. Probably equal parts both, really.

This win also comes close to solidifying her as the Player of the Year for the LPGA Tour. That is quite an accomplishment and she would be the first American to win that award in nearly two decades (Beth Daniel, 1994)  Hopefully she can continue her outstanding play as the LPGA Tour goes on an international swing for the next two months before returning to Orlando and the Grand Cypress Golf Club for the season ending Titleholders event.

All in all, a very good day for Miss Lewis. It would seem that the Roll Tiders and War Eagles didn't get out of hand given the prospect of a Hog winning in their state during football season. Best of luck to Stacy the rest of the year.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Navistar LPGA Classic-Day 3


It would seem that the cheers emanating from the Johnny B household today have propelled Stacy Lewis to the lead of the Navistar. Well, cheers and that massive kettle of skills she is able to draw from. She shot a bogey free round of 65 today while the second round leader and defending champion Lexi Thompson had struggles, shooting a 74. As an aside, I remember watching her on TV during parts of the 2007 Women's Open which she qualified for at the mind blowing age of 12 when she was still going by her full name of Alexis, but I digress.

Stacy Lewis must have a thing about Alabama, this year at least. About her round, she said “I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that. “You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course.” It would certainly seem that today she successfully navigated the toughest yardage in golf, that from the practice tee to the first tee. 

She also spoke about her tee shots not seeming to roll out as far as they normally do which is probably due to a combination of bermuda grass fairways being slower than many other types, the massive rainfall that Capitol Hill has gotten recently and the fact that the RTJ Trail tends to keep courses a bit soft and slow in general, even without the extra rain. This on a "links style" course. Yes, indeed, the Trail has quite a ways to go before it can advertise anything as a "links," at least among those who know what a real links should be.

Lexi Thompson fell off the pace a bit and from the looks of her interview she was in no mood to talk. Any time a professional answers a question "um-hmm" it was a bad day. Good for her being bold enough to give a real answer like that. When asked what she intended to do after the round and into the night to clear her mind she said "just hang out, eat dinner, have fun." Another refreshing, real answer. Let's hope she doesn't start giving the Nuke LaLoosh cliche answers like many other professional golfers. 

Tomorrow has two possibilities, given that Stacy Lewis holds a two shot lead. One, she could start off hot and put the tournament out of reach for the other golfers. This is certainly the scenario she would prefer. Two, she could play an average round, allowing the other players to get into contention, closing the gap on her. This could lead to a down to the wire finish which fans would love to see for the drama. Either way, tune into it tomorrow, watch some good golf and check out one of the fabulous courses we have here in Alabama.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Navistar LPGA Classic-Day 2

Lexi Thompson shot a 3 under par 69 today to maintain the lead in the Navistar LPGA Tour event at Capitol Hill. She is being chased by Mi Jung Hur of South Korea and Mindy Kim of the United States, two golfers Johnny B has never heard of. Stacy Lewis sits 4 shots back in 11th place, having a chance to sweep the events in Alabama this year after winning the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic earlier this year.

In the post round interview, Lexi Thompson seemed as though she was not impressed with her round today, transcript of the interview can be seen HERE. Of course, how many very good and great golfers are ever satisfied with their rounds?

As for Johnny B, well, the cheers are being directed towards Stacy Lewis. I first saw her playing on the range at the 2007 US Women's Open at Pine Needles and have followed here playing career thus far with interest. Here's hoping she adds another trophy to the case.

Coverage starts, live, tomorrow at 2pm on Golf Channel.


PGA TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
In other news, the men are at East Lake, just a short drive up the road from the current Johnny B homestead. The course looks fantastic as always and it is hoped that the opportunity to play there comes sooner, rather than later. And, in spite of his philandering ways, the cheers are going to Tiger. He needs more wins and money less than I need more golf ball display cases, but lets face it, we're witnessing history with him and it's never bad to see him make a little more.

Navistar LPGA Classic

This week the LPGA Tour is in Johnny B's current state of Alabama, playing on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail site at Capitol Hill's Senator course. Man, that's a long winded name for a golf course. This course is advertised as a links style course due to it's lack of tree lining and pot bunkers. However, one thing it is missing that links courses most certainly have is the option for the player to roll the ball onto most of the greens. But the nice ladies on the LPGA Tour don't mind that and probably don't even think about the style of the course.

Thursday saw Lexie Thompson shoot a 63 to take the lead in the tournament she won last year. She is certainly an exceptional talent in golf. However, one has to wonder if, perhaps, people are being pushed to do things at such young ages. It was just ten years ago that the golf world looked on in shock at young Ty Tryon attempted to qualify for the PGA Tour. Now, it is not that uncommon for kids not old enough to vote having full playing status on a major golf tour. There was even a ten year old who qualified for the US Women's Amateur this year. Best of luck to them all in the future.

Strangely, as much as the RTJ Trail prides itself on having numerous very difficult courses, this course, along with Magnolia Grove (Crossings) in Mobile, seems to be among the easier on tour yeilding scores deep into double digits under par. Of course, it should be noted that the Tour event is played at 6,607 yards, substantially forward of the 7,724 yard back tee yardage.

We'll just all have to wait and see how play turns out today and then leads into the weekend. However, if historical trends are any indication, it is likely that the finish will come right down to the eighteenth green, and while the eventual winner won't like that, we, the fans, certainly will. TV coverage will be on Golf Channel.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Anchorage, Alaska Golf Summary

So during a recent trip to Alaska, the writers here played six courses, five 18 hole courses and one 9 hole course. Those six are added to another played a few years ago means that seven of the ten courses in close proximity Anchorage (close being defined by normal distances, not Alaska Distance; to some in Alaska, Fairbanks is "just up the road" from Anchorage...yet it's 6 1/2 hours and 360 miles away) Of these seven, all six of the 18 hole courses in the area are included. These courses are generally of fair quality.

Ranked from top to bottom, in this writers opinion, the courses played are:

Those numbers are certainly respectable for a city of nearly 300,000 residents, plus more in the metro area. In fact, they may be just as good as most comparable metro areas in the United States, especially if only considering public courses. After all, what is the level of quality of golf in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York when all the private clubs are thrown out? No, truth be told, the residents of this part of Alaska have a great selection of courses to play. Anchorage is not exactly a golf travel destination like Myrtle Beach or Pinehurst by any means, but the courses are of fairly high quality for locals and visitors.

All the reviews for courses played are linked above.

This area has some very unique features with which it must struggle. On top of the inhospitable winter weather, the courses also must deal with the fact that they get virtually no play from non-local golfers. And the courses certainly have no national members such as courses in places like Park City, Utah that have similar weather conditions. But overall, the Anchorage metro area has a solid selection of golf courses and those courses are good enough to hold the interest of golfers.

Settlers Bay Golf Course- Wasilla, AK


This is the only housing development course in Alaska and the course uses that tidbit of information in it's advertising, though this writer is not sure if saying your courses is routed through houses is really a good thing. But that aside, the course is not bad. It has some up and down spots, as most do, but as a whole, it is a fair course. However, it must be said that having the range and first tee occupiying the most scenic part of the property might not have been the best way to route the course. On the front nine, the houses are generally not obtrusive, only coming into play on a single hole. However, on the back nine, they are more in play, indeed it seems that one hole was even altered due to homes being built. This course is certainly not the best course in Alaska, but it'd not a poor choice either.

Holes to Note
Hole #1: Par 4, 429 yards
Occupying the finest piece of ground on the entire property is never really a good thing for the first hole. However, this one does. The hole itself is not a bad hole, quality dogleg left that plays substantially downhill off the tee and overlooks Pioneer Peak in the distance. The best play off the tee is to play to the inside of the dogleg, over the depression. This widens the fairway and shortens the approach. The shot to the green is uphill to a modestly defended green that has some decent interest. Good opening hole in general, but sadly, the scenery never again comes close to matching that from the first tee.
From the tee, the hole opens up nicely for the player with the mountains providing a beautiful backdrop.
From the fairway, the player is left with this uphill approach.

From up close, the interior movements and fall-offs are visible

Hole #7, 630 yards
Playing downhill from just below the clubhouse, this is the longest par 5 on the course. On colder days, this hole would play as a real monster. The hole plays dead straight and really just requires the player hit two solid shots in order to be left with a reasonable shot into the green. But the green is one of the best this writer has played in the state. It sits as a biarritz green (which just warms the heart, naturally) and can be approached either from the air or on the ground, as it should. The green certainly makes up for the otherwise average nature of the hole.
From the tee, the player is not shown any options. The play is simply to hit the fairway as far off the tee as possible.
On the second shot, though it cannot be seen here the proper play is down the left side of the fairway, leaving a better angle into the green. It should be noted that the cart path crossing the fairway is a real eye sore. Why do courses do that?
Once closer to the greenm the bunkers that protect the putting surface are visible. This green is not a 100% biarritz green because it is aligned at a slight angle from the fairway/approach, but it is very close.
Here, the central valley and the front and rear plateaus are visible. The front pin, as usual, offers it's own unique challenges for distance control. The ball seen in the picture roughly a yard off the right fringe landed perhaps 5 yards right and 1 yard long of the flag, then released out to 35-40 feet from the cup. One has to wonder how many of the golfers here recognize the similarity in the green contours?

Hole #13: Par 4, 313 yards
This hole is of note only because it is a very poor hole. The golfer, upon leaving the 11th green, is not given a direct route to the tee. He must walk down to directly in front of the teeing area and then back about 75 yards to get to the back tees. Once there, he finds a teeing area that could have its own postal address. The tee is situated between the back decks of two nice homes and might actually draw a crowd to watch during a tournament. From there, the hole plays downhill. There is a bunker situated on the right side of the fairway roughly 250 yards off the tee. The best play is to play as close to the bunker as possible, or over it for the longest players, to leave the best shot into the green.
From the back tee, there seems to be little room for error, though the opening is slightly wider than it would appear. The bench visible by the forward tee pad is roughly where the player arrives after leaving the 11th green before walking back to the tee. The target bunker is visible in the center of the image with a house directly behind it.
On the second shot, the golfer is confronted with one of the worst hazards this writer has ever seen. The bunker sized hazard on the right is not a bunker, it is a fronting pond. This green is one of the highest points of the course, so there is no need for the pond from a drainage perspective. It is simply there to inflict severe penalty on the golfer. This course had significant potential to be good until this hole. From here, the course just goes downhill.

As mentioned above, the course starts off very well on the first hole and the entire front nine is generally solid. But the back nine is very lacking. Holes 10 and 11 are good, but from there, the course really staggers to the finish. 4 out of 10

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove (Short)


Same as with the Short course at Oxmoor Valley, it is difficult to really talk about a par 3 course. All the holes on this course require the player hit an aerial shot to the green. All the greens are elevated. But there is reasonable variety. Holes play as long as 215 on the card from the back tees (and can play 5-7 yards longer than that from the far back of the teeing area) and as short as 70 yards from the forward tees. For those not insistent on playing a single set of tees, every club in the bag, except perhaps the 3 wood and driver, can be used on the course. Overall, this is a good, above average, course.

Holes to Note
For the first time on this site, a tour of the entire course will be posted. This is the writers home course and he has played it 50 or more times just this year. All pictures and yardages from the back tees.

Hole #1: 174 yards
Proper distance and line are important right from the opening shot. The green is separated into three distinctly different tiers: the front part of the green is sunken, the back right portion is sunken as well. The middle tier is rather flat and perhaps two feet above the front and back portions.

Hole #2: 180 yards
Playing downhill over a wetland area, this is a semi-scenic hole. The shot requirement is roughly the same as the first hole. This green is separated into two tiers, front and back.
From the tee, the shot needed is quite clear.
The well defined rise can be seen here.
Looking back at the tee from behind the green.

Hole #3: 189 yards
A virtual twin of the second, this hole again plays downhill, over the wetlands. This green has less movement than the 2nd, however. 

Hole #4: 215 yards
This hole is the longest on the the course and plays to a four-tiered green that is far too extreme for the shot required. The idea of the hole is good, but the green is not at all suited to the hole.

Hole #5: 137 yards
A break from the long holes that start off the round. This hole plays roughly a club uphill to a two-tiered green. Certainly a potential birdie hole if you can hit a decent shot off the tee.

The rise in the green can be seen here.

Hole #6: 135 yards
The shortest hole on the front nine plays to a green on the same level as the tee. This green, while also highly undulated, fits the shot required, unlike the 4th green. This hole, depending upon the pin position is likely the easiest hole on the course. When the hole is cut center left any shot within a 10 yard wide semi-circle right of the hole will funnel right down to the cup.
Today, the hole is cut center left, as described above. Beyond the bunker, the green is shaped like a bowl, feeding shots to the hole.

The shadowing from the trees gives definition to the rise that separates the front part of the green from the left-center. The mound just left of the prominent pine tree shows the location of the rear dividing tier.
Looking from the rear of the green, the bowl is more clearly seen.

Hole #7: 190 yards
This is one of the few holes on the course that might actually require the player to shape for ball from the tee, at least when playing from the back tees. When the hole is cut in the back portion of the green, as in this picture, a fade off the tee will give the player easiest access to the hole.

Hole #8: 178 yards
This hole has one of the largest greens on the course, if not the largest. This green would be far better suited on the 4th hole. There is perhaps 10 feet of rise from front to back with 4 distinct tiers. The back left portion of this green also acts as a funnel for shots. This hole, due to the fantastic green, is likely the best hole on the course.
From the tee, the tiers are visible to the player. Any shot on the wrong tier above the hole will leave a very difficult putt.
The tiers are well defined and severe.

Hole #9: 160 yards
This hole plays sharply uphill, roughly a club and a half. Prior to a renovation in 2011, there was a huge put bunker directly in front of the green. Shame it is no longer there. As with most greens, this one has several distinctive tiers.


Hole #10: 173 yards
From the back tees, this hole can either be simple or a real terror. To a front hole location, the shot is easy, the rise that separates the front and back tiers is roughly 3 feet high and serves as a major backstop. To the back location, however, there is no room for error. A miss short and left will roll down to the front tier. A miss short and center will go into the bunker. Any shots long or right will deflect down a steep hill and leave something of an impossible up and down.

This shot most certainly did not end up in an ideal location and anything other than an outstanding putt will likely result in three putts.

Hole #11: 192 yards
Just a standard hole here. Tee and green on the same level, green roughly flat. One of the few holes on the course that is simple and understated.

Hole #12: 195 yards
Tough hole playing long and over the fronting bunker. Another reasonably simple shot to a green with a lower tier.

The lower and upper tiers are visible in this image.

Hole #13: 205 yards
The second longest hole on the course has a green that fits the shot. Green has a simple tier, enough movement to give interest to the hole. Would be a much better hole if the green were lowered 3 to 4 feet to allow for a run-up shot.

A simple rise separates the front and back of the green.

Hole #14: 190 yards
Another of the few holes on the course that calls for working the golf ball off the tee. The shape of the hole actually resembles as Redan and a draw off the tee is favorable. But as with all holes, a run-up shot is out of the question.

Hole #15: 110 yards
The shortest hole on the golf course is also the easiest. The bunker is virtually meaningless and the mounds on the right provide a kick onto the green. This is the final birdie hole before the final difficult stretch.

Hole #16: 192 yards
This hole plays slightly uphill to a three tiered green and over the same marsh that came into play on holes 2, 3 and 4. And in reality, this hole is a virtual copy of 2 and 3. The deep green can prompt indecision in the player having to determine how much to add to or take off the posted yardage.

Hole #17: 155 yards
This hole plays sharply uphill and to a green that slopes sharply from back to front. When the hole is cut in the front, any shots left above the hole leave a very difficult putt. This green also has several different levels, but they are a bit more subtle than the levels on some other greens.

Here you can see the 4 tiers. This image is taken from the back of the green, the green has tiers back left and right, then two tiers falling down towards the front of the green.

Hole #18: 170 yards
The closing hole plays a club uphill to a green that is semi-blind from the tee. Regardless of where the hole is cut, the player is unable to see the bottom of the flagstick. This hole is a fair closing hole, but nothing spectacular.

The 18th green has some interest, bringing difficulty to the final hole.

Overall, this is a solid course. The yardages are varied and as said before, can be extremely varied for players who play from all different tees. But without the ability to play the ball on the ground at least a few times, the shots get slightly repetitive. That coupled with a couple of over the top greens, detracts from the course a bit. But this course is still solid. 4 out of 10