Top 5 New Courses I Played in 2016
First off, sorry for the click-baity title there, but how else was I supposed to describe a list of golf courses? With that apology out of the way, I won’t waste time introducing this post since I’m sure people never read anything other than the titles in list posts. Also, this article isn’t meant to be full reviews of the courses, that would take up too much space. Rather, this represents a quick hit on some of the notable courses I got to play this past year. They aren’t ranked against each other, but instead listed in the time order I played them. First up, Alabama.
This past end of January 2016, so coming up on a year ago now, I had a week off and went to play some solo golf down in Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. And if you didn’t see some of my comments from back then, I highly highly recommend the trail.
None of the courses I played were below average, and what was great also was that it was the “offseason” which meant that it was cold enough to keep the locals away, but warm enough for me and my resistance to cold weather when golfing.
Of all the courses, I’ll highlight Ross Bridge. Mostly because it tips out at 8,191 yards, with a rating / slope of 78.5/135. It was also great because I was literally, and I mean literally in the literal sense, the only person to play the course that day.
The cloudy sky, and lack of overseeded rough also made for some cool pictures.
The one thing that happens with an 8,000 yard course is there’s very little variation in the lengths of the holes. The par threes were all about 225 yards, and likewise on up with the par 4s and par 5s. I can’t imagine having a course that long with a drivable par 4 or something, though I think Erin Hills can claim that honor, which is over 8k and has a drivable par 4 on the second hole.
A few notes on the other courses I played on the trail: The ones at Capitol Hill were awesome, only issues were that it was in the 30s to start (cold to even me), and also that the cart ran out of juice on my second 18 of the day around the 13th hole. Oxmoor Valley was also baller, with the Ridge course being on a ridge. Scroll through those pictures on the link and check out that elevation. It was great. Also great that I got 54 holes in that day with only having to play through 2 groups. Now that’s the best.
If I only played 13 of the holes at a course, does it still count as playing a full round? Definitely not handicapwise, but in terms of this post, it sure as hell does.
The newest of the Coore Crenshaw production courses only had the front 9 officially open when we played in July, with 10, 16, 17, and 18 open for play, but without tee markers, which made finding the tees on number 16 very difficult.
The course was so new when we also played it that they were in the process of digging out grass that had grown its way into the newly sanded bunkers. The expression on the face of this high school aged dude who was doing the digging showed that he really really didn’t want to be there. But hey! That’s what summer jobs are supposed to be right?
It’s very hard to describe this type of dry, links golf when most people are used to the tree lined country club style courses with lush rough and round greens. Coore Crenshaw do use some of the “template” holes that you’ll see on those old school courses (like the punch bowl 17th, or the redan 3rd), but a lot of their green designs are novel. I think my favorite example of this is demonstrated in the second hole, with a wide fairway to the left, and an offset green to the right. Challenging the right side leads to an easier approach shot, both visually and slopewise, but there’s also a pack of trees to that side which can screw you if you veer too close.
The new Coore Crenshaw courses also feature the hip runoff areas without rough that are becoming more and more popular. Think the Olympic course by Gil Hanse, or any of the British Open rotation courses. Rough is out, runoff areas are in.
I was also a fan of the elevation change on the property out there. A lot of design has to do with the piece of property you’re given, and unless you pull a Pete Dye at Sawgrass where he made a course out of swamp, it’s hard to get that super highly ranked course design unless you have some elevation.
Also, Sand Valley, holy crap y’all need a better logo.
Lake Beulah Country Club
Ok, I have to explain myself here a little. LBCC is only a country club in the most stretched imaginations. It’s a 9 hole course in the middle of Wisconsin with greens so spongy they’re basically moss, and you need auto two putts to make it reasonable.
The course is surprisingly unique though. It features a par three with a giant bush thing that covers half of the green for the 90 yard shot.
It also features a par three where the trees on either side have merged to create a defense that requires luck to get it close to the hole.
And immediately after that par 3 lies is a 600+ yard par 5.
Now at, $20 for 9 holes, it’s incredibly overpriced. Like, holy crap it’s ridiculous. But combine 9 holes with one of the stiffest bloody marys you’re going to find anywhere and the full beer chaser for $5, making the combo is definitely worth it. The first time we did the combo the three of us who had the drinks were glad we had a DD 4th to drive us home.
The other best part of the course is their lax dress code where a Bucks jersey or tank top is deemed completely appropriate attire. Furthermore, one can feel comfortable engaging in such chicanery as teeing off on the 9th hole using a 25 oz. Lima-a-rita can as the tee. This 9 hole course with a fun/relaxed vibe alongside unique and challenging holes guarantees good times.
The best word to describe Shoreacres is sexy. Like it’s the sexiest golf course you could imagine being built on a piece of property that’s generally flat. Maybe it helped that I played it on a perfect, warmer than normal fall day. But it was so nice I didn’t even notice that about half of the greens were punched by that point in the fall.
Though quickly, and I have to say sorry to some people out there, the redan par 3 hole number 14 … could be better. If you’re not under the hole, it’s very difficult to hold the green, let alone get it close. And sure, some people will say that the point of a redan is to punish a wayward shot, but the mound to the back and right of the green looks ridiculously pointed, and almost out of place for an otherwise fantastic course.
But don’t let this paragraph take away from how highly I think of the place, and how great it would be to play every day. Yeah, it’s absolutely an every day play kind of course.
An end of the year new course that just snuck in under the deadline at the end of 2016, Trinity Forest is the second newest Coore Crenshaw course to open besides Sand Valley, opening earlier this spring. I won’t say anything more about the course here since you can read the full review of our time there here!
Awesome course, go and play it! We’re also ready for a great 2017 of new courses as well.