Canada's Only True Links

3/31/2011 0 comments

Click on the photo above to view the teaser trailer for Cabot Links, a new Rod Whitman-designed golf course opening next year in Nova Scotia (10 holes will be open for play July 1, 2011). Cabot is billing itself as its country's first true links course, with rolling, firm-and-fast conditions hard by the sea. Mike Keiser is involved in the project, and as owner of Bandon Dunes, he knows a thing or two about building successful, remote links golf courses. Keiser also had a role in Lost Farm, another rugged links course that opened last year in Tasmania (adjacent to Tom Doak's Barnbougle Dunes).

Like a contestant on The Bachelor, I feel a strong 'connection' to Cabot Links. The pull of links golf is just too strong. Once you've played the game it was meant to be played, you'll really never be the same. Plus, my in-laws vacationed in the Cape Breton area last summer. Knowing they were heading that way, I told them they simply had to check out this great new course that was currently under construction. Of course, I fully expected to completely ignore my suggestion, like they usually do (case in point: Cape Kidnappers during their New Zealand vacation in 2007). Lo and behold, I received a call in the middle of the day a couple of weeks later -- my in-laws were standing on the property amidst all of the bulldozers, watching dirt being pushed around. I frantically tried to arrange a tour of the place, but they were back on the road by the time I tracked down the developer.

Just this past week, I ran into my father-in-law Ken at a wake for my wife's aunt. Naturally, our conversation drifted to golf. "You know that links course up in Nova Scotia?" Ken asked. "What do you say you and I go up there after it opens?" I don't even need to tell you my answer (yes, there was man-hugging involved). Cabot Trail, here we come!

Pinehurst No. 2 Renovation

3/17/2011 0 comments

My good friend Tom Dunne just posted this fantastic video of the recently renovated Pinehurst No. 2 over on Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw brought back Donald Ross's original look and strategic vision, while keeping its famous green intact. The biggest change is the removal of the bermuda rough, replaced by sandy waste area and wiregrass. Tom is keen to point out the beauty of this type of native "rough". Instead of balls nestling down into thick bermuda rough, wayward drives will bound into the sandy areas - some may end up stymied against some wiregrass while others may find a clean lie on hard-packed sand. These areas will likely call for imagination and shotmaking skills, as opposed to a straightforward hack and slash.

I played No. 2 over 10 years ago and really enjoyed the course (although the above picture of the new par-3 9th is a chilling reminder of my triple-bogey on that hole). It currently sits 17th on my personal course rankings. However, Tom's video has me drooling and pining for returning visit. I can tell you right now that the increased width, stunning look and heightened fun factor are right up my alley, and a return visit would probably send Pinehurst No. 2 up into the pantheon where it belongs.

Spring is Here!

3/16/2011 1 comments
A beautiful spring day here in Chicago. Perfect excuse to hit the range during my lunch break. Here are some of the first swings of spring.

Also, I found out this week that Jefe is officially IN for the Ballynizzle Cup this summer. It's on like Donkey Kong! I'm going to need a lot more range sessions to improve my chances of bringing the Cup home to its rightful owner.

Tom Doak's Top 25

3/15/2011 0 comments
Back in December 2009, I started a little topic on GolfClubAtlas called "Whip It Out: Post your Top 25 Courses Played." Little did I know it would go on to become one of the most prolific threads on the site this side of a Merion debate, with over 19,000 views.

Late last night, famed architect Tom Doak became the latest to whip it out. His list of top courses is viewed as the holy grail of course rankings, especially considering his seminal The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses a) only grouped courses on a 10-point scale and b) was published over 13 years ago, thus missing all of the great courses built during this new golden age of architecture. Where modern gems would score on the Doak Scale is a subject of much speculation and debate on the site.

Doak's late-night post may bring the GCA servers to a screeching halt. Just in case, here is Doak's Top 25, followed by list of 25 more 'favorites', in alphabetical order:

Top 25
1. The Old Course at St. Andrews
2. Royal Melbourne (West)
3. Sand Hills
4. Pine Valley
5. National Golf Links of America
6. Cypress Point
7. Crystal Downs
8. Shinnecock Hills
9. Royal Dornoch
10. Merion (East)
11. Pacific Dunes
12. Ballybunion (Old)
13. Muirfield
14. Pinehurst (No. 2)
15. Royal County Down
16. Barnbougle Dunes
17. Kingston Heath
18. Ballyneal
19. Pebble Beach
20. Augusta National
21. Seminole
22. Prairie Dunes
23. Rock Creek
24. Riviera
25. North Berwick (West)

Note: Doak has seen but hasn't played Oakmont, therefore it wasn't eligible for the list.

25 More 'Favorites'
Cape Kidnappers
Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)
Cruden Bay
Garden City
The Golf Club
Long Cove
Royal West Norfolk
Royal Worlington & Newmarket
St. Andrews Beach
St. Enodoc
St. George's (Toronto)
St. George's Hill
The Sheep Ranch
Stone Eagle
Swinley Forest
Walton Heath (Old)
White Bear Yacht Club
Woodhall Spa

Video Post: Sven in Australia

3/14/2011 0 comments
A number of my GolfClubAtlas friends were down under recently as part of a large group playing the two courses at Barnbougle Dunes and a few courses in the famed Sand Belt region. As the pictures and stories started rolling in, I was filled with equal parts jealously and regret. The courses of Australia and New Zealand are extremely high on my bucket list.

My buddy Sven was one of the 30 or so guys on the trip. Fortunately, he was kind enough to post some extensive video tours of four of the courses on the trip. If you're anything like me, these videos will likely have you checking out prices on flights to Melbourne and beyond. Enjoy!

Lost Farm (click here for course website)

Barnbougle Dunes (click here for course website)

Royal Melbourne East (click here for course website)

Royal Melbourne West (click here for course website)
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