Ok I am back since I get to write about one of my very favorite topics. It is mid May and I have already had a year for the ages. Here we go:

Pine Valley, NJ - designed by George Crump with consultation from virtually every other great classic architect. This was a dream come true. It is ranked as the top golf course in the world, and to me, there is a gap between it and the other courses. It is that good. What you have is 18 perfectly designed holes, any of which would be the best hole on any other course. The four par 3s are strong, the short four par 4s are excellent, the long par 4s are brutal and the two par 5s are impossible. I played one day at 6,600 yds and the 2nd at 6,300 yds, had 95 each day and was happy (would like to play it in 75 degrees with no wind). The experience is also perfect, five star lodging and food, a clubhouse which is a museum and the club is not stuffy. While I am always excited to play anywhere good, I will not be "cannot sleep" excited to play anywhere else.

Aronimink GC, Newtown Square, Pa - a Donald Ross masterpiece that is playable. This venerable Philly club has hosted many major events and is slated for the 2027 PGA. It is typical Ross, demanding strategy on every shot, and the green complexes are solid. The elevation on the site gives variety to the holes. While it is a hard course, the average player can get it around. Very worthy as a top 100 course.

Kinloch GC, Richmond, Va - luxury club by Lester George and Vinny Giles. This is another top 100 course which is stunningly beautiful and very difficult. There are some forced carries both off the tee and on the approaches. Another characteristic is split fairways on several holes, giving the player a choice of attack. This is club worth groveling to access and also worthy of its ranking.

Cherokee Plantation, Yemasse, SC - super exclusive club in rural SC. This is one of the hardest tee times to get in the US as there are only 22 members ($1 million initiation fee). It is a sportsman's paradise with 2,000 acres of untouched Lowcountry woods, water frontage and sheer beauty. The members have their own fishing, hunting, hiking. horseback riding and any other enclave. The golf course is pristine, featuring 400 year old live oaks, and very good. Designed by Donald Steele, it is very playable but will challenge the best. You can check it out by searching for a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf Episode with Els and Duval.

Inerlachen, Winter Park, Fl - Joe Lee design typical Florida with many forced carries. Good course but very difficult. 

Isleworth GC, Windermere, Fl - the home of the pros and other famous athletes. A luxury club with the course designed by Arnold Palmer. The club is 5 star, and the course is good but not great. They have tees at 7,500+ for the touring pros. Just a great place for a country club experience.

CC of Orlando - A restored Donald Ross (disputed it is a Ross) in the middle of Orlando. Another luxury club with a really good golf course. The main limitation is that it is a flat site, but the holes are laid out nicely and the greens have character. This is a course you could play over and over without tiring of it.

Golden Ocala - another very nice club in horse country. The identity of the course is that it has eight replica holes (Augusta, St Andrews, etc), but the other 10 holes are solid. In fact, I enjoyed them more. This is another course that you can play over and over.

Tierra del Sol, Aruba - unusual in that Aruba has desert conditions and high winds (20 mph plus) which make for an interesting day. This Robert Trent Jones Jr design was laid out specifically for the wind direction (which I was told is constant 90% of the time). There were some nice holes over interesting terrain with deep water views. Nice course but rent sticks since the conditions will tear up nice clubs.

Pretty solid start.

 

 

 

 

Original Post

What a honor to play Pine Valley. I grew up in Cherry Hill about twenty minutes away and most people my self included had no idea it was there or what it was. Its in a very blue collar, rural working class area which only adds to the intrigue of why its there and how it got there?

I actually spent many summers in my early teens at Boy Scout camp across a lake from it. I have faint memories of canoeing across the lake and walking around that side. There was train tracks and a chain link fence we could see a golf course through but really never gave it much thought. It was only after college that I began playing and learned the hallowed ground that lay beyond those fences. Even now I know many people that grew up in the area that are very well heeled and connected on top of being great golfers. I can only think of 2 or 3 that have ever had a chance to play it. It truly is an honor.

Im not sure if it still exists but there used to be a Geroge Crump Invitational tournament each year. I believe it was (at least at one time) open to the public to go and watch/walk the course. 

Edit: guess it still is.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/e...etails/#1cc3214725d8

I played a round at the Machrie Golf Links in Islay this past August.  Highly recommend the island, the hotel next to it, and the course.

Edit: Green fees and club rentals came up to about $110.  The hotel room was about USD $250/nt which included breakfast.  Views were priceless.  Getting a tee time was pretty easy.  If interested, you should see when they plan to host tournaments and avoid them.

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I got to play a round at Firestone a couple of weeks ago. I was playing alright until the last 3 holes on which I took a total of 23 strokes. Final score of 100.

That was actually the second time I played the course. The first time (1998) I birdied the Monster, something I was pretty proud of. It exacted revenge on me this time.

Oh nice, this thread lives. I will have to learn to post pics here. My IG account has many of them (actually that is why I started posting on IG).

My ridiculous year of playing great courses continues. I visited Connecticut (state 37 in my journey) to play The Course at Yale. It is a Seth Raynor masterpiece, a museum of his template holes. The 9th hole, a Biarritz par 3 of some 190 yds plus over water is the signature hole on a course with many of them.

On foreign soil I play Club de Golf Foutainebleu, a Tom Simpson classic course in a dense forest. Very good course. I also played my first Stanley Thompson course in Quebec province, Montebello. The course is tree lined with many elevation changes and provides strategic options. Thompson is a great architect and I have got to play more of his courses.

Finally, I made my first visit ever to Long Island to begin exploring maybe the best collection of courses in the world. Due to a friend, I got to play Atlantic GC when the course was closed. It is a solid Rees Jones design that would be much higher rated if in a different place. The course is in flawless condition, as good as possible. I also played Noyac CC, a tree lined course that is unheralded but a great members course.

The highlight of the trip was Friars Head GC, a Coore/Crenshaw superb effort. This course may be as good as I have ever seen, yes including Pine Valley. My buddy is a national rater based in Long Island and he thinks it may be the best course on LI, think about that one. I cannot disagree. One aspect of a great course is that your jaw drops when you first see the golf holes. There are 18 of them on this course. Long holes, short holes, wide fairways, sight lines and great green complexes, this course has it all. The club sets the standard for luxury including any upscale hotel you can think of. My request to set up residence there was politely declined, but you get the picture, I cannot wait to see this place again. 

steve8 posted:

I got to play a round at Firestone a couple of weeks ago. I was playing alright until the last 3 holes on which I took a total of 23 strokes. Final score of 100.

That was actually the second time I played the course. The first time (1998) I birdied the Monster, something I was pretty proud of. It exacted revenge on me this time.

S and I were supposed to play Firestone this weekend, but ended up moving it to next season.  Looking forward to it.

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