Author Archives: Jay Bastian

The Metacomet rebirth

Former Metacomet Golf Club

The Metacomet Golf Club is located just east of downtown Providence on Watchemoket Cove of the Providence River. The club had been a fixture in Rhode Island golf from 1901 when Leonard Myles designed the layout and was further enhanced by Donald Ross in 1926. The property was purchase by Marshall Properties, a group that included PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Brad Faxon. The intention was to develop a mixed used development on the entire property, but the current plan now includes a scaled down project that retains a 9 hole golf course open to public play.

Rhode Island based Robert McNeil ASGCA was tasked with squeezing a new 9 hole layout into seven holes of the original front nine including holes 1,2,3,4,5, and 7. The course will be known as MetLinks and will open in early June 2024.

The new MetLinks to open in June 2024

Bobby Jones, it’s good to see you back!

Bobby Jones Golf Course

The Bobby Jones Golf Club is located on Fruitville Road between I-75 and downtown Sarasota.

It’s a municipal golf complex with an 18-hole Donald Ross design, restored by Richard Mandell on Ross’s original plans, a 9-hole adjustable Gillespie Course that can be played five different ways with 30 hole options, a 25-acre practice facility with 70 hitting stations, a 3.75 acre short game area with three chipping greens and two teardrop target greens, and a 21,000 square foot putting green. The Championship course meanders through wetlands and water features along mounded fairways defined by trees and tropical shrubry with modest, raised greens protected by Ross’s trademark sand bunkers. There’s six tee boxes from 4,583 yards to 6,714 yards, the Blue tees play to 6,061 yards, 69.4/126, course/slope ratings.

New Florida golf club, Astor Creek, adds to the quality of golf available around Port St. Lucie

Astor Creek Golf & Country Club

Port St. Lucie, midway between West Palm and Melbourne, is already a golf destination with the PGA Village and the nearby Nicklaus design of Hammock Creek, but now there’s a reason to stay an extra day.

Astor Creek, which opened in late 2023, is off Midway Road exit of I-95 to the west on the west side of the PGA Village within a residential community. The layout is over level terrain along fairways dotted with native grasses, oaks, palms, or pine trees. There’s a generous amount of water features in play, waste areas and traditional sand bunkers and features several template greens including a Redan, Biarritz, Punchbowl, and Short Horseshoe. There’s five sets of tees from 3,653 yards to 6,903 yards off the tips, the the grey tees are 5,529 yards, 70.8/119, course/slope ratings, designed by Chris Wilczynski

Nearly $3,800 for a room and a round of golf and the nearest ocean is 119 miles!

Sensei Porcupine Creek

Porcupine Creek at Sensei Resort is an upscale golf and spa resort located in Rancho Mirage off CA 111 at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It was the private estate of Larry Ellison (Oracle) until he decided to convert the property into a wellness retreat with 22 lodging units. The lodging cost is $1,400/night with a two night minimum required and golf at $950/round, or you can opt for the Golf Optimal Wellbeing Program for $2,075/night.

The layout winds along palm trees, abundant flowers and landscaping, waterfalls, and water features over broad fairway corridors.. The front side runs through the Coachella Valley while the back side climbs up into some significant change in elevation with the 15th par 3 a 200 foot drop from tee to green. Overall, it’s 6,665 yards from the tips, 78.3/142, course/slope ratings with a variety of shorter tee boxes. It was designed by Tim Blixseth, another billionaire who originally developed the property, while Ellison is credited with adding a significant amount of palm trees and desert flora to accentuate the layout..

First new municipal golf course in New Jersey in a decade!

The Rose at Lambertson

The Rose is a municipal golf course located south of Perth Amboy in Matawan between the Garden State Parkway and NJ 9 on Highway 34. It’s on a natural track of land without homes or development along the holes.

The layout features a mix of open and forested fairway corridors over generally level topography. There several water features, about 30 sand bunkers, and green sites of varying sizes and degrees of undulations. There’s four sets of tees from 5,045 yards to 6,509 yards, designed by Stephen Kay.

Cypress Bend Resort, another course in the middle of nowhere

The Cypress Bend Resort

The Cypress Bend Resort, now part of the Wyndham hotel franchise system, is located on the Texas/Oklahoma border on Toledo Bend Lake about 1 1/2 hours west of Alexandria. It’s located about an hour east of the Rayburn Country Resort which we profiled on our last post and make a nice two-course combo of sorts, both with lodging.

The layout, on the Audubon Golf Trail of Louisiana, is carved through the pines with over half the holes bordering the Lake and six holes requiring shots over hidden coves or inlets. There’s five sets of tees with the tips at 6,707 yards, 72.9/141, course/slope ratings, originally designed by Dave Bennett with a recent Jeff Brauer redesign.

The Rayburn Resort, worth another look

The Rayburn Country Resort

The Rayburn Country Resort is on the southeast side of Lake Sam Rayburn just north of Jasper, 2 1/2 hours from either Houston or Shreveport with 27 holes.

The “Championship” 18 hole layout is carved through the pineywoods over rolling terrain with elevated greens and tees, numerous doglegs, and a variety of narrow and broad fairways. From the tips it’s 6,731 yards, 73.7/136 course/slope ratings with four shorter tees, original course designs by Jay Riviere, Robert von Hagge, and Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

Get back to Tot Hill Farm in 2024

Tot Hill Farm Golf Club

Only seven golf courses solely attributable to his name, but what an impact Mike Strantz had on golf course architecture. After originally intending study studio art, he moved on to agronomy and received a degree in turf grass management from Miami University. After a stretch with Tom Fazio as a shaper, he set out on his own. Several Myrtle Beach area renovations later, his first solo effort was Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on Pawley’s Island, SC. That was followed by True Blue, Royal New Kent, Stonehouse, Tobacco Road, and Tot Hill Farm.

Tot Hill is located about an hour northwest of Pinehurst on the southwest side of Asheboro, NC in the Piedmont region. It’s routed over a ranging tract of Uwharrie Mountain foothills with plunging fairways terrorized by Betty McGees Creek, massive boulders, a couple of ponds, and natural edged sand bunkers. The course reopened this fall with a significant renovation after new ownership acquired the course. In total, $3 Million was spent on removing 1,500+ trees, restoration of the sand bunkers, zoysia grass greens, in addition to renovation and repair of the barns and clubhouse. The result yields a challenging and truly enjoyable layout-a faithful restoration to Mr. Strantz’s original design standards.

What in the world is Rees Jones doing in Johnsonville, SC, population 1,480??

The Wellman Golf Club

Rees Jones, “The Open Doctor”, son of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and architect of 250+ golf courses worldwide has recently completed, along with Bryce Swanson, the Wellman Golf Club renovation. The golf club is located in Johnsonville, SC midway between and about an hour each from Florence and Myrtle Beach. Why, you may ask, did Rees Jones, who’s had a hand in Bethpage, Pinehurst No. 2, Baltusrol, and Torrey Pines to name a few of the notables, take on this project in a town of 1,480 residents?

First, the course and the community reminded him of his wife’s hometown just up the road in Red Springs, NC. The golf course was integral to their community and Johnsonville has been without a course for 10+ years. Second, it was his way of giving back to the game and contribute to the opportunity for public golfers to play a private club experience.

Rees Jones discussing the renovation and rebirth of the Wellman Golf Club

Wellman has been around since the mid-1960s with the second nine completed in 1971. It was designed by a couple of golf course architects with chops in their day, Ellis Maples and Ed Seay. The course closed in 2010 and sat dormant for the ensuing period. Fortunately, the fairways and roughs were somewhat maintained by a local resident. In 2020 Florence County purchased the course for $575,000. Subsequently, they entered into a long term lease with the City of Johnsonville to operate the course. A penny sales tax raised up to $5 million to restore the property and reopen the clubhouse and facilities, and on November 11 the City held its grand opening.

The course is a classic parkland layout winding through mature hardwoods and pines over slightly rolling terrain with a Pinehurst feel. There’s numerous ponds and water features in play, slight and dramatic doglegs, and a host of sand traps defending the small, raised greens and the occasional fairway. It also features a reverse “Waterloo” with a nod to the Dunes in Myrtle Beach at the par 5, 11th, and a closing par 3 of 220 yards over water from the tips! There’s five sets of tees with the middle white tees at 6,347 yards.

The Wellman Golf Club

Eldorado Golf Course in Cadillac-how original!

Eldorado Golf Course, Cadillac, MI

Cadillac stopped production of its Eldorado line in 2002 after 50 years of production. Fortunately, this Eldorado, the golf course, is still in production and would be described, like the automobile, as a fine classic. It’s located is on the south side of Cadillac off US 131 at MI 115 to the north.

It’s a quintessential, northern Michigan parkland layout through a mix of dense mature hardwood corridors and those more open and forgiving off the tee. There’s water features in play on 1/3 of the holes yet only a scattering of sand bunkers and generous green complexes. It can play to 7,134 yards, 72.8/137, course/slope off the tips with four shorter tees, designed by Bob Myer.