Top 100 Courses: #40 The Golf Club

The Golf Club
Location: New Albany, OH
Architect: Pete Dye
Year Constructed: 1967
Played: June 21, 2009

If I were to start my own golf club today I would hope it came out looking exactly like The Golf Club in New Albany, OH. The Golf Club was founded in 1967 by Fred Jones with the simple goal of having a private club where he and his friends could play golf and enjoy themselves. Mr. Jones managed to piece together a 400 acre parcel of land and then took a chance on a virtually unknown architect by the name of Pete Dye to build his golf course. When the project was finished a world class golf club was left as a monument to their partnership.

Thanks to my fellow Top 100 golfer Larry Berle. I’m playing The Golf Club today with his friend Bob. I cut through the quaint little pro shop and over to the main clubhouse building where the dining and locker rooms are located. When I stepped through the door to the locker room I saw what might be my favorite locker room ever. There were tables and chairs in a bar area, leather couches for lounging, card tables, stacks of books and magazines on golf, exposed wooden beams, a huge fireplace and rows of nicely aged dark wooden lockers.

Once we were sufficiently warmed up we went to the putting green to wait our turn. The practice green here is unique in that it is a shared green with the 18th hole. This is something I’ve not ever seen before. As there are no tee times at The Golf Club so members just hang around on the putting green until its their turn to go off. The membership is VERY small at 150 so even at its busiest times there aren’t many golfers on the course.

We played from the white tees which were 6632 yards. The first hole pictured below is a 349 yard par 4 dogleg right. The smart player will avoid the bunker on the right. Its very much in play for a sliced shot and the grass in the middle of the bunker is very long and very penal . . . trust me on that. The 2nd hole is a long par 4 at 444 yards with a blind tee shot.

The 1st hole

The 3rd hole pictured below is a fantastic par 3 that plays 185 yards. Shots that fall short will find the water and those that are long will get in the nasty bunkers behind the green. Note that Pete Dye was using his signature railroad ties even this early in his career. The 4th hole is a 518 yard par 5. In the photo below you can see that the fairway throws everything to the right so the line is to play down the left hand side as close to the tree as possible.

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Top 100 Courses: #13 Seminole Golf Club

Seminole Golf Club
Location: Juno Beach, FL
Architect: Donald Ross
Year Constructed: 1929
Played: June 28, 2011

Playing the Top 100 is rife with hurdles and pitfalls. Anyone who has been following my quest at this website knows that the largest and most difficult obstacle is the fact that about 85% of the courses are private and require a member host or sponsor to play. Searching for members is difficult when it comes to all clubs, but for a variety of reasons some are considerably more difficult than others. Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida is one of the most difficult ones on the list.

Seminole is only open for a 5-6 month period of time and, as I understand it, most of the members live outside of Florida during the summer. This leaves me once again searching nationwide for the proverbial snowball in a snowstorm. Guest play at Seminole must be accompanied by a member. For Seminole members who wish to have guests but are unable to play with them, there is a very small window for two member sponsored groups of unaccompanied guests each day.

One of the many great things about the Top 100 Quest is the incredible people I have met along the way. Golf is full of kind and friendly people who have been enormous supporters of my quest which never ceases to amaze me. One of those people is a young club pro from Michigan. Corey and I became friends about two years ago and like me Corey loves, appreciates and respects great golf courses. Corey also has the great fortune to work at a top quality club that includes a large number of members who belong to multiple clubs, many of them on the Top 100 list. One day in January of this year I received a phone call from Corey who informed me that his member friend had sponsored an unaccompanied group and that Corey had a spot for me to join him!

We arrived at the club at 8:30 and the nice lady in the office opened her window and gave us the book to sign in before we made our way to the locker room. I have to say that it was a great feeling to write my name in the guest book. That simple little act was a bit of pinch me moment and drove home the gravity of the situation in which we were currently ensconced. Continue reading

Top 100 Courses: #17 Whistling Straits

We’re glad to welcome a new guest blogger at the Scratch Pad! The Itinerant Golfer profiles Steve’s quest to play all of the top 100 golf courses in America. You’ll get a chance to see a round in action, along with great photos of the holes on the course. We’re glad to have him with us, and will be sharing some of his best posts with you.

Whistling Straits
Location: Haven, WI
Architect: Pete Dye
Year Constructed: 1998
Played: June 11, 2009

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I headed to Wisconsin to play Whistling Straits. Despite its high ranking of #22 on the Top 100 list, I wasn’t overly excited to play it. From what I could tell about the course from my research on the internet and from watching events played there on TV it was probably not going to be my kind of course. I was hoping to be surprised.

Once I got outside of Milwaukee I was in rural Wisconsin and was thankful for my trusty GPS unit. Eventually I saw the Whistling Straits sign and turned into the driveway. As I wound my way around I was very pleasantly surprised to see that there was no colossal clubhouse or hotel. Instead it was just a modest little clubhouse built to look like an Irish Cottage. Whistling Straits Golf Course was designed to have the feel of an authentic Irish golf club. I’m feeling better about this already. The photo below (which I did not take) shows a great view of the clubhouse.

Herb Kohler of Kohler faucet fame built Whistling Straits. Kohler’s corporate HQ are just a driver and pitching wedge away from Whistling Straits. The American Club was actually not built by Herb Kohler, it was actually used by the Kohler Company to house the immigrant workers at the factory in the early years of the company, it was then renovated and turned into what is now a Five Diamond Resort. In addition to serving recreational golfers like me the course has also hosted events for both the PGA and USGA. The first major event to be held at the course was the PGA Championship in 2004 Continue reading