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The Woodford Club – A Club That Can Be Enjoyed By All

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There are only a few places in the USA that have a history as rich as that of Woodford County, KY. For starters, Woodford County was established as one of the nine counties that made up what was originally known as the “District of Kentucky.” It was originally part of Virginia and was the last of the nine counties organized when the State of Kentucky was admitted to the Union in 1792.

As a county in Virginia, Woodford was considered part of Fayette County, VA. It was named for William Woodford, an American Revolutionary War general from Virginia who was with George Washington at Valley Forge and died while a prisoner of war in 1780 after being captured by the British.

These days, Woodford County encompasses more than 123,000 acres of the world’s finest agricultural land including bragging rights to the largest total farm income in the state. Much of that income comes from thoroughbred horse farms. One is Coolmore, America‘s Ashford Stud Farm where two Triple Crown winners, American Pharaoh and Justify, spend half the year.

As a visitor, there is plenty to do in Woodford County. First of all, there’s the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and one of Kentucky’s oldest bourbon whiskey distilleries, Labrot & Graham, where the Woodford Reserve brand is made. It’s located in the beautiful country outside the county seat of Versailles (pronounced VER-SALES). Then there’s the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum which provides an interactive experience of historic railroading in Kentucky.  Inside, you’ll find a museum of historic railroad artifacts as well as an antique tour train. If you’re into the ponies. You can always take a guided horse farm tours which are available at many locations. If you’re a golfer you need to pay a visit to The Woodford Club in Versailles, KY, and play a round of golf on a course that will challenge you.

The Woodford Club was built in 1967 and was originally known as Woodford Hills Country Club and later as Moss Hill Golf Course. The course was designed by well-known architect Buck Blankenship who designed many courses in the area. In 2015 the course underwent a renovation by Kevin Hargrave who did his best to keep Blankenship’s original vision in mind. The fairways are carpeted in Zoysia grass which provides beautiful lies and leads to lush Bentgrass greens that roll true.

The Woodford Club plays 6,119 yards from the Blue tees with a course rating of 70.1 and a slope of 129. Move up a set to the Whites and the yardage drops to slightly less than 5,900 yards however the course rating drops only slightly to 69.2 with a slope of 126.  Two other sets of tees, the Gold (5,331/66.0/117) and the Red (4,870/68.3/113) provide yardages and challenges that will make the round exciting and memorable for all. Just remember, when you’re in doubt of which tees to play, do what Jack Nicklaus suggests and Tee It Forward!

The Woodford Club has several memorable holes starting with Number 1, a 460-yard par 5 that plays straightaway. You can’t see the green from the tee and often you can’t see it until you’re ready to approach it. The approach shot plays downhill and about half a club less. The green is well protected by sand on three sides.

The 2nd hole is probably the most challenging par 3 on the course. From the White tees, the hole plays 174 yards uphill. Trees surrounding the green can come into play on any mishit tee shots and the bunker front right has seen its fair share of play.

Golf course owner Randy Clay’s favorite hole is Number 5, a par 4 that plays 362 yards. From the tee, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the next county. Keeping it in the fairway off the tee goes a long way in scoring well on this hole. The green is small and protected front left by a pot bunker. He played the hole well when I played with him, but not good enough to win any money!

Number 9 is a 347-yard par 4 with a tee shot over water followed by an approach shot that plays significantly uphill. The green is protected in front by two bunkers and the green has some good undulation in it.

Number 13 is a 166-yard par 3 and one of only a few holes with water. The tee shot is all carry over water into a wide green with a large tree on the right. Par is a good score here.

Most of the members I spoke with and the two I played with all agreed that Number 14 was by far the most challenging hole. It’s a 434-yard par 4 that for most players takes (at least) two well-struck shots to get there. It’s a gentle dogleg right with a fairway that slopes right to left. There are no bunkers around the green which is long and narrow and is easily a two-club difference between a front and back pin placement. Did I mention it’s the #1 handicap? It’s another hole where par is a good score.

Number 18 is a slight dogleg left that plays over water and then uphill, just like #9. From the White tees, the hole plays 333 yards. Favor the left side of the fairway off the tee to take the large tree on the right out of play. Lay back a bit off the tee and give yourself a clear shot into the green.

Before your round, get loosened up Woodford’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in your bag. Move over to the practice putting green and stroke a few putts before heading to the first tee.

The Restaurant at The Woodford Club and the Jack Jouett Tavern are open every day from 11 am – 9 pm. Both feature fine bourbons, wine, and live music. Even if golf’s not your thing, the Jack Jouett Tavern is a great place to meet up with friends for a drink or grab a fantastic meal. During these troubled times, they have socially distanced dining outside on the patio, and inside the enclosed porch and dining room. There’s also drive-thru pickup, take-out, and free delivery within a 10-mile radius. For years, many locals thought that you had to be a member to eat at the restaurant and while that may have been true when it was a private club, these days, everyone is welcome.

And it’s not your typical menu. A “must try” appetizer is the Tater Bombs, homemade tater tots with cheese and bacon, and two delicious dipping sauces. They are incredible. I also know that the Meatball Sub is delicious and won’t leave you hungry. They have several dinner entrees to choose from including steaks, seafood, and BBQ brisket.

The Woodford Club is currently accepting new members. What you’ll find is a community of like-minded people that enjoy each other’s company, whether it’s playing a round of golf, indulging in a set of tennis, or just hanging around at the pool enjoying a beverage. It’s a great place to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Your membership helps to support The Woodford Club’s commitment to growing its boys’ and girls’ programs as they teach them the value of good sportsmanship and introduce them to the lifelong sports of golf and tennis. The Woodford Club offers several different membership plans with one that will meet the needs of just about anyone. For more information, please visit their website at www.thewoodfordclub.com.

Great Indiana Golf in The Fort Wayne Area

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When you’re thinking about where to go on your next golf vacation, Fort Wayne isn’t likely to be top of your list. But if you live in the upper Midwest, maybe it should be. There are no less than 25 courses in the area that are open to public play and several of the top tier courses have been packaged together by Great Indiana Golf, which operates out of Cobblestone Golf Club in Kendallville, IN. Here are three “must-play” courses when you’re in the area.

Cobblestone is one of those elite courses I was talking about. The course has been around for a while and has always been a favorite of locals. One of the accolades it has received over the years was to be selected as one of “America’s Best New Courses” in 1999. The golf course is situated on about 250 acres of rolling terrain with several natural and manmade hazards along the way. Cobblestone offers a great practice facility that allows you to work on every facet of your game. The driving range, chipping green, and putting green are all conveniently located right behind the clubhouse.  Cobblestone offers 5 sets of tees and can be played anywhere from 7,005 yards from the tips to 4,734 yards from the forward tees. The finishing holes on each nine are as different as can be. Number nine is a 375-yard par-four dogleg right that is the #1 handicap. It’s a tight hole with considerable elevation changes. The 18th hole is a 495-yard par 5 that is handicapped as the easiest hole on the layout. It’s not often that a par 5 is handicap #18Sand can come into play on the left side if you pull your tee shot. Play your layup shot down the left side to give yourself a clear shot downhill into a green that is well protected by bunkers.

When the weather turns cold outside, golfers can move inside and play a round on Cobblestone’s indoor golf simulator which is loaded with over 20 of the world’s best courses. Their pro shop is also well-stocked with logoed apparel from several top brands

Noble Hawk is another “must-play” in the area and it too has received its share of recognition. Golf Digest Places to Play awarded them 4 out of 5 stars. Course owner Tim Dykstra thinks  Noble Hawk is one of the most unique courses in the area and after playing a round on it, I think he may be right.

The course is a combination of several golf course styles. Several holes will remind you of a southern course with lots of sand and water. Believe me, having lived and played golf in Florida for 25 years, there is only so much you can do with sand, water, and palm trees, so having a couple of other styles to fall back on is a good thing. A few holes feature tree-lined fairways, something you find on mountain-type courses. Several holes feature manmade hazards such as ponds, bunkers, and built-up rough like a parkland course. But to me. the overall feel of Noble Hawk is more like a Scottish heathland-style with gently rolling fairways carpeted in Bentgrass fairways, large undulating greens, and a variety of ornamental grasses that add to the challenge and overall linksy look of the layout. In addition to outstanding golf facilities, the level of service provided by the friendly staff is second to none.

Each side has its own risk/reward hole. The 7th is listed on the scorecards at 295 yards but plays downhill. Sand and water divide the fairway and while it is drivable and gives up the occasional eagle, playing for birdie is a more prudent idea. Number 14 is a very narrow but short par 4 that plays 299 yards. An iron or fairway wood off the tee is the smart play. The slope of the fairway will funnel the ball back to the middle and leave a short iron into one of the course’s smallest green. Brains over brawn will yield a better score.

The 13th hole stands out in my memory from my trip to Noble Hawk. I love courses that name their holes and this is one of the best: The Jugular! For most golfers, this 542-yard par 5 is a 3-shot hole. It’s a tight driving hole with trees on either side and is best played with a drive down the right. Choose your layup club carefully and leave yourself a manageable distance into the green. You’ll have to carry a small valley on your approach shot and it’s important to be on the right level of this multi-tiered green. Par is a great score here.

The third course in the triumvirate of must-plays is Glendarin Hills. Glendarin offers more of a resort-style course, that takes you through meadows and woodlands. The course features a lot of rolling terrain and wide-open landscapes. Glendarin Hills measures over 7,000 yards from the back tees, 7,055 to be exact, with a course rating of 74.6 and a slope of 140. At 6,283 yards (70.7/131) the White Tees will give the average golfer all he can handle and still allow him to leave with a certain amount of dignity! In all, there are 5 sets of tees that create a manageable distance for every level of golfer. Before your round, warm up on Glendarin Hill’s full-length driving range and stroke a few putts on the practice green.

The Best Western Kendallville Inn is the preferred hotel partner of Great Golf Indiana. The hotel is locally owned and was recently renovated. The Best Western Kendallville Inn has all of your typical big-city hotel amenities and a heaping helping of warm, small-town hospitality. They offer a variety of rooms and suites that are perfect for golf groups and couples. Rooms include a microwave and refrigerator, 32-inch LCD TV, high-speed Internet access, and a full breakfast buffet. Be sure to ask about the “special perks” available for their golf visitors. Nearby Fort Wayne offers big-city entertainment, dining, and shopping.

The Fort Wayne area is poised to be the host of a multi-venue golf tournament like they do in Myrtle Beach and Mesquite, Nevada. They have the courses and accommodations to pull it off and with a little participation from local restaurants I’m confident it would be a success. Great Indiana Golf has put together some great golf packages that include some of the best golf courses Indiana & SW Michigan has to offer together with overnight accommodations at the Best Western Kendallville Inn. For more information or to book your next Indiana golf vacation, Visit them online at www.greatindianagolf.com.

Tellico Village – Tennessee’s Best Golf Community

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In all my years of writing about golf and golf communities, I have never come across anything as impressive as Tellico Village. I know there are communities with more courses, but geographically speaking it has to be one of the largest golf communities in the country.

Tellico Village is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee side and encompasses more than 5,000 acres in and around Tellico Lake. There are around 5,000 homes and more than 8,000 people who call Tellico Village home. Tellico Village was created in 1986 when Cooper Communities first broke ground on this master-planned, ungated community. Located about 30 minutes from Knoxville, Tellico Village has three championship golf courses and unlimited resources for boating, fishing, and swimming. There are outstanding medical facilities in the area too, with more than 200 doctors and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

Tellico Village has become one of the premier senior planned retirement communities in the southeast. In addition to golf and boating, Tellico Village offers residents a wide array of recreation facilities and activities. The Wellness Center is a 27,000 square foot facility with all of the resources you’ll need plus the bonus of a spectacular view of the Smoky Mountains. There’s a six-lane, 75-foot indoor swimming pool and a smaller, warm-water therapeutic pool. The large exercise room has an indoor walking track as well as cardio and weight equipment. In the spacious fitness class studio, you’ll find a wide variety of dance and movement classes, yoga, and Tai Chi. If you like racquet sports, you’ll enjoy four Har-Tru tennis courts and eight pickleball courts.

For many residents, golf is the main attraction here. Tellico Village boasts three of the area’s most pristine golf courses: Tanasi, Toqua, and Kahite. All three courses were designed by Ault, Clark & Associates. These three private, championship golf courses have hosted many state and national championship events including the Tennessee Golf Association’s Junior Amateur Qualifier, Women’s and Men’s Senior Amateur Championships, Four-Ball, and Senior Four-Ball Championships as well as the PGA Tour Nationwide Knoxville Open Qualifier. All Tellico Village, when you become a property owner you automatically become a full golf club member with rights and privileges on all three courses. Each clubhouse has a restaurant with a unique menu and taste. These are not your average clubhouse restaurants.

Toqua opened in 1987 and was nominated by Golf Digest as a “Best New Course” that same year. Toqua underwent an extensive renovation in 2008 and golf aficionados now consider the layout a classic design and is built within an exquisite natural setting. Several holes play along Tellico Lake while others wind their way through hills and valleys. This course approaches 7,000 yards from the tips but can play as short as 4,200 yards from the “play it forward” tees. No matter your skill level you’re sure to find a set of tees to match your game. Memories of the 14th hole will last a while. It’s fairly short as par 4s go and long ball hitters will find it drivable. You play your tee shot over a small finger of Tellico Lake with the lake also making up the left side of the fairway. The green is well-protected with bunkers so unless you’re going for the green, hit something that will leave you short of them. Hit a good pitch shot and make birdie that way. It’s a fun hole.

In 2014, the Toqua Pavilion was opened and is used for tournaments, banquets, and other large gatherings and events. A miniature golf course was recently added and Assistant Golf Professional Charles Roffers puts together many community events that give residents an extra way to get involved.

Before your round, warm up on Toqua’s full-length driving range; there’s also a short-game area and practice putting green. Afterward, visit the Toqua Sports Bar and Grill. In addition to your favorite libations, they feature such tantalizing dishes as Fajitas, Mahi Tacos, and Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon. There’s also a full slate of desserts.

The Tanasi Golf Course opened in 1996 and the design is quite different than the other courses. You’ll find the Bermuda fairways are a lot more open and thus more forgiving; the Crenshaw Bentgrass greens are bigger too! Many of the greens are elevated with a lot of undulation, but they roll true. This championship course has seven sets of tees and can be played comfortably anywhere from 6,731 yards to 4,480 yards. Beautiful Tellico Lake comes into play on several holes and enhances the beauty and challenge of the course. While there is no driving range, there is an 18-hole putting course.

Two of the holes that bring the lake into play are Numbers 9 and 10 which happen to be the #1 and #2 handicaps. Number 9 is a 369-yard par 4 dogleg left that requires both accuracy and distance control off the tee. Not putting your tee shot in the right place can leave an awkward lie. It’s a three-tiered, downward-sloping fairway so pray for a flat lie! A good drive will leave around a 140-yard approach shot over the lake into a green that is a lot wider than it is deep. A left-side pin placement is especially difficult as it is guarded with a small bunker. It’s one of the most challenging holes on the course.

Number 10 is a 389-yard dogleg left around Tellico Lake. It’s all risk/reward off the tee but to me, the risk greatly outweighs the reward. A tee shot down the right side with a slight draw works well and leaves a mid-iron into a slightly elevated and well-undulated green. Hit two good shots in a row and reap the reward!

Whether you play the course or not, you have to eat a meal in the Tanasi Bar & Grill; it’s anything but your typical clubhouse food. Try salads such as the Fried Chicken Cobb Salad or the Strawberry Chicken Salad. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with the catfish, meatloaf, or their signature ribs. All come with a couple of sides and portions that will have you loosening your belt. After dinner, ask for one of pastry chef Miss Kat’s delectable creations such as caramel apple bread pudding. You’ll be amazed.

Tellico Village’s 3rd course – the Links at Kahite – opened for play in 2002 and in 2003, the course was nominated to Golf Digest’s list of “Best New Private Courses.” Kahite is a links-style course with some very unusual design characteristics including tall fescue grasses that line some of the fairways. It features Bermuda fairways and Bentgrass greens and can be played anywhere from 7,170 yards to 4,435 yards. The course meanders through a serene, natural setting with several holes offering beautiful panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. There are a couple of things that differentiate Kahite from Tellico’s other two tracks. The first is the number of bunkers, all well placed. There are 93 bunkers in all, with 12 of those being on the 18th hole. Perhaps the most notable characteristic of Kahite is the 808-yard (back tees) par 6 9th hole. Although it’s a long – OK really long – hole, it’s fairly straightforward. If you can keep it in play for four straight shots and hit it straight, you can score well.

Kahite features the Village’s newest driving range facility, practice bunkers, and putting green. The Kahite Clubhouse has great casual dining and an outdoor patio for post-game refreshments.

With three golf courses to keep in pristine condition, you have to imagine things can get rough for those in charge. Chris Sykes, who has served as the Head Golf Course Superintendent at Toqua Golf Club and was recently promoted to Director of Golf has said that their biggest challenge in maintaining all three courses is managing the putting surfaces through the summer season in the transition zone. Chris had the good fortune of working for David Stone at The Honors Course at the beginning of his career, where he formed the foundation for Tellico Village’s ongoing agronomic programs. David Stone is in the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame and won every award imaginable including the USGA Green Section Award.

There are many reasons why people retire and move to Tellico Village, but the main reason is its affordability. Tennessee tends to have one of the lowest costs of living in the country, meaning your retirement dollars go a lot further. Furthermore, there is no state income tax or state estate tax, no personal property taxes or school taxes, and low taxes on tobacco, gasoline, and diesel fuel. All things considered, Tellico Village is a great location for active adults who want to concentrate on enjoying their golden years rather than worry about their financial situation. Check them out at www.tellicovillage.org.

Denison Golf Club – A True Donald Ross Masterpiece

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Donald Ross is arguably the most prolific golf course designer. Ross emigrated to the United States in 1899 and is credited with designing over 400 golf courses in this country. By all accounts, one of his favorite designs was The Denison Golf Club in Granville, OH. Forty of his courses are in North Carolina with several in the Pinehurst area including the famous Pinehurst #2.

In 1924, local railroad and coal magnate John Sutphin Jones built the Granville Inn and was looking to make the Inn more attractive to guests. Because he wanted the best, he hired Donald Ross to design and build the golf course. Ross stuck to his philosophy that the best golf courses were developed using the natural topography of the land to create a challenging variety of shot angles and rolls. Granville’s naturally rolling and wooded terrain provided a natural canvas on which Ross could create his masterpiece. In 2015 Granville Township purchased the development rights to the land and the Village of Granville acquired the land where the clubhouse and other buildings sit as a means to control any development in that area. In 2016 – 2017, the course underwent a major renovation.

If you’re familiar with Donald Ross courses you know that it’s not the length that will get you, it’s the approach shots and green complexes. Four sets of tees create manageable distances for every level of golfer. This Donald Ross masterpiece plays 6,559 yards from the Black Tees with a course rating of 71.2 and a slope of 130. Move up to the Blue (6,210/66.7/124) or White 5,530/65.8/122) Tees and the course becomes a little friendlier. Ladies typically play from the Red Tees (5,157/69.6/125) while seniors will have a good time from the Gold (5,335/65.8/122) Tees. Yardage and statistics are provided for the Ladies from the White, Gold, and Red tees.

Denison Golf Club is all of that and then some. Sixty- three strategically placed bunkers, elevated and well-undulated greens, and significant elevation changes deliver a challenging and enjoyable round of golf. As a result, the Denison Golf Club has long been noted as one of the best public courses in the Midwest. Four sets of tees allow players of all skill levels the ability to find a suitable yardage.

Before or after your round, the Bistro at Denison Golf Club is a great place to relax and relive your round with a frosty cold beer The Bistro offers a variety of craft beer selections as well as several hot sandwiches, appetizers, and breakfast sandwiches!

Now you have the opportunity to join one of the finest golf courses in the area. Denison Golf Club offers a variety of membership options to suit every golfer’s needs, and all memberships include cart fees. Regular golf memberships (54 years of age and younger)are available for both singles and families as are senior (55+) memberships. Twilight (after 2 PM) and youth memberships are also available.

Memorable Holes: Number 1, Par 4, 312 yards. This short par 4 has a wide fairway and offers a great way to get your round started on a good note. That will leave a short pitch shot into a small, elevated green that is fronted by four bunkers. A couple of them are about 30 yards short of the green so make sure you take enough club to get on the green. The green slopes back to front.

Number 4: Par 3, 130 yards. There’s a big difference between the blue and white tees on this par hole – over 100 yards! There’s quite a bit of trouble too: there’s out of bounds on the left side and behind the elevated green. Push your tee shot too far right and you’ll be on the #5 tee box. Two pot bunkers guard the front of the green. The fairway bunker adds a lot to the looks of the hole but really shouldn’t come into play for anyone.

Number 6: Par 5, 420 yards. This short par 5 is reachable with a good drive. The fairway slopes left to right so a drive down the right side will funnel down to the left, which is the side you want to approach the green from. Once again the green is elevated and guarded by bunkers on either side.

Number 16: Par 4, 305 yards. The 16th hole is far from the longest par 4 on the golf course but it’s one of the prettiest. Majestic pine trees on either side frame a fairway that meanders uphill to a green with a small bunker front right.

Number 18: Par 4, 340 yards: The 18th hole is clearly Denison’s signature hole. The scorecard says that from the White tees, Number 18 plays 340 yards, although since you’re playing downhill from an elevated tee box, it plays shorter. There are fairway bunkers on either side of the landing area to keep you honest off the tee. A good drive will leave a short chip shot into a large green that is crowned in the back and has a ridge running through the middle creating two distinct levels. It can be a tough two-putt if you’re in the back putting to a front pin.

Before your round, warm up on Denison’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in your bag. There’s also a practice putting green where you can get an idea of what you can expect on the course.

From the White tees, the par 5 holes are reachable in two, setting up some good scoring opportunities. If you’re looking for a golf club that the whole family can enjoy and a place with a friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff then you’ve come to the right place! Denison Golf Club is a nostalgic Donald Ross course with a lot of character that can be enjoyed by golfers of all ages and abilities. Even stretched to its limits, the course won’t overpower you. Most of the greens are elevated and are true Donald Ross greens with crowns, false fronts, and fall off areas on several sides. General Manager Todd Bishop and his staff can assist with all of your needs if you’re looking to host an outing or event. Visit them online at www.denisongolfclub.com.

The Harbor Club at Lake Oconee – A Must Play in the Lake Oconee Area

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When John Matney and his partner purchased the Harbor Club property in 1992 there were about 60 homes in the community. But, as we all know, time has a way of changing things, often for the better. Fast forward to 2020 and there are now more than 550 homes and another 47 under construction. There are currently 1100 homesites and over 600 acres available for future expansion. Matney’s sons, Brandon, and Justin have bought out the original partner. Brandon serves as the community’s General Manager – a title he’s had since 2012 – and Harbor Club has been debt-free since the Matney family took ownership. In addition to being a great place to call home, this semi-private golf facility is also a convenient spot for visitors who come to Georgia for the Masters each April.

The Harbor Club is home to an 18-hole championship golf course designed by PGA TOUR superstar Tom Weiskopf and his golf course design partner Jay Morrish.  They did their best not to disturb the existing environment and keep traditional hazards such as trees, water features, dramatic elevation changes, and other native vegetation intact as much as possible. Their courses typically do not intimidate and you’ll usually find at least one drivable par 4. It’s become their trademark.

Many of the holes at Harbor Club feature undulating fairways with generous landing areas flanked by strategically fairway bunkers that absorb errant tee shots. Just about every hole is tree-lined, however, the trees are not densely packed, so you’ll most likely find your ball but may not have a shot. More often than not, you’ll find yourself having to punch out which makes par a lot tougher. Beautiful Lake Oconee provides stunning views and comes into play on four holes.

Harbor Club offers golfers six sets of tees, so everyone regardless of age and ability should be able to find a suitable distance. The course measures 7,027 yards from the tips with a course rating of 74.2 and a slope of 138. Most guys will find the Green Tees (6,225 yards, 70.6/130) to be a challenge that still leaves them with a little bit of dignity intact. The Ladies Tees play 5,191 yards (70.7/126). Choose the set of tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to have a good time.

This course has several memorable holes. Brains over brawn comes to mind as you stand on the tee box of Number 3, “Stone Bridge,” a 345-yard par 4 hole that doglegs to the right. You can see the water on the right that will form the boundary once you hit the dogleg. Plan on hitting your tee shot no more than 200 yards and leave yourself a short to mid-iron into a long narrow green protected on the right by water.

Number 7, “On Golden Pond,” is the first of two risk/reward par 4 holes and brings Lake Oconee into the mix. The scorecard measures this hole at 323 yards however it seems to play considerably shorter and if you’re willing to take on the water, you can have a go at the green. Pay attention to which way the wind is blowing and let it rip! Should you decide to play it as a two-shot par 4, beware of the out of bounds and fairway bunkers.

Number 14 is a risk/reward par 5 named “Wildflower” for the brightly colored flowers on display in the field left of the large oak tree in the middle of the fairway. That oak tree splits the fairway; anything right of the tree usually means taking the long way home. A good drive down the left side will leave an opportunity to go for the green but will require about a 220-yard carry over the field of wildflowers. The long way home will likely consist of an uphill layup shot on a fairway that doglegs left. A good layup will leave a slightly downhill approach shot to a large, well-protected green. Good scores can be had here, regardless of how you play the hole.

The two finishing holes are two of the prettiest and most challenging holes in the area. Number 17, “The Marsh,” is a par 3 that reintroduces you to Lake Oconee. At 174 yards, it’s almost all carry over water to a green that is a lot wider than it is deep. Bunkers protect the green in front and back. Playing out of the sand from behind the green can be a precarious shot with the water looming in front of you.

The 18th hole, aptly named “Double Cross,” is a 415-yard par 4 with a creek that needs to be dealt with twice. From the Blue or Green tees, just right of the middle bunker is a good line and gives you plenty of fairway to work with. It’s a line that clearing the water shouldn’t be a factor.  A good drive will leave a mid-iron approach shot over water into a green with a bunker right and water left. Par is a great way to finish your round.

In addition to a fabulous golf course, Harbor Club has great practice facilities that include a full-length driving range with targets, where you can hit every club in the bag. There’s also a short game area and a large practice putting green. If you’re looking for the latest in golf fashion, the pro shop is home to some of the game’s top designers, including a large selection of logoed apparel.

After your round, be sure to stop by the clubhouse for your favorite post-round libations or a bite to eat. The clubhouse restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and a Sunday brunch. The lunch menu features some amazing appetizers, sandwiches, and burgers including Loaded Sidewinder Fries with crispy bacon, scallions, and melted cheddar and parmesan cheeses. The Turkey Bacon Swiss Wrap, Reuben, and Clubhouse Burger are also excellent choices.

Dinner is a special event; start with an appetizer like Jumbo Blue Lump Crab Cakes or that southern specialty Fried Green Tomatoes and then move on to a variety of tasty entrees such as Filet Medallions, Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf (everything’s better with bacon) or Crab Stuffed Grouper. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Chocolate Spoon Cake, layers of chocolate cake and chocolate pudding. Whatever you choose, it’s all good.

Harbor Club at Lake Oconee is a mandatory membership community meaning if you decide to live in the community, you’ll need to purchase some level of membership. But you don’t have to live within the gates of The Harbor Club to be a member; both resident and non-resident golf memberships are available. As a member, you’ll have access to the award-winning golf course, the golf practice area, the fitness center, swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts as well as a discount on services and storage at the marina. Several membership levels are available including full golf, weekday golf, junior golf, and corporate golf memberships.

Harbor Club at Lake Oconee is a lot more than just a golf course, although for many that is the main attraction. Harbor Club occupies 1,000 acres along 9 miles of Lake Oconee coastline. In addition to the golf course, you’ll find a junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, outdoor lit tennis courts, a playground for the kids and grandkids, and a walking trail.  If boating’s more your style, Harbor Club’s marina offers dry-stack boat storage, a convenience store, two boat ramps, and dining at the Boathouse Restaurant.

When it comes to golf course communities, or communities with a plethora of recreational amenities, Harbor Club is at the top of the list. I would classify it as a “homecation!” If you’re looking for the best golf community value in the area, the clear winner is Harbor Club at Lake Oconee. For more information or to see all that the Harbor Club at Lake Oconee has to offer, visit them online at www.harborclub.com.

Great Golf Opportunities at the Kentucky State Parks

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Golfers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky need to look no further than their state park system when looking for challenging and affordable golf opportunities. There are three state parks in the southwestern part of the state that could be packaged together as part of a Kentucky State Parks golf outing. Each of these parks has a bevy of lodging and dining options as well as plenty of things to do for the entire family.

Lake Barkley State Resort Park Golf Course in Cadiz, Kentucky is not a course you will find by accident but once you get there you’ll be glad you made the trip. Located in an area referred to as the Land Between the Lakes, the Lake Barkley Lodge is in a class all its own. Designed by Edward Durell Stone, the lodge is constructed from Western Cedar, Douglas Fir, and over 3 and a half acres of glass. For those wanting more space, there are 13 cottages available.

Lake Barkley State Resort Park is home to an 18-hole championship golf course named after Boots Randolph, the great saxophone legend from Paducah, KY. The Boots Randolph Golf Course was designed by Larry Packard and recently underwent a complete greens renovation, the first course renovation in more than 20 years. The course plays along the valley floor and as a result, it’s relatively flat with no blind shots. Most of the fairways are tree-lined, but not with dense strands of trees. You’ll most likely find your ball but will most likely have to maneuver around a tree. There’s a creek that meanders throughout the property and comes into play on about 9 holes, sometimes more than once. The greens are well bunkered and are the most memorable aspect of the course. They all have a lot of undulation and a considerable amount of slope, many have multiple tiers and all are fast.

Number 18 is one of the most challenging holes on the course; if I were to name it, I’d call it “Twice Across the Creek.” You’ll need to hit across it with your tee shot, which shouldn’t be a problem unless you hit it over 260 yards or push it right. The creek crosses the fairway a second time just inside the 150 marker and the green is slightly elevated and well protected. At 395 yards from Tee 2, it takes two well-struck shots. Par is a good score here.

The Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course was designed by Perry Maxwell whose other designs include Southern Hills C.C. in Tulsa, OK and Colonial C.C. in Fort Worth, TX – home to golf legend Ben Hogan. KDV is full of rolling hills, lush fairways, and well-undulated greens. There are several blind tee shots and a couple of blind approaches if you’re not in the proper position for such a shot. All 18 greens are elevated – some requiring at least one extra club.

There are several memorable holes at KDV but none more so than the stretch from Number 7 to 10. Seven is a 130-yard par 3 over the only water on the course. The hole plays significantly downhill and is easily the most photographed on the course. Number 8 is a short 447-yard par 5 with a blind tee shot and a green that can be reached in two with back-to-back good shots. Number 9 is a 287-yard risk/reward par 4 with a very large tree on the right side that needs to be carried if you’re going for the green. The hole is best played with a hybrid or long iron short of the trap on the left and then an uphill pitch shot into the green. Number 10 is probably the most challenging hole on the golf course. It’s the longest par 4 on the course, playing 436 yards from an elevated tee box. A good drive will still require a long second shot uphill into an elevated green. Par is a good score here.

Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park offers several lodging opportunities. You can stay in the 72-room Village Inn Lodge or one of 61 cottages. For larger groups, there’s the 14-room Village Green Inn, located next to the golf course. This 3-diamond resort also offers camping, boating, dining, and 1700 acres of breathtaking recreational opportunities.

Ask anyone familiar with the golf courses at the Kentucky State Parks and they will tell you that the best is a toss-up between Kentucky Dam Village and Dale Hollow. As a first time player of the Kentucky State Park golf courses, I submit that Mineral Mound be added to the mix.

The Mineral Mound Golf Course is located within Mineral Mound State Park. Several holes play along the shores of Lake Barkley in Lyon County, Kentucky. Mineral Mound is named after the mansion of Willis B. Machen, which formerly stood on the property. The course opened in 2003 and was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry and in 2009, Mineral Mound was ranked by Golf Digest Magazine #5 as the “Best Courses You Can Play.”

At 6,521 yards from the back tees, the length is not going to overpower anyone, however, a course rating of 72.7 and a slope of 130 are telltale signs that the course is no pushover. Tee 2 at 5,964 yards and a slope of 125 will give most golfers all they can handle. Mineral Mound Golf Course may be best played without a driver. Park Manager, Chris Cary, agrees: “Long off the tee can get you in a lot of trouble; you need to leave it in the bag on many of the holes.” Elevation changes and beautiful vistas are as commonplace as the deer you will see during your round. Stand on the green and look back up the fairway you just played; odds are you’ll see a deer or two! Views of Lake Barkley dot the landscape as you make your way around the front side, giving way to beautifully forested holes on the back.

Number 13 is truly a memorable hole, a 3-shot par 5 that I would name “Uphill Climb.” The hole plays 510 yards and starts from an elevated tee box and goes up from there with a narrow landing area. Things don’t get any easier on your layup shot and BTW you still can’t see the green.

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park has a special course; it’s not located anywhere near the other three courses but if you’re an avid golfer, it’s worth a visit. From the back tees, Dale Hollow plays 7,023 yards with a course rating of 72.9 and a slope of 126, so it’s considerably longer than the others. Like Mineral Mound there’s a considerable amount of elevation change and if you catch the course at the right time in the fall, the views are second to none. I found that Tee 3 at 6,021 yards (69.1/128) provided a great test of golf.

The key to Dale Hollow is to hit the ball so that you can see it when it lands. Missing the fairway or trying to cut corners can result in lost balls or at least a long look in the woods. There isn’t a lot of water on the course – it only comes into play on two holes and once you get out on the course. You’re not going to see a lot of other players except maybe the group in front of you occasionally. A couple of bunkers – on #1 and #12 – are under construction as new Billy Bunkering is installed. When I found them, the Zoysia fairways were like hitting off of carpet and the greens held well and a lot of undulation to them.

Dale Hollow has several memorable holes so I deferred to Head Golf Professional Ron Roberts who is retiring on November 1st. Although Number 14 is a dramatic looking hole – you can see it while waiting to tee off on Number 1 – Ron’s favorite is the par 3, 15th. From Tee 3, the hole plays 160 yards and is all carry over a valley from which there is no recovering a lost ball. The green is a lot wider than it is deep but what makes the hole is all of the stonework in front of the green which Ron says was trucked in to create the look of the hole. It’s as beautiful as it is challenging.

These are just four of the thirteen golf courses that are part of the Kentucky State Parks. They are all beautiful, well maintained, and staffed by friendly, knowledgeable staff. All but Mineral Mound offer overnight accommodations as well as restaurants that serve great food in abundant portions. For more information or to book your next round or overnight vacation package, visit them online at www.parks.ky.gov/golf.

Mystic Creek Golf Club – Arkansas’ Best Kept Golf Secret

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El Dorado, Arkansas is not a town you’re likely to come across out of the blue. During the 1920s, El Dorado was at the heart of the oil boom in south Arkansas and became known as “Arkansas’s Original Boomtown.” On Jan. 10, 1921, the Busey No. 1 well was completed about a mile west of town which led to an explosion in population and prosperity. If you find yourself in town with a few hours to kill, take a self-guided tour of El Dorado’s downtown – which was voted America’s Best Downtown in 2009 – and you will see all of the beautifully renovated 1930s style buildings, many of which are on the National Register. The Union County Courthouse which was built in 1928 and lays testament to this.

El Dorado is the corporate home of Murphy USA; if you’ve ever purchased gas at a Walmart, odds are you’ve done business with them. The company has invested heavily in the community including the Murphy Arts District and the award-winning Historic downtown area.

El Dorado is also home to one of the nicest golf courses in the state and not surprisingly, it is owned by Murphy USA. Mystic Creek Golf Club opened in May of 2013 and was carved into the rolling timberlands that surround the town. The course was designed by Ken Dye who, oddly enough, is no relation to Pete. Ground was broken in 2001 and, after a series of misadventures, was finally completed in 2012. As you make your way around the course you’ll find tall cathedral pines as you’d find at several courses around Augusta, high flashing bunkers styles similar to those on an A.W Tillinghast layout, and domed greens with runoffs similar to Pinehurst #2. Tee boxes, fairways, and greens grassed in Champion Bermuda are as beautiful to look at as they are fun to play on.

Mystic Creek is a semi-private golf course and although many players will tell you it’s a tough course, it provides an unforgettable experience for golfers of all skill levels as long as you play from the tees that best suit your game. Memberships are available as are homes and homesites within the Mystic Creek community.

Mystic Creek is not without its fair share of accolades: GolfWeek Magazine has put it at the top of its “Best You Can Play List,” and was recognized as one of the ‘Best New Courses’ by Golf Digest shortly after opening. They’ve also played host annually to the Symetra Tour’s “El Dorado Shootout” and several NCAA Golf Championships. Mystic Creek is managed by Honours Golf, a division of Troon, so you know it’s always going to be in prime condition. Mystic Creek is a stunning piece of property and features wide-open fairways, spectacular bunkering around the greens, and greens PGA TOUR players would be proud to play on.

Memorable Holes

Member’s Favorite: Number 14, Par 5, 493 yards. This is both the most challenging and most photographed hole on the golf course. The left side is framed by a creek and native grasses while a group of fairway bunkers catches any errant shots hit down the right. With the tees forward and a good drive, the green can be reached in two. A more conservative play is to play your second shot short of the greenside bunker on the left and leave yourself a short pitch shot into the green. That’s where things get interesting. The green is small and severely sloped from left to right. A pin located on the back shelf can be especially tricky and if you find the deep greenside bunkers, par can be tough. When the rough is cut down, it’s not uncommon for balls to roll off the green and come to rest near the creek at the bottom of the hill. Take a par and run!

Assistant Pro Casey Wroot’s Favorite Hole: Number 4: Par 3, 172 yards. For a guy that can hit the ball a long way, it’s interesting that Casey’s favorite is a par 3. Although it’s the second-longest par 3 on the layout, it plays downhill and slightly shorter. Water surrounds the left and backside of the green and there are bunkers left side, front and back right. The ridge that divides the green is similar to the 16th hole at Augusta without the slope.

My Favorite Hole: Number 18: Par 5, 489 yards. A well-played drive down the left-center of the fairway will present you with a choice to either layup to the right side of the severely sloped fairway or go for the green in two. There’s a strand of pine trees on the right and a fairway bunker left that catches anything pulled.  If you choose to go for it, you’ll need to avoid several bunkers and collection areas that guard the green. There are three distinct tiers to the green, so you’ll need a good approach shot to have a chance at birdie or better.

Most Challenging Hole: Number 3, Par 4, 402 yards. According to the scorecard, this is the toughest hole on the course and one of the longest par 4s. Water flows all the way down the left side to the green and the double bend in the fairway puts a premium on accuracy. The conservative tee shot is down the right side but that will leave a long iron or hybrid into the green. A successful tee shot that challenges the water will leave a much shorter iron on approach. The green is one of Mystic Creek’s largest and the deep bunker on the right side sees its fair share of play. Par is a good score here.

For visitors to the area, Mystic Creek offers some great Stay & Play packages through Troon Golf Vacations. Packages include 2 night’s accommodations, 2 rounds of golf, and two days of car rental from Avis.

Mystic Creek offers a variety of memberships for singles, families, and juniors. If you prefer walking, you can purchase a membership without a cart and save some money. Memberships include all greens fees, cart fees (if applicable), and use of all practice facilities. As a member, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of being a member of a Troon facility, with access to Troon facilities worldwide. For more information, visit them online.

If you live in the El Dorado area and are considering membership at a club, take a look at Mystic Creek. In addition to one of the State’s best golf facilities, they’ll soon have a brand new clubhouse and restaurant which are slated to open in 2021. Mystic Creek offers a variety of memberships, with and with golf carts included. For more information on memberships and to track the progress of the new clubhouse visit the Mystic Creek website at www.mysticcreekgolf.com.

Honours Golf: Creating Memorable Golf Experiences in Gulf Shores, AL

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The Gulf Shores, Alabama area is a beachgoer’s dream: pristine white sand beaches, all kinds of beach bars, shopping and OWA, an entertainment park with a downtown area, restaurants, and an amusement park.

Gulf Shores is also known for its fantastic golf courses which are some of the nicest in the country. Honours Golf, which is part of Troon Golf, the largest and for my money, the best golf course management company in the country, has two facilities here, the 27-hole Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club and the 36-hole Craft Farms. Each course has its own distinctive coastal feel; both are must plays if you’re in the area.

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is located on the beautiful Fort Morgan peninsula between Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The course has received 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest as one of the “most memorable and enjoyable” courses in the southeast. Peninsula was designed by Earl Stone and encompasses 27 holes that wind through 800 acres of beautiful live oaks, cypress trees, lakes, and natural vegetation. Each nine-hole layout is unique in its own respect with holes on each that stand out. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some official gulf coast wildlife such as alligators, sandhill cranes, and eagles.

Rumor has it that Peninsula Golf Course is built on about 14 feet of sand, so it drains well. This is evident when you look at the back yards of some of the homes behind the tee box on Number 7 of the Cypress Course. Cypress finishes with a nice one-two punch on holes 8 and 9. At 569 yards from Tee #2, Number 8 is the longest hole on the entire property and the #1 handicap. Trees line both sides of the fairway and create a narrow landing area off the tee. Keeping your layup shot right of the 150-yard marker will take the water on the left out of play and set up the best angle into the green. Don’t be too long with your approach shot or you’re likely to find one of the bunkers back there.

Number 9 is a par four with a slight dogleg left and plays 402 yards from Tee #2. Longball hitters that can play their tee shot down the left side will leave a downhill approach shot with a short iron into the green. It’s another challenging finishing hole.

The Lakes Course features back-to-back par 5s at Numbers 6 and 7, with beautiful Mobile Bay in the background as you play the latter. A good drive on the 486-yard 6th hole will create an opportunity to go for the green in two. Once you hit the corner of the dogleg, you’ll find the fairway flanked on either side with bunkers, so accuracy on both your layup and approach shot is essential. Number 7 plays 500 yards and features a large landing area off the tee. Big hitters can try and get home in two but need to beware of the hazard to the left and out of bounds to the right. There’ a great view of Mobile Bay just beyond the green. The green is wide and not real deep, so selecting the correct club is essential.

The greens on the March Course were recently renovated and roll pure. Most memorable is Number 9, a 514-yard par 5 that is a three-shot hole for just about every level of player. The wetlands that need to be carried off the tee will require a shot of about 170 yards from Tee 2 to a narrow landing area with trees down the right side. Standing over your next shot, you may wonder where the fairway went. With wetlands on the left, favor the right side and you’ll have no problem. That will leave a short chip shot into a large, well-protected green.

Craft Farms is home to the only two Arnold Palmer golf courses in Alabama that are accessible to the public: Cypress Bend and Cotton Creek. Both courses challenge golfers every step of the way with the natural beauty of Baldwin County serving as a backdrop. You’ll play down Bermuda fairways, around massive live oaks draped with Spanish moss and towering pine forests. You’ll also find plenty of water hazards in the form of numerous lakes, creeks and wetland areas that give way to Tifdwarf Bermuda greens.

Cypress Bend has received a 4-1/2 star rating by Golf Digest. As you play your way around the course, you’ll find plush conditions from tee to green, sprawling bunkers and undulating greens that can leave you scratching your head. The course has a coastal feel to it with water coming into play on every hole. Wide fairways and generous landing areas make this Palmer masterpiece a joy for players of all levels.

There were a few holes that I won’t soon forget. Number 4 is a 372-yards par 4 that is a challenging golf hole! You’ll need a long accurate tee shot that avoids the bunkers on either side followed by a pinpoint approach shot into a T-shaped green with bunkers on either side. A back-right pin placement can be especially trying.

Number 13 is my favorite hole on the course. It’s a risk/reward par 5 that plays 517 yards from the Blue tees. The hole doglegs sharply to the right with water down the right side and a long bunker at the turn. If you can carry the bunker on to the elevated fairway or hit your tee shot just right of it over the water and you can have a go at the green. More water guards each side of the elevated green and three bunkers protect the front. Par is a good score here.

Cotton Creek seems to be the favorite course and features tree-lined and rolling fairways as well as large undulating greens. The course is extremely playable for all golfers, whether you’re playing the forward tees or are the tips at over 7,000 yards; it’s all about challenge and playability. Golf Digest has rated Cotton Creek 4 stars.

Cotton Creek’s 6th hole is a par 4 that plays 382-yards. It is not only a beautiful golf hole, but it’s also ranked the toughest on the course. You need to play your tee shot down the waterline and over a lake to the fairway; hit through the fairway and you may very well find the bunker. A well-placed tee shot will leave an approach shot back over the same body of water to a small green protected by sand on all sides. Par or birdie on this hole is quite an accomplishment!

If I were naming holes, the par 4, 372-yard Number 11 would be called “What Creek.” There’s a sign on the tee box that says “230 yards to the water,” however standing on the tee box, you can’t see it. Hit a good drive past the 150-yard marker and your likely to say “Oh, that creek!” But not just any creek, Cotton Creek! A good drive will leave a mid-iron into an angled green with a deep bunker on the left and a lot of undulation in the green.

With 27 holes of golf at Peninsula and another 36 holes at Craft Farms, either one is the perfect venue for your next outing or tournament. The staff at either course will help with everything from pre-planning and setup, to food and beverage and the awarding of prizes. The tournament staff will see to it you and your guests are well taken care of while the culinary team will create a menu that tempts your palettes.

Speaking of palettes, Chef Kurtis Krum heads up the culinary staff at both courses and uses his creative expertise to create delicious dishes from scratch. After all, how many golf courses bake their own bread? It makes the fresh sandwiches taste that much better!

I had the opportunity to speak with Jamey Davis the Superintendent at Peninsula Club about what makes his property so special. Jamey said that the course being built on a sand dune is both a blessing and a curse, the blessing being they could get 8 inches of rain in the morning and because it drains so well, be able to have carts out in the afternoon. He also talked about how unique the property is with the Bon Secours wildlife preserve abutting the property to the east, historic Ft. Morgan to the West, Bon Secours Bay to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south.

This is just an overview of what’s in store for you and your group at either facility. For more information, check them out online at www.penisulagolflub.com and www.craftfarms.com.

Southern Trace Country Club – Destined To Be Louisiana’s Top Country Club

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Southern Trace Country Club in Shreveport is a club on the rise and their goal is to become the best country club value in the state of Louisiana. What happened this past July signified the beginning of this transformation.

Southern Trace Country Club in Shreveport, Louisiana opened in 1988. Since 2000 ClubCorp had owned and managed the property. On July 1st, Southern Trace’s members purchased the club’s assets from ClubCorp. It took the entire membership base of about 800 including golf, tennis, and social members to buy into the plan and accept the changes, and once that happened, the changes began to happen.

Southern Trace Country Club turned over course management operations to Troon through 2022, For my money, Troon is the best golf course management company in the country.  Members of Southern Trace Country Club are also Troon Privé Club members and receive exclusive access to extraordinary golf and lifestyle benefits throughout the world. As a Full Golf Member of Southern Trace, you’ll enjoy access to Troon Privé courses around the country as well as access to their amenities. You’ll also be able to experience over 150 Troon Golf resort and daily fee locations at preferred rates, as well as Cliff Drysdale Tennis. Troon Privé club members receive discounts with companies such as Avis Rental Cars, Ship Sticks, and more.

Golf Course Superintendent Graham Kornmeyer was plucked away from the prestigious Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, FL. In his own words, his first order of business was to “try and salvage as much of the course as possible.” It was handed to him in great disrepair. I can personally attest to the fact that the changes have been astounding. Graham is constantly in touch with the members and does daily updates on the Members Only website.

The centerpiece of Southern Trace is the Arthur Hills designed golf course which was voted #1 in the state of Louisiana by Golf Digest on several occasions and for over 30 years has been regarded as the favorite place to play for golfers in Louisiana. Southern Trace offers golfer 5 sets of tees. From the Black (Back) the course spans 7,048 yards with a course rating of 73.9 and a slope of 135. The course can be played as short as 5,026 yards. I found it both enjoyable and challenging from the Blue Tees (6,315/70.2/126). The club has garnered many accolades including hosting the WEB.com Tour’s Southern Open from 1990-2002 as well as multiple State Amateur Championships and the AJGA David Toms Junior Invitational.

This Arthur Hills masterpiece plays through beautiful pine valleys, oak forests, and open meadows. Manicured fairways give way to Champion Bermuda greens that are second to none. Fairway bunkers are strategically placed and catch errant tee shots and approaches and forced carries are easily managed. Several holes offer risk/reward opportunities for better players while less skilled players will have fun and not be totally frustrated.

Southern Trace has several holes that you won’t soon forget. Number 1 is a 465-yard par 5 dogleg right with bunkers on either side at the corner. Longball hitters may be able to fly the bunker on the right, thus cutting the dogleg. Even if you make the corner of the dogleg and you still have a long way home; for most players, it’s going to be a 3-shot hole. Bunkers front both sides of the green so you may have to fly it on.

Looking at the scorecard, the short, 299-yard par 4 3rd hole screams “Grip it and rip it. Take a quick glance to the left and you’ll see a creek that runs down the side of the hole and then wraps around in front of the green. Better put that driver back in the bag! Instead, play a club off the tee that leaves a manageable distance in, hit a good second shot, and make par – or better – that way. Miss your layup shot short and to the right and you may find one of two fairway bunkers over there.

Number 8 is a very pretty par 5, with the creek meandering down the left side. It actually runs all the way back to the tees, but really comes into view – and play – once you get past the trees. The creek empties into the lake which fronts the green and makes up the right side. You’ll need to cross the water at some point during your trek to the green. A good tee shot followed by a good layup will leave a short iron or wedge into the green. It may not be the longest of the par 5 holes, but it sure is fun to play!

The par 3s on the front and back sides are very different. The two par 3s on the front are relatively short at 142 and 138-yards respectively. Both play downhill and almost a club shorter. Number 4 is protected in front and on the left side with water and a bunker back right. The green on the 6th hole is long and narrow with bunkers on either side, so accuracy is at a premium. The par 3s on the backside have a little more teeth to them, Number 13 plays 201 yards and Number 16 plays 165 yards with water on the left and two bunkers in front. Par these four holes and you’re probably going to have a good round.

Number 16 is the best test of golf on the course. This dogleg left par 4 starts from an elevated tee box over a valley to an elevated fairway that slopes right to left. From there, play your approach shot to an elevated green that is large enough to be a 3 club difference from front to back and is guarded by a large bunker on the right side.

Number 18 is a fun par 5 and a fitting way to end a great day on the links at Southern Trace. In addition to the water you see straight ahead of you off the tee, there’s a couple of small ponds to the right that you cannot see from the tee but can easily come into play. They’re a favorite for wading birds and turtles. You’re going to have to play over the water at some point and for most, it’s on the layup. Be wary of the fairway bunkers in the landing area. The green is elevated but a well-played pitch shot can yield a low score.

Before your round, warm up on Southern Trace’s double-sided range where you can hit every club in the bag. There’s a large putting green as well as a chipping green with two bunkers.

Whether you’re looking for an elegant sit-down meal or just want to relax with your favorite libation, stop by Arthur’s Bar and Grill, which overlooks the 1st hole. Arthur’s has an upscale feel with a down-home vibe. There are three extra-large big-screen TVs, perfect for catching the biggest games of the year. There are usually six beers on tap, two of which rotate seasonally, and a fully stocked liquor selection. Dine-in or take it outside on one of two patios and experience the beautiful Shreveport weather. Southern Trace’s Executive Chef is always cooking up new and exciting things with a gourmet menu that will satisfy even the most discriminating of tastes.

Southern Trace offers a wide variety of memberships so you can experience the ultimate Shreveport country club lifestyle your way; there really is something for everyone. Membership is by invitation only so if you’re bent on joining, make friends with a current member!

In addition to a fantastic golf course, Southern Trace helps its members get involved in the club through fitness. They offer a well-equipped fitness room as well as group classes such as Pilates, yoga, cardio kickboxing, and Tae Kwon Do. After an invigorating workout, relax in their resort-style pool, which is sure to be a hit with the entire family. There are two slides for the kids – or the kid in you – and adult beverages and a full menu is available at the snack bar.

If you’re looking for a country club with Southern charm and flair, Southern Trace should be on your list. With all of the good things happening at the club, it is sure to dominate future country club conversations. For membership information, visit them online at www.southerntracecc.com.

SST PURE – Take Your Clubs to the Next Level.

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I think it’s safe to say the golfers will do almost anything within moral, ethical, and legal bounds to gain extra yards, especially with the driver. We’re constantly swapping out clubheads, adjusting face angles, changing shafts, whatever it takes. And manufacturers goad us on, promising that their new technology will deliver extra yards. If all of their claims were true, we’d be hitting our drives 400 yards! It’s rarely the arrow, most likely the Indian.

Fear not fellow golfers, there is a proven technology that can help you add distance to your driver and every other club in the bag. It’s called SST PURE and it involves repositioning your golf shafts to minimize bending and twisting. Rotating the shaft into the clubhead with the hard side or stiffest side toward the target cuts down on the total amount of variation.

Despite what you may think – or have been told – golf shafts are neither perfectly straight nor perfectly round. Studies show that the irregularities in the structure of your golf shaft can cause off-line bending and twisting during the golf swing. This can cause an increase in shot dispersion and inconsistent performance from club to club.

The SST PURE process identifies those asymmetries that exist in every golf shaft and locates each shaft’s most stable orientation. What you get is a more consistent performance and a uniform feel from each club. Golfers typically see and feel the difference immediately! It works on any shaft, steel, or graphite, in any flex.

Now for the good news, several studies have shown that PUREing a shaft leads to greater clubhead and ball speeds which leads to, you guessed it: increased distance! In some cases almost a full extra club in distance! Players who PURE their shafts tend to shrink their shot dispersion and hit more accurate shots.

If you’re an obsessive-compulsive person and prefer all of your shaft labels in the same place – usually up or down – consider this therapy. Odds are that because of the way your current shafts are made, the weak side isn’t going to be in the same place on all of them, hence that perfect look will be no more. But your shots will look and feel a lot better.

I read somewhere that almost $2 billion has been won on the PGA TOUR by golfers playing shafts that had their shafts PUREd. The process is quite easy, simply decide which clubs you’d like to have PUREd and ship them to SST PURE. There’s no need to disassemble them, SST PURE will do that for you. Once they’ve taken your club apart they’ll analyze your shaft with the SST PURE machine and rebuild your club to its original specs unless you tell them in the comments section you want something changed. They’ll put a new grip on it and send it back to you. You’ll receive an email from the company showing how each shaft was rotated.

Once a shaft had been PUREd, it will never become unPUREd, unless of course, you snap it in which case it can be used to stake tomatoes. PUREing a shaft usually costs between $30 and $40, depending on location.

A lot of golfers these days are realizing the value of having their golf clubs custom fit. It’s the best way to get the most out of your equipment. Club Champion is one of the top club fitters in the country and has been PUREing clubs for a while. Nick Sherburne, the Founder of Club Champion saw so much value in SST PURE that he bought the company! SST PURE is currently licensed by golf club fitters in about 39 states in the U.S. and 19 other countries including Australia, Bahamas, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Korea, and Switzerland. For more information or to begin the pureing process, visit them online at www.sstpure.com