By The Editors
If you were to play 18 of the finest, most memorable golf holes to be found within any golf course community, which holes would they be? That's the hypothetical question we posed in creating our 2009 listing of great holes from among the communities featured on GolfCourseHome.net.
The golf in gated communities is among the purest, best-designed and most carefully crafted in the entire American portfolio. These havens of the country club lifestyle represent more than 5,000 golf holes, 300-plus courses and over 75 different golf architects—a cornucopia to choose from.
Many of the courses are highly ranked by the leading golf publications and have been crafted by the great names in golf course design. That's only part of the story, however.
Live on a Dream
The real payoff is that each of these layouts is a beloved home course to the fortunate golfers who live around it. Whether you play matches on its lush fairways, traverse the course on your morning walk or simply enjoy it as a handsome background to daily life, each one helps create an environment that that makes everyone in the community glad that they live where they do.
The 18 entries below each include a parenthetical denoting which hole number hole on the original course our selected hole represents. For detailed information on any of these courses or communities, just click on the highlighted name of the community.
Here is a quick list of the holes, in our Dream 18 sequence. Below the initial list is the first of two articles on the Front Nine and Back Nine along with in-depth descriptions. To read about the Back Nine, click here
No. 7. Madison Lakes (4th), Madison GA
No. 8. Briar’s Creek (8th), John’s Island SC
No. 15. The Founders Club (5th), Sarasota FL
No. 16. Heritage Todd Creek (17th), Thornton CO
No. 17. Forest Dunes (14th), Roscommon MI
No. 1. Blackstone (1st), Peoria AZ
Designed as a sophisticated enclave within the greater gated community of Vistancia, Blackstone tapped the uncommon design skills of Jim Engh to craft an aesthetically robust golf course that would play with great variety from one day to the next.
Members rave about Engh’s rumpled, surprise-filled layout as much as they praise Blackstone’s true country-club experience and the desert, mountain and golf course vistas from their custom and luxury homes within the community’s 588 acres of Sonoran terrain. We start this Dream 18 with the opening hole Engh uses as an emerald-green welcome mat for his Blackstone golfers. It’s certainly inviting, with a fairway nearly 70 yards wide and loaded with those famed contours. A nice drive will be rewarded with a short approach to a gently undulating green bisected by a small ridge.
No. 2. Deer Brook Golf Club (9th), Shelby NC
Deer Brook Golf Club is a master-planned golf community in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, set between Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C. and Charlotte, N.C., with easy access to two international airports. Homesites are now available along a parkland-style, 6,911-yard course designed by Rick Robbins who was a lead designer for Jack Nicklaus for five years. Lot prices here include the initiation fee for Deer Brook G.C.
The stimulating front nine at Deer Brook closes with a handsome par-4 that can stretch to 415 yards but plays from a member-tee yardage of 378. A well-placed placed drive is crucial as the fairway slopes leftward, favoring a fade. Water lurks on the left as golfers hit to the green, which is guarded by twin traps left and right.
No. 3. Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club (11th), Dade City FL
Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club is blessed with rippling terrain and tall hardwoods that give a North Carolina look amid Florida sunshine and warmth. Freshwater lakes dot the landscape and quicken the pulse of an avid golfer. In fact, the club's South course features the longest natural drop of any course in the state—94 feet from tee to green on the par-5 11th hole.
Tom Lehman, the PGA Tour pro who designed Lake Jovita South (and the North , as well), built greens with subtle, even confounding, contours. That 11th is a par-5 playing 539 yards from the blues. It hides its green behind a plateau fairway that drops suddenly to the target—backed by water and guarded left and short-right by bunkers. A tough and memorable hole.
No. 4. The Georgia Club, (5th, original 18), Statham GA
In a prime location 45 miles east of Atlanta and 10 miles west of Athens, The Georgia Club allows an easy pace of life made special by the quality of the service and amenities. Central focus of the community is its 37,000-square-foot clubhouse, which completed a major expansion and renovation in fall 2007 to accommodate more than 340 guests. Golf here is a 27-hole celebration of the natural rolling terrain and tall trees that architect Denis Griffiths, a one-time associate of Gary Player Golf Design, has so skillfully tamed.
The original fifth hole of his Chancellors Course is a strategically compelling par-4 where any pushed or sliced tee shot flirts with water right. What really occupies the player’s thoughts on the tee is a specimen oak left in place on the fairway, down the right side about 80 yards from the front of the green. To play around this obstacle could require an imaginative shot, low and curving. Up at the green, a framing pair of sand bunkers are placed so as to add even more value to the left-side tee shot.
No. 5. The Cliffs at Keowee Springs (7th), Six Mile SC
Envisioned as a place where you’ll receive more than just an occasional massage or annual retreat, The Cliffs at Keowee Springs represents a new concept in the creation of a healthy living community where families can enjoy and maintain a Family Wellness Lifestyle. All that wellness and fitness is a cinch to help lower golf scores.
You’ll know it’s working if you can negotiate the dogleg on the par-4 seventh at the Tom Fazio-designed Keowee Springs Course. Ample fairway to the left of the turn bunker offers an easy target but leaves you a lengthy route to the green. To make this hole play shorter, pound your drive over that bunker and catch the downslope on the other side of it. Players should note that the approach shot over a small valley to an elevated green is better if played from the left side of the fairway.
No. 6. Lake Ridge (16th), Cedar Hill TX
Ideally located just south of Dallas/Fort Worth, Lake Ridge is a master-planned golf community where residents enjoy a wide array of sophisticated options for shopping, dining, and entertainment—plus scenic beauty and high-quality recreation. Lake Ridge is home to one of the highest elevation points in North Texas. It offers 25-mile skyline views of downtown Fort Worth. The community counts 7,500-acre Joe Pool Lake and Tangle Ridge Golf Club as its prime assets.
Listed in the “Best of Texas” by Texas Golfer magazine, the Jeff Brauer-designed Tangle Ridge features 6,835 yards of exciting elevation changes, subtle greens and tree-lined fairways. Brauer’s 424-yard 16th is a par-4 with a deceptively simple appearance. Its main feature is a “Valley of Sin” in the approach area. Don't let your second shot fall into it, since a chip or putt over the this type of contour is an unusual and seldom-practiced shot.
No. 7. Madison Lakes (4th), Madison GA
Surrounded by antebellum history in the lakes region of central Georgia, residents of this 1,000-acre planned community enjoy golf, tennis, hiking, horseback riding and relaxation. Their homesites are surrounded by rolling hills, open spaces and 60 acres of lakes and streams. The master plan includes four miles of trails, parks, equestrian, fitness, tennis, pools, and multiple recreation centers. At the heart of the property is Long Shadow Golf Club, a newly completed 18-hole championship course.
Already praised by the national golf media, the course will be complemented by a proposed executive-style layout for beginners and casual golfers. The first par-3 in our Dream 18 for 2009 is Long Shadow G.C.’s fourth hole, which can play at yardages from 115 all the way up to 239. Whatever distance you play, the strategy is to fly your tee shot into the left-front portion of green. contours will feed ball toward center. A hint: Elevation change is less than it appears, from tee to green.
No. 8. Briar’s Creek (8th), John’s Island SC
Minutes from Charleston and just moments from Kiawah Island, Briar's Creek is a private club community with outstanding Lowcountry golf designed by Rees Jones. The young, yet tradition-minded community features estate homesites in a 900-acre setting composed of sweeping marshland and ancient forest home to rare birds and wildlife.
The golf is world-class golf with zero tee times, and the hole we place in our Dream 18 is Briar’s Creek No. 8. The tee shot on this 404-yard par-4 will need your full attention. A bunker guards the left side; another lures any overdone bailout shot on the right. The green and approach are divided by a ridge into left and right halves. This is a great example of greenside bunkers that aren't overly large in size but exert a powerful effect on play because subtle ground contours will feed an iffy shot perilously toward the hazard.
No. 9. Lockwood Folly Country Club (18th), Holden Beach NC
Located on the southernmost coast of North Carolina, where the Lockwood Folly River merges with the Intracoastal Waterway, this 500-acre community features breathtaking vistas of tidal estuary, moss- covered hardwoods and stately pines. There are as river and Waterway lots and/or views awaiting custom-home construction. The ocean, visible from some lots, is minutes away by boat or car.
The pond to the right of the 18th green on Willard Byrd's 500-yard, par-4 finishing hole is a great example of water hazards deployed to please the eye and jangle the nerves at the same time. Already any golfer is thinking "water" as they proceed up this short (for a par-5) but serpentine fairway. That's because the hole’s backdrop is a long, luxuriant view of the Intracoastal Waterway, flecked with islands and stretching to the Atlantic.