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TST Takes on Sand Valley, WI (July 18-23, 2021)


cipher

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I filmed @DeadMan@iacasand @GolfLug all with great shots on the the final hole of the Sandbox, number 17. Erik and Vishal nearly ace it. Gotta love the drunk guy yelling in the background. 😂

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1 hour ago, klineka said:

I'd love to hear about some of the best shots you guys hit out there, did anyone go super low compared to how they usually score?

I shot 80 on the second day at SV, then 80 and 81 at Lawsonia, which were my 3 lowest scores of the year. Some highlights:

  • 60 yard sand shot to 5 feet for birdie on MD.
  • 3 birdies in a row from 10-12 on SV on day 2. Had a combined 30-35 feet of eagle putts on 10 and 12 (I hit two 5 irons to about 15 and 20 feet, respectively), and stuffed an approach from about 115 to 4 feet on 11. 
  • Making par from the driving range on 9 on SV. Hit a completely blind 70 yard shot to 15 feet. I had to turn on my GPS to get some guess at the yardage because I couldn't see the flag to hit with my laser. I had a great lie, though. 🤣
  • Hitting the green twice at 7 at Lawsonia, playing it in a combined -1. 
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I shot around 83-85 on all the courses except the last day at Sand Valley when I shot a 79. I had a really good back nine at Sand Valley that day. I typically started slowly, and then had a good middle stretch of holes, 6-15, then have a bad last few holes. I putted really well, thanks Erik for giving me two putting tips about 4-5 weeks ago. Started making everything inside 15-FT. I think at the Sand Box, I had a 9 hole stretch where I made everything inside 15-FT. I didn't have many putts inside 5-Ft there. 

The best hole for me was #12 at Sand Valley where I went Driver, 7 iron to about 25-FT, and two putted for birdie. 

I also had a pretty good hole on Mammoth, where I went Driver, 3-wood, and pitched it to about 6 inches. 

 

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I played roller coaster golf. This is going to be a lengthy recap. I’m not expecting people to read through the whole thing; it’s more for my own entertainment purposes to go back over some of these holes.

Day 1 (Sandbox and Mammoth Dunes)

  • I made par on #16 at SB by hitting a PW as hard as I could to the front of the green and then putting from there to 8’ from the back hole location. The hole was 170 from the tee and the longest club I had was PW. It sounds a lot easier in writing than it was.
  • I didn’t play that well at MD. Probably hit a few good drives, but I don’t remember doing anything remarkable.

Day 2 (SB and Sand Valley)

  • Made birdie on #7 at SB. Teed off with putter, hit it to 3’.
  • Hit an 8i on #16 at SB to 8’. It’s a Redan and I hit a fade. @DaveP043 showed us how it’s supposed to be played by hitting a draw to the front of the green and letting the ball roll up to the hole about 6’ away.
  • Didn’t play well at SV on the first round, but I hit some good drives and made a few pars, including on #18 where I hit driver-3w into the sand area to the right of the green, hit a 30 yard blind sand shot just off the green and made par from there.

Day 3 (SB and SV)

  • Birdied #7 again at SB. Again teed off with putter but not great, holed a 20’ putt for birdie.
  • Quit golf on the 3rd hole at SV, so naturally, I birdied #4. Hit a good drive and 2h just left of the green, had a ridiculous putt from the top of a hill that hit a sprinkler head and trickled to tap in distance.
  • Hit 4i-2h on #6, GIR and 4-putted. Dave measured my first putt - I was 40 yards from the hole.
  • Hit a perfect drive over the sand pyramid on #7 (I was on top of it the day before), followed by an easy 2h I wanted to run up to the green, which I pulled slightly but it bounced off a hill and rolled onto the green anyway. Had a 30’ putt for eagle, 3-putted for par.
  • Birdied #12. Like @saevel25, I also went driver-7i and put it on the green.
  • Made par on #14 which I described in the Best Shot of the Week thread. That 6i was probably in the top 5 most pure shots I have ever hit. It started on the line I wanted, turned exactly how I pictured it, and flew exactly the right distance. Missed the 6’ putt for birdie which I really wanted to make with the other group watching on the tee.
  • I hit a good drive on #18 and tried to hit a 2h into the fairway short of the green. Ended up flaring it way right into the Sahara. Matt later asked if I hit a good shot because it looked like I was posing, and I told him I was so gassed I just didn’t want to move after the shot 😂

Day 4 (Lawsonia Links x 2)

  • Got my best score of the trip here with an 87 in our first round. I hit some good shots, but nothing really spectacular. Just made fewer mistakes overall.
  • Made birdie on #9 after hitting my drive into the fescue. Hit a 7i back into the fairway and a low spinner to 3’, which was still outside Dave’s blind third shot from the fairway bunker which he put to 2’.

Day 5 (Lac La Belle)

  • Made a really good decision to grab breakfast at Fresh Baked Cafe in Oconomowoc.
  • The beers were cold at the end of the round. I seriously played like crap.
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(edited)

MD: 89 (Black/Orange combo tees): 89. Up and down sandy on 17th was nice. One of my better sand shots of the week. 

SV: 98 (Black tees).. Tough day. Bit too much of a course for me from black tees. Drive on 18 uphill was a bright spot that stood out though. 

SV: 89 (Orange tees).. phew.. much better. 2nd shot on 16 uphill from 198 out over bunker with a borrowed 3 iron (thanks @DeadMan.. :-)) that dropped and stopped within a two feet for a kick-in might be the shot of the week for me. 

LL: 92, 92 back-to-back on the same day. Tried my darndest hard to break 90 but couldn't twice. Best shot 8 iron on 7th par 3 from 155 for a bird. 

Lac La Bell: 107. Forgettable day score-wise except for holes 15-16 where I finally hit couple of good drives.  

Edited by GolfLug
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There's the album. Any one of us that went on the trip can upload images to it, but all I'd ask is that you… resize them so that they're about 2000 x 1500 and a bit under 1 MB.

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10 hours ago, iacas said:

There's the album. Any one of us that went on the trip can upload images to it, but all I'd ask is that you… resize them so that they're about 2000 x 1500 and a bit under 1 MB.

BTW try to name the pictures well so that everyone knows what they are looking at. I will rename the three I added to start the album when I get a moment.

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If anyone wants to see GG of my rounds at SV and Lawsonia, here they are. Mammoth Dunes and Lac La Belle did not upload correctly (probably because they are newer courses and not yet in GG).

https://www.gamegolf.com/player/DeadManUofM/round/3081710

https://www.gamegolf.com/player/DeadManUofM/round/3081711

https://www.gamegolf.com/player/DeadManUofM/round/3081705

https://www.gamegolf.com/player/DeadManUofM/round/3081706

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I'm taking way too long to write up my thoughts on the courses, but in the meantime…

On 7/9/2021 at 7:57 PM, Big C said:

Lac La Belle is a gem and one of the best courses I have played in a long time. For $100 it’s an amazing value and honestly not that far behind Erin Hills in terms of beauty and playability. I would consider it a “must play” in Wisconsin. 

I'm going to focus on this stuff about LLB…

FWIW Lawsonia is like $65 or something, while LLB was $100 to $125.

On 7/9/2021 at 7:57 PM, Big C said:

If anyone is debating between a round at Lac La Belle and Lawsonia, Lac La Belle would be my recommendation and it’s not close.

I think everyone else who went would vote 8-0 the opposite way.

On 7/10/2021 at 10:51 AM, Big C said:

Your comment about target golf is interesting. I didn't consider it to be a target golf course (one of the things I liked about it was that you could think your way around the course, there was always a bail out area, and misses in the "correct" spot were not severely punished), but you are correct that some holes strongly encourage you to club down off the tee.

LLB is absolutely a target golf course. There's really very little thinking to go around. Where you hit it should be pretty obvious on most every tee, and you're often punished for a miss. It has nowhere near the "areas to miss" as Lawsonia.

I mean, are you sure you didn't confuse the two courses, Colin? 🙂

On 7/10/2021 at 10:51 AM, Big C said:

@iacas I am not an architecture geek, I couldn't name the template holes off the top of my head, and so in terms of folks that know and discuss this stuff with regularity, yes I'm probably a 2-3 or so. In terms of your average random golfer, I would assume I'm more knowledgeable than most - to the extent that doing some research on course design, and knowing what makes a course fun, playable and challenging puts me ahead of at least 50% of the golfing population out there. Spending a couple days at Bandon really opened my eyes to the ways a good course design could lead to creative alternatives in ways to approach a hole. Despite the accolades, I just thought that Lac La Belle did a much better job of this than Lawsonia, although I will admit that some of my critiques of Lawsonia were not related to the actual design of course itself.

Yeah, I just… I don't know what to say to that. But I did have a bit of a theory I wanted to run by you…

Could it be that Lawsonia's "fescue" areas were a lot like CA desert areas, and you've never really played much "parkland" golf courses like LLB tends to be (trees, deep bunkers, etc.)?

So maybe you liked LLB more because it's unlike anything you've ever really seen, while those of us from PA, etc. are used to parkland golf courses.

LLB is not architecturally all that interesting, IMO.

On 7/10/2021 at 10:51 AM, Big C said:

Lawsonia's carts are basic electric carts with no GPS. This is important because the first two holes at Lawsonia are completely blind off the tee.

Agree to disagree it's "important" at all. Especially since four of us walked.

On 7/10/2021 at 10:51 AM, Big C said:

The 4th hole was one of my favorites - a 170 yard par 3 that looked daunting off the tee, but was actually very gettable because the contours of the green allowed balls to funnel back towards the hole.

Every ball there is going to end up in like three places.

On 7/10/2021 at 10:51 AM, Big C said:

And the 7th hole was the epitome of target golf - a downhill 140 yard par 3 with a fairly wide green, but no place to miss.

We have different definitions of "target golf," man. All par threes tend to be "target golf." You're hitting the green.


But, I'm curious about how much you liked LLB because of the possible "difference" from the courses you play a lot now.

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5 minutes ago, iacas said:

LLB is absolutely a target golf course. There's really very little thinking to go around. Where you hit it should be pretty obvious on most every tee, and you're often punished for a miss. It has nowhere near the "areas to miss" as Lawsonia

I lost more golf balls at LLB than I did the previous 4 days combined. 😉

6 minutes ago, iacas said:

LLB is not architecturally all that interesting, IMO.

I agree.

Visually appealing, but from a golfing perspective, kind of boring. 

 

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18 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I agree.

Visually appealing, but from a golfing perspective, kind of boring. 

As do I. It looks nice, but they practically put a big X in the middle of every hole in terms of where to play from.

Lawsonia Links had options. You could kick the ball off a mound 70 yards away and have it roll towards the green. @DaveP043 did that on 9 and had a tap-in birdie. Our group had a pretty good discussion about the options on 13, where you can try to take on the slope but risk the ball rolling down and facing a blind uphill 100 yard shot, or laying up to 150 and having a perfect view of the green.

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So my list, in reverse order:

Naga-Waukee War Memorial, 6.5

Naga-Waukee is a solid golf course that was fun to play, well kept, and had enough architectural integrity. Your interest is captured from the first hole right on through to the end, without a truly weak hole among them (with #11 being the worst, but still acceptable). The course allows and encourages you to move the ball both ways off the tee if you're up for it, it allows and hints at hitting different clubs off the tees and into the greens, with elevation changes both up and down. About the only thing some might complain about is that the 18th is a bit soft. I had about 55 yards in for my approach shot. Some people don't like that kind of thing; I don't mind. It's a half-par hole that may decide a match. Swap the 17th and the 18th and you may placate a few more people.

The greens were good — they had enough variety of shape, size, and slope to stay relevant without being over the top or crazy.

I wasn't really looking at this course as an architectural test, because it was my first round on non-muddy turf in about ten days given the rains we had in Erie the previous two weeks, but I was surprised at the challenge it presented while still being quite playable.

A very, very good golf course that, were it in my area, I think I could play and enjoy all the time. @cipher should join. 😄

The Club at Lac la Belle, 7.0

Admittedly, I wasn't particularly invested in playing this round. It came at the end of a long week, and as we had seen the course the day before when we visited the putting course (which is fun, and which I wish more courses had, though maintenance might be a PITA), I had seen almost enough of what I wanted to see: winding fairways, tall fescue rough, bunkers, undulating greens. Parkland golf.

Only the ninth hole is essentially untouched from what existed in the previous decade(s), with four completely new holes on completely newly owned property across the street. Apparently the course was often flooded, so they rebuilt the course higher up and in the process rebuilt almost every hole. Some shared similar green or tee sites, but many were totally new.

Let's start with the positives. The course was in good shape. The greens played firm (I suspect they were still just year-old USGA spec greens, or at least new construction). The clubhouse and conditions and everything were nice.

The negatives? It's parkland, target golf. It's long rough/fescue off the fairways. It's tall, mature trees. There really aren't very many options, and there aren't many real decisions to make. Hit it here, hit it there. The first four greens are a bit over the top. The second and third hole tee shots are, to borrow an architectural term, dumb. The second requires a hybrid or 4I through a chute of trees (hook is optional), while the third features a blind penalty area creeping in to the right-ward 80%. The fourth, a par three, has a green so over the top that almost all tee shots will end up in about four places, and if the holes are cut in about the same places, putting there will be pretty boring after a few rounds. The course wasn't tough to walk, but despite having rickshaws, the course wasn't the best for walking with a push cart because tall fescue often blocked direct paths from green to tee.

A few of the holes were interesting, but none were really "wow, now that's cool" level. Lac la Belle isn't a bad course, but it's nowhere near a great one.

Mammoth Dunes, 7.5

I'll let others talk about the scale and size of the place. It's right there in the name, so I'll skip talking about it, except to share some numbers about the first hole: the first fairway is 100 yards wide. The first green is 52 yards wide, and occupies about 14,000 square feet. That's 1/3 of an acre.

I'll start with the main thing that knocks this down a bit from Sand Valley (and puts it below Lawsonia Links by a good bit): I didn't like the lack of separation in Mammoth Dunes. The first fairway lets you hit it anywhere in that 100 yards, and the first green, though yes it's more visible from high up on the right-hand side, also lets you hit it anywhere, from which the ball will tend to funnel toward the hole or the middle of the green.

Ballstriking isn't rewarded (or punished) at quite the level I appreciate. Many players will shoot some of their best scores ever on Mammoth Dunes, which is great for a resort course — it's fun, it's different, it's BIG… — but it's not what I enjoy about golf. I don't need every good shot to be rewarded and every bad shot punished, but I want more separation between the quality and the result. This all made the architecture feel unimportant, and the results of both your decisions and your shots feel less important.

Now, not every hole features this pattern, and let's bear in mind I still ranked this course as a 7.5. The second hole was great - a centerline bunker slightly offset to the left makes it appear as though a drive to the left in the narrower area is the preferred line, but that line blocks you out from seeing much of the green with a large dune to the left. The better line is to the right, and it still leaves a wedge in.

Given the size of the greens, much of the "strategy," light as it may be at Mammoth Dunes, depends on the location of the flag on the green. Since it can literally be 100 feet from where it was the day before, the optimal way to play each hole can change each day. That can make a course more interesting, and Mammoth is not uninteresting. I just don't think it's nearly as "separation-friendly" as Sand Valley. Or Lawsonia. Or some other truly great 8.0-or-above type courses.

Lawsonia Links, 8.5

I'm curious how a course like this, were it built today, would be received. In some ways, Langford and Moreau were Mike Strantz before Mike Strantz. When they weren't stealing boxcars from the local rail yard to build up green sites, they were using steam shovels in the days of horse-powered earth-moving equipment to really move some dirt around. Though they seemed to leave the general topography alone, they created some dramatic features with the mounds throughout the fairways and the green sites and surrounding features.

The first time playing it presents a real strategic puzzle. You're constantly questioning your lines, and even with a rangefinder, you're sometimes still questioning lines when you're the third to play from the tee! Mounds from 8 to 20 feet high — some of which feature bunkers, some of which are just grass (and you often have no way of truly knowing which you're looking at) — play tricks on your eyes with depth. They obscure things beyond them, sometimes for 100+ yards. They offer aiming points. And they often appear to be much farther out than they are.

The greens at Lawsonia require accuracy, but are still often large enough to allow you to play away from the worst "side" of the green. You'll have a long putt, and often one that will break 20% of the distance of the putt or more, but you can play safe. Or you can take on the hill and, occasionally, face a shot to a green that's ten feet above your head.

The par threes are a bit of a mixed bag. I found the tenth to be a bit obnoxious - it was playing about 240 the day we played with tons of movement in the green. It's a tougher hole than many short par fours I've played. The other par threes, including the fourth, are solid. The par fives are great, with the exception of the 13th, which @DeadMan already talked about. Though, I will note that @saevel25 was able to get near the green in two, and keep his ball there. I don't think that hole is as bad as Daniel says it is, as I think sometimes you can have a bit of an exhilarating second shot in trying to get to within about 40 yards of the green to keep your ball up top… and if you're close, in waiting to see if it will stay there.

The par fours are great. Though the first is blind, it's only blind once. The first green, even with a short iron in hand, serves as a good introduction to what L&M created at Lawsonia, as the left side falls down about 15 feet from the edge of the green at about a 60° slope.

Other "blind" shots exist, but you're given a clue where to aim, and trust is important. Lawsonia will play very different in different winds. It pays to be a good putter, or to put yourself in good positions with uphill putts, as the greens, while not nearly as massive as Mammoth or even Sand Valley, have a good amount of moment to them.

Despite the tenth being my least favorite hole on the course, the back nine is all played in one open area with tremendous views across the expanse. You can see (and hear) the travails of people six holes away from you, with holes playing up and down and across a valley with ripples and humps and bumps. On many of the holes, a strategy from the tee may be anything from 4I to driver. The eighth was a good example here, as you could cut a driver around the corner, lay out to the left with a 4I, or (as I did), hit a 3W to the right-center of the angled fairway (semi-blind as steam-shovel-built mounds partially obscure the view) to leave a partial wedge to the (again) perched green. How close to the flagstick do you aim when the hole is cut toward an edge?

Lawsonia has remained a good challenge because of the design and architecture, as well as a few found yards here and there (like the 18th, where the back tees are 85 yards behind the next set forward).

Sand Valley, 9.0

A grind in the best possible way from start to finish. I likened it to Oakmont in the sense that it's unrelenting and requires precision and focus for the entire 18 holes. You have some wider fairways, and around the greens you have a bunch of options on how to get the ball to the hole, but decisions are mentally taxing. And never-ending.

The first hole is a bigger challenge than you may think at first, particularly if you choose to take an aggressive line. The second hole can punch you in the mouth quickly if you miss the green (particularly to the right). The third is a solid par three, the fourth a long and uphill par five. Five played 190 to an elevated, downhill green from the top of a dune that exposed you to the wind. Six has a hidden bunker that it takes knowledge to avoid, and five has a gash bunker crossing the fairway at a very oblique angle. All interesting, all different, and all to be played differently depending on the wind that day. On the sixth, for example, I hit 3W, PW one day from the back (Black) tees, then driver, 7I the next day from two tees forward (the "Sand" tees). On the 7th, I played it Driver, 5I, 5I the first day (Black), and driver, 6I, pitch the second day (Sand). As I'm not going to talk about every hole… I'll stop now.

You'll hear a few times that Mammoth is concave and Sand Valley is convex, and that's generally true. Coore & Crenshaw let you make decisions, and if you pull off the shot, you'll be rewarded with better angles, better visibility, or an easier next shot (or putt). None of the putting greens felt unfair, but you could get out of position on them. There were places to miss, but you had to know where they were. Well above the hole was never among them, nor was well below the green staring up at a bunch of fescue grass. You could miss a tee shot, for example, a bit too far right, and still be in the fairway, but you may have a partially blind and/or tougher angle.

The 17th has a reputation for being controversial, but I don't really see it. It's a blind, long, uphill par three… which plays down into a giant bowl. Get the ball anywhere in the bowl and you'll have a makable putt. The first time I played it I came up just shy of the green, then putted down into the bowl, used a backstop, and rolled the ball to two feet. The second time my ball stopped six inches from an ace to a completely different hole location. But… miss the bowl and you have to work. The 18th can be a bit gimmicky, what with the big slope and all — but it can also be a really fun way to finish your round. 16 is a bruiser… unless you can thread the needle a bit. Play right of the center bunker and you have a better view, but a longer shot. I hit 3I, Dan hit 8I into that green after similar length tee shots.

Sand Valley, in contrast to Mammoth Dunes, offers a bunch of separation. The line between good and bad shots is very narrow, as are the results: good shots are rewarded, bad shots punished, often proportionately. There are options, and the wind plays a good role. The fairways are wide, but the optimal sides and angles are small. And yes, angles matter, because Sand Valley (and Mammoth Dunes), being on sand, will allow you to bounce and/or roll the ball onto greens and around the course. Tee shots will bound a bit, and roll out. Approaches can be played to release, if you like, though the greens will generally hold a well-struck high shot. Options abound… as does punishment for poor execution.

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9 minutes ago, iacas said:

Though, I will note that @saevel25 was able to get near the green in two, and keep his ball there.

It was a smashed 3-wood. Any other strike and I am at the bottom of the hill. It rewarded a great shot. 

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I will be brief, since others have weighed in and I echo the vast majority of what they've said (plus I love bullet points). 

Naga-Waukee War Memorial - 6

  • A fun course, architecturally interesting
  • Several nice views
  • Walkable
  • Passes the "I'd play here often" test

Club at Lac La Belle - 6.5

  • Great Parkland golf.  I think the score suffered a little because all the other courses were so unique, but if this place were near my house it'd be one of the better courses available to play publicly.
  • Walkable
  • Firm, well-maintained greens with interesting contours
  • Good combination of tough holes and less-challenging ones
  • Not many real recovery options on a bad shot - most often, you're punching out from trees or laying up from a fairway bunker
  • Passes the "I'd play here often" test 
  • Favorite hole: #16

Lawsonia Links - 8

  • Unique and visually interesting
  • Walkable
  • Well-maintained greens with interesting contours, with play varying based on hole location
  • (2) Par-3's were too long for me to really enjoy playing them
  • Too many blind tee shots
  • Some of the most fun approach shots I've had to play
  • Passes the "I'd drive a couple hours to play here" test
  • Favorite hole: #7

Mammoth Dunes - 8

  • Visually stunning
  • Walkable
  • Huge greens and fairways
  • Turns out, I really enjoy "resort golf".  Separation value (which @iacas) referred to above is different for a 14-hcp...I liked that a wider range of shots were rewarded, but you still have to hit the ball solidly.
  • Passes the "I'd drive a long way to stay/play here again" test

Sand Valley - 8.5

  • Visually stunning
  • Walkable
  • Huge greens and fairways
  • This is an aspirational course for me - breaking 90 the second day, even from an easier set of tees, felt like a real accomplishment...something I had to work damn hard for.  This is the kind of course I want to be good enough to play well.  At the end of the day, that's what ticked it 0.5 above Mammoth Dunes.
  • Passes the "I'd drive a long way to stay/play here again" test
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@iacas it sounds like you guys had a great trip. Hopefully I can get out to Sand Valley for a round at some point soon. 

I admit to being a bit surprised that nobody preferred Lac La Belle to Lawsonia. Personally, I just felt that the front 9 at Lawsonia was pretty average, while I thought that golf and the visuals at Lac La Belle were enjoyable throughout. 

I guess I would still quibble a bit with the characterization of Lac La Belle as a target golf course. There is no doubt that it was tighter off the tee than Lawsonia, and therefore more straightforward (although 6 and 13 both gave you the option to take on more risk - biting off an aggressive line towards the hazard in exchange for a closer approach). But I thought the approaches at Lac La Belle were far more receptive to a variety of shot shapes and types than Lawsonia. With raised greens on 1, 4, 6 and 8 and steep drop off everywhere around 7, the front nine at Lawsonia seemed to be more of a target golf course than LLB when it came to the approaches. You needed to flight your ball high to get it close, and there weren't many forgiving misses for missed greens. 

Consider the difference between the 7th at Lawsonia and the 8th at Lac La Belle. Structurally, both holes were very similar - downhill par 3's measuring 140-150 yards and greens that were cut diagonally from left to right. But where Lawsonia left no bail out area for a missed shot, Lac La Belle gave the player the option to take on the flag over the front right bunkers, or play it safely short left, leaving a reasonable up and down chance. 

In any event, I had fun at both courses - I was just surprised that I easily preferred LLB considering the hype that I had heard about Lawsonia coming in. 

On 7/30/2021 at 3:48 PM, iacas said:

Could it be that Lawsonia's "fescue" areas were a lot like CA desert areas, and you've never really played much "parkland" golf courses like LLB tends to be (trees, deep bunkers, etc.)?

So maybe you liked LLB more because it's unlike anything you've ever really seen, while those of us from PA, etc. are used to parkland golf courses.

 

I don't think this is the case. My home course in Long Beach is a parkland course and I've played plenty of similar parkland tracks in the Midwest and elsewhere. I will say that I played and scored considerably better at Lac La Belle than Lawsonia. And it's hard to know the extent to which this may have shaped my perception of the two. It's possible that if I played the same quality of golf at Lawsonia that I did at Lac La Belle, maybe I would have rated it higher? I'd like to think that I'm not that fickle but who knows how the human mind works sometimes. 

Regardless, I have enjoyed reading the reviews and glad you guys had fun on your rounds. Hopefully next time you plan something, I can tee it up with you all. 

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41 minutes ago, Big C said:

 

I admit to being a bit surprised that nobody preferred Lac La Belle to Lawsonia. Personally, I just felt that the front 9 at Lawsonia was pretty average, while I thought that golf and the visuals at Lac La Belle were enjoyable throughout.

Virtually nobody does. Not the eight of us on the trip, not anyone I've seen who writes about golf courses or architecture or anything like that. Yes, LLB just re-opened in June 2020, but it's not going to be rated over Lawsonia in two years or ten years, I would wager.

41 minutes ago, Big C said:

I guess I would still quibble a bit with the characterization of Lac La Belle as a target golf course.

I am not sure you understand what "target golf" is.

The Old Course at St. Andrews is not target golf because you can play the ball along all sorts of lines and distances. Firmer golf courses tend to offer less "target golf" experiences than softer ones because a ball can roll a bunch of ways to get to the same final point, but among softer golf courses (LL and LLB both qualify), courses that allow for different lines and distances and shots off the tee qualify.

Into greens, virtually all soft courses are "target" courses (and basically, all courses not built on sand tend to be "soft" courses), because the goal is to hit the green. It's not "target golf" to say "missing the green isn't encouraged" because that's discouraged everywhere. Miss the green at Pinehurst and you're often boned. Miss the green at St. Andrews and you're often boned. You have options on how to recover, but the goal is still to hit the green in regulation.

Lac la Belle is about as "target" golf as golf gets. You're asked to hit it to a pretty specific spot in the fairway, and then, yes, to hit the green… like every golf course ever. LLB isn't exactly firm, so you're not even given a bunch of different ways to get the ball onto the green.

33 minutes ago, Big C said:

But I thought the approaches at Lac La Belle were far more receptive to a variety of shot shapes and types than Lawsonia.

They're all flying to the green and stopping pretty quickly. The shape is almost irrelevant when you're talking about hitting a green.

33 minutes ago, Big C said:

Consider the difference between the 7th at Lawsonia and the 8th at Lac La Belle. Structurally, both holes were very similar - downhill par 3's measuring 140-150 yards and greens that were cut diagonally from left to right. But where Lawsonia left no bail out area for a missed shot, Lac La Belle gave the player the option to take on the flag over the front right bunkers, or play it safely short left, leaving a reasonable up and down chance.

Again, that's not really what "target golf" is. All you're saying is that LLB is "easier" or "less punishing for a missed GIR." A valid comparison, but not "target golf" (or more or less so).

33 minutes ago, Big C said:

In any event, I had fun at both courses - I was just surprised that I easily preferred LLB considering the hype that I had heard about Lawsonia coming in.

Well, they have good GPS in the carts… 😛

 

33 minutes ago, Big C said:

I will say that I played and scored considerably better at Lac La Belle than Lawsonia. And it's hard to know the extent to which this may have shaped my perception of the two.

I think that's playing quite heavily in your view of them.

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For those of us who went on the trip, and who played Mammoth, SV, Lawsonia, and LLB, let's do this: everyone write down your favorite first hole, your favorite second hole, etc. Let's see what the composite course looks like. Say a few words about why each hole is your favorite.

Some guides and links to help everyone remember the holes:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/576025fa22482e70f0278a4d/t/5cafa7d07817f7c9673f0a6d/1555015644415/MammothDunes+Course+Guide.pdf

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/576025fa22482e70f0278a4d/t/5cafb38ce4966b8002e86f9a/1555018646008/Sand+Valley+Course+Guide.pdf

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Well, they have good GPS in the carts… 😛

LL had an app for GPS 😃

Those leather seats at LLB were really nice though.

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