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Most difficult course you've ever played....


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Originally Posted by RC

One course continues to pop up as the hardest when rated by major publications and groups as the hardest and has, for the most part, preserved its reputation for years, even as equipment and golf balls have changed the game.  The course deserves its rating, it is amazing.  Probably your best score will be the first time around it because once you see all the trouble it becomes paralyzing:

The course is Pine Valley, NJ.

I feel just the opposite. Once I found out were the real penal stuff was, I avoided it. No matter how much the caddie tells you, you just don't know until you experience it. I wasn't gong to break the course record but I shot 10 strokes better the second time around.

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I played all 18 holes of Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV with 30 to 40 mph winds. We were absolutly sand blasted at the end of the day. The plus side - I hit my first 300 yard drive. The ball got up in the

Rustic Canyon when the wind is 20-40 mph. Great links style course. Greens are slippery and can't get the ball to stop in the wind. A 78 turns into a 92 real quick.
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Originally Posted by phan52

I feel just the opposite. Once I found out were the real penal stuff was, I avoided it. No matter how much the caddie tells you, you just don't know until you experience it. I wasn't gong to break the course record but I shot 10 strokes better the second time around.

That you could shave 10 shots is pretty stellar,  I sure could not.  I've played many excellent and difficult tracks and I always intended to shoot around par and hopefully not above 74 or 75.  Pine Valley was the only big time track where that was just impossible for me.  I thought I needed to attack a few more pin positions to get the score down from an opening 78,  That did not work, the score went up due to a triple and a couple of doubles (which are not infrequent there.)  So then I thought, OK, you know the perils, play it safe.  The greens ate my lunch, and my score was the highest that round.  Over the years, I tried 5 more rounds and never got back to as good as 78 again.  I think the pressure of pushing for a score on a track that penalizes shots that are just a little off was too much for my game,  Pine Valley exposes my weaknesses and demands precision shot shapes for certain pins.  Trying to push the envelop there just did not work for me.

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Originally Posted by RC

That you could shave 10 shots is pretty stellar,  I sure could not.  I've played many excellent and difficult tracks and I always intended to shoot around par and hopefully not above 74 or 75.  Pine Valley was the only big time track where that was just impossible for me.  I thought I needed to attack a few more pin positions to get the score down from an opening 78,  That did not work, the score went up due to a triple and a couple of doubles (which are not infrequent there.)  So then I thought, OK, you know the perils, play it safe.  The greens ate my lunch, and my score was the highest that round.  Over the years, I tried 5 more rounds and never got back to as good as 78 again.  I think the pressure of pushing for a score on a track that penalizes shots that are just a little off was too much for my game,  Pine Valley exposes my weaknesses and demands precision shot shapes for certain pins.  Trying to push the envelop there just did not work for me.

Well, I am certainly not as good a player as you, but I went in the first time and didn't pay enough attention to the caddie. I was driving the ball great that day (the fairways are generous, then it gets dicey) and I made the decision to go for pins. I got burned right off the bat on the first two holes. I continued the folly until I lost any confidence in even my driving. My round really deteriorated on the back nine and I barely broke 100. I've only played Pine Valley three times and I shot 88 the next time and 86 the last time I played it. That is very good for me on that track (I've been around a 10-12 handicap for a while now). I think the next opportunity (if it comes) I'll go for the pins again.

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That is a great unflolding of your experiences and you should be proud of your performance if your handicap is still as stated.  There are many very good golfers who have not done as well as you have.  You surely know what I mean about going after pins... you might get away with it a few times but like a rattlesnake coiled to bite, some of those pin placements can send your ball off into some of the most difficult recoveries I have ever seen.  I was advised of a tradition among some members there that you should not take unplayable lies, but rather just hack it out.  Trust me, that does not work.

I hope you avoided the DAH on number 10.  Since there are no rakes, each swipe at the ball just makes it worse.  I have not been in it while playing, but I had to toss a ball into it and try to get out.  My best shot was to hit back towards the tee and I barely got it out, then it rolled down into the typical PV rough.

No matter your score, playing there is a challenge and you feel the design trying to lure you into diaster.  There are longer courses, there are harder greens, there are worse bunkers, and there are more demanding shots, but when you put all those together, PV is relentless and just keeps leading you toward something you really do not want to do.  I loved the place.  Too bad I am getting older and cannot play it again to the level I would like to.  I have thought a lot about how to best play some shots there and decided my mistake was i did not use a mixture of approaches.  There are shots that should be played like English bump and runs, and I would always throw the ball up in the air.  Today, I think I would use every type of shot I could, no matter what they looked like.

I bought the book on the history of the club and keep it right above my computer beside Harvey Penick's and Ben Hogan's books, which have personal notes and are signed.  It is a real toss up for me whether, if I had only one round left to play in life, whether PV or Augusta would be the choice.  Probably Augusta because I truly am humbled there by the beauty and history, but PV is the harder of the tracks for me.

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Inverness Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama before the club got a new look. Was a stuff course. My grandfather and I played the course one day in heavy rain through the back nine. Fun times though.

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