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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.
    • Ah, yes, great.  Haven't got to #19 and interpretations in my studies!  Thank you!! Hypothetically, if a player had this situation, and took an unplayable, and then dropped it in the wrong place (i.e. the fairway).  That's DQ yes? I guess it'd have to be, a serious breach, nothing else makes sense. I see it in 14.7b(1).  
    • Day 115 (7/30/21) - 9-hole league tonight. I hit really good drives, but didn't follow-up very well. Generally speaking, my short game was mediocre. Between my tennis elbow acting up and a bad scrape and bruise on my left wrist which I managed to do cleaning the garage today, I've decided to take the week off to heal, so my next entry will be starting over at 1 after league next Friday night.
    • Day 66, July 30, 2021: Played 27 holes today. Still haven’t made many longer putts, maybe I’m saving them for member-guest next week.
    • They are a fun group of guys.  The stories they tell are epic.  
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