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I have often wanted to write a course review, as I am a fan of course architecture, course rankings, etc.. This past weekend I had the opportunity (through a Christmas present that I was just now using) to play Pine Dunes Golf Course. I have long wanted to play this course and it has been touted as one of the best public courses in Texas that very few people know about. I believe that in 2012 Golfweek named it the number 1 public track in Texas, and it still holds that spot in the latest 2017 rankings. Golf.com has it ranked #2 in the 2016 rankings (the 2018 rankings should come out mid to late Summer) for top public tracks as well. Needless to say I was pretty excited to get a chance to play it. I live in Northwest Houston so it was about a 3 hour haul from my house, but my dad and I planned the day around driving up there. I thought it would be a good idea to write up. review of my experience, the course, and its value compared to the rankings. So here goes nothing....


Course Background:

The course is actually part of a small resort, that markets best to corporate golf getaways, bachelor parties, family re-unions, and the like. The condos seemed nice and viewed the 18th green and some of the practice area. My review won't really "review" these amenities because I didn't stay here, but I thought it was a cool option to exlore if you were planning such an event in the area. 

Speaking of the area, the course is located in Frankston, Texas? Where is that? Well the owner was once quoted as saying, "Its in the middle of nowhere, but its in the middle". In reality it is about 90 minutes southeast of downtown Dallas. Just south of the city of Tyler. Not exactly a Golf Mecca over in these parts, and quite the drive for anyone not doing a stay and play type package. 

The owner, Jodi Lutz, had bought various parcels of land in the area, one of them happened to have a beat down 9 hole golf course on it. Through a introduction from a friend she got paired up with David Frost (former PGA Tour player), and he wanted to see this Golf course she owned. Long story short....he loved the land and convinced her to re-do the course as an 18 hole track. This led her to Jay and Carter Morrish to do the design work. They began the design project in 1999. It was stated that the Morrish's saw this as an opportunity to build their own version of the famous Pinehurst #2. It was definitely designed/built with that inspiration in mind. Below is a Link to the course website for your reference: 



The pro shop itself is a small building. They sell a few items in there (clubs, balls, shirts etc..), but there really isn't much to it. Doesn't really have to be grand, just something I noticed. There is a separate dining area, however, in a separate building that is quite nice. I wish I would have taken a picture for this review (still learning this review thing), but it resembled a log cabin type of feel with a nice eating area, and a menu of burgers and such. Not Bells and whistles, but a solid dining area for sure. When my dad and I arrived, we went a grabbed some water from the dining area, and walked around and looked at some of the memorabilia on the walls. There was a group of about 15 guys sitting down post round and having their lunch (we teed off around 1 PM), and reviewing their Ryder cup style weekend tournament they had going on. Again, this would be a cool thing to do if you had a big party staying at the resort. 

Practice Area:

After paying up for our tee times (to be discussed later) we headed to the practice area. The practice range was just a elevated section of ground that overlooked a plain range with some poles and flags at various distances. Nothing special here. We then proceeded right next to the range to the the shot game area. Small, but ample green complete with a nice sized bunker (which did a good job mimicking the bunkers on the course....as my Dad found out quite often :-D). The practice green was nice. Quite a few holes cut in it, and the green speeds and undulation matched the greens on the course perfectly. 


Course Overview:

All distances are from the White tees. (5819 yds 68.1/119). These tees are a bit short for me, but they are perfect my dad AND I still don't have my driver repaired so it worked perfect for me hitting only hybrids and 3-wood off the tee. I will do a brief description of each hole below, however, I think the video link below does a good job of showcasing the course so I wanted to share that as well. 


Hole by Hole:

Hole 1 Par 4 319 yds: Short and fairy simple par 4. Dogleg left with a bunker in the far side of the dogleg. It is actually a very tight driving hole, and my shot zones forced me to hit a 5 iron off the tee. I hit a run up shot to the green here, as the fairways were running very firm and the greens received the bump and run type shot very well. 

Hole 2 Par 4 270 yards: Fun short hole. I didn't play it very well, but my dad did. Really wide fairway if youngest don't go left...which I did. Played my first bunker shot on this hole, and I have to say I was very impressed with the condition of the bunkers. The amount of sand was just right, and I felt like every shot from the bunker had a decent enough lie to make a good swing on it. They were not as penal as I though as long as you have a decent sand game. I got out of the sand every time, but once. 

Hole 3 Par 3 108 yards: One thing I think stuck out like a sore thumb at this course was its lack of a real good one-shotter. I feel like most truly great course have at least really memorable par 3. That probably isn't true, but this course in particular didn't have one that made me go "wow" or even worry too much about hitting s super accurate shot. This hole was the shortest of the bunch. The only interesting thing about was the size of the green. It was huge, and you could hit a 75 yards shot or a 125 yards shot and probably find the green. 

Hole 4 Par 4 399 yards: This is the hardest handicap hole on the course, though you could have fooled me ;) It is a sharp dogleg par 4 that similar to the 1st hole has a bunker at the far side of the dogleg and trees guarding the dogleg itself..preventing you from cutting too much of the corner. The green is flanked near the front on both sides by some fairly nasty bunkers. However, there is ample room to run up the ball up as I soon found out. Hit a great hybrid with a baby draw on it that ran out to a spot with a great angle to the green about 175 yards out. I decided to run the ball up again (such a fun shot to play), and hit a 3/4 shot with a 5 Iron....and it ran up and dropped for an Eagle! My first ever. 

Hole 5 Par 5 436 yards: Super short Par 5 no matter what tees you play. However, it is the first of what I consider to be the best feature about this course: Interesting Par 5's. In fact, I think this hole wins my Best Par 5 Award for this course. You essentially have two options off the tee. The fairway is split by trees. If you go right you have no trouble, but you make the hole longer and you don't get the best angle into the green upon your approach shot. However, if you decide to go left (the risk/reward option) you need to carry a large Waste Bunker in order to be rewarded with a short shot into a very shot par 5. It was a lot of fun, because unless your a lefty with a slice, or a righty with a hook you should absolutely go down the left side. I carried it easily from the whites with my 3-wood, and my dad carried it by about 10 yards with his driver. Play the right tees and it could be a really fun whole time and time again. The video link above does a good job of showcasing this hole

Hole 6 Par 3 188 yards: Ok maybe I lied earlier when there wasn't a one shot hole that I liked. Because in truth this hole was pretty cool. Not breathtaking or anything, but pretty cool. It plays about 2 clubs maybe 2.5 clubs less than the distance reads. I hit a 6 Iron from the tee and still carried to the back of the green and up the backstop until it rolled back down to the green. The bunkers are playable as my dad found out. Hole 5 and 6 are a great two hole combination. This hole wins my Best Par 3 Award. Picture Below:


Hole 7 Par 4 367 yards: This Hole was pretty straightforward. Nothing special, but some extra room to the right than what can be seen off the tee. Another huge green. Large greens with fast green speeds are one of the primary defenses of this course. I found that out too many times....

Hole 8 Par 4 314 yards: A fun short uphill dogleg left par 4 with the green tucked a bit to the right so the angles really mess with you on this one. A large bunker sits about 40 yards in front of the green for people that get a little too cocky off the tee. Its a short hole, but its probably better to lay back and play for position here. I started to realize something about the greens on this hole. They are a subtle tribute to Donald Ross. This hole and many others do a good job of rejecting even good shots that don't quite find the right spot of the greens. There were numerous times that hit good shots only to find our ball and run off 20 yards from the green. Frustrating, but appealing part of the course design. The tribute makes sense when you consider this course itself is a tribute to Pinehurst #2. 

Hole 9 Par 5 465 yards: The most simple of the par 5's, but a good solid golf hole. Short from the white tees, but can play 550+ yards from the tips. The green is very well guarded by bunkers. Don't ask me how I know. 

Hole 10 Par 4 355 yards: It was hard to accurately judge the last hole, this one and the next one because I played so poorly. Seemed pretty straightforward though. 

Hole 11 Par 5 511 yards: Another great Par 5. You have to be reserved off the tee and don't want risk hitting into the giant waste area the cuts through the middle of the fairway. From the whites I had to hit a hybrid, but ended up in the waste bunker anyway on my second shot. If you play he hole correctly the second shot is also a thinker. You can lay back of the two bunkers guarding the second landing area, however, if you want the best angle into the green the play is to play as close to or over the left fairway bunker leaving a shortish third shot with the proper angle. The waste areas are all playable, like you would hope them to be. Pictures of waste areas below:


Hole 12 Par 3 130 yards: Fairly straightforward par 3. Short and a large green that should be easy enough to hit. Another stupid 3 putt here for me. 

Hole 13 Par 4 355 yards: I knew this was my favorite Par 4 as soon as I stepped up to the tee. You play from en elevated set of tee boxes, and can see every bit of the hole from here. The green is well protected, and the fairway has a few difficult fairway bunkers down the right side (they are very difficult trust me). This hole may make you re-think driver off the tee because of the downhill tee shot, the firm fairway, and the "spectacle bunkers" that sit almost 100 yards from the center of the green in the middle of the fairway. It wins my Best Par 4 Award. Picture Below: 


Hole 14 Par 4 348 yards: A Grip it and rip it hole for sure. There is a lake on the right but the fairway is huge and should give you plenty of room to rip the big dog. Not much else to the hole...another Donald Ross type green. 

Hole 15 Par 4 287 yards: Another fun risk/reward par 4. It plays downhill, so the effective yardage is about 25 yards less than the scorecard. I hit a full 5 iron 200 yards, which was fun but not normal for me. This really kickstarted a pretty good finish for me. The green is well protected so be careful if you go for the green. Also, don't be TOO conservative as a lake lurks to the right but can be taken out of play with a long iron. The lake that guards 14 and 15 is shown below: course_15.thumb.jpg.836f401eaa166874fb6deadaea5f81e3.jpg

Hole 16 Par 3 124 yards: A short, but effective par 3. Picture below:


Hole 17 Par 4 399 yards: The only hole on the course with no bunkers. Long Dogleg right, with plenty of room to be fairly aggressive. I played this hole well hitting another run up approach shot which allowed a two putt par. 

Hole 18 Par 5 434 Yards: As with many courses, 18 is the signature hole. It is also the most polarizing. Even the architect Jay Morrish was quoted a saying he wished he could do 18 over again. He just ran out of room. It is a another short Par 5 with the ability to make the hole VERY short if you cut the corner over the pond. This hole may have been more fun if I had a driver in the bag. However, I just went at the edge of the corner and hit a 3 Wood. pulled it left into the middle of the fairway. Actually I think this hole would be more interesting if each tee was about 20 yards shorter and it was a Par 4. Good hole, but I think it could be great if they made that change. Picture below:


My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the course and the "Pinehurst #2" type experience. However, for $79+tax on the weekend and it being in the middle of nowhere Texas I just can't see how it is a good bang for your buck experience. I would also go as far as to say it is over-ranked by Golfweek and Golf Magazine. I liked the course, I really did. However, I feel like for the rice tag I could have played some other courses closer to home (unless you like in Tyler, Texas) that are just as interesting even if not in the same vein of course design. However, there are two other options that make this course worth it. The weekday rates are only $59 which I think is a fair price tag and would make it worth the play if you are in Dallas or have long lost cousins in East Texas:-D. The second option is the Stay&Play option that the resort gives you. if you have a large group this course/resort is a STEAL. The course has many features that give it replayability, and the pace of play was not too bad. I   would say this course belongs on the list of best public tracks in Texas, just most likely near number 10 as opposed to near number 1. 

Hope you enjoyed the review...if you were bored enough to read all of it!

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