A 2019 Viewer’s Guide to Architecturally Intriguing Tournament Golf Venues

After reading my article on Le Golf National and the danger of abandoning strategic course design in professional golf, a Twitter user named David Knight made a suggestion:

Great idea, I thought, stupidly.

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Hole Story: The 2nd at Pasatiempo

The Gist: Overshadowed by more famous holes on more dramatic sections of the property, the subtle 2nd at Pasatiempo Golf Club may actually be one of the best examples anywhere of Alister MacKenzie’s design philosophy.

Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz, CA)

2nd Hole

  • 437/420/376 yards
  • Par 4
  • 8/8/6 handicap

Oh, I can just hear the Twitterati clicking the reply bubble: “Well, sir, the 2nd is not even one of the top five holes at Pasa! What of the 3rd or the 11th? Or the 16th, which was Dr. MacKenzie’s personal favorite par 4?”

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Aetna Springs: A Neglected Tom Doak Gem in Wine Country

  • Aetna Springs Golf Course
  • Pope Valley, CA
  • Par 35, 3057 Yards
  • Opened in 1891, redesigned by Tom Doak with Jim Urbina in 2006

UPDATE: On January 14, 2018, just seven months after I posted this review, Aetna Springs Golf Course ceased operations.

I first heard about Aetna Springs Golf Course, a nine-holer in the northern reaches of Napa County, in volume two of Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. He rated it a 6 on the Doak Scale (by comparison, he gave TPC Harding Park, future host of the PGA Championship, a 5) and wrote, “there are a lot of good holes for such a little piece of property; it’s a lovely place to go and play.” Doak’s firm also happens to have redesigned the course, so my first thought was, What shameless self-promotion. My second thought: Hey, that’s pretty close to where my in-laws live.

I don’t get to play Tom Doak courses very often, much less for $23 per nine.

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