Golf Course Reviews
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[Posted almost 2 years late, as this course wasn't listed back then!]

After our wonderful time in Banff, the wife and I decided we really didn’t need to swing through Calgary, Alberta (“down on the flat”, as they say there), and so suddenly a day in the itinerary opened up.

After posting my plans for this trip, I had been messaged a couple times by avid GKer 24hourgolf about stopping at a course in Eureka, Montana. Where the heck is Eureka, you might ask? It’s 6 miles south of the Canadian border – turns out that in Eureka there’s a pro-quality golf layout associated with a high-end 2nd/3rd home development in the middle of nowhere!! Eureka is about 80 miles north of Kalispell, MT, the nearest regional airport. We were having trouble with the resort’s website on this Wednesday evening, so we just showed up at the gate – fortunately, there’s a person there until midnight(!), so he called the GM and we were treated to some nice hospitality in getting a room and some food. (And a good thing, because there’s not a whole lot available in the Eureka area.)

Turns out The Wilderness Clubis is rated the #1 course in the state of Montana! It was originally developed as a private club with 2nd/3rd homes and opened in 2007. Bad timing - the housing crisis hit, bankruptcy ensued, and new owners picked up the property cheap. Now they are moving the development toward more of a family resort model with stay/play options for golf. There are on-site accommodations for small and large golfer groups, and only some scattered (many of them large) homes, but there are also many “Sold” signs on the empty lots.

The GM hooked me up with a less-than-rack rate for the room and unlimited golf, so I played on Thursday, 9/29/16 at 1120 am, joining a member from Calgary and his guest from Chicago. (The original developer was out of Calgary, and many of the owners are Canadian.) There’s an all-grass range that’s not large, and a large chipping green, incl. a practice bunker. The putting green was extremely fast, unfortunately indicative of the on-course greens – my first practice putt took an unexpected left turn and rolled off the green!!! Those of you who know my putting game can guess the eventual outcome!

We played the Gold tees (6,550/71.4/125), but I probably should have moved up to Silver (6,119). They offer a yardage book, and many sprinklers are marked, but there’s no GPS. Weather was cool and mostly cloudy with no wind – the GM tells me that the location is in a warmer “island” of weather than much of the surrounding area, so was attractive for this type of development. The course was closing for the winter the following week.

TWC is a Faldo design and in my opinion was designed and built for single-digit handicappers – I think that was the demographic they were hoping to lure from Canada and the U.S. There are many par-4s that are long DL left or right with hazards inside and outside the elbow, and play to well-defended greens. The course is in a lush and beautiful setting with primo conditions from tee to green. One of the most obvious attributes is the almost total Silence!! you play in there.

The course has mainly large, rolling greens that are smooth and very fast. Most putts have more break than it initially looks like, especially near the front of the greens. And being in the wrong place on a green means a runoff into a collection area or a putt over a huge swale or nose. In my case, because of my innate putting disability (and that harrowing experience on the practice green), almost every putt was defensive, but I did manage to get through the round with only one 3-putt.

Low-handicap par-4s play tough from any of the tees – these all have dogleg driving areas framed by trees/sand; and approaches to angled greens bracketed by slopes/sand/water. Even well-positioned drives are faced with long-iron approaches over threatening hazards – holes 14 through 16 are a brutal stretch (hcps 4, 8, and 2, respectively).

Here's an example at the 16th (handicap 2): The tee shot is steeply downhill on the 434-yd par-4 to a fairway beyond a huge pine, with bunkers on the far side of the elbow to the right. The pine tree on the inside of the elbow is backed up by an enormous bunker – you can try to fly the bunker or cut the corner, but it’s hard to see the large POND left of that big trap.

After the tee shot, from your nice lie in the middle of the fairway to the right of the tree, you only have about 180 yards(!) into a diagonal flat green with sand in front and humps/swales behind. Have fun!!

On reflection, I think the 125 slope from the Gold tees is too low!

There’s some repetition of holes as you go through: many of the par 4s are similarly laid out, as noted. The course uses a Red-White-Blue flag rotation – 3 of the par-5s were red flags. The par-3s are a good mix of length and difficulty.

I definitely recommend the course for serious golfers if you are in the area, or as a buddy trip destination. There are supposed to be a number of other fun courses in the general area, as well.
Played BG with other GKers in front of the GK Cup 11 final match – thanks to sixpez, rudyclub, and caligolfer1031 for a very enjoyable round. We had the course in good condition and great weather for a relaxed afternoon. Greens were in good shape, holding shots and not as terrifyingly fast as BG can be, with just a little bumpiness later in the round. Good lies in fairways and rough was very playable unless you got well offline. The kikuyu on holes on the back nine where they were in need of some cutting and were dried out were a little crispy when you walked on them. I was in one GS bunker with good but damp sand. Tees were recently punched but I had no problem finding a good spot. Saw the cart girl several times, and a good club sandwich in the grill afterward. Range on grass today, and starter was on top of it. BG is always recommended.
I played my first-round GK Cup 12 match here against Long4par on Tuesday afternoon, 6/12/18. We teed off just after 2pm on a clear, warm day with only light breezes for Arrowood. It was Jim’s first time here – the course looked great from the clubhouse area, with closely trimmed fairways and rough and sharp tee boxes. We got out on time fairly closely behind a boisterous group of 3 foursomes – I was concerned about pace of play, but we only waited a couple of times and then had smooth sailing, finishing in 4.5 hr. We played the Blue tee (6,292/70.5/131), joined by a course employee and another local who were pleasant to play with – I guess we sprayed the ball around enough that we never really caught the groups in front.

I enjoy playing Arrowood because I like the variety of holes, the course setting with lots of natural areas, condition and playability, and weather. The GK Discussion Board has had threads about the reality of the returning drought and resultant course conditions in SoCal – you can see that here, as it’s only June and Arrowood has very firm and dry conditions everywhere, with long runouts down fairways and across slopes. We’ll see what grass conditions are like in August and September!

Greens were in very good shape, rolling smoothly and pretty quick with good coverage. They were somewhat inconsistent in terms of firmness, with some approaches releasing and others sticking and backing up. Unfortunately, we saw many unrepaired ballmarks on all the greens. Whereas Arrowood previously used a red/white/blue flag system, they have gone to a 6-sector pin location format – a pin map is provided on the scorecard, and the pin location is posted on the first tee. It seemed to me that this had the effect of pushing the pins closer to the edges of the green on many holes, making approaches to these locations more challenging.

Fairways were firm and pretty tight, but overall lies were OK. Many fairways exhibited large aeration holes in some areas. Rough was cut short and very playable except for the extreme course margins. Tees were level and firm - only #8, recently resodded and maybe not ready for prime time, gave unsure footing. Sand was mostly very thin/firm, making recoveries chancy – most had plenty of old footprints and a lack of players raking their mess. As a result of the elevation changes, wind, pin positions, etc., I played all the par-3 holes using the same club.

The course is doing small things to make the course more playable. They have built a low berm to the right of #4 fairway in the driving area to keep some balls in play – in the past, tee shots hit to the right tended to funnel quickly into the hazard. POP is being addressed by having clocks located on tees as you progress around the course, so you can compare your playing time versus the recommended pace for your tee time. [We were right on the recommended pace.]

Highly recommended.
You know what you’re in for – the past reviews have forewarned you. About half of those are from GKer Ringworld – he must live just across the street, or he has a high threshold for pain! But I played here anyway, with my monthly club, on Saturday, 6/2/18 at 10am.

The word must have gotten around – even though it was sunny and 72* with almost no wind, the course was very uncrowded. Paid $57 and $15 for half a cart – definitely overpriced for what you get.

Driving range on good mats – no grass available. Putting green was firm and in good shape, but then on-course greens were spongy, although the were fairly quick. Runups to most of the greens were overwatered and sloppy wet – no running the ball onto the green! Fairway lies were thin. Rough could be very thin/dry/hard or lush and bushy. Sand was uniformly poor – hard base with a thin layer of sand/dirt on top – after a couple disasters, I started chipping from the bunkers.

For whatever reason, the course doesn’t provide divot repair mix in carts or on-course, so all divots go unfilled. All greens had scattered old and recent ballmarks. Adequate water available; no cart girl, but a snack bar at the turn.

I’m going to have to throttle our tourney director if he keeps picking these dog tracks. Not recommended.
Played Goose Creek today, Saturday 5/26/18, going off on time at 915am, joined by my brother and paired with Mike and Bob, and we had an enjoyable round. Weather was overcast and cool with almost no wind, which makes a big difference here, especially on the back nine. Paid $80 on the course website; good greeting and info from desk and starter. Great practice area, but they need a clock out there somewhere. Saw the cart girl a few times and a marshal was driving around, but we had no POP issues, finishing in just over 4 hours.

Recent reviews capture that the course is in good shape. Green speeds were consistent through the round, which is great. My only complaint is that the first 3 greens were pretty firm, and chips and pitches ran well out. We started playing for that and then greens were inconsistent in terms of firmness, so on one the ball hit firm and rolled, on the next checked up quick. Strange boundary markings – left of 3 is red, but first half of #4 is white stakes, then 2nd half is red. Right of 12 now marked as OB!

Definitely recommended.
Played today, 5/12/18, at 10am with my monthly club – otherwise, I wouldn’t ever play here. Conditions are the same as they were when I reviewed last June – small slopy greens, kikuyu everywhere, indifferent conditioning. Surprised that the round took less than 5 hours today – made my escape sooner than expected!

Noticed today that on many of the small greens with false fronts or severe slopes, a good % of the green is unpinnable, leaving few options for placement and making red/white/blue flags almost meaningless. I guess that’s why the course isn’t concerned that, since they fall in the same place in the color rotation, all the par-3 holes were red pins today. Turn off brain, take players’ money!

Not recommended.
Tried to get out for super-twilight on Wednesday 5/9/18 - arrived at 3:30 but there’s a members’ skins game every Wednesday that goes off around 3:45pm, then eats into the first couple of ST times, so golfers beware! [This happened 3 weeks ago but I was able to get out ahead of it – I didn’t realize this skins thing happened EVERY week!] Had to wait until 4:33 to tee off with a local, a course employee, and a visitor from Denver who is playing Augusta National (!) next Monday – he volunteers at the tournament and is close to the chief of volunteers, so he plays every year on Staff Day (this will be his 5th time playing). I asked if the course was as amazing as it looks on TV – he said “Every bit!”.

Course conditions are similar to my review of 3 weeks ago. With the late start, we finished #17 in the dark and couldn’t play #18 – bummer. Heads up for those looking for ST on Wednesdays.
Played with the GK Gurus at 7:40am on Wednesday, May 2nd. It had rained the day/night before and was still misting on us as we played the front nine, so everything was pretty wet, and I didn’t rate the course for that reason. Still, OQ is my favorite course in SoCal and I enjoyed the round with Nick, Ron, and Steve (who absolutely pounded the ball all day!).

The course recently came out of aeration and is in very good condition, with a clean, groomed look throughout. It looks like a lot of the incidental vegetation and grasses that were previously found around the course (especially near greens) have been cleaned up, freeing up additional sightlines and contributing to the sleek look. (As an example, vegetation behind the first green has been removed – the viewline into the green is now more like an “infinity pool” view from the fairway, with nothing behind the green except sky, and that messes with your depth perception and club choice.)

Greens still showed evidence of shallow fine verticutting; combined with the rain therefore were soft and receptive. They rolled much quicker than they looked, with only scattered instances of bumpiness. Tees were fine, set up very close to the Blue plates. I’ve frequently seen the Blue markers here moved well forward on the par-3 holes – from the plates, these par-3 holes present stiff challenges with long carries over canyons and quarry lakes.

Rough was wet but generally very playable. The lakes on 10/11, 12, and 13 are dry and, while staked, are easily played as rough. Sand was understandably wet and packed from the rain. Sand quantity looked adequate in all cases – we encountered firm/packed sand, areas of soupy mushiness, and some bunker bottoms with standing water.

Thanks to Johnny for setting this up. Finally got a chance to meet GK legend 24hourgolf. Shop and grill were very quiet on this early rainy morning - EXCELLENT breakfast burrito available. Snack shack at the turn was closed this morning - when that's the case, the course needs to put a water jug out there for those of us who drink a lot of water. Otherwise, no water from #7 tee to #16 tee! A divot mix refill rack would also be welcome there.

Always recommended.
Played at RH on Saturday afternoon, 4/28/18, on a sunny, hot day. But not too hot – the breeze took the edge off the heat. The breeze took the edge off everything! – a steady 15-25 mph out of the west, with gusts much higher. The ball was vibrating while sitting up on the tee, and I had sand in my hair under my hat after the round. Some of that likely came from the 9 bunkers I visited!

Thanks to GKers dcricket and rstang06 for their gracious invitation to come out and join their party, joined by itslikeimsayin and rat-patrol. My previous plays at RH were in December and January – right now the course is in end-of-season condition, less lush than on my previous visits, and with some scattered brown patches on greens and fairways. However, conditions overall were very good, and much better than many OC/LA/SD courses we play in their prime condition. With the wind and time of day, the entire course was playing dry and firm, and keeping shots online and controlling spin and rollout were challenges all day.

Greens were firm and dry but rolled well at medium speed. We saw lots of old ballmarks. Fairway lies were good. Rough was short and dry and easy to play from. On fairway runups to greens and in short, firm rough areas around greens, the wind made good contact for pitches and chips essential. Sand, as I can attest, was very good – good depth, slightly coarse loose consistency, and very playable (my technique - not so much!). Tees were great.

We had some crazy long rollouts on shots downwind, and headscratcher moments when shots died a quick death into the wind. I spent the first three holes being too worried about my hat staying on, and never got into a good mindset and rhythm. RH will beat you up if you aren’t hitting the ball well – the wind was just the extra kicker. That westerly wind makes for a brutal closing stretch – 5 of the last 7 holes play straight into that wind!

Plenty of water available. The new snack bar at the 10th/14th tee is now finished, but not open at 5pm on this Saturday. Saw a dirt path next to the 10th tee leading down that way, but I’m not sure exactly how to get to the snack bar from there. The left front bunker on #17 could use a little sand in the bottom – the baggie is starting to show.

Always recommended.
Walked on as a single for super-twilight on a sunny, warm Wednesday, 4/25/18. $50 ST rate and sent out immediately (no warmup!) to join a local twosome, in order to beat a member event beginning 3:45pm – thanks to the shop guy for the heads-up. Twosome dumped me after #2, saying they wanted to play ‘speed golf’ – on the 8th tee, they were backed up behind a 3some and “invited” me to rejoin them. Jerks! We pushed the 3some as we could and finished in 3:45.

Course aerated greens a few weeks ago and signs are still evident on some greens. Greens were generally OK – holding shots and most had good but thin coverage. Some scattered bare spots and turf patches on some greens – the upper tier on hole #6 is now open with evident turf patches. Medium speeds and a little bumpy. I saw many recent and old ballmarks on all greens.

Fairways had generally good coverage but lies were thin and tight. Also signs of aerification/verticutting in some fairway/rough areas. A bare lie was more likely than a lush lie. The “always seems to be wet” landing area on #12 is now open and dry and you can get that needed release on your drive on this very long par-4. (But after a good drive I dumped an 8-iron to a front pin into the right bunker – AARRRGGHH!!!) Lots of unfilled divots on all holes.

Rough was hit-or-miss depending on where you were on the course. Sand was in very good condition and very playable. Tees (blue) were set wide and were OK – tee on #4 was sloping behind me. Par-3 tees and drop areas all had divot fill available – too bad few players use them.

Good interactive GPS gives pin location. Course uses entry/exit stakes to control cart damage on fairways. Recommended.
Played in a GK Cup match with AndrewZ28 on Sunday, 4/15/18. His recent review is very informative and hits all the major points. Day started warm and sunny, but clouds and wind rolled in just after noon and the afternoon was cooler and blustery. First tee was slammed and we started 25 minutes late, then overall pace was 4:40. We didn’t feel pushed by the group behind, but endemic poor shots resulted in not catching the group ahead.

Greens were generally good with some scattered thin areas, but mostly receptive. All greens had scattered old and newer marks. Downhill putts toward the east, away from the hills, could be terrifyingly fast. Fairways were thin and tight and very firm, and more often than not a solid drive would not be rewarded with a good lie. Rough along fairways was short, dry and pretty benign; around the greens it could be a little bushier. Tees were OK, but most par-3s didn’t have divot mix containers. I was in one bunker – greenside #10 had only a thin sand layer over a packed base.

A rumored marshal was never seen. The divot mix refill rack at the 10th green was empty, as it has been every time I play here. All holes had lots of unfilled divots in fairways and rough. Cart girl came around a few times. The golf shop had noticeably less merchandise than on my last visit. A new trailer snack bar has been placed on the 2nd/11th tees, providing convenience but also increasing noise on those nearby tees.

I enjoy the layout at EG and conditions here are generally good. Today I seemed to find every slopey lie and uneven stance, but that was mostly due to poor ball-striking. Still recommended.
I played The Wilderness on Tuesday, 3/27/18, at 11am on a cool, cloudy day with a threat of rain and occasional blustery breezes. We are visiting family in the Galveston area and I was looking for a course I hadn’t played before. I saw some good reviews in local media and on GolfAdvisor, and played with my BIL and we enjoyed the round. The course was not crowded – we paid a senior rate of $35 (a steal with range balls and a yardage book) and finished as a twosome in ~3.5 hr, never catching the group in front or seeing the group behind.

This municipal course is cut out of a surrounding nature preserve and is isolated and quiet. Facilities include a rustic clubhouse with little equipment or clothing offered. There is a small grill that prepares sandwiches, etc., and a separate building to accommodate larger golfing parties. A grass driving range, a chipping area/sand trap, and two putting greens are offered. Carts are basic with no GPS. The holes are fairly wide open –only well-offline shots can get out into serious tree/brush trouble. There are relatively few sand traps, divided fairly equally between fairways and greens. Scattered large trees separate most holes. There is water in play on several holes, but forced carries are generally only off the tees, mainly on some par-3s. Otherwise ponds lurk to the side along a couple greens and fairways.

The course got a lot of water damage during last fall’s hurricane in the area and spent two weeks underwater. But a very proactive maintenance/regrowth program after the waters receded resulted in paths-only play only 6 weeks (!) after the hurricane. Greens and turf are fully recovered from that episode. Greens are generally elevated, with some having substantial internal movement, although there is no significant tiering (however, the 16th is a Biarritz-style green). They are large (up to 70 yards deep!) and were firm with thin cover, but we saw no bare spots and they rolled well at medium speed, with few ballmarks. Fairways were just coming out of dormancy and were thin and balls sat tight, but there were no bare areas. Rough was cut short and was very playable, but was very dry and with scattered bare areas. Rough around greens could be deeper in swales and areas that concentrate water. Sand looked adequate - I wasn’t in any. Tees were level and gave good footing – even par-3 tees showed few divots. Unfortunately, the Green tees we played (6,151/68.4/115) were frequently pushed well forward, so we likely played at quite a bit less than 6,000 yards.

Lots of drinking water available. We saw the cart girl a few times. There was a temporary green on the 14th hole (not really even cut as a green – just a hole and flag in the fairway!) as the course is rebuilding that green to reduce the severe slopes on the green that made it much different from any other green on the course. That was too bad for us, as the hole is one of the more interesting on the back nine – a dogleg right with sand left of the elbow and a pond right, with a potential forced carry uphill to the green on the second shot.

The course has a relaxed, friendly “locals” vibe and is a fun, relaxing play in good condition. Recommended.
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