Your 2021 picks: Our top 10 golf course architecture/travel stories (No. 1 is a famous track reincarnated)

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As you’re relaxing during the holiday break, taking stock of your year in golf and thinking about where you might play in 2022, we figured this would be a good time to run through the numbers and tally up which travel stories drew your attention.

For the final days of 2021, we’re offering up a snapshot of the top 10 stories from each of Golfweek’s most popular sections, including travel, the PGA and LPGA tours, instruction and amateur golf. Here’s what we’ve already counted down.

Here’s a look at the top 10 golf travel stories, as clicked on by you (we should note, this doesn’t include lists, which will be featured on Friday):

10. Jack Nicklaus’ new American Dunes takes flight with plenty of sand, unapologetic patriotism

American Dunes Golf Club

American Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Michigan. Photo by Rodney Coleman-Robinson/Detroit Free Press

American Dunes, the brainchild of U.S. Air Force Reserves Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney and the design product of Jack Nicklaus, officially took flight.

A fan of golf architecture should be forgiven for imagining commonalities between the course itself and many of the missions Rooney has undertaken in F-16 fighter planes.

Here’s a look at the Michigan course.

9. Belmont Golf Course in Virginia renovated by Davis Love III to make best use of the Tillinghast design

Belmont Golf Course in Virginia

The renovated Belmont Golf Course in Richmond, Virginia (Courtesy of Belmont Golf Course/The Drone Co.)

Here’s a trivia question: Name the only golf course in the Commonwealth of Virginia to have hosted a men’s professional major championship.

Give up? The answer is Hermitage Country Club in Richmond, home of the 1949 PGA Championship in which Sam Snead defeated Johnny Palmer 3-and-2 in the match-play final.

The club and its golf course both still exist, but they’ve long since parted ways. In 1977, when Hermitage elected to move the club to a new location west of the city, the old layout was taken over by Henrico County, which renamed it Belmont Golf Course and operated it as a municipal facility for the next 40-plus years.

Here’s more on the course.

8. Bandon Dunes founder Mike Keiser has plans for not one, but two new courses along the Oregon Coast

The proposed site of a new par-3 course by Tom Doak at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

A year after the Sheep Ranch opened at his Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, golf developer Mike Keiser has the itch to start building even more courses along the Oregon coast.

Next up for Keiser is a new 18-hole public-access layout on the opposite side of the town of Bandon named New River Dunes, which will be designed by David McLay Kidd, plus a new par-3 course designed by Tom Doak at the main resort.

Both are in the early stages as Keiser, plus his sons Michael and Chris, navigate state and sometimes federal permitting processes. There is no schedule for when a shovel might be stuck in the ground to start construction.

Read more of the story here.

7. Donald Ross-designed Southern Pines fully reopens today with Kyle Franz restoration

Southern Pines

Southern Pines Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., fully reopens Sept. 9, 2021, after a restoration by Kyle Franz. (Courtesy of Southern Pines)

Kelly Miller and Kyle Franz have been at it again, and the pair fully reopened Southern Pines Golf Club in North Carolina, the third vintage layout by famed architect Donald Ross that the duo has teamed up to restore.

Miller, the president of Pine Needles and Mid Pines Resorts not far from Pinehurst, North Carolina, said the work at Southern Pines is intended to make the 115-year-old layout play as close to Ross intended as possible while removing superfluous design elements that were added over the years.

Read more on the reopening here.

6. Jeff Stone takes Kiawah’s Ocean Course from resort play to a major

It’s nothing new for The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort to be in the golf world’s spotlight. Site of the breathtaking 1991 Ryder Cup and Rory McIlroy’s victory in the 2012 PGA Championship, The Ocean Course ranks No. 14 in the United States on Golfweek’s Best 2021 list for Modern Courses and is the No. 1 public-access track in South Carolina.

Fans of golf watching on TV likely are familiar with the seaside links built by Pete Dye with help from his wife, Alice. But how does the course play when it’s not hosting a major? The course has seen nearly 11,000 days of resort play since that Ryder Cup ended with a narrow U.S. victory over the Europeans, and for most of those the course has been set up to accommodate amateurs instead of challenging the best players in the world.

Here’s more on this beautiful property.

5. Augusta National making big changes? Aerial photos appear to show several.

Augusta National Golf Club has seen plenty of changes over the decades. The bunkers look nothing like they did when the host site of the Masters opened in 1932. Holes have been lengthened, ponds have been added to Nos. 11 and 16 and tees have shifted. The now-famous and ultra-speedy bent grass on the greens wasn’t introduced until 1980. Fairways have been narrowed, and a second cut of grass – almost rough, albeit on the light side – was introduced.

On and on. The chairmen in the green coats have always kept a close eye on making the course – which ranks No. 2 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list – play the way they want. And, it appears, they are back at it with heavy machinery on the Alister MacKenzie layout.

Based on tweets by Eureka Earth at @EurekaEarthPlus, which feature detailed aerial photos, several holes at Augusta National have become worksites.

Take a look right here.

4. Stunning new Cabot Saint Lucia puts Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw to the test with vertical challenges

Cabot Saint Lucia

Cabot Saint Lucia, a new course in the Caribbean that will open in 2022 (Courtesy of Cabot Saint Lucia)

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have planted their flags on plenty of stunning seaside sites. Their golf design team is responsible for such highly ranked coastal layouts as the Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia and Kapalua’s Plantation Course in Hawaii, among others.

They’ve built stop-you-in-your-tracks golf holes that seemingly hang over salt water from the U.S. to China to New Zealand. But their new course scheduled to open in 2022 at Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean offered a unique set of opportunities – and challenges.

Check out these views.

3. Baltusrol’s Lower course before and after Gil Hanse’s new restoration

Baltusrol Lower restoration

No. 17 of Baltusrol Lower, as it looked before the restoration

Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower course in Springfield, New Jersey, is an A.W. Tillinghast masterpiece that had seen plenty of changes since it opened for play in 1922.

The layout has hosted four U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, three U.S. Amateurs and a U.S. Women’s Open – the pedigree was never in doubt. But members wanted to take several steps forward by taking more steps back on the layout that ranked No. 50 on the 2021 Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list for all layouts built before 1960 in the United States.

Gil Hanse was hired in 2018 to develop a long-term master restoration plan for the Lower, which is scheduled to host the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the 2029 PGA Championship. They also have plans to tackle Baltusrol’s Upper course starting in 2024.

Check out the work that’s been done as you peruse this gallery.

2. Firm and fast Congaree promises to challenge PGA Tour pros in Palmetto Championship

Your journey back in time begins at a nondescript gate that opens to a thin pebblestone pathway shadowed by ancient live oaks swathed with Spanish moss.

Winding through this inland property in South Carolina’s Lowcountry 30 minutes north of Savannah, Georgia, is a tranquil reminder of days gone by. The land, after all, was once home to a rice plantation dating back to the 18th century whose main house had to be rebuilt after being burned to the ground during the Civil War by Union troops marching across the South.

The 3,200-acre property is dotted with white buildings including guest cottages and a preserved old schoolhouse featuring a bell in the steeple that rings charmingly true. The centerpiece of the property, however, is a brand-new golf course that looks like it’s been there for decades but is a modern classic.

Click here to see more of this course.

1. Famed Lido Golf Club to be reincarnated at Sand Valley in Wisconsin

A photo rendering of The Lido, a new 18-hole layout at Sand Valley in Wisconsin (Courtesy of Peter Flory and Sand Valley)

Sand Valley in Wisconsin, already home to two of the top Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses in the United States, has big plans for a third 18. And while it will be new, this track by Tom Doak won’t be quite so modern.

The Keiser brothers, Michael and Chris – sons of Bandon Dunes founder Mike Keiser and the operators of Sand Valley – are starting construction on The Lido, an 18-hole layout that will, with exacting efforts, reconstruct Long Island’s long-vanished but still-alluring Lido Golf Club in Long Island, New York.

The original Lido was designed in 1914 by C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor – with an 18th hole inspired by Alister MacKenzie’s entry in a course-design contest. It featured many of the classic template holes, such as the Redan, Biarritz and Punchbowl. Considered by many to be among the finest courses in the world, the Lido was plowed under to accommodate a U.S. Navy base in World War II.

Click here to see more on this course.

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