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Machine Day at Sapelo Hammock Golf Club – Savannah, Georgia

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Back in early July, I was within an hour’s drive of Savannah, Georgia and I thought it would be cool to get a few Golfwrx stalwarts together for a round of golf at Sapelo Hammock Golf Course. Unfortunately, “Littlepingman” and “Hoganapex” could not make it this time around. Anyway, “Choeppner” and I (Bend of the River GC) met up at Sapelo Hammock for an early morning round. It is always cool to finally play with some of the people that you have been speaking with for a few years online in the Golfwrx message forums.Sapelo Hammock Golf Club is a very nice low country golf course that unfortunately just never really took off all the way. It is meant to be a gated golf course community with a housing community. There are some homes along the course here, but really more empty lots than anything else.In fact, I like it that way better. More peaceful and unobtrusive.

 

The 18th green at Sapelo Hammock. Notice the unkept trap.

Since Chris is a Machine putter rep, I asked him to load up a M1A Fixer putter for me to try out during my round. I have had my eye on a Machine putter for a while now, and would like to add one to my ever growing stable for thoroughbred flat sticks. Let me tell you, Chris is a long monster off the tee, and then some. I can tell you that these putters look even better in person, and they sure do perform.

 

This is the Machine Fixer putter that I gamed at Sapelo Hammock.

How did the Machine Fixer fare in my bag and on the greens? Well, I alternated back and forth with my Scotty Cameron Inspired by David Duval putter (I kept the C&L oil can in the trunk as it looked like rain…) and although the Machine was about 1.5 inches too short for me, I made it work just fine and did not have any 3 putts the entire round. The Fixer had a very soft and stable feel going through the ball. I could easily game the Machine Fixer, that is a 34.5 inch model. In fact, I most likely will in the very near future. The options that you can have on a Machine are endless, and they really are works of art. Actually, I am worried that I won’t game it, and it will be resigned to carpet queen duty like a few of my other putters. Machine also has some of the coolest putter names on the market. I think Chris’ putter was called the Machine Double Fat Back Nibble Back. I love it.

 

The face milling was top notch and very pleasing to the eye.

How was Sapelo Hammock? It was great. It is a very nicely designed golf course with fairly open fairways. It also had some of the absolute toughest par three holes that I have ever faced. A few of them had forced carries of over 185 yards; you either hit the green or you were crabbing in the marsh for your lost ball.

If you stare long enough at this 200 plus par 3 (#8), you MIGHT see the pin!

I am sure Chris can attest to this as well. The greens were in pretty nice shape and rolled nicely. Many of the greens had some testy contours to them and really made you think before putting the flat stick on the ball. About the only thing one could complain about was that the sand traps WERE NOT maintained here at all. According to a local guy, the owner only spends a strict/set amount on maintenance and fertilizing and that’s it.

Another tough par 3 on the back with nowhere to land except for the green. Hit it straight and long here!

The lack of paved cart paths actually brought the course more in line with low country charm and feel.

Visit Sapelo Hammock Golf Club if you have the chance. Try and look past the traps, and definitely play a round here though. For $29 with a cart on a weekday morning, it really can’t be beat! Who knows, maybe Chris will show up and let you try out some cool Machine toys for your round!

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Courses

Ari’s Course Reviews: Sand Hills Golf Club in Nebraska

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There are so many fantastic golf courses throughout the world, and it’s all of the incredibly varied fields of play that make the game so great to me. The most random places in the world can be home to some of the best golf courses. When deciding which course to write about next, it seemed natural to write about my personal favorite course in the world., which happens to be in a very unexpected place.

If you told me I could go anywhere in the world for a round of golf tomorrow, I would be blazing a trail to the area just south of Mullen, Nebraska and playing Sand Hills Golf Club. Sand Hills opened for play on June 23, 1995 and is one of the most natural golf courses you can find anywhere in the world. There was very little dirt moved and most of the money spent building the course was spent on installing irrigation. The course is built entirely on sand, and was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Bill Coore speaks on the design here.

For a bit more background, here’s an old CBS Sunday Morning segment on Sand Hills…

The course lies in the middle of the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which makes up about one-third of the state. The area has huge, natural dunes everywhere that are much more reminiscent of Scotland or Ireland than the flat part of Nebraska along I-80 that most people associate with the state. Because of the firm, mostly fescue, sand-based fairways at Sand Hills, and the ever-present wind, the course plays like a links course though the bent grass greens rival any top country club for speed and purity. In fact, the fastest greens I have ever seen in person were at Sand Hills in late September.

The course has a tasteful amount of variety and challenge. The three par 5s are of the best sets in the world and include 1) a fantastic mid-length par 5 starting hole that is one of the best starting holes in golf, 2) a very reachable but exacting hole in the 14th, and 3) in my opinion, the best long par 5 in golf, the 613 yard 16th.

The par 4s vary from the long uphill 485-yard monster 18th, to the 7th, which at less than 300 yards still sees a lot more 5s and 6s than 3s. The par 3s are masterful starting with the 3rd playing a little over 200 yards downhill to a sprawling side hill green where you can hit driver one day and 7 iron the next. The 6th is 185 yards slightly downhill to maybe my favorite green on the course with definitely my favorite hole location in the front left of the green to a semi-blind spot in a little bowl.  The 13th is a 215-yard uphill monster that can be the hardest hole in relation to par on the course. Lastly the 17th is a 150-yard work of art to a little triangle shaped green and is definitely in the discussion for best short par 3 in the world.

Aside from a great variety in distance of the holes, the topography also presents an amazing amount of variety on the ground. Due to the random nature of the bounce of the ball, the undulating and random fairway contours, and the wind that can blow in literally any direction, the course never plays the same twice. There are just so many great holes out there that I really wouldn’t argue with any of the 18 holes being someone’s favorite. Personally, I can’t name a favorite as it seems to change every time I think about it. The routing is fantastic with both 9s returning to Ben’s Porch, which serves as the home base for the course where people eat lunch, have a post-round drink and generally enjoy one of the best views in all of golf. The course has a good amount of elevation change but is a dream to walk with very short green to tee transitions. It simply is as close to perfect as you can get in my mind.

While the focus of my reviews are on the golf course and not the amenities, I would be remiss if I did not mention the down-to-earth, welcoming people that make up the staff at Sand Hills. Any time I’ve been lucky enough to be at the club I have felt more like I was visiting family and friends than a golf club. When you combine the welcoming and friendly atmosphere of the club, some of the best food in the world and my personal favorite golf course to play anywhere in the world, you have an experience so special its hard to put into words.

Enjoy the collection of photos below from Dan Moore, and make sure to check out my other reviews in the links at the bottom of the page!

Hole No. 1

Hole No. 2

Hole No. 4

Hole No. 8

Hole No. 9

Hole No. 13

Hole No. 14

Hole No. 16

Hole No. 18

Ari’s Other Course Reviews

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Wolfridge Golf Course in Angora, Minnesota

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s hidden gem was submitted by GolfWRX Member eboettne, and it’s called Wolfridge Golf Course located in Angora, Minnesota. Why did it make the list? Here’s what eboettne had to say:

“This 9 hole reversible course is located approximately 30 miles away from the acclaimed Giant’s Ridge and Wilderness courses that are usually the center of most MN golf trips. However, few people include this course in the itinerary and it should be. The trip to the course is memorable as you are deep in the northwoods and must drive down a long gravel road to arrive at the clubhouse. The course has elevation changes, rock outcroppings throughout, and is generally just a fun time. However, the most impressive part of the course may be that the entire thing is maintained by one man that lives in a house(the only one you’ll see) on the property. If you are going to make it up this way you’d be remiss to skip this gem.”

According to Wolfridge’s website, it’s $39 to play 18 holes with a cart any day or time of year, or $26 to walk. Twilight is $23 for unlimited holes (presumably before dark).

Do you have a favorite Hidden Gem course you think belongs on this list? Click here to submit it!

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: “Sweetens Cove Golf Club” in South Pittsburg, Tennessee

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is our first ever double submission! That’s right, two GolfWRX members have now submitted Sweetens Cove Golf Club in South Pittsburg, Tennessee as their favorite Hidden Gem golf course. Here’s what they both had to say below.

bogey pro

“It’s a 9 hole course that is all about the golf.  It doesn’t have a fancy club house.  It’s minimalist and pure golf.  It’s always in excellent shape and very fun.  It is a real treat to play and people come from all over to play it.  I’ve never heard a bad word about it.  Its very similar to a links style course with rolling fairways, waste bunkers, large fast undulating greens.  From the website, it is ranked 50th in Modern Course and ranked #1 course in Tennessee for the last 3 years.”

FairwayFred

“While starting to get too much publicity to be considered a hidden gem it’s hard to argue that Sweetens Cove isn’t one of the best golf values in the country.  For $40 peak season you can play 18 at the #1 ranked course you can play in TN and Golf Weeks 50th ranked modern course.  What Sweetens lack in holes (its a 9 hole course) it more than makes up for with amazing variety, incredible green complexes, firm and fast turf and in my opinion the best set of artistic bunkers I’ve ever seen anywhere.  Rob Collins the principal architect (and now the head of the management team) built the course by hand with his partner Tad King.  Rob has OVER 700 days on site working on the build.  That is almost unheard of in golf course architecture and construction and is the main reason why all the little details at Sweetens are so good.  The main thing at Sweetens is playing golf there is about FUN which is not always the case.  Definitely one to seek out regardless of budget.”

According to the Sweetens Cove website, course rates range from $25 to $65 depending on the day of the week, time of the year and time of day. Also, they have a $100 play-all-day rate (with a cart) and a $60 walk all day rate. Sweetens Cove is located approximately 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga.

Know a local course that you can play for under $50 that deserves recognition? Submit your hidden gem here

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