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Talamore Golf Resort – Pinehurst Area

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The Talamore Golf Resort is a Rees Jones designed course located in the Pinehurst, North Carolina  area.

As many of you may already know, Pinehurst is a laid back golf mecca that every hardcore golfer should pay homage to at least once in your golf lifetime. Luckily for me, I have been there twice this year. Talamore is the course that is most likely more widely known for its unique Llama caddy program. Although now only available to large groups, and quite costly, the Llamas are basically hanging out in their wooded encloure out on the back nine. This was my third Rees Jones golf experience. Quite honestly, I didn’t feel that the Talamore Golf Resort came remotely close to the two other Rees Jones courses I have previously  played; Charleston National (SC) and Black Lake Golf Course (MI).

Playing the visually stimulating Tobacco Road the day prior surely didn’t help matters any. I am sure many people like Talamore better than Tobacco Road, but I did not. Although a solid golf course in many respects, Talamore attempts to be that classsic Carolina pines style of golf course, but it just never gives you the feeling that Pineneedles or even Mid Pines provides you during your round. I played both Pineneedles and Mid Pines back in May so they offer themselves as a nice measuring stick, if you will. For wintertime golf, the price was right, the conditions were excellent, the greens rolled quickly, and the course was overseeded with rye grass to add some contrasting green hues to the now dormant and brown bermuda grass.

Talamore is a "what you see is what you get" type of golf course, in that if you can consistently strike a straight shot, you’ll more than likely play well here. I didn’t notice any real treachery while putting, these greens were quite straightforward and offered no real surprises. Pick the correct set of tees, because you will need to get off the tee well in order to take advantage of the benign putting surfaces. Length and sand appears to be this course’s best defenses against par.  Like the majority of Rees Jones’ courses, Talamore sports Jones’ standard sculpted and rounded off sand bunkers all over the place. The sand here was not overly difficult to play out of, but it was fairly inconsistent in texture and the quality varied from hole to hole on this day.

Talamore sports five different sets of tees to play from. The black tees measure slightly over 7000 yards and the red tees measure 4773 yards. There is definitely something for everyone in your group here. We played the course from the blue tees at a length of 6637, although it felt like it was playing longer. The slope from the blue tees was 131 and the course rating was 71.5. From the tips, Talamore hits a slope of 141 with a rating of 73.9.  According to architect Rees Jones,  "This is a position course. Length isn’t going to benefit the long hitter. What I’m trying to do is require thinking. I don’t want to take the drive out of the golfer’s hands, but what I want him to have to think about whether he wants to use it." I vehemently disagree with Jones about length not being of benefit here. While position will always be important in golf, the long hitter can bring this course to its knees with several John Daly type swings. However, from the tips you’ll need some serious length off the tee in order to score well.  Furthermore, after playing Tobacco Road, one didn’t require all that much gray matter to play here. If you have played Tobacco Road, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Talamore is mostly located within an upscale housing development, so if you do not enjoy a lot of homes near the course, play elsewhere. On a day when the weather was iffy and temps were hovering around 48 degrees pace of play was not an issue here. In fact, hardly anyone was here golfing on this cloudy Sunday. Talamore is aligned with the semi-private Mid South Club. We attempted to squeeze in additonal 9 holes at Mid South but the pro shop would not accommodate our request saying that the Mid South Club was private and since we didn’t arrange it in advance through Tobacco Road Travel, we could not play there.

I was a little disappointed that the Talamore staff  were unwilling to attempt to accommodate us for an additional 9 holes, especially when the course was most likely fairly empty. Considering the poor weather that day and the fact that we were ready and willing to plop down the cash, they could have at least called over and asked.  I am sure I will pencil in the Mid South Club on one of my future Pinehurst visits, but I’ll pass up on Talamore the next time as I feel there are other local courses worthier of my golfing dollar. Please do play Talamore at least once, but be sure and do your research about where you would like to play while in Pinehurst.

Although the conditions were excellent for early December, I am sure the course would have presented itself even better in spring or warmer summer weather. We arranged our golf package through Tobacco Road Travel, it was easy to schedule, painless and inexpensive. Two rounds of golf with cart (Tobacco Road and Talamore), a hotel suite for 4 with breakfast was a paltry $135 each out the door.  Not too shabby for an Ohio guy trying to squeeze in that one last weekend of golf before having to endure the long haul of a midwest winter.

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Apr 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Cool article, I love the Rees Jones course too. Only wish I could go twice year – you’re lucky!

  2. Steve

    Feb 20, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Did I make a mistake? I am staying at Talamore and playing both Talamore and Mid South with a group of twelve. I am the only guy of twelve that really enjoys Tobacco Road so this year we scratched Tobacco Road for Talamore (not my choice). We do a Pinehurst trip every year. I have never played Talamore but am wondering if I made a mistake. Anybody have any useful info for me? We are playing Talamore, Mid South, the Pit and of course Little River…whats the deal with the staff at Talamore?

  3. gordon

    Dec 27, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    I agree with you completely..the rees jones layouts are not very inspiring. even Brier’s Creek in Charleston, which is highly regarded. your enthusiasm for Tobacco Road is rightly placed. it is a wonderful place to play. recommend Tot Hill Farm in Ashboro also. it is not as nice a TR, but is harder.

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Courses

Kingston Heath: The Hype is Real

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We touched ground late in the afternoon at Melbourne Airport and checked in very, very late at hotel Grand Hyatt. Don’t ask about our driving and navigating skills. It shouldn’t have taken us as long as we did. Even with GPS we failed miserably, but our dear friend had been so kind to arrange a room with a magnificent view on the 32nd floor for us.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The skyline in Melbourne was amazing, and what a vibrant, multicultural city Melbourne turned out to be when we later visited the streets to catch a late dinner. The next morning, we headed out to one of the finest golf courses that you can find Down Under: Kingston Heath. We had heard so many great things about this course, and to be honest we were a bit worried it almost was too hyped up. Luckily, there were no disappointments.

Early morning at Kingston Heath C) Jacob Sjöman.

Here’s the thing about Kingston Heath. You’re driving in the middle of a suburb in Melbourne and then suddenly you see the sign, “Kingston Heath.” Very shortly after the turn, you’re at the club. This is very different than the other golf courses we’ve visited on this trip Down Under, where we’ve had to drive for several miles to get from the front gates to the club house.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Nevertheless, this course and its wonderful turf danced in front of us from the very first minute of our arrival. With a perfect sunrise and a very picture friendly magic morning mist, we walked out on the course and captured a few photos. Well, hundreds to be honest. The shapes and details are so pure and well defined.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Kingston Heath was designed by Dan Soutar back in 1925 with help and guidance from the legendary golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who added to its excellent bunkering system. Dr. MacKenzie’s only design suggestion was to change Soutar’s 15th hole from a 222-yard par-4 (with a blind tee shot) to a par-3. Today, this hole is considered to be one the best par-3 holes Down Under, and I can understand why.

I am normally not a big fan of flat courses, but I will make a rare exception for Kingston Heath. It’s a course that’s both fun and puts your strategic skills to a serious test. Our experience is that you need to plan your shots carefully, and never forget to stay out of its deep bunkers. They’re not easy.

The bunker shapes are brilliant. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Kingston Heath is not super long in distance, but it will still give you a tough test. You definitely need to be straight to earn a good score. If you are in Melbourne, this is the golf course I would recommend above all others.

Next up: Metropolitan. Stay tuned!

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Courses

Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy

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Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

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Courses

Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf

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We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.

Launceston Airport, Tasmania. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.

The locals at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Wallabies, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.

“Tom’s Little Devil.” Hole No.7 at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.

After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.

The walk between the 4th and 5th holes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.

After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 4th hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!

As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.

To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.

The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.

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