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What's your "hidden gem" golf course?


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#1 HipCheck

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 01:29 PM

Technically this is not the proper forum for this, but we wanted to get some eyeballs on it from membership.  We're willing to bet there are a few WRX members that have their own "Hidden Gem" course and we'd like you to share the story in the thread below. Andrew is one of our writers and approached us with the concept.  There's a course on Hawaii where the greens fees are 15 bucks?  If you don't have any golf balls, they'll just give them to you?  Rarely do we publish on both the front page and forums, but we're sure there are stories out there.  Hopefully you enjoy it and will share yours.

Posted Image


What's your hidden gem?
By Andrew Tursky


Golf is expensive. I know, quite the earth-shattering observation. But seriously, golf is so expensive that it’s driving people away from the game and keeping newcomers out of it. The last thing a beginner wants to do is drop a thousands of dollars on a set of clubs and spend an additional $100 every time to tee it up. It can be frustrating and financially draining.

So where can golfers play at a decent price and still have a great experience? You just have to know where to look.

There are courses around the world that offer amazing scenery and intriguing layouts without burning through your wallet. These are the diamonds in the rough, the hidden gems. They’re the hole-in-the-wall pizzerias that have way better food than the over-priced, sit-down Italian restaurant with the long wait and pretentious vibes.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of playing one of these courses with my dad.

At the North Shore of Oahu, there sits a large field of green grass adjacent to the beautiful Hawaiian ocean. On this patch of land are randomly scattered checkered flag sticks stuck into four and a quarter-inch, round holes. They call this area of grass, sticks and holes Kahuku Golf Course.

Posted Image

My description is being slightly facetious, of course. Kahuku does have distinguishable greens, bunkers and fairways. It is, however, rudimentary in nature.

The clubhouse would compare more readily to a chicken coop than a functioning pro shop, but it truly captures the character of a hidden gem.

My dad, being on vacation in Hawaii, didn’t have any golf balls with him, so he asked to buy a sleeve inside the “pro shop.” The manager, a Hawaiian native, said they don’t sell golf balls. Instead, he put a box of used golf balls on the counter and told us to take a couple, and to “just give them back if you don’t lose them.” Yes, he really said that.

We asked if we needed a tee time. He pointed to the first tee and said to go after the group teeing off. We paid the $15 dollar greens fees (no typo) and slung some clubs over our shoulders. It all seemed so simple.
The course itself, although it only has nine holes that you play twice in order to play a full 18, had nothing but interesting holes and phenomenal views: a few drivable par fours, long par 5′s and challenging par 3′s right on the water. We kept our camera’s handy throughout the round. Even at a resort course with $200 greens fees, the cameras can usually stay safe in their case aside from the signature holes.

This is what a hidden gem looks like, and we’re on a mission to find more golf courses around the world just like it. We want to hear your story, see your pictures, and get informed about the less expensive options to play golf without sacrificing the golfing experience.

If you have a hidden gem, or a somewhat run-down course you like to play, please share your story below.


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#2 ThunderBuzzworth

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 01:33 PM

Rundown course that I like to play in metro Detroit is Richmond Forest. Any given day the greens fees are less than $20 and the layout of the course is fantastic. With some lengthening and a little tlc I am convinced they could hold a big tournament. It is kind of in a town but off the beaten path at the same time. It is just far enough away that a lot of golfers in my area won't travel to play it. The green complexes are challenging and there is a great mix of holes out there with a 630 yard par 5 to challenge even the longest hitters. The practice facility is quite nice except that the range balls are mostly old top flite and such.

Edited by ThunderBuzzworth, 09 May 2014 - 01:50 PM.

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#3 CTSpinDoctor

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 01:49 PM

In Connecticut:
Fenwick $20 for 9.. really cool course.
Shennecossett: $1500 membership abuut $35 for 18. Nice Muni
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#4 LeftRightLeftRight

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 02:06 PM

Northern California
Gleneagles in San Francisco.  http://www.gleneagle...bn2u7d1pdxq2yl9
Sharp Park in Pacifica.  Alister MacKenzie course!
Plumas Lakes G&CC in Olivehurst is inexpensive with good greens and an interesting layout.

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#5 nebatty

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 02:46 PM

Wildhorse in Gothenburg, Nebraska.  Costs about $45 for 18 holes and a cart.  Links style golf at the edge of the sandhills.  The course always looks great.  Accessible to the public and definitely a poor mans Sandhills.  Minus the ocean, it compares favorably to Bandon Dunes.


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#6 thegooddoctor

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 02:58 PM

1. Not run down by any means but Pekin IL ( Home of DA Points), Lick Creek around 27 to walk for out of towner for a challenging beautiful course with bent grass fairways and greens.

2. Elks Club, Pontiac IL: Well maintained beautiful bent grass course with excellent layout, half way house, great bar and the friendliest people. We play a ryder cup style event there every year and they couldnt be nicer. I believe greens fees are around 30 bucks

3. In northern indiana, the brassie 42 with a cart beautiful course with beautiful views

4. In Akron OH, 10 dollar to walk as many as you want after 4= Goodpark, very fun course with lightning greens, owner has changed since I moved away hope still kept up.
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#7 Phreddy

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 03:11 PM

Between the thriving northern Wisconsin metropolises of Clam Lake and Cable is Forest Ridges.  The course is carved out of the Chequamegon National Forest and plays at about 6000 yards The afternoon weekday rate is $20 for 9 holes.  But, when I arrive around 4 PM they generally say, "We are leaving around 6.  Take a cart, play as many as you like and leave the key by the door."

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#8 Sean2

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 03:15 PM

D.W. Fields in Brockton, MA. $27 to walk 18 holes. It's not in the best shape, as the city takes most of the revenue, but they work hard to keep it playable.

For the Boston area it is a real bargain, and there are some interesting holes.
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#9 LaBraeGolfer

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 04:20 PM

Okay, so it a little drive 45 minutes and it is very cheap like most courses in the area (We are the Myrtle Beach of the North Warren/Youngstown Ohio, so many quality courses under like $30 with a cart). I have found the conditions rival any courses in my immediate area for half the cost. Early mornings weekends it maxes out at $38 Riding, but many times it is $25 and under for 18 and a cart. I have found the course a blast to play as there is a little strategy involved, but there are a good amount of holes where you can open up the throttle and let it go. I had a hard time finding images, so I will try to respond in the future with more images.









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#10 Ace Underhill

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 04:31 PM

I would have to say with the Golfnow app, I have found many "hidden gems" due to some great deals. Best I would say is a nice course called Table Creek near Nebraska City off Hwy. 2 about 45 min. east of Lincoln. I have played many rounds there for less than $20 for 18 & cart. Course was always in real good condition last summer. I just checked now and they have some $13 deals for this weekend. Insane. Their website is even impressive. http://www.tablecreek.com/

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Edited by Ace Underhill, 09 May 2014 - 04:36 PM.

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#11 Banker

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 04:35 PM

View Postthegooddoctor, on 09 May 2014 - 02:58 PM, said:

1. Not run down by any means but Pekin IL ( Home of DA Points), Lick Creek around 27 to walk for out of towner for a challenging beautiful course with bent grass fairways and greens.

2. Elks Club, Pontiac IL: Well maintained beautiful bent grass course with excellent layout, half way house, great bar and the friendliest people. We play a ryder cup style event there every year and they couldnt be nicer. I believe greens fees are around 30 bucks

3. In northern indiana, the brassie 42 with a cart beautiful course with beautiful views

4. In Akron OH, 10 dollar to walk as many as you want after 4= Goodpark, very fun course with lightning greens, owner has changed since I moved away hope still kept up.

I remember playing Goodpark with my Grandpa when I was a kid.  That was 30+ years ago.  Fun memories
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#12 chriss

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 04:35 PM

A couple of weeks ago I spend 5 days in Ireland playing golf and came across two real gems on the south west coast of the island.
The fist one goes by the name of Dooks. Its a 125 years of age course built right into the the atlantic ocean. When you reach the highest point of the area, you can see the ocean 180 around you. Just spectacular! Gofingwise it is nothing too special, but the landscape ist jutst splendit. And all this great scenario for just 60 which ist roughly half the money you spend on similar courses in that area.

My second gem is the cashin course. The little brother of the world famous Ballyunion course. If you were to vistit this part of the world youd probably want to play Ballybunion anyway but youd also make a big mistake to miss out on this glorious golf course, especialy as it only costs 15 in the package with the big one.
Spectacular views and architecture wise in parts even better than at least the front nine of its big brother.
And again, given that its only 15 it is form the value for money perspective the best course ive ever played by a country mile!!!
After just a cpoulpe holes you just got that feeling that you just had discovered something way more worth than just 15.

I hope you enjoyed my discriptions. Please excuse some mistakes as i am german and too lazy to spell check all of this 😉

Pics to follow

Edited by chriss, 09 May 2014 - 05:27 PM.


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#13 Banker

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 04:37 PM

Chiefland Country Club.  It's not scenic by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it some long lost Donald Ross..... but it's $20 to ride 18 & it's always in good shape.  Best draining course in Florida, which is important this time of the year...
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#14 gvogel

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:08 PM

Hidden Gem?  Grover Cleveland in Buffalo.  Most of it was the Country Club of Buffalo when it hosted the US Open in 1912, but a couple of good holes were added by Donald Ross before he designed the "new" CCB course in the 1920's.  A couple of bad holes were cobbled in when they built the VA Hospital in the '50's.

Bring your hickories and play it for $18 weekdays, $21 weekends.
On Sundays, I used to play hickory

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#15 gvogel

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:38 PM

I've got one more hidden gem: Taconic Golf Course in williamstown MA.

You can play it for $145.  Why would that be a deal?  Well, back in the 1970's, Taconic was in the top 50 golf courses as ranked by Golf Magazine.  It hosted an NCAA Championship when Jack Nicklaus, Phil Rodgers and Tommy Aaron were collegians.  If you are the sort that likes to play top 100 golf courses, this is a hidden gem.  $145 would compare to $375 at The Greenbrier, $435 for the stay and play at the Upper Cascades course, and other courses of that ilk.  I think that you'll have as much fun or more at Taconic, in a more relaxed atmosphere.

The course fell off the nationals consciousness because it was not kept in great shape; but in 2006 Gil Hanse went in, took out trees, reshaped and moved a few bunkers.  The 17th green has been in use since 1897, if you are into that sort of thing (I am).  Heck, I always thought that it was one of my favorite courses to play in the '80's, but now it's better.  Scenic, with some fine holes around a creek, and some great holes up and down from a ridge, with views of the Taconic and Berkshire mountain ranges - you will not be disappointed.  And don't be hesitant to move up a set of tee markers on the back nine to keep the fun level at max.

Edited by gvogel, 09 May 2014 - 05:47 PM.

On Sundays, I used to play hickory

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#16 boxerjoe2011

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:43 PM

I love playing your hidden gem early in the morning before they start letting out 5somes of 20+ handicaps.  You can walk it for cheap and often times play in 3 hours or so and then have the rest of your day off to yourself.  I also love the bars at hidden gems.  They are usually full of die hard golf fans that have been playing golf for over 30 years.  Love it.

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#17 Animal Chin

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:58 PM

View Postchriss, on 09 May 2014 - 04:35 PM, said:

A couple of weeks ago I spend 5 days in Ireland playing golf and came across two real gems on the south west coast of the island.
The fist one goes by the name of Dooks. Its a 125 years of age course built right into the the atlantic ocean. When you reach the highest point of the area, you can see the ocean 180 around you. Just spectacular! Gofingwise it is nothing too special, but the landscape ist jutst splendit. And all this great scenario for just 60 which ist roughly half the money you spend on similar courses in that area.

My second gem is the cashin course. The little brother of the world famous Ballyunion course. If you were to vistit this part of the world youd probably want to play Ballybunion anyway but youd also make a big mistake to miss out on this glorious golf course, especialy as it only costs 15 in the package with the big one.
Spectacular views and architecture wise in parts even better than at least the front nine of its big brother.
And again, given that its only 15 it is form the value for money perspective the best course ive ever played by a country mile!!!
After just a cpoulpe holes you just got that feeling that you just had discovered something way more worth than just 15.

I hope you enjoyed my discriptions. Please excuse some mistakes as i am german and too lazy to spell check all of this 😉

Pics to follow

Dooks is one of my favorite courses in the world.

Love their logo too.

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#18 finitewisdom

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 07:35 PM

Oak Hollow in High Point, NC is one of Pete Dye's earlier designs. It's an affordable but challenging municipal course that's definitely worth the trip if you're nearby.

I lived in High Point several years ago and could play Oak Hollow on the weekends for less than $30 with a cart. It's probably a bit more now, but not too much.

There's more info at www.oakhollowgc.com and a great review at http://www.thehacker...w-High-Point-NC
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#19 amateur pro

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 08:55 PM

Dallas was recently named the best city for golf (not sure if that's the exact title) and with good reason. Sure there are ultra exclusive clubs with $200k initiation fees, but there are also munis in fairly good shape and very playable. I play at all the City of Dallas munis, and they are all under $30 for a prime weekend tee time (no cart, I walk all these courses). Arlington munis are between $25-$30, again no cart. I wouldn't consider any of these courses run down by any means. Grapevine muni is slightly more, but $40 to walk a course with 27 holes, literally next to Cowboys golf club ($200/round and ranked #1 public course in DFW every year since it opened) with very comparable conditions is a steal to me.

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#20 p3ga

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 09:02 PM

A wonderful read & site dedicated to these types of courses is located at www.hiddenfairways.com

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#21 Wedge

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 09:34 PM

View Postfinitewisdom, on 09 May 2014 - 07:35 PM, said:

Oak Hollow in High Point, NC is one of Pete Dye's earlier designs. It's an affordable but challenging municipal course that's definitely worth the trip if you're nearby.

I lived in High Point several years ago and could play Oak Hollow on the weekends for less than $30 with a cart. It's probably a bit more now, but not too much.

There's more info at www.oakhollowgc.com and a great review at http://www.thehacker...w-High-Point-NC

Dude....you stole my hidden gem!!! :)

Great course. The Triad area of NC is loaded with excellent, AFFORDABLE, and walkable courses for under $35.

A couple of others are Pilot Knob (Pilot Mountain) Golf Course and Silo Run.

Pilot is open to the public during the week. Zoyzia fairways and greens; outstanding condition, rolling hills, fun and challenging. About 25-30 miles north of Winston Salem just off Highway 52.

Silo Run is the true definition of a hidden gem. About 25 miles northwest of Winston Salem off Highway 67 towards Boonville. Rolling hills, has almost a links feel to the course, challenging,  and you can play for $25 and under. Not swanky, bunch of country people, handmade signs, but a course you could play regularly that would give you a game that would travel well.

Jamestown Park is another excellent course I'm sure you've played as well.

I miss living in that part of NC.
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#22 BTmizuno1983

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 10:15 PM

Eagle point golf club, outside of Houston.

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#23 sgniwder99

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 10:40 PM

Mystery Valley right outside Atlanta. Definitely beloved by locals, and for good reason.

Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course in Crawfordsville, IN. Awesome layout for a middle-of-nowhere muni, with no 2 holes alike, several really memorable ones, and 2 distinctly different 9's. And in surprisingly good shape most of the time.
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#24 chadly643

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 10:50 PM

Someone mentioned the golf now hot deals as a way to play some real gems for cheap. The best deal I've ever gotten on golf now was 20 bucks to ride 18 in the summer at the thoroughbred golf club in west Michigan. Its an Arthur hills design that challenges and delights even the best golfers.

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#25 DRGJR72

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 11:02 PM

Pacific Grove Golf Links.

Fornt nine goes away from the sea and the back nine makes it way back around the ocean.  The value relative to what you pay for pebble and the others is unbelievable.  Great track for 60-70 bucks.  Half of the course is on the ocean.  Views are absurd.

http://www.playpacificgrove.com

This is my sleeper.

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#26 smp220

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 11:35 PM

Winnapaug in Rhode Island.  Old Donald Ross course that is such an enjoyable design, it ranks in top 5 public in state despite conditioning that is not comparable to rest of the list.

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#27 vjswing

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 11:47 PM

View PostDRGJR72, on 09 May 2014 - 11:02 PM, said:

Pacific Grove Golf Links.

Fornt nine goes away from the sea and the back nine makes it way back around the ocean.  The value relative to what you pay for pebble and the others is unbelievable.  Great track for 60-70 bucks.  Half of the course is on the ocean.  Views are absurd.

http://www.playpacificgrove.com

This is my sleeper.
Absolutely second the motion on Pacific Grove Muni!  Played it several years ago, and definitely want to go back there at some point down the road.

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#28 NavyLD12

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 01:53 AM

View PostLeftRightLeftRight, on 09 May 2014 - 02:06 PM, said:

Northern California
Gleneagles in San Francisco.  http://www.gleneagle...bn2u7d1pdxq2yl9
Sharp Park in Pacifica.  Alister MacKenzie course!
Plumas Lakes G&CC in Olivehurst is inexpensive with good greens and an interesting layout.

Haha I grew up playing Plumas lake and the new greens are much better.
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Snell MTB Black/Red

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#29 Imp

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 08:29 AM

View PostPooterMcStabbin, on 09 May 2014 - 01:49 PM, said:

In Connecticut:
Fenwick $20 for 9.. really cool course.
Shennecossett: $1500 membership abuut $35 for 18. Nice Muni
Here's a 2nd vote for shenny. Classic and practically untouched Donald Ross course. :)

--kC
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#30 swaldron

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 09:16 AM

Buffalo Golf Course in PA, about 30 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.  Always in good shape and flat.  Youngstown/Warren Ohio has some great golf courses too.


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