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Tom Fazio’s Best Courses


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#61 dhc1

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:04 AM

View PostFairwayFred, on 28 November 2017 - 07:43 AM, said:

View PostRoadking2003, on 28 November 2017 - 07:32 AM, said:

View Postmallrat, on 27 November 2017 - 11:51 PM, said:

That said I got into an argument on here last year with someone who said that Fazio is the worst current architect and all his courses are garbage. Where I took exception was that that was his opinion and he was saying it like fact. He wouldn't accept that that was just his opinion.

Sounds like somebody who is insecure in his opinions. So he refuses to debate the issue because his only argument is "my opinion is better than yours".

I love Fazio courses and I think most experts would list him among the "best ever architects" .

Fazio has done some good work but I don't know any experts who would list him as one of the best ever architects.  Not even close. Despite all his designs there has never been a Major held at a Fazio course and 2 of his highest profile redo jobs for majors (Inverness and Oak Hill) are being currently redone to remove any traces of the work he did.  The industry has shifted away from the kind of courses Fazio designed with their concentration on "framing" the hole and extensive earth moving and more towards a natural approach and imo Golf is all the better for it.  He was part of the era of excess that had developers spending far too much on average golf courses which helped make the price of the game sky rocket.  It's a hole I believe golf is still trying to dig itself out of.

I'd guess you'd agree that Doak isn't a great architect either as I don't recall a single PGA tournament at one of his courses, let alone a Major.

I've never understood the objection to earth moving, particularly as it usually comes from critics who decry using aesthetics as a benchmark for courses - the natural look is just that: an aesthetic. Furthermore, the "natural" look that Doak demands means that he primarily builds courses in remote rugged locations which is hard to access and thereby very expensive to play and even worse to get to. Hopefully, you don't give him a pass either on the price issue.

Edited by dhc1, 29 November 2017 - 09:06 AM.


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#62 RBurl

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:11 AM

I think it's worth noting that Frederica and Whisper Rock have a lot of tour pros living, practicing and playing his course to prepare them for playing on tour. I don't see why he has the reputation of not producing courses with shot value. Caves Valley, Trump Bedminster, Eagle point, and Diamond Creek all had the highest shot values of courses I played last year. Any shot not hit properly was really penalized. And good/great shots are heavily rewarded at those courses.

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#63 nitram

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:59 AM

Dancing Rabbit
Karsten Creek
Squire Creek
GC of Tennessee

and for the record, #8 is my favorite @ Pinehurst.

Edited by nitram, 30 November 2017 - 04:15 PM.

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#64 FairwayFred

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 04:49 PM

View Postdhc1, on 29 November 2017 - 09:04 AM, said:

View PostFairwayFred, on 28 November 2017 - 07:43 AM, said:

View PostRoadking2003, on 28 November 2017 - 07:32 AM, said:

View Postmallrat, on 27 November 2017 - 11:51 PM, said:

That said I got into an argument on here last year with someone who said that Fazio is the worst current architect and all his courses are garbage. Where I took exception was that that was his opinion and he was saying it like fact. He wouldn't accept that that was just his opinion.

Sounds like somebody who is insecure in his opinions. So he refuses to debate the issue because his only argument is "my opinion is better than yours".

I love Fazio courses and I think most experts would list him among the "best ever architects" .

Fazio has done some good work but I don't know any experts who would list him as one of the best ever architects.  Not even close. Despite all his designs there has never been a Major held at a Fazio course and 2 of his highest profile redo jobs for majors (Inverness and Oak Hill) are being currently redone to remove any traces of the work he did.  The industry has shifted away from the kind of courses Fazio designed with their concentration on "framing" the hole and extensive earth moving and more towards a natural approach and imo Golf is all the better for it.  He was part of the era of excess that had developers spending far too much on average golf courses which helped make the price of the game sky rocket.  It's a hole I believe golf is still trying to dig itself out of.

I'd guess you'd agree that Doak isn't a great architect either as I don't recall a single PGA tournament at one of his courses, let alone a Major.

I've never understood the objection to earth moving, particularly as it usually comes from critics who decry using aesthetics as a benchmark for courses - the natural look is just that: an aesthetic. Furthermore, the "natural" look that Doak demands means that he primarily builds courses in remote rugged locations which is hard to access and thereby very expensive to play and even worse to get to. Hopefully, you don't give him a pass either on the price issue.

I'm not a big fan of Doak either.  He has done a few courses I have really liked but for the most part I've been disappointed much more than not.  

I don't however think the comparison vs Fazio in terms of majors being held at their courses is fair.  Doak will tell you he is not trying to build championship courses for the most part and most importantly he has designed far fewer courses than Fazio who has a much more extensive profile of courses built.  I don't know of a lot of Doak courses that could logistically hold a major let alone have gone after one.  Can't say that about Fazio.

Edited by FairwayFred, 29 November 2017 - 04:51 PM.

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#65 Roadking2003

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 05:08 PM

View Postdhc1, on 29 November 2017 - 09:04 AM, said:

I'd guess you'd agree that Doak isn't a great architect either as I don't recall a single PGA tournament at one of his courses, let alone a Major.

I've never understood the objection to earth moving, particularly as it usually comes from critics who decry using aesthetics as a benchmark for courses - the natural look is just that: an aesthetic. Furthermore, the "natural" look that Doak demands means that he primarily builds courses in remote rugged locations which is hard to access and thereby very expensive to play and even worse to get to. Hopefully, you don't give him a pass either on the price issue.

I agree.  I neither give nor take away any credit for the amount of earth moved or how much the course cost to build.  I played Arcadia Bluffs this year and loved it.  I'm sure they moved tons of earth building it.


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#66 adamjstl

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 07:21 PM

For all those ripping the course ranking methods, explain what the right way is....

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#67 OffTheDole

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 07:26 PM

Pablo Creek in Jacksonville, Florida is a really nice private course that Fazio designed. From what I was told it wasn't made to be overly penal or exciting, but it's a great track and was always in amazing shape when I worked there as a cart guy.

Edited by OffTheDole, 29 November 2017 - 07:26 PM.


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#68 raynorfan1

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 07:44 PM

View Postadamjstl, on 29 November 2017 - 07:21 PM, said:

For all those ripping the course ranking methods, explain what the right way is....

I would rather see something closer to a Michelin star system, putting courses into elite categories without attempting to parse the difference between #18 and #20. But that wouldn’t sell as many magazines.

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#69 knock it close

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 07:57 PM

Whisper Rock was pretty good but I remember the day and the experience more than the course, trying to set up a trip down to Gozzer this summer
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#70 Arb8889

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:15 PM

Galloway National in Atlantic City is pretty amazing

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#71 RobotDoctor

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:43 PM

I haven't played many, just three Fazio courses.  I really liked them and appreciate Fazio's designs.  The courses are (in order of when I played them):

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Hartefeld National Golf Club (Avondale, PA)
Sand Ridge Golf Club (Chardon, OH)
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#72 bhilko

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:06 AM

Fazio builds golf courses that lack substance. I feel like I never have to think much playing his golf courses. His greens are all relatively benign and usually everything is right in front of you. His courses are great for resorts and destinations because the avergae golfer can go out and enjoy his courses on the first look. Great golf courses to me take multiple rounds to really get a feel f how to attack and they are very flexible on how they can be setup from day to day. Fazios courses never feel like this. Pine barrens and black diamond ranch are my 2 favorites but I still feel they both could of been better. Doak has been brought up here a bunch and I think the best example comparing these two is common ground in Denver. Fazio does not have the restraint to build something like that. Doak built a fun parkland design with tons of variety on a simple sight with a simple budget. I find common ground way more intriguing for multiple plays than any of the Fazio's I have played. For the golfer who likes things simple and wants to play a place with a lot of eye candy most Fazio courses will be very appealing. The golfer that wants to hit shots, play bold lines, have multiple angles of attack,and be creative will be let down every time on a Fazio course. He has a formula and he has stuck to it. The man was very successful and there will always be golfers who enjoy his courses. It is just not my cup of tea.

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#73 MyShortGameSucks

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:41 AM

This is a great topic.  I was pretty much always in the camp of being less than impressed with Fazio course.  I have never played the top privates he designed but his courses like the one at Kiawah (Osprey?), Black Diamond, Pine Barrens etc  I thought were pretty, fun and enjoyable for one round or so.  After repeated play on them I always ended up thinking  they were a bit superficial - I think someone earlier used the term Eye-Candy and that's not a bad description!  

For some reason I never registered that he did Pinehurst #8 and would never have guessed that was his.  Now that is a great golf course and is my favourite at Pinehurst.  I knew he did Pinehurst #4 and that is very good (not great) but I think he was working to a theme there and trying to fit it into the style of the other courses there.
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#74 adamjstl

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:15 AM

To this point, the best I’ve played are Wade Hampton, Mountaintop, and Victoria National.

Heading to Alotian Club, Flint Hills National, and Karsten Creek next season.

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#75 Roadking2003

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:37 AM

View Postadamjstl, on 30 November 2017 - 09:15 AM, said:

To this point, the best I've played are Wade Hampton, Mountaintop, and Victoria National.

Heading to Alotian Club, Flint Hills National, and Karsten Creek next season.

I love the Flint Hills National golf course, and it has one of the best practice facilities in the USA.   They have zoysia fairways so it's like hitting off a tee from the fairway.

We stayed on site in the cabins and they are very nice!


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#76 teejaywhy

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:49 AM

View PostMr. Blutarski, on 28 November 2017 - 10:54 AM, said:


He also did the "Tiger proofing" of Augusta National.

How did that work out?  :drinks:

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#77 toddnt

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:04 AM

Shadow Creek.....

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#78 Craigstands17

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:48 PM

My favorite Fazio courses are Forest Creek North and South Courses in NC and The Ridge at Back Brook in NJ
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#79 OutBackHack

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:52 PM

View PostRoadking2003, on 30 November 2017 - 09:37 AM, said:

View Postadamjstl, on 30 November 2017 - 09:15 AM, said:

To this point, the best I've played are Wade Hampton, Mountaintop, and Victoria National.

Heading to Alotian Club, Flint Hills National, and Karsten Creek next season.

I love the Flint Hills National golf course, and it has one of the best practice facilities in the USA.   They have zoysia fairways so it's like hitting off a tee from the fairway.

We stayed on site in the cabins and they are very nice!

Thousands of courses have zoysia fairways. Some have nice cabins also.... And Practice facilities.

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#80 DoubleorQuits

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:03 PM

The Farm in Georgia and Forest Creek North are also pretty solid.


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#81 dlygrisse

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:49 PM

View PostRoadking2003, on 30 November 2017 - 09:37 AM, said:

View Postadamjstl, on 30 November 2017 - 09:15 AM, said:

To this point, the best I've played are Wade Hampton, Mountaintop, and Victoria National.

Heading to Alotian Club, Flint Hills National, and Karsten Creek next season.

I love the Flint Hills National golf course, and it has one of the best practice facilities in the USA.   They have zoysia fairways so it's like hitting off a tee from the fairway.

We stayed on site in the cabins and they are very nice!

I'm not sure which is better, the course or the amenities.....probably the amenities, but FHN is a great course!
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#82 jdalton82

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:44 PM

Camp Creek outside of Panama City Beach, FL is my favorite Fazio design.

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#83 dhc1

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:23 PM

View Postbhilko, on 30 November 2017 - 02:06 AM, said:

Fazio builds golf courses that lack substance. I feel like I never have to think much playing his golf courses. His greens are all relatively benign and usually everything is right in front of you. His courses are great for resorts and destinations because the avergae golfer can go out and enjoy his courses on the first look. Great golf courses to me take multiple rounds to really get a feel f how to attack and they are very flexible on how they can be setup from day to day. Fazios courses never feel like this. Pine barrens and black diamond ranch are my 2 favorites but I still feel they both could of been better. Doak has been brought up here a bunch and I think the best example comparing these two is common ground in Denver. Fazio does not have the restraint to build something like that. Doak built a fun parkland design with tons of variety on a simple sight with a simple budget. I find common ground way more intriguing for multiple plays than any of the Fazio's I have played. For the golfer who likes things simple and wants to play a place with a lot of eye candy most Fazio courses will be very appealing. The golfer that wants to hit shots, play bold lines, have multiple angles of attack,and be creative will be let down every time on a Fazio course. He has a formula and he has stuck to it. The man was very successful and there will always be golfers who enjoy his courses. It is just not my cup of tea.

I haven't played Common Ground but I think the exact opposite wrt to Doak courses - they're fun but hardly strategic. By that I mean, combining super-wide fairways (multiple angles of attack- Yay!) with fairly short courses with undulating greens is great for drinking a beer per hole over 36 at Bandon but there's a reason there will never be a PGA stop at one of his courses - he doesn't really value excellent driving (let me be clear, having a better angle into a green doesn't make much different when you have a wedge in your hand no matter how you drive. It's not creative - it's not penalizing wayward drives).

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#84 AppAlum

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 06:46 AM

To the topic at hand:

Eagle Point
Diamond Creek
Old Collier

Have not had the opportunity to play Wade Hampton or Mtn. Top.



The debate about his genious or lack thereof should probably be for another thread although I get what others have said about the experience being greater than the course in many cases.

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#85 Roadking2003

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 08:11 AM

View PostOutBackHack, on 30 November 2017 - 02:52 PM, said:

View PostRoadking2003, on 30 November 2017 - 09:37 AM, said:

View Postadamjstl, on 30 November 2017 - 09:15 AM, said:

To this point, the best I've played are Wade Hampton, Mountaintop, and Victoria National.

Heading to Alotian Club, Flint Hills National, and Karsten Creek next season.

I love the Flint Hills National golf course, and it has one of the best practice facilities in the USA.   They have zoysia fairways so it's like hitting off a tee from the fairway.

We stayed on site in the cabins and they are very nice!

Thousands of courses have zoysia fairways. Some have nice cabins also.... And Practice facilities.

Wonderful.   I still like the Flint National Golf Course.

And I doubt that thousands have zoysia.  I've played over 300 courses and only two had zoysia.


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#86 robs291

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 08:59 AM

View PostCraigstands17, on 30 November 2017 - 01:48 PM, said:

My favorite Fazio courses are Forest Creek North and South Courses in NC and The Ridge at Back Brook in NJ
Agree about The Ridge. I think a few holes are repetitive, but overall great course, very pretty and always in great shape. Can be very challenging and punishing when the greens are running fast. It doesn't get much love on here! Probably because it is private and in the middle of nowhere...

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#87 raynorfan1

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 09:06 AM

View Postdhc1, on 30 November 2017 - 09:23 PM, said:

I haven't played Common Ground but I think the exact opposite wrt to Doak courses - they're fun but hardly strategic.

Doak and Fazio are sometimes juxtaposed as "opposite" kinds of designers, but I actually think they're philosophically very aligned. Both have focused their work on high-end courses that deliver a lot of "fun" for their players...they just have different target profiles in mind. Doak's profile golfer is the wirey old guy you see pushing his cart around your local muni every morning at sunrise. Every morning. Fazio's profile golfer is the one cruising around in a custom cart, using a custom-made cigar holder to hold his stogie on the green. But fundamentally, both guys are building courses that are fun and keep their player entertained. They're not "championship" course builders - and I don't think they want to be.

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#88 Craigstands17

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 09:14 AM

View Postrobs291, on 01 December 2017 - 08:59 AM, said:

View PostCraigstands17, on 30 November 2017 - 01:48 PM, said:

My favorite Fazio courses are Forest Creek North and South Courses in NC and The Ridge at Back Brook in NJ
Agree about The Ridge. I think a few holes are repetitive, but overall great course, very pretty and always in great shape. Can be very challenging and punishing when the greens are running fast. It doesn't get much love on here! Probably because it is private and in the middle of nowhere...


You are right it doesn't get much love on here as its location and privacy means it does not get that much play or attention. A few years ago it was rated the second best course in NJ behind Pine Valley. They always keep it in pristine shape and the course has some fantastic views. When they have the greens running fast  it can be so challenging. I've had some of my best Iron Striking rounds there only to be faced with some of the most difficult short putts of my life haha.
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#89 dpb5031

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 09:18 AM

View Postrobs291, on 01 December 2017 - 08:59 AM, said:

View PostCraigstands17, on 30 November 2017 - 01:48 PM, said:

My favorite Fazio courses are Forest Creek North and South Courses in NC and The Ridge at Back Brook in NJ
Agree about The Ridge. I think a few holes are repetitive, but overall great course, very pretty and always in great shape. Can be very challenging and punishing when the greens are running fast. It doesn't get much love on here! Probably because it is private and in the middle of nowhere...

The Ridge is a spectacular course on a perfect piece of property. They held one of the AJGA's top invitationals there this summer (The Polo) and the winning score for boys was 8 or 9 under.  My daughter played in it so I was there all week and spoke to many of the competitors.  All loved the course but a few if the boys said it was a little short...tipped out it's right around 7000...lol!

On a side note I typically play in several of their stag day events per year, and can't decide what I look forward to more, playing the course or the prime strip steaks they serve at the dinner!
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#90 robs291

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 09:59 AM

View Postdpb5031, on 01 December 2017 - 09:18 AM, said:

View Postrobs291, on 01 December 2017 - 08:59 AM, said:

View PostCraigstands17, on 30 November 2017 - 01:48 PM, said:

My favorite Fazio courses are Forest Creek North and South Courses in NC and The Ridge at Back Brook in NJ
Agree about The Ridge. I think a few holes are repetitive, but overall great course, very pretty and always in great shape. Can be very challenging and punishing when the greens are running fast. It doesn't get much love on here! Probably because it is private and in the middle of nowhere...

The Ridge is a spectacular course on a perfect piece of property. They held one of the AJGA's top invitationals there this summer (The Polo) and the winning score for boys was 8 or 9 under.  My daughter played in it so I was there all week and spoke to many of the competitors.  All loved the course but a few if the boys said it was a little short...tipped out it's right around 7000...lol!

On a side note I typically play in several of their stag day events per year, and can't decide what I look forward to more, playing the course or the prime strip steaks they serve at the dinner!

Funny about the Polo event! I volunteered there one day and think they didn't have all the tee boxes all the way back on some holes, so it could have been a little longer. That said, those kids (some girls included!) hit it far! But, they had the rough knocked down so it was definitely playing "easier".  Several of the boys' mentality was "How far can I hit it, can I carry that bunker, what corner can I cut?". You are definitely rewarded for catching some of the fairway slopes but can be penalized if on the wrong side. More so when it comes to the greens, but having the rough shorter was a huge benefit. For other NJ PGA pro/amateur events there the winning score usually isn't too far from par over a few days as the rough is longer.

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