Can't Make It to Augusta or St. Andrews? Not a Problem
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Las Vegas, Nevada
A new course consisting of 18 famous holes from British Open venues, this has quickly become one of the most successful replica courses in the country by paying attention to detail, right down to offering caddies who dress in the uniform formerly worn by their counterparts at the British Open. While the usual suspects, the Road Hole and the Postage Stamp, are represented, designer Perry Dye also chose interesting holes from lesser-known venues like Royal Liverpool and St. Georges. Attention to detail is high, both on and off the course, with suitable substitutes for gorse and knee-high rough mimicking the British Isles playing experience. There's even a Swilcan Bridge so authentic that golfers stop to have their pictures taken on it, just as they do when playing the real Old Course at St. Andrews. More than 120 deep bunkers, many of them with sod walls, line the course. The clubhouse is a fantastic castle-like structure with a pub, and the yardage books are the best in golf: spiral-bound keepsakes that explore the layout of the replicas and the history of the original holes.
Dallas and Houston, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, and these two courses were the first to embrace the concept of blatantly copying a full slate of great holes. Now owned by Arnold Palmer Golf Management, Tour 18 is poised for growth, and you may soon see one near you. While the layouts are quite different, both re-create the island hole at TPC Sawgrass and all of Augusta's Amen Corner, holes 11, 12 and 13. This holy trinity of golf closes out the Dallas layout and is sandwiched into the front nine in Houston.
Surprisingly, both courses replicate only domestic holes, boldly selected more for quality than fame. Even the Dallas version, which has more household-name courses like Winged Foot, Augusta, Riviera and Pine Valley represented, gets daring with great but less well-known holes such as the first from Cherry Hills, the 15th from Crooked Stick and the 16th from Oakland Hills.
Houston is even more eclectic, featuring the sixth from the Magnolia course at Walt Disney World, the fourth from La Costa and the eighth from Oak Tree, holes only the most die-hard fans will recognize from television. Ironically, with the demise of the most famous course on the Las Vegas Strip, Houston is now the only place in the world where you can play the 10th hole from the Desert Inn. Between the two, the Tour 18 courses represent 27 courses, including heavy hitters such as Pebble Beach, Shinnecock, Doral, Muirfield Village, Firestone, Harbour Town and Colonial.
World Tour Golf Links
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This high-end, daily-fee trio of courses in Myrtle Beach strives to combine its 27 replica holes with first-rate service, from well-spaced tee times to global positioning systems. Its 25,000-square-foot clubhouse flies the flag of every state and country represented, and even houses five glass cases full of mementos (authentic and replicas) of trophies and antiques from the courses copied. Golf director Shoemaker believes the International Nine is the best of the three, with holes from Valderrama, Royal Melbourne and Wentworth, along with domestic locales, including Spanish Bay, Seminole and Doral. The Championship Nine is the most popular, probably because it has all of Amen Corner, along with the ubiquitous Postage Stamp, and holes from Cypress Point, Winged Foot and Olympic. Duffers can try the more forgiving Open Nine, which fittingly starts and ends with the first and 18th holes from the Old Course at St. Andrews, bookending choices from Pinehurst Two, Pine Valley, Augusta, Colonial and the island hole from Sawgrass, among others. The courses are owned by Mel Graham, a nephew of the Rev. Billy Graham, and he hopes to replicate the replicas in other sites in California, Florida and, of course, Las Vegas.
The Architects Golf Club
Phillipsburg, New Jersey
The newest tribute or replica course in the United States, this design by Stephen Kay, with assistance from golf author and historian Ron Whitten, is scheduled to open in July. The course is a tribute to 18 architects whose work spanned more than a century. Kay got the idea from his early work on the replica Donald Ross course in Michigan. "I said to myself, 'Wouldn't it be nice to take people on a ride through history, where they could play in the historical sequence?' The first hole is Old Tom Morris, the very first golf course designer. We jump to the States with C. B. MacDonald, who designed our very first 18-hole course [in the United States], the Chicago Golf Club." Architects is located in western New Jersey near the Delaware River, about an hour's drive from Newark International Airport. Other architects represented in the course include Walter Travis, Donald Ross, Harry Colt and C. H. Alison, A. W. Tillinghast, Alister Mackenzie and Robert Trent Jones. "We did not copy holes," says Kay. "We looked at three things: how the architect would set up play, the style of bunkering, and the contours of the putting service."
Black Creek Club
The first of two new tributes to the work of Seth Raynor and C. B. MacDonald, Black Creek opened last year. Brian Silva, named Architect of the Year by Golf World magazine in 1999, tried to include the hallmarks of the duo's designs in his routing, including blind approaches, a redan hole, drivable par-4s, a punch-bowl green and, in general, layouts that beg for some shots to be played on the ground. Silva had recently done extensive renovations on a couple of Raynor designs, including Lookout Mountain and Fox Chapel, and carried the lessons he learned to Black Creek. "It lets players who haven't been able to visit Scotland or play the great early American courses with these design features be exposed to the way the game once was, and still is, on the links of Scotland," says Silva.
The New Course at Grand Cypress
This is an homage by no less a golf icon than the Golden Bear himself to the birthplace of golf. Nicklaus made credible replicas of the first and last holes from the Old Course, and in between created 16 Scottish-style designs, complete with lots of double greens and deep bunkers. This is the subtlest of all the tribute or replica courses, offering a real feel for the old country without making it seem tacky. Modern touches like GPS, yardage books and cart paths do not ruin the effect, and of all the tribute and replica courses, this one resides at the best resort. The Grand Cypress Resort also has a Nicklaus-designed 27-hole course that hosts an LPGA tournament; between its two layouts, the resort offers a fantastic golf experience.
Stonebridge Golf Links & Country Club
Hauppauge, New York
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