Can't Make It to Augusta or St. Andrews? Not a Problem
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This more recent MacDonald tribute, by golf historian George Bahto, opened at Easter. While Bahto has been hired to consult on numerous MacDonald renovations, this is his first solo design effort, and unlike big-name architects, he worked on-site throughout the design process¿ a labor of love.
"I left my ego behind," says Bahto. "I didn't want to leave my mark on the course, and I did not try to duplicate certain holes. I didn't copy the fourth at the National or the second at Shinnecock." Instead, Bahto incorporated the same trademark elements that Silva tried to re-create in Tennessee: the redan, punch-bowl green, Alps hole and other European designs that MacDonald and Raynor embraced in their careers. "The experience you're going to get is a great set of greens," Bahto says. "They're very large with dramatic transitions. MacDonald wanted you to think on your approach shots." While acknowledged as great designers, the duo is less well known than many of their contemporaries because many of their courses, like the National and Chicago Golf Club, are private. In researching his biography of MacDonald, Bahto visited more than 80 courses that one or both designers had worked on. "You can now play a Raynor course," Bahto says of Stonebridge. "There are very few that are public access, and very few that you can even hope to be invited to."
The Tribute at the Colony
The holes at The Tribute, which opened last summer, are inspired by ones at Carnoustie, Royal Dornoch, Royal Troon, Muirfield, Prestwick, Nairn and Western Gailes. But unlike replica courses, the holes are not carbon copies. Architect Tripp Davis laid out his holes in the style of their more famous inspirations. As Davis says, "We simply re-created the excitement and playability that is inherent with some of Scotland's great golf holes." Off the course, they didn't skimp either, with a 33,000-square-foot Tudor-style clubhouse and a 25-acre practice area with a one-acre putting course. Upstairs in the clubhouse are seven luxury suites available for rental, all with golf course views. Future plans call for a 400-room hotel and a second course.
World Woods Golf Club
The least blatant of the tribute efforts, this 36-hole facility features two Tom Fazio courses done in the styles of Augusta and Pine Valley, where Fazio has already created a replica short course. The Pine Barrens course utilizes sandy soil and numerous pine trees to capture the essence of Pine Valley's namesake New Jersey setting, while Rolling Oaks features bridges, flowers and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss to emulate Augusta. The elaborate complex also has a nine-hole short course, three full-size practice holes, and a wide variety of driving ranges and putting greens, albeit no lodging.
A frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado, Larry Olmsted is a freelance writer living in Vermont.