THE BULL AT PINEHURST FARMS, SHEBOYGAN FALLS, WIS.
An hour's drive north of Milwaukee, near Kohler's American Club resort, this new Jack Nicklaus — designed gem is built on lush land that served as a dairy and Holstein breeding farm for more than 90 years. Nicklaus fashioned the 400 acres of land peppered with oaks, maples, meadows, wetlands, and ponds into one of Wisconsin's best courses. “The Bull,” as it is referred to locally, was rated one of the “Top 10 You Can Play” in 2003 by Golf Magazine. The course meanders along the Onion River and around a 40-foot ravine. Each of the 18 holes is named after a Holstein bull bred by Pinehurst Farms.
From the championship tees, The Bull measures 7,332 yards and has a slope rating of 149; however, high-handicappers are welcome as well, with five tee placements on each hole. Regardless of what tees are played, there is a “Wow” factor on every hole.
Off the course, the 12,000-square-foot clubhouse features dozens of photographs of Nicklaus and amenities such as a full-service restaurant and private dining and meeting rooms.
(920) 467-1500; www.golfthebull.com
MOORPARK COUNTRY CLUB, MOORPARK, CALIF.
Laid out in the coastal foothills north of Los Angeles, Moorpark Country Club is nestled high in the heart of Ventura County's equestrian, citrus, and avocado regions. With huge elevation changes and ridges that fall into deep canyons and washes, Moorpark, rated one of the “Top 10 You Can Play” in 2003 by Golf Magazine, is a wild and exciting test of skill.
Designed by Houston-based Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design — the architectural partnership of PGA Tour veteran Peter Jacobsen and golf instructor Jim Hardy — this 18-hole championship layout offers phenomenal panoramas from the ridgelines with the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands in the background. For go-for-broke fun, the 314-yard, par 4, 14th hole is a driveable hole that reportedly has already given up more than a half dozen holes-in-one. A third nine holes are scheduled to open at Moorpark this summer.
For corporate outings, the 28,000-square-foot clubhouse has a private dining area, meeting rooms, and a large banquet facility suitable for 300 people.
(805) 532-2834; www.moorparkcountryclub.com
GREG NORMAN COURSE AT RED SKY GOLF CLUB, VAIL, COLO.
This otherwise private club allows public play through the new Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, and a few other select hotels in the Vail area. Opened last summer and rated “Best New Course 2002 — 2003” by The Golf Insider newsletter, the Greg Norman Course at Red Sky Golf Club is a flashy design with sweeping views of the Rockies.
Norman believes in a least-disturbance approach while maximizing the inherent beauty of the natural surroundings. One glance at Red Sky and there is little doubt that he took a stunning piece of land and enhanced it with a golf course.
Set in a deep, bowl-like valley, the course never lets a golfer take a mental break, with holes featuring red-rock outcroppings, deep gulches, a fast-flowing river, and wildflower meadows framing fairways. There are numerous downhill tee shots, several elevated greens, and classical, elaborate bunkering throughout. The greens are well-bunkered, some are domed, and a few are two or three tiers. While Norman places a premium on shot-making on the course, he provides generous landing areas, and there is minimal rough.
(800) 576-5582; www.ritzcarlton.com
RITZ-CARLTON GOLF CLUB AT GRANDE LAKES ORLANDO, ORLANDO, FLA.
A 10-minute drive from the Orange County Convention Center, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is at the 500-acre Grande Lakes Orlando, a sprawling complex that includes a 584-room Ritz-Carlton and 1,000-room JW Marriott. The 7,127-yard, Greg Norman — designed course is the antithesis of a stereotypical short and tight resort layout. This course features open landing areas, multiple tee placements, and fast and firm conditions maintained to PGA Tour-type standards.
Set at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, several holes are routed through pristine areas where preserved wetlands and natural woodlands dotted with pine, palmetto, and live oak trees dominate the experience. The course has a wide-open feel because it borders a federally protected preserve area.
While the course can certainly stand on its own merit, what makes the golf experience exceptional at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is its innovative Golf Caddie-Concierge Program. An attendant, wearing a white jumpsuit caddie uniform reminiscent of those worn for the Masters
(407) 393-4900; www.grandelakes.com
SOUTHWOOD GOLF CLUB, TALLAHASSEE, FLA.
PGA Tour golfer Fred “Boom Boom” Couples is known for his affable, easygoing manner in golf tournaments. At his new SouthWood Golf Club (co-designed with Gene Bates), rated one of the “Best New Upscale Public Courses” in 2003 by Golf Digest, Couples the golf architect is just as likeable. Set on rolling hills framed by large stands of moss draped oaks, SouthWood is Old South beautiful complemented by adroitly designed golf holes. The holes are routed around a wetland area, through thickets of pine and oak and stretches of open meadow.
A daily-fee course serving as the centerpiece amenity in a 3,200-acre residential development, the layout was not designed as a pushover for residents. Couples and Bates placed cross bunkers on four holes and utilize large oaks as hazards on three others. At the 14th and 15th holes, back-to-back par-4s, massive, ancient oaks stand directly in the line of fire off the tee, forcing the player to choose a side.
(850) 942-4653; www.southwoodflorida.com
Other New Must-Plays
- BLACK MESA GOLF CLUB, La Mesilla, N.M.
- FOREST DUNES GOLF CLUB, Roscommon, Mich.
- FOUR SEASONS GOLF CLUB, Great Exuma, Bahamas
- FOSSIL TRACE GOLF CLUB, Golden, Colo.
- GREEN MONKEY, Barbados
- PALMER COURSE AT STONEWALL RESORT, Roanoke, W.Va.
- RIVER MARSH GOLF CLUB, Cambridge, Md.
- ROCK BARN GOLF RESORT & SPA, Conover, N.C.