Monday, June 25, 2012

John's Island Club West Course Review

John's Island Club - West Course 
Vero Beach, Florida, United States

Architect: Tom Fazio (1988)

6,822 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 73.2/138

My Quick Review: My favourite course in Florida.  Extremely underrated, rarely talked about and very worthy of discussion.




Entrance - You don't find this by accident.

Holes to Note

Hole 3: Par 4, 402 Yards

An extremely difficult hole and the most interesting of the trio of opening par-4s.  Something about this hole, especially the green site, shaping and bunkering screamed Dye to me - I don't know why - anyone else see this??

The fairway bunkering is deceptive as the bunkers left and right appear as though they are at the same distance, but they are staggered by some 30 yards.  The ideal line into the green is protected by the left bunkers, but the fairway slopes significantly to the left so anything challenging it too closely will kick into the left rough.

Short of the bunkers, the fairway cut extends farther left than is obvious from the tee.

An ideal drive still leaves a very and intimidating difficult approach.  The green is protected by a huge drop-off left and one of the deepest bunkers on the course.  The front of the green has a massive false-front that will send the ball 30 yards down the fairway if found.  The right is a combination of mounds and swales, but if one has to miss somewhere, right is probably it.



Green from right

Green from behind - note 'Sunday pin position back-right'

Green from front - note false-front.. awfully demanding given this is going to by a long-iron+ approach for most.

Hole 4: Par 4, 535 Yards

A very strong par-5, that is largely about the green site.  There is a lot of visual distraction on the 4th tee -- water well left, bunkering left, bunkering right, top-shot bunkering, a rolling fairway -- all of this distracts from what is a very easy, wide-open tee shot.

Tee shots up the right leave the more difficult second for those laying-up [and the preferred angle for those trying to reach the green in two].  If laying up, the golfer must choose to either play left, or try to carry a set of trees 100 yards short of the green.  Lots of room to miss right as long as the distance is there.

Laying up from the left is a much easier task.

The approach to green is very uphill, played over some extremely undulating terrain.  There is no running the ball onto this green and shots that are played too near the green will leave an awkward lie from the fairway cut.

Approaching from the left is intimidating, played over extremely deep bunkering.

A rather flat green, that is much larger than appears from the fairway

From behind.

Bunkering left of the green.  Note size of flag to get a sense of scale/depth of bunker.

Hole 6: Par 5, 525 Yards

The 2nd in a series of 4 very strong par-5s.  The fairway at the 6th is shaped like an hour-glass, widening and narrowing, requiring the golfer to choose the length of his shot carefully.

Tee shots between 220-270 yards in length will play to the wide point of the fairway and the tee shot is fairly simple.  The ideal line is up the left side of the fairway -- a difficult spot to get to given the contour of the land and the OB.  Longer hitters must either throttle back or be very precise.

A look at the way the fairway narrows and widens.

On the second shot, the golfer has the option of laying up to the trees, or playing left of them to a blind lower fairway.

Laying up to the trees leave an approach that is played from a level lie at equal elevation to the green, but one must be careful not to hit the trees with the approach.

The view of the lower fairway as the golfer crests the hill.

The approach from the lower fairway.

Significant fall-offs and deep bunkering guard both sides of the green.  A very nice look to these bunkers, benched into the side of the hill.

Hole 8: Par 4, 336 Yards

I didn't get a great look at the 8th as the group in front of me invited me to play through, but it looks like a very interesting hole.  Lots of room left, but the unknown beckons to the right, tempting the golfer to cut the corner.

The green, tucked into a punchbowl, is very interestingly shaped with two arms extending to the left.

Hole 10: Par 4, 402 Yards

The following trio of par-4s is the best and most varied stretch of golf on the course.  Starting on the 10th, I was blown away by the interest of this hole.  A centreline bunker splits this 70 yard wide fairway.  Laying back short of the centreline is an option, leaving 160 yards into the green.  The entire fairway slopes toward the left side of the fairway, but from there the approach is more difficult.  The approach from the right gives the golfer a better view of the green as well as the better angle.

Tee View:

Short of Centreline:

Left of Centreline:

Right of centreline:

Golfers that are able to carry the centreline bunker must deal with an extremely narrowed fairway, but if the golfer finds the fairway, a large downslope will leave only a pitch into the green.

This intimidating bunker/scrub area left of the fairway reminds me somewhat of the bunker left of Sand Hills #11.

Green Front-Right

Green Front-Left

Green Back-Left

Green Behind

Closer look at Fairway Movement

10th as seen from 11 tee:

Hole 11: Par 4, 296 Yards

Very short par-4 that plays well under 300 yards on a straight line to the green.  The tee shot tempts the golfer to try to carry the massive waste bunker on the left, but for those unable to reach the green the ideal play is to the right, where the fairway is widest and from where the golfer has the best approach angle into the green.

Back Tee View:

Middle Tee View: Interestingly, while the angle from here to drive the green is easier, the lay-up tee shot is more difficult.

A look back to the tee from the fairway:

Approach from left:

Approach from right:

A surprisingly flat green for a short par-4:

A deep bunker and fall-off over the green cannot be seen from the fairway.  Recovering from over the green to this back-to-front sloping green is nearly impossible.

A couple of looks from behind:

Hole 12: Par 4, 406 Yards

The most difficult hole on the back-nine.  Another hole that tempts the golfer to challenge the inside of the dogleg, but for most the ideal play is down the left side of the fairway.

Approaching from the right leaves a shorter approach, but a difficult angle, especially to back pins.

A very difficult fortress-like green, sloping severely back-to-front with a large tier in the middle and guarded on three sides by deep bunkers/slopes.

Hole 15: Par 4, 276 Yards

The 15th is short par-4, playing well under 300 yards.  An imposing waste area and very deep bunker guard the left.  A single tree guards the right side of the green.  Players who choose to lay-up need not worry about the tree as it is nearly green high.

Tee View:

Tee shots that are laid-up are left with an approach that is played uphill to a green surface that is completely blind from the fairway.  The bunker on the left looks scary from here as well!

Tee shots that are too far to the right must deal with this one very well-placed tree.  Run it up, hit it over, or through -- tough choice.

A steep bank short of the green means shots must be flown onto the green.

A fairway cut chipping area to the right of the green leaves a very difficult recovery.

The deep greenside bunker:

The green has a massive tier separating the front and back portions.  The picture flattens the ridge, but it is several feet high.  I found out the hard way that landing a wedge into the slope will have it spin off the front of the green, down the bank and several yards into the fairway (a la Kyle Stanley minus the water).

Green from behind:

The green also expands at the back over the deep bunkering.  I am very glad I didn't have a back-left pin.

Hole 17: Par 5, 472 Yards

One of the most unique holes I have EVER seen!  The bunkering begs the golfer to cut the corner.  It is 230 yards over the longest bunker.  Golfers required to play left will leave a long second shot and a no choice but to lay-up.

The second shot is AWESOME!  Choose your route -- the direct line to the green up the right, or the roundabout route to the left, around the large dune/sand/tree formation in the centre.  The view from 250 yards out in the centre of the fairway:

After an ideal tee shot, the golfer is left with a view that looks like this from 220 yards out.  Though the hole plays straight uphill and the approach requires an all-carry shot, it is difficult not to take-on this shot through the chute.

Golfers laying-up can choose to lay-up to the right and then play the shot over the waste area.  The lay-up area slopes sharply to the right helping poorly struck shots to run forward and toward the opening.

An ideal tee shot up the right will leave this view, from 125 yards short of the green.

Lay-ups played toward the dune island leave an impossible and blind approach:

A look at the landing area for golfers choosing to lay-up to the left:

And the view of the approach from this angle:

The green is similar in contour (though not as severe) and shape to Kingsley's 9th.  Low points in the back-left and front-right provide for pins that are ideally approached from different angles (just like the separate tees at Kingsley).

Green from Left:

Green from Right:

A look back to the left fairway:

And back to the right fairway:

A closer look at the dune island:

Oh, and a hidden back bunker will catch shots hit long:

One last look from behind:

Hole 18: Par 4, 381 Yards

Much more room right than appears from this tee view.  Longer hitters may choose to challenge/carry the bunkers up the left.

From the start of the fairway the width is more easily seen:

A rather intimidating approach to a green in a very pretty setting.  Only place to miss is short.  Right is (obviously) not good.

From just short of the green one gets a good look at the unique sand ridge running along the left side of the green.

And a few looks from behind this severely angled green:

1 comment:

  1. I love this golf course. I was lucky enough to work as a greenkeeper on the West course in 1990/91. It was a treat to maintain and play on. I look forward to the day I can take my children to see where dad worked on his 'American adventure'. America was a great place to visit, Vero Beach was a great town to live in. God Bless America. Bob Bryant Aberdeen, Scotland