Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wyndance Golf Club Course Review

Wyndance Golf Club 
Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Greg Norman (2007)

7,479 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 75.6/139

My Quick Review: Despite a complete lack of restraint and a poor use of the property's natural features, Wyndance is one of Ontario's 50 best.

Wyndance Golf Club is the only Norman design in Canada and opened to considerable fanfare in 2007. Since then the course has been recognized by Score Golf Magazine as the 73rd best golf course in Canada ( I think Score has Wyndance rated about right; I place it 35th in Ontario (

Much of the golf course is routed around an old gravel pit site, though only a handful of holes interact with the quarry and arguably none of them in an interesting way.

Fairway grass is everywhere at Wyndance, a major plus on a course with many flaws. Run-offs around the green, combined with the firm conditions that are the norm at Wyndance, mean that recovery shots around the green are interesting and difficult.

Norman's misuse of bunkers is predictable and uninteresting. A complete lack of restraint almost ruins what should be a very good golf course. Enjoy the photos.

The course stretches to near 7,500 yards from the Shark tees, but this photo tour will be from the 6,632 yard blue tees.

Scorecard Information and Routing from

The long par-5 1st is a perfect microcosm for the golf course, flaws and all. The 1st fairway has plenty of width, though poorly placed bunkers are entirely penal in nature and there is no such thing as a preferred line off the tee. The approach shows Norman's lack of restraint as the green is guarded on one side by water, on another by a deep nest of bunkers, and long and left by a massive and intimidating run-off.

The second hole is one that has been debated before on Golf Club Atlas, though I don't think a consensus was reached. A longer forced-carry guards the less than ideal line. A deep centreline bunker must be avoided to leave a short-iron into this plateau green protected short by deep bunkers and long/left by another huge run-off.

Approach from left

The 3rd is a decent though forgettable par-3 with a massive green and some broad internal contours

The anti-strategic features continue at the 4th as this diagonal forced-carry protects the less than ideal line.

Playing away from the forced carry leaves the preferred line into this wildly shaped and contoured triple-tiered green

The long par-4 5th is nearly a very good hole, though the anti-strategic bunkering on the right side of the fairway frustrates me. The golfer must carefully judge the carry over the waste area on the left as the approach from the left is considerably simpler.

Approaching from the right (bailed-out tee shot) requires precision to avoid this deep road hole-esque bunker and to find a green that is at an angle.

The 6th is another long par-4 and plays in the same direction as the 5th and is completely mis-uses the centreline hazard. The fairway left of the trees is so small that no golfer will purposely play there and the bunkers benched into the hill on the right are an anti-strategic, eye-candyish mess.

At the 7th Norman again misuses the quarry. Rather than uses the natural feature on the left in a meaningful way, it is entirely penal in nature.

The long par-3 8th is a very pretty golf hole and one on which missing anywhere is not an option (though those bunkers on the left may save more shots than they penalize).

The 9th is one of the best holes on the golf course. Strategic(!!) bunkering on the left must be flirted with to leave a reasonable angle of approach as a reverse-cambre fairway will kick many tee shots too far to the right.

The 9th green is angled, contoured and extremely narrow. A bunker of massive scale protects the right side of the green, making the green feel smaller than it is, and pushing golfers to the left where acres of fairway green lay (and from where the green tilts away).

The back-nine starts with the least interesting stretch of holes on the course. The 10th is a straightaway par-4 of little interest. The approach.

The 11th is an ill-conceived short par-4. In theory, the golfer has the option of 1) playing short of the centre-line bunker; 2) playing left of the centreline bunker to the strip of fairway that extends to near even with the green; 3) playing over the bunker on the right to an upper portion of fairway. Unfortunately, only option 1 is practical and the only option I've ever seen anyone take.

Most golfers will be left with this approach. A pretty cool skyline green, though a rather dull hole.

The 12th hole plays alongside the quarry and is a very intimidating par-3. This view from the Shark tees is butt-puckering.

Bailing out left is an option though the recovery from fairway cut is not simple.

Like the 9th, the 13th lacks the drama of the quarry holes but is of strategic interest.

The 14th plays into the quarry and is a reachable par-5 around a lake. Bunkering on the tee shot is RTJ-esque.

Golfers considering reaching the green in two must be committed to their shot as bailing out to the right will leave a very difficult recovery from a series of bunkers.

14th green from behind:

The 15th plays in the opposite direction to the 14th and often plays into the wind. This very long par-4 will play closer to a par-5 for many. The 15th green is one of only a handful that requires an aerial approach; a bizarre choice given the length of the hole.

The 16th is another dramatic quarry hole, requiring two forced carries over out-of-bounds. Again, the use of the quarry while thrilling is uninteresting in the long-run.

Another difficult par-3 at the 17th:

The quarry must be played over one last time at the 18th. Anti-strategic bunkering all the way down the right side of the fairway is predictable.

This massive bunker/blowout/whatever! right of the fairway is amazing and would easily dwarf the blowout left of the 4th at Sand Hills. The gentleman in the picture helps to give a sense of scale.

The 18th from behind:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dallas National Golf Club Course Review

Dallas National Golf Club 
Dallas, Texas, United States

Architect: Tom Fazio (2002)

7,372 Yards, Par 72

Rating/Slope: 75.9/145

My Quick Review: Bold design on wild terrain; one of Tom Fazio's best.


Club Info including some of the many awards the golf course has received...

Holes to Note: All Yardages and pictures from the I tees

Hole 1: Par 4, 346 Yards

I am sure some will find fault here because this is a Fazio design, but I think the 1st at DN is an exceptional opener.  While there is plenty of room to miss and playing safe should result in a fairly routine 4, there are opportunities for 3 and 5.  

The design is simple and strategic.  Play near the fairway bunkering on the fairway that tilts rightward to leave the clearest view of the green.

The approach from the right side of the fairway (about 120 out) is an intimidating one. Playing to the centre of the green is fairly simple, but challenging the pin pictured from this angle and with the ball below one's feet is a difficult task.

Shots that are pulled (bailed-out) will be repelled by some clever ground movement:

As is the case with most of the greens at DN, large and sweeping movements in the green create the interest

A look back from long-right

Hole 2: Par 5, 521 Yards

The second hole is another very good one.  Golfers playing this as a 3-shot hole will want to challenge the bunker guarding the inside of the fairway, though there is plenty of room to bail-out left.  Longer hitters must decide whether or not to challenge the bunkers through the fairway, which guard the ideal line into the green.

Playing the 2nd shot from the extreme right side of the fairway allows the golfer to take advantage of the significant width Fazio provides out to the left (from where the golfer has the simplest pitch into the green)

Failing to follow my caddie's advice, I followed the Line of Instinct and played my second shot toward the pin.  From this line the approach is a very difficult one.

Green from back-left

Hole 3: Par 3, 170 Yards

The weakest of the opening trio of holes, though nothing offensive here.  Playing subtly uphill I suspect that many golfers find themselves a little short here, making the small back portion of the green an even more difficult-to-find target

Back Tee View

Middle Tee View

Green from Left

Hole 6: Par 4, 436 Yards

A blind tee shot over a rise at the 6th, a hole that feels like several at Fazio's 'minimalist' Karsten Creek in Oklahoma.  The land first tilts right, then heaves left and near the green again cants rightward.   The shape of the land movement gives little in the of visual cues from the tee.

Playing to the inside of the dogleg one is left with this seemingly difficult angle of approach, but that bunker is 30+ yards short of the green and is a terrible example of forced perspective architecture.

Built up some but tilting with the lay of the land the 6th green is a very difficult one where bailouts left leave a very tricky, downhill recovery.

Hole 7: Par 4, 331 Yards

After only a single par-4 in the first 5 holes, the front-nine concludes with 4 in a row and the 7th is the best opportunity to make birdie.  A simple and well-conceived short par-4 that may be driveable for some.  From the tee the golfer will want to challenge the fairway bunker on the right to leave a preferred line into the green.  A not-so-gently leftward tilted fairway makes keeping the ball on the right side of the fairway a difficult task.

From every position in the fairway the majority of the green is blind, blocked-out by a large scaled green side bunker, but from the right side of the fairway the right portion of the green can be seen and the left portion more easily accessed.

An extremely difficult and undulating green with a back-left portion that tilts away from the tee and a high back-right portion that must be delicately approached as long=dead.

Hole 9: Par 4, 407 Yards

Lots of good stuff going on here.  Play near the left-side fairway bunkers for the shortest approach.  Play near the right-side fairway bunker for the preferred angle.  Above all, hit the fairway as this is one difficult to hit green if out of position!

The approach from the centre of the fairway has an obscured view of the green.

Hole 10: Par 5, 578 Yards

A pretty and downhill hole that will be considered overbunkered by some. The bunker on the left is the only bunker that impacts strategy, and which must be challenged for an ideal line, while the bunkers along the right side of the fairway contain shots that are pushed to the right.

A series of bunkers run diagonally across the fairway.  These bunkers must be carried to leave a short (under 120 yards) approach into the green.  There is much more room than there appears to the right.

Once over the bunkers the golfer is confronted with an open green front.  While the green appears tiny from the fairway, it's width and depth become apparent as the golfer reaches the green's edge.

With a left-side 'wing' and a back-portion of the green that runs away from the tee there is much more to this green than can be seen from the fairway.

Hole 13: Par 3, 141 Yards

Nowhere to miss here.  I missed down by the hazard; my playing partners were two feet off the green to the left.  Green tilts so hard from the left that both of them chipped it over the green into the rough.  They made 4 and 5.  I made 3 pitching into the slope of the green.  I'm not sure if this hole is clever or terrible.  Thoughts?

Hole 17: Par 3, 225 Yards -- I've noticed that on some of his recent work, Tom Fazio likes to design a par-3 that plays through blasted rock.  However, unlike the 7th at Gozzer Ranch (a similar hole), the 17th green at DN does not have the same very cool 'encircled in rock' feeling.