Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Concession Golf Club, Bradenton, Florida - Course Review

The Concession Golf Club 
Bradenton, Florida, United States

Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2004)

7,474 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 77.6/155

My Quick Review: Clearly one of Florida's best with a fun mix of short par-4s, wild greens and daunting golf shots.

Entering its seventh season, The Concession GC has already received its fair share of accolades, being named the Best New Course of 2006 and the #4 best course in Florida by Golf Digest, and the #60 Modern golf course in the United States by Golfweek.

The golf course is routed over 500+ acres of land just outside of Bradenton, Florida. There are no homes on the golf course and near every hole has a secluded feeling, but the routing is tight and easily walkable.

The practice area is exceptional, among the best I've seen, offering Pro-V1s though out and with a massive short game area / putting green that allows for any kind of short shot one can imagine.

The Concession has a reputation for (1) being extremely difficult, and (2) having wild greens. Despite the golf course's 155 slope from the 7,500 yard back tees, I do not believe the course to be overly difficult, and certainly not unfair. Over the past several years, the Club has worked to remove palmettos and brush from woods to make errant shots more playable. The greens are certainly wild, with severe internal contouring that demands precision on the approach or the golfer may face a near-impossible recovery.

Photos will be from the 6,440 yard blue tees (72.7/146).

The aforementioned driving range:

The tee shot at the 1st is one of the least forgiving on the golf course with staggered bunkers left and right waiting to catch an even slightly errant tee shot.

Playing over the left fairway bunker leaves a slightly better angled to the 1st of many highly contoured greens.

Another difficult par-4 at the second, a hole that sweeps right and is characterized by a long, narrow and rolling green.

The third is a shortish par-5, reachable in two after a good drive. If the hole is playing into the wind, or if one's tee shot is mis-struck, a cleverly placed and very large centreline bunker awaits in the lay-up area.

The 4th is a long par-3 that can stretch to near 250 yards. Bailing out right is an option, but recovery from there is no simple feat as the green tilts from front-right to back-left.

The 5th is a very long par-4 from the back set but is much more manageable from the blue tees. Golfers must decide whether to play to the width of the fairway short of the bunkers or to play a bold shot into the neck of fairway beyond the bunkers. Either way a forced-carry approach over water will be required.

A definite low-country feel to the short par-3 6th, this hole could have been plucked from South Carolina.

An around the bend, massive par-5 at the 7th that played into the wind the day I played it. Decisions must be made on every shot as diagonal forced carries on the first two shots must be challenged to leave as short a shot as possible into a small green designed to repel approaches.

The 8th is something of an awkward short par-4 that demands a tee shot of between 205-230 yards as anything short of that is blocked-out by trees and anything longer will find a creek. The approach is as difficult a wedge shot as I've ever seen, played to a small green that tilts notably toward the water before giving way to a shaved edge.

The 9th is a stout par-4 to finish the front-nine and this raised green provides little room for error.

By contrast, the at-grade 10th green is much larger than it appears from the fairway, but the front-to-back tilt will have many golfers playing their third shots from the back of the green.

The 11th is a 190 yard par-3 that fits the Nicklaus 'high-fade' template well.

A very cool short par-4 at the 12th. At only 240 yards to the front-edge, some golfers (like me) may be tempted to take on the green with driver rather than play short of the centreline bunkers.

The 13th is a difficult par-5 from tee to green. Despite ample fairway width, water left and bunkers right demand a straight tee shot. The approach is played over a very deep series of bunkers to an undulating green. A hidden drop-off left of the green must be cause for an X for most who find it!

The 14th is comfortably the most difficult par-3 on the golf course, a hole that can stretch to over 220 yards and is played to a raised and undulating green.

A solid, strategic hole at the 15th, with a diagonal tee shot over water that if challenged leaves a much simpler approach to an angled green. If playing into the wind, the carry from the back two sets is formidable.

Another difficult hole if playing into the wind, this par-4 required a solid driver-3w for me to reach (and I made birdie!). Downwind one must decide what line to take-on as the fairway bunkers become reachable. For those bombers out there, I was told JB Holmes hit it into a greenside bunker -- a carry of 340+ yards!

Options galore again at the par-5 17th where those golfers not able to reach the green in two must give real consideration to pin position to determine where to lay-up.

The final par-4 is a beast with hidden bunkering along the right ready to catch golfers trying to shorten the hole by a few yards.

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