Simple Can Be Better

The simple sign that marks the entrance to the Dormie Club
The simple sign that marks the entrance to the Dormie Club

It amazes me that golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw continue to get things right with their designs yet few others seem to follow their lead.

The pair take a simple approach to the game, crafting courses that are easy to maintain, are far from convoluted, are approachable by golfers of all talents, yet leave you in awe by the time you walk off the final green.

This will be short post tonight, most of the day’s energy was expended tackling the Dormie Club, Coore and Crenshaw’s 2010 design in the Sandhills of North Carolina.  It demanded the best from all our foursome but even with a smattering of defeats among the highlights you wouldn’t hear a bad word from any of us about the course we played.  Dormie Club is simple, and it is simply that good.

Few golf courses can stand on their own as much as this one. It is a walking club where caddies are encouraged, cart paths are absent, and golf is the real focus.  Don’t expect unnecessary trappings of an overblown resort. You’ll not find it here.  Even the halfway house had an honour box to pay for your fare. It’s a golf experience more than it is another round played.

Tucked into 309 acres on a property that spans more than 1000 acres and has elevation changes of up to 102 feet, Dormie Club possesses a collection of eighteen holes of such variety and quality that it is impossible to choose one as the definitive best.  One hole after another, it delivers a memorable design that asks much of you but allows you options for how you can achieve every shot.  At times there were ten different clubs I could have played to execute an approach shot.  Putt it, roll it, pitch it, hit it high, hit it low – the manner of attack is up to you.  While in no way resembling a Scottish golf course, it manages to retain the shot values you will find on links courses at the original home of golf and brings it to to the Home of American Golf.

Bunkers to the left of the final green at the Dormie Club.

In just 6,988 yards, the par 71 course has holes that play anywhere from 118 to 659 yards.  It actually has two 506-yard holes on the back nine that play to a different par.  One is a four par while the other is a five par.  Driveable par fours?  Two were available.  A 243 yard reverse Redan par three?  Check it off the list.

Uphill, downhill, sidehill, wide alleys of play – Dormie Club had it all.  Fortunately we had the assistance of a great forecaddie with 25 years of experience on the PGA and Champions Tours.  We leaned on him…hard.

A private club, Dormie is currently offering unaccompanied golf access and I strongly suggest that if you have any appreciation for golf architecture that you put it on your bucket list before the opportunity to play it disappears.

I know I’ll be making my best effort to get back here for a round again very soon.  The nuances were so great that I can’t imagine you would every be bored playing it.  That is hard to say for many layouts but in one brilliant package Coore and Crenshaw have added yet another reason to play golf in this heavenly slice of the American landscape.

Tomorrow’s Plan for Road Trip 2011 – North and South Courses at Forest Creek Golf Club, Pinehurst, N.C.