Donald Ross’s Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach, Florida, is universally recognized as one of the great architect’s true masterpieces, and is a fixture in every list of the world’s top courses. I first visited Seminole about two years ago and spent upwards of five hours walking and studying what is widely considered to be a perennial fit within the top 15 courses in the US. So when I returned again in May to actually play it for the first time, I was anxious to see how valid my initial impressions were.
I’m fresh off one of the greatest golf tours in my life… the Heath & Links Tour of England. For those who tracked my daily journal entries, hopefully you gained some sense of what we were exposed to over those ten days. And for those who did not – or simply want to gain a general perspective of the experience, this final journal entry will hopefully inspire.
I’ll be the first to say, ten days is a long trip. I’m weary and anxious to return home. But this has been an absolutely magnificent journey - a once in a lifetime type of experience for me. Ten courses in as many days… and they’re starting to all run together a bit! Today, our final day… we visited St. George’s Hill - yet another effort led by Harry Colt.
This tour was all about "Heath & Links” and I’ll say we certainly followed through accordingly! Yesterday we saw two more links (Royal North Devon and Burnham and Berrow), but we’re now back again in the heathlands of Surrey for the final stretch. This morning we visited Woking Golf Club, designed by Tom Dunn (1893).
It’s Sunday… a proper day to rest from golf after six straight rounds in as many days. Well… I mean from playing golf, that is. Today was meant as a relaxing day, but also a time to roam about the Southwest of England and see a few courses that we otherwise lacked time (and energy) to play.
Away again from London… and a brief respite from heathland golf. Now off to Cornwall and the seaside town of Rock on the southwest coast, via Stonehenge early this morning. Destination: St. Enodoc Golf Club. This one is not on everyone’s radar, but it certainly should be…it’s a legitimate Top 100 Course and here’s why.
The end of one tour marks the beginning of another. Today, I paired up with fellow architect Richard Mandell and we set off on our own “extended tour” of golf courses in England… beginning at none other than Walton Heath, a return to the heathland courses near London.
Many feel like golf courses are many times defined by their greens. Whether that is completely or singularly valid or not, this is not for me to decide. But in the case of today's course, Royal Cinque Ports (Deal), the greens and their integrated surrounds certainly played a huge part in the dynamic identity of the course.
You know how sometimes you just go along for the ride with something, having mixed expectations…sort of lacking that total emotional anticipation of something great? Today was very much like that for me… maybe because there was such bemoaning about the horrid weather that was forecasted…
Today, The Berkshire. Hebert Fowler crafted two courses here...the Red and the Blue. We enjoyed the Red Course, which gains it's reputation not only as a fine heathland test, but also because of the arrangement of holes.