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The Best New Courses of 2006

Courtesy of Pinnacle Point Pinnacle Point golf course.

Photo: Courtesy of Pinnacle Point

Meadows of Dan, Virginia (resort)
It’s quite a trek to the Highland course, virtually hidden as it is in a wilderness heretofore the domain of loggers and hunters. The last four miles are along a winding dirt road that climbs to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, seventy-five miles southeast of Roanoke. But if the quality of the layout is any indication, that road will soon be paved—and busy. Fairways hug ridgetops while greens teeter on the edge of a gorge. The putting surfaces have lots of movement without feeling tricked up. Though it will one day be surrounded by a lodge and luxury homes, this will never be a track for retired duffers. The playing corridors are tight, and there are many demanding carries over ravines.
ARCHITECT: Donald Steel. YARDAGE: 7,034. PAR: 72. GREENS FEE: $175. TEE TIMES: 276-251-8012, primland.com.

Mossel Bay, South Africa (resort)
Perched atop staggering cliffs, this windswept course three hours east of Cape Town and a half hour south of George marks a major addition to the already world-class golf scene in South Africa. Seven holes play across chasms to greens that seem to be floating in the Indian Ocean. The yawning ravines and distant horizons make 150-yard shots look twice that length. On the par-four eighth, tee and green sit on opposing bluffs; big hitters can attempt an all-or-nothing carry in the hope of driving the green, or else bail out to the left and face a much longer approach. Smartly, the architects designed large, fairly flat greens that yield plenty of sensible pin placements and give golfers—who have run a gauntlet just to get to the green—a bit of a break.
ARCHITECTS: Peter Matkovich and Darren Clarke. YARDAGE: 7,070. PAR: 72. GREENS FEE: $70. TEE TIMES: pinnaclepoint.co.za.

Thornbury, Ontario (public)
When a PGA Tour pro not known for design is hired to help create a golf course, his name is often invoked for the purposes of marketing. That isn’t the case at the Raven at Lora Bay, two hours north of Toronto, where Canadian Thomas McBroom collaborated with Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman to design a throwback to golf architecture’s golden age. McBroom drew up the routing, but Lehman, despite an obviously busy schedule, made numerous visits and offered his take on strategy, including the placement of gnarly fescue-fringed bunkers. The best holes, such as the 441-yard downhill dogleg-left ninth, offer intriguing options and breathtaking vistas of Georgian Bay.
ARCHITECTS: Thomas McBroom and Tom Lehman. YARDAGE: 7,112. PAR: 72. GREENS FEES: $99-$150. TEE TIMES: 519-599-7500, ravengolf.com.

Fort McDowell, Arizona (public)
Situated on a rolling tract of tribal land north of Scottsdale, the Saguaro course shares the same handsome mountain views as those seen from its elder sibling, the Cholla course, at We-Ko-Pa. It also offers a similar aesthetic, with fairways framed by desert flora and nary a home or road in sight. But unlike the Cholla’s target-golf approach, the Saguaro is a pure lay-of-the-land design. Fairway edges melt into the native landscape, and firm, natural contours—a slope here, a knob there—encourage the ground game. With tees and greens often mere steps apart, the course is designed to be walked, a rarity in these parts. Variety, too, is part of the fun: Four par fours stretch more than 465 yards and four are shorter than 340.
ARCHITECTS: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. YARDAGE: 6,912. PAR: 71. GREENS FEES: $70-$195. TEE TIMES: 480-836-9000, wekopa.com.


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