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Play Away: New Course Review

CALIFORNIA
Grizzly Ranch Club, Portola (private). Opening: mid-July.
One glance at the ponderosa pines lining the fairways and at Beckwourth Peak and Crocker Ridge looming overhead, and this Bob Cupp design could easily be mistaken for a mountain course. Actually, the grade is rather gradual, and with few forced carries and ample driving lanes the layout is highly playable. Cupp also managed to tuck most of the cart paths out of sight or blend them into the unspoiled surroundings.
Architect: Bob Cupp. Yardage: 7,470. Par: 72. Initiation Fee: $50,000. Guest Fee: $90. Membership Inquiries: 866-901-1010, grizzlyranch.com.

LOUISIANA
Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L'Auberge, Lake Charles (resort). Opening: May 26.
Tom Fazio's Louisiana public-golf debut anchors the new 700-room L'Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino near the Texas border. In his latest feat, Fazio has transformed a low-lying dredge-spoil deposit into a dramatic marshland jewel. He's placed a premium on accurate approach shots: The greens are well guarded and many of the surfaces significantly sloped.
Architect: Tom Fazio. Yardage: 7,089. Par: 71. Greens Fees: TBD. Tee Times: 337-475-2900, ldlcasino.com.

MICHIGAN
Sundance Golf Course, Elk Rapids (resort). Opening: June 17.
Unlike the Torch, its sister course at the A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort, Sundance combines the elevation changes of a classic northern-Michigan layout with linkslike openness. Only two water hazards come into play, so architect Jerry Matthews relied on heavy bunkering, strategic fescue and large, multitiered greens to keep players honest.
Architect: Jerry Matthews. Yardage: 7,003. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $45–$79. Tee Times: 800-678-0122, a-ga-ming.com.

MINNESOTA
The Jewel Golf Club, Lake City (semi-private). Opening: May 21 to members; July 2 to public.
Designed and co-owned by Hale Irwin, this former tree nursery spreads through the interior of a real estate development just a mile from the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin, the birthplace of waterskiing. The course is routed along the river bluffs, providing picturesque, varied terrain: Certain holes are open, some are tree-lined, and others are set at the foot of mountain plateaus.
Architect: Hale Irwin. Yardage: 7,050. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $40–$60. Tee Times: 800-738-7714, jewelgolfclub.com.

NEW YORK
The Belfrey International, Henrietta (public). Opening: June 30.
In this part of upstate New York, near Rochester, the name Dave Thomas means Wendy's. But in Europe it's associated with the architect who codesigned The Belfry of Ryder Cup fame. This is his first course in the States, and its main likeness to its forebear (other than its alternately spelled name) is Thomas's trademark flat-bottom bunkers. The distinct nines are bisected by the New York State Thruway and connected via an abandoned railroad tunnel.
Architect: Dave Thomas. Yardage: 7,052. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $45–$55. Tee Times: 585-334-4540, belfreygolf.org.

WISCONSIN
Bergamont Golf Club, Oregon (public). Opening: June 18.
While most courses near Madison are either flat or have man-made topography, Bergamont boasts the real thing—namely, fifty-foot drops from tee to fairway. The course was designed by Wisconsin resident and two-time U.S. Open champ Andy North. Its strong stretch of finishing holes comes to a rousing conclusion: an uphill 410-yard par four that features a cascading creek and a peninsula green.
Architect: Andy North. Yardage: 7,100. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $50–$70. Tee Times: 608-835-6900, thebergamont.com.

WYOMING
Three Crowns Golf Club, Casper (public). Opening: June 1.
If not for the club's name and logo—a nod to old Amoco signs—one would never know this course sits atop land previously occupied by one of the largest oil refineries in the world. The former Amoco plant was shuttered in 1991, and current owner British Petroleum built and donated the course to the city of Casper as part of a cleanup plan. The wide, treeless fairways allow players to pound the ball off the tee, but the plentiful water and perpetual wind require precision in your approach shots.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. Yardage: 7,065. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $53–$63. Tee Times: 307-472-7696, threecrownsgolfclub.com.

International
CANADA
Grand Niagara Club, Niagara Falls (public). Opening: June 15.
Situated just a few miles from the thundering falls, this gently sloping Rees Jones design integrates a mix of tree-lined and open holes. The latter are fortified with bold, sweeping bunkers and elevated greens, such as the "birthday cake" twelfth, as the architect describes it. Accuracy off the tee is rewarded throughout, yielding the best angles into the diagonally placed greens.
Architect: Rees Jones. Yardage: 7,520. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $115–$135. Tee Times: 905-384-4653, grandniagararesort.com.

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