Antler Creek Golf Course, Falcon, CO
For big hitters bored with the rip-it-and-chip-it predictability of the typical par four, designer Rick Phelps has your number: 461. That's the average length of a two-shotter at Antler Creek. He's also got another number: 8,100, the yardage from the tips that will make Antler the longest course in Colorado upon its scheduled September debut. But Antler's third number makes all of this possible: 7,000—the number of feet above sea level at which this mountain course resides.
Clearly, Antler Creek runs long. But for all the sizzle about its length, it boasts some serious steak. Here Phelps, who sculpted Colorado's famed Devil's Thumb Golf Club, worked with the treeless, tussocky topography to create deceptions and dares on every hole: false fronts, boomerang greens, crowned greens, reverse Redans, blowout bunkers, cross-bunkers—even a version of Pine Valley's infamous Devil's Asshole bunker.
Word to the wise: Golfers who play to higher than a legitimate five would do well to move up a set. At 7,465 yards from the men's tees, Antler won't leave you feeling like any less of a man for not playing "the whole course."
Yardage/Par: 8,100/72. Greens Fees: $28-$50. Tee Times: 719-494-1900 or visit antlercreekgolf.com.
Granite Links Golf Club at Quarry Hills, Quincy, MA
Boston's infamous $14.6 billion Big Dig replaced the city's decrepit highways with sleek tunnels. It also helped build a wonderful course. Before the Dig, these 450 acres were a morass of landfills and quarries seven miles south of the city. Quarry Hills' developers needed fill; Big Dig contractors needed a place to put 13 million tons of earth. Now, more than 900,000 truckloads later, architect John Sanford has fashioned a work of art.
Although short by today's standards, Granite Links compensates with dense bluegrass, fescue and heather rough bordering bent-grass fairways and large, bone-white bunkers that look like the footprints of prehistoric beasts fleeing the nearby metropolis. (Although Boston's skyline comes into view from many spots, a hundred acres of adjoining conservation land lend the feel of a rural track.) Boston has long needed a nearby, first-rate public course. Now it has one—on its very own soil.
Yardage/Par: 6,836/72. Greens Fees: $65-$85. Tee Times: 617-296-7600 or visit granitelinksgolfclub.com.
White Clay Creek Country Club at Delaware Park, Wilmington, DE
Water is half the fun at the White Clay Creek Country Club. Water was also nearly its undoing. Routed through a floodplain that contains—for the most part—the meandering White Clay Creek, this Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest layout has been seven years in the making. Two floods in the last three years delayed construction, but the course slated to emerge this October is, if anything, stronger for it.
As is their wont, Hills and Forrest grafted the 7,007-yard design to the natural lay of the land. Molding the terrain into a traditional parkland layout, however, required raising all the tees and greens above flood elevations. "We had to work to make the transition from the fairway into the green appear somewhat natural," says Forrest. Mission accomplished. The ensuing tee shots and approaches are dramatic and challenging, demanding smart drives and precise wedges.
Water, in the form of the aforementioned creek and four man-made lakes, is in play on sixteen holes, but skilled golfers should have little trouble avoiding those hazards. The real challenge will be holding the elevated bent-grass greens and reading their subtle breaks. There's no relief from those.
Yardage/Par: 7,007/72. Greens Fee: $110. 302-994-6700 or visit whiteclaycreekcountryclub.com.