We are out of food, out of money and nearly out of golf balls. We also watched the entire True Detective first season twice on the plane ride over here.
But we’ve made it to the final stop on the Golden Tee 2015 world tour, and more specifically, Sirinat, Thailand.
That’s where we are, and goodness is The Pearl Lagoon beautiful.
The baby blue water makes for a lovely Golden Tee postcard. And yet, there’s a rugged, “don’t-mess-with-me” intimidation that comes with this stop, and specifically, the jungle-like qualities that you can find if you aren’t careful.
But man, it’s really fun to look at. Did we mention that already?
All of this will make sense when you play the game in a matter of days, but to tide you over, here are some observations on The Pearl Lagoon.
The Amazing, Spectacular, Gorgeous, No Good, Very Bad Water
We begin with the breathtaking hazard, which come in all different shades of blue. This is the most fantastic looking water the game has ever made, and I hope you soak it in without actually soaking in it—please leave tips on that way out.
Yes, the water is fun to gaze at; but it is also hazardous to your scorecard. Not only does the ocean surround the course, but smaller bodies of water—rivers, ponds, etc.—are placed in such a way that they will be difficult to miss. It’s not just the amount of water; it’s how strategically placed it can be.
Take the 18th hole, for example. (Also, look at this pin placement.)
If there’s a difficult shot to hit into a green on a drivable par-4 or par-5, chances are it will come equipped with a gorgeous hazard nearby in case you happen to miss. That’s not say you will, although you’re destined to hit into this gorgeous abyss every now and then.
At least when you do, your splash will look brighter and better than ever before.
Elevation, You Have It… Kinda
You won’t be teeing off from mountain tops, although the elevation on The Pearl Lagoon will unquestionably factor your game in intriguing ways.
In most cases, you’ll be hitting down instead of up. Hole 2, for example, is a drivable par-4 with a massive drop to the green. It isn’t the most challenging design, although the change will force you to consider variables such as your club and what spin you decide to equip.
Meanwhile, deep in the back nine, you will—on occasion—be dealt a fantastic bit of elevation change on the final par-3. The reason I say “on occasion” is because tee boxes on this hole will vary mightily. Sometimes you’ll have a short iron from a closer look; sometimes you’ll have a driver from above.
When you are tucked further away, you’ll be treated to the best view on the course.
Make no mistake about this disclaimer; this isn’t Black Hills. However, the changes in elevation are significant enough that you will have to adjust your game accordingly. With time and rounds, you should have no issues doing so.
So I’m playing favorites, but I don’t care. The Pearl Lagoon is my favorite of the 2015 courses—at least for now, with limited round completed—and it’s because of the magnificent buffet of drivable par-4s.
Across the update, these types of designs are absolutely fantastic. But on TPL—how the cool kids abbreviate The Pearl Lagoon—the reachable par-4s will test your game in fantastic ways.
On multiple occasions during the 18-hole adventure, you will be left with a decision as you reach a drivable par-4: Do you go left or right? Do you use a high tee or not? Do you use backspin or no spin at all?
It’s not just your normal round-to-round decision making, either. It’s a noticeable change in design tactics, one that will really test the creativity in your game. I have come nowhere close to hitting the total amount of shots required on these designs, and I may not for a while. That’s what has me excited.
You can still find places to lay up if you’re not comfortable with the looks, although who are we kidding.
You won’t be doing that.
The Golden Tee 2015 tour is complete, and I really hope you enjoyed. Now it’s time for you to play the game yourself, and you’ll have your chance soon. We have made it.