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Our tour of the Golden Tee 2016 courses has reached its final destination just in time. We are all out of beer, out of gas and out of jobs. It’s been one hell of a run.
On Monday, updates will leave the IT warehouse in mass. But before they begin exiting the building, we have to talk about Winding Pines—a place where traditional golf embarks on a brave new journey.
Ah, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. You know this destination well. It’s where golfers flock to in mass throughout the year to spend large sums of money to do what they love: drink, smoke cigars and pour everything into 18 holes. Then the next day, they do the whole thing over again.
Winding Pines embraces this ritual and brings it to the Golden Tee world. There are no volcanoes, no sandy beaches, no mountains in the backdrop or huge elevation drops. This is more classic, country club-livin’ golf. And yet, it feels different. It has a ton of character despite offering up familiar elements.
Traditional Golf... With an Edge
There’s a point in your round on Winding Pines that you will have to make a decision: Do you attempt to reach the par-5 in two by bouncing your ball off cement that is surrounded by water or do you play it safe?
There are other moments like these, too. Greens tucked in front of wooden walls—seen above—in a way that will completely alter shot attempts. Other holes are designed with just enough unique tweaks to alter strategy entirely.
Somehow, in a way that is hard to put into words, Winding Pines has managed to take a pile of traditional elements—water, trees, palm trees, pine straw and sand—and package them together in a way that feels new.
It’s not just the elements. It’s a way these surfaces are packaged together in unique hole designs that offer both decisions and demands. No other course in 2016 seems to throw the whole “risk vs. reward” concept right in your face more than this one.
The roads are defined but there are many of them. And what you find yourself asking throughout is, above all, should I even try taking it?
Hello again, Design-a-Hole
Consider this your introduction to Countryside Lake—the par-5 straight from the mind of Eric Manfredi.
In Golden tee 2016, its Hole 11 on Winding Pines.
This year’s DAH winning creation is perhaps the most fascinating design to be inserted into the game yet. Manfredi, quite simply, did a superb job putting this design together, and the Golden Tee development team did a superb job bringing it to life.
The end result is a par-5 with two distinct options for eagle, neither one even close to a guarantee. There are two different landing areas that can be accessed, although each comes with a fair amount of risk. The “lake” in the holes name plays a significant role in deciding how you play this design.
Having played this creation a dozen times, I can confirm that, at this point, I have not found a very comfortable shot just yet. I mean this as a compliment. The tee shot here is enormous—not just for your eagle but also the round overall. I don’t want to overstate the importance of a tricky shot, but I don’t want to ignore it, either.
It’s a birdie you should be able to get with relative ease and an eagle you will absolutely have to work for. That’s a sign of a good hole, and this is a very good hole. Well done by all.
Quite simply, this is one of the best closing holes Jim Zielinski has ever designed—an obstacle defined by the smallest of items, which loom far larger.
The closing hole of a course, in many ways, defines what it is and what we think of it. It’s always there—hovering overhead as we power past other challenges. And when you get to this final stop—even when you know what precisely stands in your way—there’s always a unique assessment of the challenge in front of you because of the timing.
Winding’s closing hole isn’t all that elaborate. In fact, upon first glance, it looks straightforward and somewhat easy.
But when you go to line up this shot, assessing the trees in your way in various places, the small windows to hit through, the water behind and the shape of a difficult green, it dawns on you that this is much more than just another hole.
A simple design that will prompt beautiful creativity. I have hit everything here from a driver to a bombed 2-iron with everything in between.