National Golf Links of America - Wow!

CB Macdonald is a genius. If golf is to be played for the purpose of enjoyment then surely the course a golfer plays should elevate the potential for that enjoyment.  The National Golf Links of America is beyond question, the most fun and interesting golf course I have ever played.  Having not played the course before I have heard numerous reviews from fellow golfers fortunate enough to have played the course that there are too many blind shots, it's too short, the greens have too much movement, essentially it's just okay.  What?  If I could only play one golf course for the rest of my life it would unquestionably be this one.

The course was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and opened in 1911.  Many of the holes were patterned from famous golf courses in Britain and adapted to fit the lay of the land:

  • The 2nd hole, named Sahara, is a par four modeled after the 3rd hole at Royal St. Georges.
  • The 3rd hole, named Alps, is a par four that requires a blind approach shot to the green, similar to the 17th hole at Prestwick.
  • The 4th hole, named Redan, is a par three that copied the 15th hole at North Berwick, the site of the original Redan hole.
  • The 7th hole, named St. Andrews, is a par five that was designed based on the 17th hole (Road Hole) at St. Andrews.
  • The 8th hole, named Bottle, is a par four that resembles the 12th hole at Sunningdale Golf Club.
  • The 13th hole, named Eden, is a par three that replicates the 11th hole at St. Andrews.

Some of the other holes were original designs, the most notable of which is the par four 14th hole. It was named Cape because the green was located on a small peninsula that jutted into a bay. The green was later moved during construction of Sebonac Inlet Road but is now surrounded on three sides by a large bunker.  A unique feature on the golf course is a windmill located between the 2nd and 16th holes.  A member once remarked that a windmill would make a nice addition to the course so Macdonald purchased one when he was in Europe and sent the member the bill.

The golf course is a perfect site for a matchplay event and when it playes host to the 2013 Walker Cup there are bound to be some thrilling matches. The reason for this is due to the fact that there are so many holes that play either a half stroke lower or higher than par. For example the 1st and 2nd holes are driveable to the long hitter and birdie is a real possibility, yet the 3rd, Alps, is a long and blind par four where there's a real chance for bogey.  The course now plays to a par 72 as the 5th Hog's Back has been converted into a long par four....and a half.

There is no hole on the entire golf course that is not memorable or interesting to play and with the size and movement of the greens there is an endless array of variation to every hole.  If you are ever granted the opportunity to play here do yourself a favor, clear your schedule and get there.  The amazing thing to me is that the best course in the world, Shinnecock Hills,  and the most enjoyable course in the world are next door neighbors.
View my photos from the day HERE

If you are ever in Ottawa, Canada and are looking for another excellent course to play try Loch March Golf and Country Club - you will not be disappointed!