Planning the perfect golf trip, Pt. 2: GreyStone Golf Club in Dickson, Tenn.
A few blogs ago, I pondered what makes a golf trip perfect, placing highest priority on the chemistry among the group of people on the trip, and secondary importance on the quality of the golf courses played.
This said, it always helps to have at least one truly memorable course in the mix. This is especially the case if said course is not only memorable but also affordable.
On the 40-man trip I was part of last month in Tennessee, we were fortunate enough to play GreyStone Golf Club in Dickson, Tenn. Tucked behind a Methodist church, this 6,858-yard 1998 Mark McCumber design is a true diamond the rough. The rates are extremely reasonable, too, at $35 weekdays and $45 weekends (tax and cart included).
Head pro Charlie Blunt “tries to keep outings as painless as possible” so that “all the golfers have to do is play golf.” And he succeeds.
The first thing that strikes you as you get to the course is the grand clubhouse, with its unexpectedly stunning views out over the course, which twists down into a valley and then winds back up to the close.
To protect against long hitters, there are a number of defenses instituted against long hitters, especially from the blue tees (6,426 yards). One is links-style mounding and moguls in the fairways. These may be a bit contrived in places, but serve as an interesting alternative to sand bunkers or water.
There is only one hole where contrivance turns to absurdity, and that is – ironically – on the “signature” hole, the 520-yard 12th, which McCumber describes as “spectacular.” Here there is OB and hillsides covered with dense prairie grass right, thick trees left, and the fairway cants dramatically to the left, all of which make for a tough tee shot. The real oddity, however, is a jumble of hulking boulders (greystones, I guess) placed rather unnaturally in right side of the fairway, which make the second shot to the uphill green blind from most positions on the fairway. Just plain weird.
All in all, though, GreyStone is an excellent course. Tricked up features such as the rocks at 12 are balanced nicely with some wide-open fairways, as on the 345-yard 14th, which let players appraoch from a number of different angles and distances. #10 is a great risk-reward 434-yard par 4 that begs you to swat your tee ball out over a fescue-laden hillside to a blind, cape-like fairway some 50 feet below the teeing grounds. For first-timers, club selection is beyond tricky.
Some in our group balked at the few par 4s where something less than a driver was required (although this is a common and often prized design feature of many famous courses). And then some of those same guys complained about one or two long forced carries off the blue tees (e.g., on the 517-yard par-5 17th) are too hard for average players. (I note that “average” players should probably not be playing the blue tees.)
Nevertheless, given the perfect conditions and varied, almost playful design features, and superb service, GreyStone is one of those perfect golf trip courses.
GreyStone’s impressive clubhouse overlooks most of the course.
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1) Pebble Beach, of course. Duh.
2) Pinehurst. I'm lucky because my golf girlfriends and I live close by.
3) Hilton Head. Tons of courses to pick from, lots of good restaurants. Also, throw a rock at a group of golfers and one of 'em will have access to a condo there. Free place to stay = more golf.
And... I'm spent. Clearly I need to take more golf trips.
Kiel, the 18th at Irish at Whistling Straits has no layup for the second shot. It is "wafer thin", as the waiter says in Monty Python. It is the dorkiest hole of the 72 at Kohler. I have no idea what Dye was thinking when he designed it.
I'm talking about golf trips for a few hundred dollars for 3-4 days, not a few thousand. You two must travel in loftier circles than I.
As for the 18th at Whislting Straits, Ron, if you skull the ball 150 yards off the tee, there's a lot more room to lay up. Then you hit an easy 8-iron into the proper quadrant of that huge green. Two-putt bogey. Piece of cake.