When websites don't match golf courses
It’s tough to plan a golf trip for 36 guys. David Butts, the meticulous, patient, good-natured gentleman who plans the trip to Tennessee that I go on each year is an expert at it. He takes care of every one of us and every foreseeable (and often unforeseeable) detail. That’s why we affectionately refer to him as “Mother Butts.”
However, even someone as experienced as he cannot plan for a mismatch between a course’s website and the actual conditions on the course.
You see, we like to stop on the way down to our final destination for a warm-up round, someplace different each year to mix things up a bit. This year, David found RiverWatch Golf Club in Smithville, Tenn. Designed by Peter Jacobson, RiverWatch looks simply spectacular on its website.
Websites can be deceiving, though.
The first thing you notice when pulling into RiverWatch is the lack of a clubhouse; then you remember that you never did see a picture of one on the website.
Then you notice that the lush, verdant holes in the website pictures bear little resemblance to the spotty fairways, and crabgrass-infested rough. And as you’re putting out on the first hole, you realize that the slow, grainy Bermuda greens are going to mess you up all day long.
Sure, the design is very memorable (except for the rather tricked-up 18th, which you’d rather forget), with lots of forced carries, lots of risk-reward, and plenty of trouble.
But that trouble is in fact a problem for a trip such as ours. RiverWatch has numerous blind shots. Fine, if you have played here before. Not so fine for a quick in-and-out, one-time round. GPS units were available at the pro shop for free, but they were not advertised or mentioned by the staff (who seemed a little befuddled by the whole running a golf course thing), so only a few foursomes in our group had one.
Another misleading aspect of the website is that it lists a Director of Golf and a contact e-mail. Apparently, though, no one reads that e-mail, and the Director of Golf is no longer there. (Well, he was playing golf the day of our visit, but not employed there any longer.)
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that the course was not worth trying out. For less than $40 with cart, it was a challenging round.
Unfortunately, some of the challenges included trying to hit your ball with a tuft of crabgrass behind it, and three-putting greens against long, inconsistent grain. None of which was mentioned on the website.
The par-5 18th at RiverWatch is overly tricked-up, and would be better as a long par 4.
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