Thistle while you work...In Calabash, North Carolina
Like the seven dwarves, I whistled at Thistle on Friday, so relaxed was the round of golf. Perhaps I owed it to being on the white tees, some 1000 yards shorter than the tips to which I am accustomed. Either way, I would have enjoyed this round.
I had no idea who Tim Cates was prior to the round on two of the three nines. He is the architect of Thistle, and is now on my hot list of young designers to watch. Our group, consisting of this venerable writer and John and Scott from Rock Hill, S.C., teed off on the West nine, then continued play on the South nine. We missed the North nine, so a return trip to Calabash is inevitable. In fact, word on the street is that Travelin’ Duff knows a guy who knows a guy… so we are planning a 2007 jaunt that way to play the bulk of the courses along the N.C./S.C. state line.
Thistle is a fun golf course. It works its way through marshland, trees, and put forth some par five holes that absolutely gave me fits! I putted for birdie from five feet or less on three of them, and didn’t hit the hole once! How do you feel when you make par and feel like you barfed away a birdie? I couldn’t blame the grass on the greens, as it was perfect. No spike scratches, marks, or chunks. The funnier part was, I invariably made a birdie from twenty feet on the next hole, so I might have had a few two-birdie stretches in there. Ah, destiny!
Thistle gives you three great obstacles on your way to a solid round. The first is sand. Case in point is this par-three image:
Lots of bunkers to negotiate: some in the middle of the fairway, some to the sides, some in place of the fairway. Hit it high and far, and you won’t have to worry.
The second obstacle is water. For example, this par five
plays around or over the oceanic pond-lake that runs the gamut of the right side. From the up tees, I carried the water and had 4-iron in. From the back tees, I would have aimed so far left that Fidel and Hugo would have been on my right! You have to respect the aqueous stuff; there’s no returning from Davey Jones’ Locker!
The third obstacle is Tim Cates’ ingenuity. They say that the mythic Redan hole is based on a type of fortification called the Redan. You want fortified? Take a look at this closing par three:
I snuck away with par here, while my two partners were not as fortunate.
Don’t let these three images frighten you. Let them serve as fair warning that Thistle’s wide fairways and inviting greens, like the beauteous rose, are accompanied by the occasional thorn, and boy, does it like to bite!
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