Why should Golf Digest apologize for Osprey Meadows?
It turns out that in Idaho, a course called Osprey Meadows was designed by the Robert Trent Jones, jr. firm. It turns out that an Osprey is a type of bird, and a Meadow is a flatland with flora and fauna. It turns out that Golf Digest’s panel of course ranking rankers voted OM the #1, high-end public course of 2006. It turns out that, well, here’s the quote:
It won in something of an upset over highly anticipated and highly publicized Bandon Trails, the third 18 at Bandon Dunes, the wind-swept coastal Oregon resort that most visiting golfers believe is positioned somewhere just short of heaven.
That’s fine. I’ve played all three at Bandon. I recognize the Dunes and the other Dunes for the genius-designs that they are. Strangely, the one that I keep dreaming about, though, is the Trails. If someone said that I could play one of the three again, it would be the Trails. It simply has more diversity of topography and terrain than the other two combined. It’s like that eclectic girl (or guy) who catches your eye, but you turn away. Kind of like Iris in that Goo-Goo Dolls (yeah, Buffalo) song.
So Osprey is good. But how good? Here’s another quote from Golf Digest:
Osprey Meadows also has five par 5s, but the dogleg-right, 547-yard 18th is disappointing. A pair of bisecting wetlands creates three landing areas and, unfortunately, makes it play for many golfers as a driver, wedge and then fairway wood into the green. It is not an ideal finish, indeed, not one worthy of the other 17 holes. But we are reminded that even some of America’s greatest courses are beleaguered by a less-than-sterling 18th hole: Cypress Point and Yale are the classic examples. So Osprey Meadows’ anticlimatic finish can be forgiven. (We’ve been told that its design will be addressed. Some trees might be removed, or an alternate green for average golfers placed short of the second wetlands.)
Well, I can tell you that, if RTJ2 is developing an Achilles’ Heal, it is this type of par five. He did it at Kaluhyat at Turning Stone (New York), although not on his 18th hole.
Here’s the way the article ends:
More curious is that all the wetlands about the course were marked with green stakes bearing the sign, “Environmentally Protected Area. Free Drop, No Penalty.” That was a local rule intended to ease first-timers into a favorable introduction.
Director of Golf Tom Altmann pledges that wetlands will be played as hazards this season. But last season, one could gamble on many holes at Osprey Meadows at no risk of lost strokes, just lost balls. Which means some panelists were generous in ignoring the lack of risk when assigning scores for Shot Values and Resistance to Scoring.
No matter. Osprey Meadows’ strongest virtue is in the Aesthetics category, the sweeping grandeur of its layout in a location ringed by mountain ranges.
It seems that Golf Digest spends a lot of time apologizing for its selection, or at least distancing itself from it. Kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t reconsider. By my recollection, there isn’t a weak hole at Bandon Trails, and the aesthetics there are to die for.
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