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A perfect golf course blends Dye, Nicklaus, Fazio and me

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

If God or Tiger Woods descended from the heavens tomorrow and told me I could only play one golf course for the rest of my life, I'd negotiate thusly: How about I design my Perfect Golf Course and you build it?

Founders course
The perfect golf course would have green complexes like those at P.B. Dye's Founders course in North Carolina.
Founders courseJack Nicklaus FairwaysRobert Earl Keen

Then, assuming I wasn't struck by a driver or bolt of lightning, I'd hand over the blueprints.

First of all, when you drive to the perfect golf course, you don't drive past Wal-Marts, Burger Kings or strip malls. The perfect golf course is out in the country. You drive past cows and other country stuff.

There is a bag drop. And yes, there are bag boys. But these bag boys don't pretend they care how you play that day, and they don't clean your clubs afterward unless you get an estimate up front. And they do give you a receipt.

Actually, I'm not sure what the bag boys do at the perfect golf course, because there are no golf carts - this is a walking-only operation. But they have to pay their way through college or earn drinking money somehow, so I've given them jobs.

The cashier at the pro shop is friendly, efficient and points you to the range. (At the perfect golf course, I'm always an hour early.)

The range is close by and you find nearly new Callaway golf balls neatly stacked in pyramids. (Hey, I just found a job for the bag boys.) You can hit to your heart's content because unlimited range balls are included in the green fee.

The starter is a crusty old fella, but he never - I mean never -tells you long-winded stories about how he came to be here from Michigan, Ohio or New Jersey while you're trying to have first-hole swing thoughts.

No. 1 at the perfect golf course is a mid-length par 4 that doglegs right. Trees guard the corner, but they're fairly easily carried if you make solid contact, and the fairway over the trees is wide and soft. I like being able to swing away with impunity on the first hole.

In fact, there are a significant number of doglegs on the perfect golf course, some of them easily carried, others more difficult. I don't know why, but I hit it straighter off the tee on doglegs. Show me a straight hole and I'm wilder than Keith Richards on meth.

The perfect golf course is 6,872 yards from the back tees. We're not trying to attract a major tournament here. I play it from back there because, let's face it, architects design holes from the back tees, even here at the perfect golf course.

That brings up a good question: Who are the architectural influences at the perfect golf course?

Dye, Fazio, Nicklaus and Byrd

Well, the perfect course displays the unique imagination of Pete Dye, the artistic rendering of Tom Fazio's bunkering, the tricky green complexes of P.B. Dye and the wide fairways of Jack Nicklaus. There's a touch of Willard Byrd too, and, of course, my own architectural thoughts.

If I'm going to be playing this course every day, I want wide fairways because I want a plethora of different routes to the green. I want to be able to play the same hole a variety of ways.

This is a Carolina golf course, with elevation changes up to 100 feet and the fairways dip, roll, bend and twist.

There is one island green, for kicks, but other than that water comes into serious play on only five holes. Recovery shots are the big deal here at the perfect golf course.

There is very little of that tall, impenetrable rough, though. You won't lose many golf balls at my perfect golf course. The fairways are tree-lined, so if you're inaccurate off the tee you'll be hitting out from under the trees, but you'll almost always have a shot if you use your imagination.

The bunkers are another story. Many are deep and penal, with a dozen or so right smack dab in the fairways. They look intimidating but are actually quite miss-able.

The tees are elevated, and you will often be hitting to elevated fairways that drop off to ravines and valleys. There is a ton of risk/reward on the perfect golf course; I want to feel like a wild success story or an abject failure on any given day.

The green complexes are similar to the ones P.B. Dye designed at the Founders Club in St. James, N.C., but not quite as bizarre. If you were describing them, you'd say they are large and their slope and undulation stop just this side of severe, mostly - a handful of them cross over.

Some are crowned, some mounded, some below the fairway and reached by downhill approach. At the perfect golf course you'll have to both hit up and pitch down to the green.

The perfect golf course has a slope rating of 139.

There are no houses or condos.

The clubhouse has Robert Earl Keen on the jukebox, and happy hour starts when I walk off 18. Not a second before.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Entertaining Reading

    The Sandman wrote on: Mar 14, 2007

    I enjoyed this article very much. Well-written and insightful.
    The icing on the cake for me was Robert Earl Keen on the jukebox.
    Hot damn. It don't get no better than that, especially after a round on the dream golf course.
    In the words of Robert Earl: "I only use my gun whenever kindness fails and I never could stay sober on the Corpus Christi Bay."
    McDonald knows his golf and his singers.


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