Review of Old Greenwood

March 9, 2008 6:59:09 PM PDT
We never saw Jack Nicklaus the day we played Old Greenwood, although we heard so much about him that he might as well have been there. For example, when I asked, the starter on the first tee, "What's the altitude adjustment---ten percent?"

"Jack says, 'twelve percent'," he corrected. Note 'Jack'?not 'Mr Nicklaus'. And while I appreciate the two percent correction, a duffer like me would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Still, as Old Greenwood is one of Nicklaus' signature courses, we'd expect someone to make the correction.

A round at Old Greenwood does not come cheap. When paying three figures, a golfer should expect an interesting layout with all the proper amenities, and Old Greenwood provides them. Jack's eighteen holes through the pines, around lakes, into valleys, and over mountains will tease you, trick you, taunt you, torment you, and thrill you. Play this course ten times, and it still won't get old.

Old Greenwood is tight in places. Due to that twelve percent elevation benefit, holes do not play nearly as long as they look. Pick the right clubs and aim correctly, beginning with the 462/425/407/317 yard, par four, 1st. This slight, dogleg right, features a sand trap pinching the fairway about 170 yards from the green. If you can't play over it, go left or short of it.

I found Old Greenwood's front nine to be more interesting than the back, although the back is still quite good. The 6th, a 578/568/500/436 yard, par five, is a spectacular hole, snaking left around a lake, with water becoming a factor at 236 yards from the pin. A big hitter could easily dunk one with a drive pulled left. But, if he hits it big and straight, he can reach the green in two with a long iron over the water. It's an exciting shot, a 'what the heck' shot?and in my case, a three dollar shot because that's how much a new golf ball costs.

Having challenged the lake in one direction, Jack demands that you do so, again, on the 187/161/138/110 yard, par three 7th. This is a Redan design, sloping steeply from right to left, with fortifications in front. It's relatively easy and picturesque.

My favorite hole at Old Greenwood is the 345/330/270/221 yard, par four, 11th, which turns right around yet another lake and begs to be challenged. I love the options. A conservative player can use a mid or long iron, and then wedge in over the water. A slightly bolder player can remove the water as a factor by driving past it, down the left side of the fairway. And, from the front or middle tees, a maniac can conceivably drive the green. Weigh the risk, however. There's the water in front, junk to the right, and a steep slope of sticky rough, behind.

Old Greenwood doesn't have a bad hole. The uphill, 230/208/182/158 yard, par three, 17th provides a wonderful anti-climax to your round. The green seems perched on the rim of the world, offering a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains and valley below.

As one would expect from a Nicklaus signature course, Old Greenwood's staff and service were excellent and anticipatory, but not in your face. It's all very pleasant and casual.