After I finished up at Cherry Blossom I had some lunch and started the search for an afternoon time. I narrowed my choices down to Kearney Hill and Houston Oaks and found a 2:30pm time at Kearney Hill for $36. I am not sure how much, if anything, I saved by going through Golfnow in this case, but at at least I had a tee time. I don’t like to show up at a course as a single because I never know when I am going to get out to play. I got there a bit early, hit a couple putts, and the headed to the first tee. Apparently everyone else had the twilight idea too so I had to wait for two groups to go off before I could play. The pace of play was a bit slow to begin, but sorted itself out as the round went along. Kearney Hill is a municipal course and is currently rated as one of the top 5 public courses in Kentucky by Golf.com. It always says a lot to me when a municipal course is rated so high because I know I will be playing a decent course without paying a bunch of money.
Pete Dye and his son P.B. co-designed the course and while I try to avoid Pete Dye designs this course had a sane influence from P.B. on many holes. The layout of the course is open and while many holes are links style not many shots can be played along the ground because the course played soft. Well over half of the course can be seen from the clubhouse and I was anxious to get to a couple interesting looking shots. I chose to play the Black Tees at 73.5/131/7129 but the course probably played closer to 7000 yards as some tees were up. The 1st is a medium length par 4 before the course tests the putter early on with a large green that sloped many different ways at the 2nd. The 3rd is a short par 5 with water down the right and presents the first glimpse of some famous Pete Dye railroad ties. Other Pete Dye touches throughout the course included some mounding and grass bunkers. The 4th through the 7th play up and down a small hill and each have some unique features. The 5th had a green shaped a bit like the bottom part of the letter “S” with a deep bunker short of the back portion and the 6th had a multilevel green with a false front. The 7th hole is one that reminded of Riverbend in California as the green was in a part of the course that sat down with oak trees and natural mounding surrounding it. The back opened with a couple shorter par 4’s that were about picking the correct line off the tee and then the course closed with some solid holes. The 15th (a par 3) and the 16th (a par 4) play around a lake with railroad ties along the edge of the hazard while the 17th is another hole that reminded me of Riverbend with some water and natural mounding in play. The 18th is a par 5 that plays downhill on the tee shot and then back uphill into the green. What I liked the most on the last is the stone work near the green. The course offered a good challenge while at the same time allowed for a couple loose shots and some good scores. I was surprised that I ended up liking it as much as I did and wouldn’t mind trying my hand at another Pete/P.B Dye design in the near future.
The course conditioning was good although the greens were slow compared to other places that I played on my trip. I think part of this is intentional by the management because it is a municipal and could get a lot of play from higher handicappers. Some greens, like the 6th, could cause unnecessary slow play if the greens got going at a quick pace. The par 3’s were interesting to play even though they were all around the same yardage. This course was the surprise of my trip.