Poplar Grove is a course about an hour south of town and everything I read about it was positive. I had been scared away by the $60 green fee until recently when I had been seeing it on Golfnow for less. I got an afternoon tee time for ~$40 and after a quick review of the scorecard decided to play the Blue Tees which play 72.5/138/6557. The tips are only about 7000 yards but have a crazy rating and slope of 75.0/141 which I decided to avoid. When checking in the first thing I noticed is that the proshop and cafe are in an old brick building and if I had to guess I’d say it was built in the early 1900’s. This adds a bit of charm to the newer course which opened in 2004. The course was rated by Golf Digest as one of the top new courses in 2005 before the owners ran into some financial trouble. I guess within the last couple years new owners took over and have started to bring it back to what it was before.
The course is a roller coaster ride and starts out with a downhill 361 yard par 4. I laid up with a hybrid which normally goes 210 yards and I had 60 yards into the center of the green. My approach hit the top of the hill and rolled out quite a bit. The 2nd hole is a 406 yard par 4 and is one of the prettier golf holes that I have played. The course is very green right now as we have got a lot of rain in June so the lush green grass contrasted against the sky and water in a way where I just wanted to stand on the tee and enjoy the day. The 3rd is a par 5 that I didn’t like one bit. The fairway narrowed to 15 yards wide where I would hit driver and the bailout is right in the thick rough. The layup is guarded by a creek and the green is around a corner of trees. The 6th is another odd par 5 as it doglegs around a corner with bunkers and trees on the line where I would hit driver. The 7th is par 3 that could allow for a decent score as the green is pretty forgiving. The 8th is a hole that reminded me of something that would be found in Tahoe as it tree lined and plays up a little hill. I found the front nine very challenging and didn’t have a bunch of fun trying to figure out where to hit some shots with all the trouble. Thankfully the back opened up and had some scoring holes even though many holes on the back played around a lake. The 11th is a reachable par 5 with a wide fairway and the 12th is a downhill par 4 where an aggressive drive over the bunkers allows for a short iron approach. The 13th is a short par 3 that had a Mike Strantz feel to it as missing the two tiered green would probably result in a bogey. The 14th is a 267 yard par 4 that is drivable so someone could get on a run from the 11th through the 14th. The course closed with a couple odd tee shots on the 16th and the 18th. The 16th is a short par 5 with bunkers all down the left and water on the right making for a very narrow fairway. The 18th is a dogleg left par 4 with trees immediately left off the tee. I felt like I needed to play out to the right, but the fairway runs out into a hazard where I wanted to hit it. It seemed the course had some really good holes and really bad holes without much in the middle. A big challenge was the small greens and the slope in the fairways. I hit a lot of good approaches that didn’t get rewarded early on in the round so it would be good to bring some patience when playing here.
The course was in great except for a couple dry patches in the fairway and a couple green collars. The fairways gave a perfect lie many times and the greens rolled pure. The course had many things that I like which include elevation change, nice views, reachable par 5’s, and a drivable par 4. The back nine won me over as it was not all target golf like much of the front nine. For $40 this a great course.