I started my day early at the Red Fox course on what turned out to be an epic golf day for me. I had heard that the courses here are a great value and found an 8:20am tee time for $35. When I play 36 holes in a day I generally try for a good value course in the morning and then go for a more premium course in the afternoon. That isn’t always the way it always works out but at least it gave me a chance to find a nice place to play in the afternoon. My plan was to finish up before noon, get a sandwich, and call a couple courses to set up an afternoon round.
I stayed in Southern Pines it took me about 20 minutes on the back roads to get there. There are 36 holes here and some options for lodging are going to be available. I don’t know if there are any hotels associated with the courses, but the couple I paired up with for the last few holes had rented a condo off of the 16th green. The area is a little far away from the action and a bit too secluded for me to consider staying there in the future, but its one where I would feel comfortable bringing my family if I had one.
I didn’t know a thing about either of the courses (the other course is named the Grey Fox) when I made my tee time and just considered the time that I wanted when deciding what course to play. When I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised to see that there were not many cars there. This was extra surprising because there are two courses and I just figured that everyone would be trying to play before it warmed up on a holiday weekend. I checked in and headed over to the 1st tee which is pretty close to the clubhouse. I ended up catching up with the group in front on the 5th or 6th hole and play was pretty slow. It ended up taking a little over four hours to play and I waited on every shot on the back nine. To help offset this, I joined up with a couple on the 14th who was visiting from Central Florida. They lived pretty close to where I went to school in Florida and knew the music professor at the time I graduated so it is funny how it is a small world.
Out of the three courses that I played to this point, the Red Fox course was the least dramatic. It was still a decent play, but the course didn’t have anything to differentiate it from many other courses throughout the country. The course has some large fairways (think resort style) and large greens so I had to adjust to that after my round at Southern Pines. There wasn’t much to look at as far as the scenery goes and it seemed like I had a mid iron into every par 4. And for the most part, that was true. I played the Blue tees at 72.6/133/6743 and there wasn’t a par 4 longer than 426 yards and only one was shorter than 365 yards. I think most of the elevation change on the course was on the par 4’s so the yardage varied because of that. I still like to see one long par 4 and a short one with a variety of options off of the tee. I didn’t much care for all of the elevated greens to begin the round and a few on the back as I couldn’t tell exactly where to land the ball. But, there wasn’t a lot of trouble lurking if I ended up in the wrong spot. If I missed a green it seemed that each green was surrounded by a sea of bunkers limiting my options for chipping but no real hazards. Most of the time I just had to open the face on a 60 degree and play the high shot hoping that it would stop near the flag.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’d be back to the course quite often if I lived locally. I enjoy being able to spray the ball and the wide fairways, cut down rough, and some interesting holes on the back nine would keep it in my course rotation. It is the type of course where someone has to hit good shots for a good score, but can still recover from average shots. There are some hazards that come into play, but generally only come into play with a miss one way. A miss the other way should be able to be found. Plus for the really bad shot, another fairway can be in play. I used that option twice! A few pines pinch the tee shots on certain holes, but for the most part someone can give it a rip with the driver.
The conditions were very good for $35. The greens were slower than they looked, but I think that is part of golfing in the morning with the dew. The greens rolled very nice and didn’t seem to have too many ball marks considering the amount of play that I think the course would get. For the most part the tees were in good shape, but did seem to be browning out as we get closer to summer. The fairways for the first few holes were very nice, but got a bit more patchy as the round went along. Nothing unreasonable considering the price though and I always had a nice lie. I don’t normally comment on the sand, but I was in one bunker here and the sand was awful. It was wet, clumpy, and had a bunch of rocks in there so I would have been upset if I had new wedges in my bag. There were some ground under repair spots near the woods and the tops of the mounds where carts drove over them, but it turned out to be a much better value than Whispering Woods and more friendly to play. I didn’t play well, but always felt like I had the chance to rattle off 3 or 4 birdies in a row to get it all back.
#1 (365 yard par 4):
This is a benign opening hole and nothing too bad should happen here. I hit a foul ball right into the woods with a hybrid and it dropped down with a shot at the green. The 3rd hole is just over the tree line so there is plenty of room right once the out of bounds stops maybe 100 yards from the tee.
#2 (408 yard par 4):
This hole could be a stinker. The tee shot is played down the right side with probably no more than a 3 wood because the water cuts into the fairway. Longer hitters could try to carry the water on the left, but I think it is probably at least a 270 yard carry. The 2nd shot is straight uphill to a large green. I missed it short of the green and had a pitch off of the upslope to an elevated green and I couldn’t see the bottom of the flag. It is one of those holes where good shots will result in a par and poor shots, if in the correct area, should give someone a chance to make one.
#3 (419 yard par 4):
This hole was into the sun when I played it, but there is an elevated tee shot and then the 2nd is back up the hill to a pin that was tucked in the back left. There is plenty of room off of the tee and the approach is about controlling the distance.
#4 (526 yard par 5):
This tee shot looks uncomfortable, but it opens up a little right of the fairway before getting to some out of bounds. After a tee shot in play, it becomes a birdie hole.
#5 (201 yard par 3):
This one was tougher than it looks. It has another big green, but that bunker left makes it tough to access the left side with a long iron unless someone can hit it high and land it soft.
#6 (426 yard par 4):
I’d say this is one of the more boring holes on the course. It is well bunkered off of the tee and long which can make it challenging, but there has to be 25 yards left and right of each side of the fairway so I just took a couple hard swings.
#7 (413 yard par 4):
This par 4 moves a little right. The ideal tee shot will be down the right side of the fairway for a kick left and then a mid iron approach to a small green. I hit a 7 iron 30 yards right (yes I’m playing that bad right now) and still had plenty of room to have hit it even farther right. My pitch was challenging, but I was happy with bogey considering such a bad 7 iron.
#8 (189 yard par 3):
This is a tough par 3 as it needs another soft landing long iron. The flag was tucked over the bunker when I played and I think a miss short and right would have left the best chip.
#9 (519 yard par 5):
This is the best hole on the front nine. It is a dogleg right par 5 with many different options. Since this was my first time playing here I decided to play a little conservative. I hit a cut 3 wood off of the tee and had 250 yards into the green. From there I hit a hybrid trying to chase it up as close to the bunker as I could. It worked perfect and I had a straightforward chip and made a birdie. There is trouble all down the left side of the hole, so someone has to watch that a tee shot doesn’t chase through the fairway. If I played here all the time I’d love to try to hit a high cut driver through the “V” in the trees and hope to have just an iron into the green.
#10 (323 yard par 4):
This is the shortest par 4 on the course. I don’t see that hitting driver on this uphill hole does much good as I’d like to have a full short iron into this green. The approach plays uphill too to a green that has a bunker short. If the flag was in the front left section of the green, a driver could be the play as the 2nd shot might not have to be played over the bunker.
#11 (403 yard par 4):
This is a very fun hole. The tee shot can be played over the hill and it will run out. I hugged the left side with 3 wood and had just 100 yards into the green. The 2nd shot is about taking a conservative line and hitting it solid to control the distance with the water short and right. The green feeds the ball a little from right to left so that made it tougher for me to fire at the flag with just a sand wedge.
#12 (573 yard par 5):
Here is a hole where the pine trees pinch the tee shot. The tee shot is played over the rise in the fairway and then the layup is played into a small valley. The green has a back tier which I didn’t see from the fairway so watch out for that.
#13 (142 yard par 3):
This looks like an easy par 3 on the scorecard, but the hole climbs just enough that I didn’t want to play at the flag on the left side. I played right of the flag which turned out just fine.
#14 (477 yard par 5):
This is a birdie hole if someone can find the fairway. The fairway shouldn’t be all that hard to hit and there is plenty of room left to kick the ball right so that is the miss. I wouldn’t want to miss right in fear of a hard kick into the homes and woods.
#15 (379 yard par 4):
This hole is pretty simple depending on the pin location. The tee shot is played a little left to right and should avoid the bunkers right. The green is the main challenge here, especially with the back left pin when I played.
#16 (386 yard par 4):
This is a straight away par 4. The green is very deep so it would be helpful to control the distance on the 2nd shot.
#17 (189 yard par 3):
This is the final par 3. There isn’t a much of variety on three of the four par 3’s here. They are long irons to slightly elevated greens. On this one though a shot could run up so it isn’t too bad.
#18 (405 yard par 4):
I wish I got a picture from the tee on this one as I think it is the most tricky hole on the course. It doglegs right and there are homes and three bushy trees down the right side. Someone can try to carry the trouble off of the tee, but I don’t think it is the play as the ball could easily run through the fairway. I think the best play is a hybrid or long iron to the corner of the dogleg.