Longleaf Golf & Country Club (Southern Pines, NC on 05/25/14)

Well, I did something crazy after I finished up at Foxfire. I decided that I’d try to play 54 holes in one day which turned out to be a first for me. I thought about heading over to Pinehurst to browse around, but if I have to decide between history or golfing, I’d rather play. Plus, I had started to play better and wanted to keep the good swings going. I didn’t have any specific place in mind and was just looking to go play. I called the course and was told that it would be $45 which was way more than I wanted to play. However, I found a tee time on their website for $25 and that turned out to be more like it. I got out right away and didn’t end up catching up to anyone until the 15th so it was a great afternoon and I blitzed through the round in about two and a half hours.

I mentioned Dan Maples a couple of reviews back and come to find out, he designed Longleaf. Funny how that works out. I saw a bunch of white fences along the holes when I turned into the community and couldn’t figure out what they were. I looked on the website while on the course and found out that the course was built on an old horse training estate. Some courses are built in an old quarry and one I played a couple weeks ago was built on an area where the Civil War was fought so I always think it is neat when a course allows me to take a step back in time.

My late afternoon round was more about the experience of playing 54 holes in a day versus trying to play a place in perfect shape. That was good because Longleaf was the worst conditioned course that I played on the trip. Was it worth $25? Yes, no doubt, and I enjoyed being able to  swing aggressively and not be concerned where it went, at least on the front nine. The course was in pretty average shape and I’d worry what it will look like as it gets deep into the summer. The fairways were fine and the greens rolled fine, albeit slow, but the other parts of the course were struggling. Some tees didn’t have any grass (just sand and dirt) and there were plenty of bare spots off of the fairways. I have no idea how I did it, but I put together my best round of the trip so the conditions aren’t always an indicator of the score. Even though I could make some putts by being aggressive there were different grasses growing on the greens so it didn’t look the prettiest. The course wasn’t in horrible shape all around, just certain spots were bad.

The conditions aside, I found that the course was fun to play. The course is a par 71 and plays at 71.1/127/6600 from the Blue tees where I played. In quite a few ways the terrain reminded me of a Florida course, something like the area where World Woods is located. There are two completely different nines here as the front is flat and sandy while the back is much tighter and has some elevation change. The front is suitable to high handicapers as most holes have a bunch of room to miss and I just tried to swing as hard as possible not caring about where it went. The back nine requires more thought and creativity. The back nine has all of the good holes and the three par 3’s which were all fun to play. Even though the back was tighter, it still opened up in a lot of spots. I had a good time here, but because of the poor conditions, I wouldn’t recommend that someone commit 4 hours and $45 to play here. I’ve only played a small number of the courses in the area, but there are much better courses to play for the money. I’m not sure this course deserves a hole by hole review because of so many bland holes on the front, but it makes up for it on the back so why not.

#1 (399 yard par 4):

This is a straight away opening hole. There is out of bounds and some houses way right but they shouldn’t come into play too often. A tee shot down the left side could be blocked out by the trees.

1-1

#2 (207 yard par 3):

This is a tough hole as it is long and into the wind when I played. The pin was on a shelf at the back of the green so I had a slow putt up a big hill.

2-1

#3 (397 yard par 4):

There has to be 80 yards from out of bounds left to the fence on the right, and I’m not even sure that it is out of bounds over there. I hit it 40 yards right of my line off of the tee and still had a birdie putt so it is a good hole to try to work out the early round jitters.

3-1

#4 (386 yard par 4):

The fences threw me off here a bit. I couldn’t tell exactly where to hit it even though it is actually another easy tee shot. The green slopes from left to right so that could make the approach tough to get close to the hole.

4-1

#5 (525 yard par 5):

This is the best hole on the front nine. The tee shot plays from a chute of trees to a down sloping fairway that can funnel the ball from left to right. There is a pine about 40 yards short and right of the green that narrows the target if trying to get there in two. An accurate tee shot down the left side (challenging that bunker) can lead to a birdie.

5-1 5-2

#6 (397 yard par 4):

This is another straight away hole. The pin was in the front and I was able to get the approach close for a birdie chance.

6-1

#7 (516 yard par 5):

This is one of the widest holes that I think I’ve ever played. The fairway must be 50 yards wide and the same is true up near the green. Just swing away here.

7-1 7-2

#8 (199 yard par 3):

This par 3 is made a touch more difficult by the shrubs short of the green which obstruct the view of the green. It is flat and there isn’t any hidden trouble, so even missing the green should leave a simple chip.

8-1

#9 (389 yard par 4):

This is the second best hole on the front nine. The tee shot narrows the farther that someone tries to hit it and the second shot is played to a green with a ridge dividing the left and right sides. I hit a 3 wood down the left side and got a kick right off of one of those mounds so left is probably the miss off of the tee instead of right by that bunker.

9-1 9-2

#10 (409 yard par 4):

If it seems like there weren’t very many interesting holes on the front, that is because it is true. Just about every good one is on the back and it starts here. The conservative play is something less than driver to the top of the hill or just over it while the aggressive play is a cut driver. I opted for the driver and it hit a downslope leaving just a lob wedge into the green.

10-1

#11 (379 yard par 4):

This is one of the more challenging holes on the course. The fairway slopes from right to left so anything moving left isn’t going to stop quickly before it scares the out of bounds. The green is elevated so it is tricky to control the distance on the second shot.

11-1

#12 (200 yard par 3):

This one looks more difficult than it is because the trees seem to pinch the hole. It is a long par 3 and plays uphill, but the green is large and there is actually plenty or room to miss around it. I blocked it and ended up over that first tree on the right but had an uphill chip and a decent par chance.

12-1

#13 (181 yard par 3):

I don’t normally care for back to back par 3’s, but I didn’t mind these two. This was just a mid iron because it plays downhill and the challenge is a false front short of the green. In addition, the green slopes from left to right so it is best to play right of the hole for an uphill putt.

13-2

#14 (517 yard par 5):

This is the most interesting hole on the course. This par 5 is almost a horseshoe as the green is left of the first picture. I hit a very nice drive and had only 230 yards to the center of the green but I couldn’t even try to hook one up by it because of all the trees down the left side. It is almost like two left turns around a city block to get to the green. If someone is playing well then it should be a decent birdie chance from 60 to 80 yards on the approach. The layup has to contend with a pine in the center of the fairway so that needs to be well thought out.

14-3 14-4

#15 (178 yard par 3):

This is my favorite par 3. It is scenic and requires some thought. I had a good round going so I wasn’t too interested in messing with the water and tried to use the slope right of the green to kick the ball towards the hole. I missed it right and 15 feet was the best that I could chip it to because of the slope. It could be a decent birdie chance or an easy bogey.

15-2 15-3

#16 (383 yard par 4):

The trees just off of the tee on the right made me uneasy and I over cut one and missed the fairway right. Other than the tee shot it is a fairly simple hole.

16-2

#17 (539 yard par 5):

The tee shot can use the slope which will feed the ball from right to left. I tried to get it up near the green in two and missed left which looked like trouble. Once I got up there I saw that it opened up to find it so there is plenty of room on this one.

17-1

#18 (390 yard par 4):

This is a good chance for a birdie to close out the round. The fairway is massive and the pin was a bowl in the middle of the green when I played.

18-1

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