Twin Falls State Park Golf Course (Mullens, WV on 10/11/14)

Our options were limited for an afternoon round at a different course. Twin Falls State Park has the only golf course on the way back to Beckley so it made the most sense for our afternoon play. The park is a place where people can stay, play a round of golf, and explore nature. There are cottages and camp sites available so it seems like a place where a couple or a family could get away from life. It is about 45 minutes from the interstate, but a visit to the park probably is worth it because the area is beautiful, especially this time of year.

I wouldn’t center a vacation around playing the course, but it if someone wanted to sneak away from their family for a round of golf while visiting then the course will let them scratch their golf itch. We were just there for the golf and got out right away without having a tee time. The amenities at the course are pretty basic and the clubhouse looked like it had seen better days. However, for $25 on a Saturday afternoon the price was right.

Probably the main thing to know about the course is that George Cobb did some work on it. Nine holes were originally designed by Geoffrey Cornish, who I haven’t heard of before, and Cobb added the other nine. Cobb is a designer that I am becoming more familiar with now that I am living on the East Coast. He designed East Lake and Quail Hollow where the PGA Tour plays each year but he has also designed quite a few public courses up and down the Atlantic. I believe that I had played two of his designs before this trip and am becoming a fan of his work. It seems that he creates courses that are fun to play for the average golfer and places where they won’t lose a lot of golf balls. He allows someone a chance to walk away with a par or bogey after a poor shot which is something that I appreciate. At the same time, there are still enough challenges to keep a lower handicap interested.

I looked at the satellite image of the course before the trip so I had an idea of what to expect. The course is located in a small valley and most holes are laid out in a linear fashion. Come to find out most of the holes play on different sides of a creek that bisects the course. The area has received a lot of rain recently so the creek was spilling over into parts of the rough and there actually was a picture in the clubhouse from years ago when much of the course was flooded. I guess what I am getting at is that it might be best to play here after a dry spell because the course seems like it can be soggy more often than not.

The course is short, playing only 6,382 yards from the blue tees where we played, but that isn’t a big surprise to me. Many courses in mountainous areas are cramped for space and that felt like the case here. There is very little elevation change considering that the course is surrounded by mountains. The holes are squished together so play from one group could easily affect another. A few holes play back and forth across the base of the hills so the layout reminded me of Mountains Greens where I played last month, but Twin Falls has less severe slopes.

I found the layout fun to play and forgiving for the most part. Twin Falls plays as a par 71 with five par 3’s which I think are the weakest part of the design. Three of the par 3’s play the same direction and play between 196 and 205 yards. If the yardages are going to be the similar then I like to see the holes play different directions or have one play uphill and other downhill. The yardages on the par 4’s are mixed up nicely and range from 314 to 441 yards while a couple par 5’s could be reached under drier conditions. The course requires being able to move the ball on a couple holes which could add difficulty for the average golfer so I wish a few more trees were cleared out. I think that having to work the ball, some uneven lies, and sloped greens contribute to the rating of 71.8 and the high slope of 132. The course certainly plays harder than it looks after glancing at the scorecard. However, a lower handicap who can shape the ball both ways should end up shooting their handicap.

Twin Falls was the worst conditioned course that we played on the trip but I think we just caught it at the wrong time. There was casual water everywhere and I gave up looking for dry spots to take relief. Also, I’d say at least half of the cups were filled with water. Because of the wet conditions the maintenance crew wasn’t able to get the mowers out recently so the tees, fairways, and greens were long. That meant that we had to take a big swat at even a short putt to get it to the hole. However, I think the greens would have rolled fine under normal conditions. It seems that wild boars, or another type of animal, had torn up parts of the fairway so the course definitely was rough around the edges.

I’d call the course a “filler” course because it isn’t that special. I don’t say that in a bad way because I enjoyed the afternoon. It sure beat not playing another round and I’m going to have good memories because of the colorful hills. It is a shame that the sun never made an appearance the whole weekend because my camera didn’t capture all of the color with the poor lighting.

#1 (501 yard par 5):

I hadn’t turned on my GPS before teeing off and thought that the hole played straight out to a green off in the distance. However, that green straight ahead is actually the 4th green while this hole turns left over the cart path. There is a pond straight ahead and to the right so favoring the left side is the best play. The longer hitters can try to sling a tee around the corner and go for the green in two.

1-1 1-2

#2 (354 yard par 4):

This is a short par 4 that plays longer because it plays into a hill. The fairway is narrow and bunkers on the right separate it from the 3rd fairway. It looks like there is just one fairway bunker but there is a second one that is hidden behind the one in the picture. The approach requires an extra club and can be played left of the flag for a kick to the right. The green slopes with the hill from left to right too.

2-1 2-2

#3 (314 yard par 4):

This is a short par 4 that runs parallel to the previous hole. It plays downhill so a layup to a favorite distance is probably the best play off the tee. I hit my 200 yard and ended up with a wedge into a deep green. It is a good birdie chance with a tee shot right of the cart path. The longer hitters could probably knock a tee shot up near the front of the green.

3-1

#4 (189 yard par 3):

This is the first par 3 on the course and I think it is the best. It played about two clubs downhill to a green that slopes from back to front. There is some room to miss which is nice because calculating the distance was tricky. The cart path running in front of the tee box takes a little away from the beauty of this par 3. I’d also suggest taking a look at the 8th fairway on the other side of the creek to get an idea of where to hit that tee shot.

4-1

#5 (347 yard par 4):

It helps a lot if the tee shot moves from right to left because the holes moves that way around the hillside. The hole is short enough that someone can hit whatever club they feel most comfortable with to find the fairway. The creek runs down the right and can come into play so it was a tough tee shot for me as I like to hit a little fade. If someone doesn’t hit it far enough then they could be blocked out by some trees at the end of the dogleg. Finally, the green has a back tier that I couldn’t easily see from the fairway.

5-1

#6 (205 yard par 3):

This is another hole where a right to left shot is the best play. Even a straight shot to a flag on the left side is going to have to skirt the tree line. It is a long par 3 so I wish it was a little easier to get at the green considering the average golfer slices the ball. A par is a great score here.

6-1

#7 (438 yard par 4):

This is the second longest par 4 on the course. It is a tough, but fair hole. The hole moves right so a good tee shot is going to favor the right side to shorten the hole. There is room to the left before a ball gets lost in the hillside but that is going to leave a long approach that might need to move right to left. The hole makes someone hit a good drive and a good long iron to get onto the green in two.

7-1 7-2

#8 (369 yard par 4):

The tee shot plays through a chute of trees and it appears that there is plenty of trouble to the right. I missed the fairway to the left and ended up with the ball below my feet needing to hook it around some trees. Come to find out, there is plenty of open space to the right so that is the best miss off the tee. The approach is played to a semi-island green and I struggled for a par because I was out of position off the tee. A good tee shot can set up a birdie while a poor one can lead to an easy bogey.

8-1 8-2

#9 (500 yard par 5):

This is a short par 5 that plays a bit downhill. If the conditions are decent then someone should be able to knock it up by the green in two after a good drive. I’d try to favor the left side of the fairway for the best angle into the green.

9-1

#10 (396 yard par 4):

The back nine starts out with a double dogleg par 4. Anything down the left side of the fairway runs the risk of being blocked out on the approach. The right side of the fairway opens up a clear shot to the green and it is an easier drive than it looks because the water doesn’t run the entire length of the hole. The pond shouldn’t be in play after a solid tee shot, but there is a creek that cuts across the fairway short of the green that could catch some golf balls.

10-1 10-2

#11 (181 yard par 3):

The 11th hole starts a stretch of holes that play on the side of a hill. This par 3 gradually drops down to the green and avoiding three greenside bunkers is important. I’d favor short and right of the green if I was in-between clubs.

11-1 11-2

#12 (493 yard par 5):

This is the toughest drive on the course because the landing area is blind. The fairway slopes to the right and that green pine tree off in the distance is about 225 yards. The hole doglegs to the right around that tree and then plays uphill to a narrow green. Anything short of that pine will need to be sliced pretty good to find the fairway. The fairway runs out on a straight line towards those yellow trees in the distance. The green is severely sloped from left to right so it isn’t an easy birdie considering the yardage.

12-1 12-2

#13 (382 yard par 4):

The most difficult part about this hole is going to be trying to catch the approach solid from a fairway that slopes from left to right. I managed to hit a nice approach on line with the flag about 15 feet short, but my putt broke hard right as the green slopes to the right with the hill.

13-1

#14 (202 yard par 3):

This is another long par 3 that is all carry over the bunker to any flag on the right half of the green. It plays out over the rock outcropping which I think looks cool and there is some room short and left to get it up and down for a par. A par is something to be proud about.

14-1

#15 (513 yard par 5):

This is a risk/reward par 5 on both the tee shot and the second shot. The hole is a double dogleg and you can actually see a little bit of the green off in the distance. A left to right tee shot is best to carve it around the creek and then a right to left shot will be needed to get it close to the green. The layup area is narrow with trouble to the left so I’d recommend trying to get the second shot 40 or 50 yards short and right of the green. That will leave a pitch shot up the gut of the right to left sloping green.

15-1 15-2

#16 (441 yard par 4):

This is a straightaway par 4 that puts an emphasis on finding the fairway. It is the longest par 4 on the course and trying to get it near the green in two from the rough could be risky because the creek cuts across the fairway about 30 yards short of the green. I played from the rough on my second from about 210 yards and had to decide if I wanted to lay it up short of that creek or carry it. The fairway is generous, but anything down the left side of the hole could kick into a hazard.

16-1 16-2

#17 (196 yard par 3):

As much as that tree to the left adds color to the hole, I think that it should be removed. The tee box slopes to the right to encourage a fade and the tee box was pretty much right behind that tree. That made the hole tougher than it needed to be. It is similar to the 6th and 14th holes but I think it would be a better hole if it was shorter and the tees or green utilized the hill to the left.

17-1

#18 (361 yard par 4):

The final hole is a position hole. The pond, that didn’t come into play off the tee on the 10th hole, comes into play here. It looks like it opens up down the left side by the cart path, but it is a narrow fairway that has some slope to the right. I’d suggest a 200 to 225 yard club on a line at the green and hope for a little kick to the right. The green has a steep ridge that divides it into front and back sections.

18-1

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