Seven Lakes Country Club (West End, NC on 11/28/14)

It was another scramble to find an afternoon tee time, but I guessed that I would have plenty of daylight. The high temperature was only going to be about 45 so I didn’t think that many golfers would be out, even on Black Friday. I had time to sit down for a sandwich before making the short drive over to Seven Lakes. The nice thing about the area is that the courses are close so any one course isn’t more than 20 minutes from another. Actually, Seven Lakes was going to be my Thursday course since it is also in West End. I had trouble booking my tee time for Thursday so I ended up a few miles away at Beacon Ridge.

Seven Lakes doesn’t show up as one of the top 15 public courses in the state, but it does get rated highly among the Pinehurst area courses. I read all the different awards on the course’s website and, needless to say, I was excited to give the course a try! I arrived about 15 minutes before my 1:45pm tee time and the parking lot was packed. While waiting for a twosome and a foursome to tee off, I prepared myself for a long round. The bad thing about the short days is that if there is any delay then that puts a 36 hole day at risk. I have no idea why there were so many people out because it was very cold! I shivered if I got in the shade or if the wind blew at all. It was one of the chilliest days for golf that I’ve ever played on! I played through the foursome on the 2nd hole and then followed the twosome around the rest of the course. It worked out and I finished up just after the sun set. I was the last golfer on the course here and the first golfer on the course for my morning round which is what these trips are all about!

When I walked up to the proshop I passed the by the superintendent (I think) and he smiled and said that the greens were fast and perfect. I could tell that he was proud and I jokingly said that I could three putt all of them! I almost did too! I three putted five times on the front nine before I adjusted to their quickness. I have no idea what they were rolling on the stimpmeter but they were faster than almost every other course that I’ve played all year! All I had to do was try to putt it 10 feet from from 30 feet on flat ground and the ball would trickle to the hole. They must have been rolled multiple times and everything about the greens was impressive. They held full shots well and were tricky to putt as I had some putts that looked like they would break both ways. I struggle to putt super fast greens because I only putt on them once or twice a year and that was the case here. I couldn’t take a run at any putt and had to be careful not to three putt from short distance. I think the beautiful greens make the course a “must play” for a golfer visiting the area. I paid $32 to play to putt on greens that are representative of a $100 course.

The rest of the course was in brilliant shape too. Considering the recent rain, I thought that the ground was very dry. Only the lowest spots were squishy and I got some roll on my drives. The fairways were cut and, the few times that I actually ended up playing from the fairways, I always had a nice lie. This is the off-season and the conditions were a treat!

I didn’t feel like torturing myself with another 6900 yard course so I steered clear of the black tees. Plus, I knew that the greens were going to kick my butt so I played the blue tees which play 6534/72.2/139. Looking back, it wouldn’t have mattered what tees I played because I didn’t bring much game and shot my highest round of the year. The course certainly can cause that with its high slope. Personally, I’m not a big fan of courses with high slopes. But, that isn’t going to be a surprise because I’ve commented multiple times about liking a playable course for the average golfer. The high slope combined with the fast greens led to some ugly scores!

Seven Lakes is reasonably forgiving off the tee which is something I like. I hit some stinkers off the tee that deserved to be lost, and those were. But, the the fairways are generous and there is some room on either side of the fairways to track down a wayward tee shot and find it. It might not be a great shot at the green, but at least there is a chance to get it back in play and avoid a disastrous score. The toughest part of the tee shots was guessing what kind of kick that the ball is going to get off the slopes in the fairways.

There are plenty of noticeable uphill and downhill shots so controlling the distance is going to be a challenge. All of the elevation change creates some blind shots and made it difficult for me to plan out my shots without having seen the course before. Also, the green complexes making scoring difficult. The greens are smaller and a couple greens slope to the back so that puts a lot of pressure on the iron game. Missing a green could result in a harsh kick away from the green and an awkward shot game shot. So, if someone wants to play well then they better be a good iron player.

Seven Lakes is a community course so there are plenty of homes found nearby. In fact, homes line most of the holes which I think takes away from the course. That’s too bad because the course works its way through the hardwoods, pines, and lakes which make it scenic. What’s nice is that many tees are close to the greens so a cart isn’t necessary. It is one of those courses that would be a healthy walk, but it could be done without affecting the score. For those that are thinking about this, make sure to note that the 9th hole doesn’t return to the clubhouse.

At this time the course gets my recommendation for a play because it is in wonderful shape. My one real complaint is that the course requires shots that the average golfer probably doesn’t know how to hit. I had some tough stances, some sideways putts, and had to try to add some loft around the greens. I wish the course was a little more playable because there are some tricks to it.

#1 (524 yard par 5):

The course opens with a good par 5! It is mid-length and plays uphill on the tee shot and then downhill to the green. The layup is blind, but the good news is that there isn’t any hidden trouble. If conditions are right someone could chase a 2nd shot up near the green. If someone is going that route then there is a bunker short and left.

1-1

#2 (362 yard par 4):

This is a short hole, but it is the 3rd hardest hole on the course. It is difficult because it plays probably two or three clubs uphill to a green that slopes severely from back to front. I think the biggest challenge is going to be controlling the distance on the approach from an uphill lie in the fairway.

2-1 2-2

#3 (405 yard par 4):

This downhill par 4 requires some thought off the tee. If the conditions are right the tee shot can run too far and end up in a bunker or behind some trees to the right. I’d suggest playing to the left side of the fairway or leave a comfortable distance to get over the trees. This is hole 40 yards less than the previous one but it played much shorter for me.

3-1 3-2

#4 (376 yard par 4):

I couldn’t quite tell what was going on with this one. It is another pretty good hole because it requires a tee shot to the proper distance and an approach over a hazard. The hazard is far enough back from the green that only a mis-hit or an out of position tee shot should bring the water into play. The green slopes from back to front so someone can use that to their advantage to avoid the water.

4-1 4-3

#5 (163 yard par 3):

This par 3 has a couple tricks. It plays about a club uphill to a devilish green. There is a false front and then a big slope that separates the green into front and back tiers. All of the green surface cannot be seen from the tee so that adds to the difficulty when playing here the first time.

5-1

#6 (357 yard par 4):

This is a tricky par 4. It isn’t long, but it plays longer than it has to because a layup is probably the play off the tee. It doglegs left between some fairway bunkers and the fairway runs out around 225 yards. That leaves a short iron into a tiny green that falls off on each side. An accurate approach is important because getting it up and down is tough.

6-1

#7 (165 yard par 3):

I think that this is the best par 3 on the course! It plays about a club downhill to a green that slopes from front to back. That makes a solid strike important to end up with a birdie putt. The green has some sides that repel the ball so another accurate shot is needed.

7-1 7-2

#8 (579 yard par 5):

This is the hardest hole on the course! It is a long par 5 that moves to the right. The ideal tee shot moves left to right and a straight tee shot can run through the fairway leaving an uneven lie from the rough. The 3rd shot is played over a pond into a green with a lot of slope from back to front. I hit it pin high left of the flag and was left with a putt that broke about 5 feet from left to right. Make sure not to lay it up too close to the green as that can bring the water into play.

8-1 8-3

#9 (418 yard par 4):

The front nine closes with another hole that requires some local knowledge. The tee shot should favor the right side of the fairway in hopes of a kick to the left. Anything landing on the left side of the fairway could run into trouble or leave a shot that needs to be hooked around a tree short of the green. The approach is slightly uphill so an extra club might be necessary.

9-1 9-3

#10 (148 yard par 3):

This is the shortest par 3 on the course, the easiest hole, and a fun one! It plays just enough downhill that someone cannot see all of the green. It plays about a club downhill to a green that has some slope from right to left and front to back. A solid iron shot should give someone a chance for a birdie.

10-1 10-2

#11 (468 yard par 5):

One the scorecard this looks like a par 5 that is going to be reached in two every time! But, it plays quite a bit uphill so that isn’t the case. My normal drive is about 250 yards and even after a good drive I’m not sure I could normally reach in two. It still should be just a wedge for the 3rd shot but it plays to a blind green with a lot of slope from back to front. I had too much spin on my ball and ended up well short of the flag.

11-1

#12 (402 yard par 4):

The downhill par 4 doglegs to the right so if someone wants to challenge the tee shot then a fade is going to best. No matter what it is going to require a laser iron shot in order to find the small green.

12-1

#13 (381 yard par 4):

This was a tough tee shot for me since I don’t like to move the ball from right to left. A draw is the best play off the tee to a fairway that runs out into a hazard. Therefore a layup might be the preferred play off the tee. From there it most likely is going to be a mid or short iron into a green that is fatter towards the middle and back. Missing the green to the right shouldn’t be bad.

13-1 13-2

#14 (350 yard par 4):

This is a pretty fun hole! I made a mess of it, but it is a chance for a birdie if someone can avoid the water. The water runs all the way to the green so make sure to avoid it at all costs. There are multiple options off the tee depending on how aggressive someone wants to play so it is well designed. There is a fairway bunker that blends in with the dormant grass which can catch a couple shots but anything going to the right has a good chance of ending up in the hazard.

14-2 14-3

#15 (477 yard par 5):

This is a short par 5 that can be reached after a good drive that moves from right to left. There is a chance to run a long iron or fairway wood up onto the green which is nice. I took the picture from black tees because that’s where the sun was shining! If someone is laying up make sure to avoid a random water hazard that cuts into the fairway maybe 150 yards into the green.

15-1

#16 (183 yard par 3):

This is a tough par 3! The hole plays slightly uphill which adds a few yards, but the small green caught my attention. It is so small that is almost looks like a temporary green!

16-1 16-2

#17 (361 yard par 4):

This is a short par 4 that offers a chance for a good score. The fairway is wider and someone can hit whatever club they want off the tee to end up with a favorite yardage. The only trick is going to be trying to judge where to land the approach because the green sits above the fairway.

17-1

#18 (415 yard par 4):

The closing hole is a healthy one! It plays uphill the whole way so it is going to require a couple solid strikes to get to the green. There are a couple bunkers short of the green so it is going to be all carry on the approach. The green slopes from back to front so if someone can leave the ball below the hole they’ve done an awesome job!

18-1 18-2

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