Talamore Golf Club (Southern Pines, NC on 11/29/14)

It was another chilly morning with lows again in the mid to high 20’s! That meant another frost delay and it pushed my 9:10am tee time at Talamore back to about 10am. In addition, the proshop did a small shotgun start with the maybe 10 or 15 morning groups. It was well run and well communicated by the staff, but the delay pretty much eliminated any chance for another round elsewhere. I was “ok” with that because the weather was looking was decent for Sunday if I wanted to try for 36 holes and then drive home.

I am used to golfing by myself and while I don’t mind it, I enjoyed being paired up this round. First, it helps with the pace of play to be a part of a foursome if there are groups in front. Second, I got paired up with some good people. There were some good players in my group and one guy enjoyed chatting about different golf courses so the 4 hours went by quickly. I even got a recommendation for dinner which turned out to be really good!

We started on the 5th hole, but before riding out there the proshop went over some information with everyone participating in the shotgun start. They went over the usual stuff such as routing of the holes, where the restrooms are located, and cart rules. Then we got hit with one of the best local rules that I think I’ve ever heard! We were told that there isn’t any out of bounds! As long as the ball can be found, even if it is someone’s yard, it results in a free drop! That helps keep scores down and combats the harsh stroke and distance penalty. It also keeps the homeowners happier too according to the proshop. Don’t be fooled by some of the white markers that line the holes as they don’t mean anything at this time!

Something else unique about Talamore is that the course logo is a llama. From what I’ve gathered “Talamore” means “land of great value”. Based on that I would have expected the logo to be some pine trees or something from nature, but not a llama! I don’t know the full story, but Talamore has llamas available to act as caddies. Or, at least to carry someone’s clubs around the course! The llamas live on the course and can be seen after finishing the 13th hole. I thought the llamas were neat and stopped to take a picture. It is the first picture posted but make sure to check them out if playing here.

Talamore is a Rees Jones design that meanders its way through the pine trees. The course is located in an upscale housing community, but the homes are set far enough back that they never bothered me. Plus, the pine trees create some separation between the course and homes which allows privacy for everyone. The ritzy feeling carried over to the course as there is some nice domestic landscaping throughout. I didn’t stay at the resort, but based on everything that I saw while there I’d bet it is pretty nice too! I believe that staying on the property is the only way to access Mid South which is the other course associated with the resort. That is one I wouldn’t mind checking out one day.

I played the blue tees at Talamore which play 71.2/131/6534. Even though the course looks like it is going to be on the short side from these tees, it plays longer. The first, and most obvious, reason that the course plays longer is that it is a par 71. The 11th hole is the last par 5 on the course and the remaining holes are par 3’s and 4’s. In fact, 13 out of the last 14 holes are par 3’s and par 4’s so that is a bit strange. I wouldn’t mind seeing the nines flipped which could mix up those yardages better. Second, it seems that there are more uphill than downhill shots which add some distance.

When I’ve played Rees Jones designed courses in the past I’ve prepared to go to battle! I don’t think his designs are unfair, but they are normally difficult to play. However, I found Talamore to be a more relaxing play than I expected. I didn’t find the fairways to be particularly narrow and there are plenty of places throughout the course to find the ball and advance it. It is a second shot golf course so someone is going to have to hit precise irons in order to score well. Most of the difficulty is going to come from the mounding, elaborate bunkering, and greens that drop off on certain sides. I found that it was a tough course to confidently swing at an iron because I couldn’t always see the green surfaces. As a whole, I found the course a little easier around the greens than other Rees Jones designs that I’ve played. There are a few spots around the greens that should be avoided at all costs though!

I booked my tee time through Golfnow and paid $40 to play Talamore. I think that is reasonable all things considered, but I wish the greens were in better shape. The greens were pretty ugly looking because they had some patchy spots and sanded spots, but they rolled a lot better than they looked. It almost seemed like they were in summer-like condition. They weren’t as slow as they looked so I blasted a couple putts by the hole. The course recently started to overseed so the fairways were a mix of dormant, brown bermuda and some green patches. I knew this before my round though and I actually never had a bad lie in the fairway.

I’m happy that I made it over to Talamore and enjoyed playing this Rees Jones design! I’d recommend it, especially if someone can catch the greens in nicer shape.

Picture of the llamas!

0-1

#1 (609 yard par 5):

The opening hole is the #4 handicap and I’m glad that I didn’t play it first! It is a long par 5 with a fairway that runs out into trouble around 250 yards from the tee. Then, there is a forced carry to the other section of fairway. In all honestly, it is about as stupid a design as someone could dream up, especially for the 1st hole! I hit a good drive, a 3 wood, and I still had a long iron into the green because it plays uphill. Try not to let it sour the round as the rest of the course is good!

1-1 1-2

#2 (181 yard par 3):

The coolest part about this hole is the large bunker that squiggles its way up to the green. That shape for a bunker isn’t something that I see too often so I thought it was interesting. This par 3 plays ever so slightly uphill so if someone is in-between clubs I’d suggest taking the longer one.

2-1

#3 (397 yard par 4):

There are bunkers all down the left side of the 3rd hole that need to be avoided. Unfortunately, this time of year they blend in with the dormant grass! If someone hits a tee shot in the fairway then it is a chance to hit one close.

3-1

#4 (494 yard par 5):

This is the shortest of the three par 5’s and reachable with a decent tee shot. There is some strategy involved because it is another well bunkered hole. There is a fairway bunker on the left that is maybe 240 to 260 yards from the tee which pushes tee shots to the right because of its angle. The fairway runs out around it so the longer hitters are probably going to have to layup. If someone wants to try to reach the green in two then there is another bunker near the green which pushes shots the other way. The green is a bit raised so short game shots could be tough. Don’t let this chance to write down a good score slip by!

4-1 4-2

#5 (166 yard par 3):

This downhill par 3 plays to a green that is surrounded by sand! I think it plays a little less than a club downhill. There are actually two sets of tees which change the angle of the hole completely. After looking at the other tees, I don’t think the hole plays that much different from over there as they are elevated too.

5-1

#6 (329 yard par 4):

The 6th is a short par 4 that looks tougher than I think it plays. The tee shot is a small forced carry through a chute of trees to an uphill fairway. The toughest part of the hole is going to be controlling the distance from an uphill lie to a semi-blind and fairly large green. I pulled my iron and ended up with a long, downhill putt to the front pin.

6-1

#7 (422 yard par 4):

This is the 2nd most difficult hole on the course but someone can make a par a couple different ways. The hole moves left so the ideal tee shot is a draw. There is some slope which can feed the ball to the left so someone doesn’t have to challenge the fairway bunker on the left. From there it should be a mid-iron into a somewhat skinny green. I hit my drive up to the right in the pine needles, knocked it about 50 yards short of the green, and chipped it close so someone can recover.

7-1

#8 (400 yard par 4):

This is a pretty good test! The hole moves left around those pines but the fairway slopes slightly to the right. There is trouble to the right of the fairway so it is a demanding tee shot to find the proper spot in the fairway. The good news is that the fairway is wide. The approach is semi-blind to a green that falls off over the back. Make sure not to go long!

8-1 8-2

#9 (352 yard par 4):

I didn’t get a picture from the tee, but this is one of those shorter par 4’s where the fairway is larger close to the green. There are bunkers left, a carry over a creek, and it plays uphill so driver isn’t going to be a bad play. The approach plays uphill as well to a green that slopes from back to front. Missing the green shot is going to leave a tricky chip shot from below green level.

9-1

#10 (358 yard par 4):

The back nine starts out with a quirky tee shot. The fairway runs out around 225 yards into a tongue of rough. It then starts back up around 240 or 250 yards off the tee. I hit a good drive and thought that I would be in the 2nd fairway but I ended in the rough. The approach is blind to a green with a couple ridges so some local knowledge could help on this one. Both the tee shot and the approach play uphill which add at least 20 or 30 yards to the hole.

10-1 10-2

#11 (514 yard par 5):

This short par 5 is one of the easiest holes on the course! It doglegs to the left sharply around 240 to 260 yards so someone can run through the fairway. Some bunkers narrow the fairway right after the dogleg so a hard hook is needed to find that section because of the angle from the tee. I think it is a bit risky so the longer hitters might want to hit a 3 wood. There isn’t any real trouble short of the green so someone can try to run one up. If laying up, like I did, then make sure to hit it past some small mounds of rough that pepper the fairway from 100 to 150 yards into the green.

11-2 11-3

#12 (409 yard par 4):

This is a mid-length par 4 that requires a solidly struck approach. The key to doing that is to avoid some fairway bunkers down the the right side. Anything missing left of the green is probably going to kick into a bunker and leave a downhill bunker shot.

12-1 12-2

#13 (164 yard par 3):

There aren’t any tricks on the 13th. If someone picks the right club then it is a chance to hit one close. I’d favor the right center of the green because anything missing left could get a harsh kick. Make sure to stop and see the llamas on the way to the next tee!

13-1

#14 (368 yard par 4):

This is an interesting par 4 that requires some strategy off the tee. On the surface, the tee shot doesn’t look difficult because the fairway is wider and the only real trouble is going left of the fairway bunker. However, a tee shot ending up on the right half of the fairway could bring the pines into play. It gets tougher as the approach would have to be cut around them from a hook lie. That narrows the fairway quite a bit.

14-1

#15 (221 yard par 3):

This is the longest par 3 on the course and, at 221 yards, it is could be the longest par 3 on most courses! The green is small considering its length and the green is surrounded by bunkers. There isn’t much room to run one up onto the green and there is a ridge in the center of the green that divides it into a left and right section. Because of that ridge, the hole reminds me of a par 3 at Stoney Creek, another Rees Jones design, which is just outside of Charlottesville.

15-1

#16 (428 yard par 4):

The 16th has some teeth because it is the longest par 4 on the course and the #1 handicap! I think it is fair though because of the wide fairway and chance to run one up onto the green between some greenside bunkers. A solidly struck long iron should find the green but then the pressure is to two putt. Lots of good shots are required, but there is still a chance to make a par with an average one.

16-1

#17 (322 yard par 4):

This is the shortest par 4 on the course and a good chance for a birdie. A layup is probably the best play off the tee which leaves a wedge into a decent size green with some slope from back to front. Missing the green could leave a blind short game shot from below green level so I’d try as hard as possible to find the green in regulation. I’d favor the left center of the fairway off the tee as anything to the right could chase into some fairway bunkers.

17-1 17-2

#18 (400 yard par 4):

The tee shot is the most important shot on the final hole! The fairway sits at an angle so it is a longer carry to get to it on a line more to the left. It plays slightly uphill so make sure to account for that.

18-1 18-2

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