I kicked around the idea of spending some time at the beach after the first round but in the end I couldn’t resist the urge to play another “new” course! From a parking lot I used my phone to search for local courses, found Red Wing Lake, and gave the proshop a call. I was told to come on out and made the short drive to the course which is also located within the city limits. When I got there around 4:30pm it was pretty quiet with just a couple other singles and twosomes getting ready to head out.
The proshop got me out right away and gave me a free cart for nine holes! I didn’t know how many holes I could play before carts needed to be returned so I explained that riding the front nine and walking the back is what I had in mind. That is exactly what I did and, even walking nine holes, I still sped around in about 3 hours. The proshop just ended up charging me the 18 hole walking rate which was $20 instead of $30 that time of day! If I wasn’t in the middle of a golf filled weekend then walking the whole course wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Lots of the tees are close to the greens and there are only two spots that I can think of requiring some extra steps. Plus, the course is flat.
Red Wing Lake only has a couple homes in play, but they were hidden by trees on one side of the property. The course is in a secluded area of town along Redwing Lake which is visible from a couple holes on the back nine. There are ponds that come into play and course winds its way through some hardwoods and pine trees. In this respect I was reminded of The Hollows just outside Richmond. The course isn’t far from the ocean and I enjoyed a nice coastal breeze. The location and routing are both draws to play here in my opinion. Even though it was a compact design there were enough natural elements to separate the holes.
I played the blue tees which play 71.9/125/6653 and even with hazards on most of the holes, I found the course very playable. In fact, the biggest challenge was the conditioning but more on that in a bit. George Cobb designed the course and I’ve liked most of his courses that I’ve played. The fairways at Red Wing Lake were generous and there were only a couple tee shots that concerned me. Considering all the water on the property, it wasn’t in play as much as I would have thought. Many hazards seemed set back (more than normal) from the fairways and the greens which meant that I didn’t have to hit every shot perfect. The large greens are pretty flat and there are as many bunkerless green complexes as I’ve ever seen. The course seemed to inspire a perfect shot, even if I didn’t always hit it.
If I got anyone excited to play Red Wing Lake unfortunately I am going to suggest that you avoid it, at least at this time, because of the poor conditions. I normally play about fifty courses a year and in its current state, Red Wing Lake is going to be towards the bottom of that list if I ranked them all. It was very firm and just about every lie that I had was thin. For whatever reason, grass just didn’t seem to grow! Drives would run out 30+ yards so I had to be careful about which club I hit off the tee. I putted from places that I’d normally chip and I was concerned about blading shots from the fairway. I tried to play a bump and run from 100 yards two times! Besides the expected ball marks at a municipal course the greens rolled fine and at what I would call an average pace.
I’m not disappointed picking Red Wing Lake because I got to add a course to my list. But, it is a bit of a shame about the conditions because I think George Cobb did a nice job with the design.
#1 (363 yard par 4):
The 1st hole is the easiest hole on the course and that’s how I think every course should start out! The fairway is plenty wide after a long car ride or for first tee jitters. There is a small bunker that guards the left side of the green but the rest of the area around the green is open. A bad shot here shouldn’t spoil the round!
#2 (466 yard par 5):
The 2nd hole is the shortest par 5 on the course and it is a great chance for a birdie. It doglegs left so a draw is the best shape off the tee. There is a pond off to the right which I don’t think should come into play off the tee, but it can on the layup. My drive ended up left along the tree line and I had to hit start a big hook at that pond just to get it back in play. There aren’t any bunkers around the green so going for it in two shouldn’t be a bad play.
#3 (393 yard par 4):
The 3rd is another dogleg left and I think it is scenic with the water and all the pine trees. The tee shot plays over the edge of the pond which should only come into play on poorly struck shot or one to the right. I hit a high, foul ball to the right with my 3 wood and somehow it managed to carry the water, but if you are concerned then take as much club off the tee as you can. The approach plays about a club uphill.
#4 (197 yard par 3):
The 4th is a long par 3 that plays a bit easier than it looks. I say that because from the tee box it looks like the pond could grab quite a few shots. Actually, there is a little room between the water and the front of the green. It still can grab bad shots, but the green is large and missing left, right, or long are all options. If the shot is somewhat is solid you shouldn’t have to worry about the water unless attacking a front flag.
#5 (402 yard par 4):
The 5th, at 402 yards, is actually one of the longer par 4’s on the course. It moves left up to the green and there are some mounds that line the right side of the fairway. If the tee shot lands on top, or to the right, of the mounds then it could kick out of play. If someone wants to challenge the left side with a driver then that could leave just a short iron into the green.
#6 (388 yard par 4):
The 6th should make someone think, especially after a poor drive. The hole moves right and there is a pond short and left of the green that can come into play on the approach. The fairway is plenty wide, but if you are out of position then I’d suggest missing the approach in a spot where you can play from.
#7 (375 yard par 4):
The 7th is another mid-length par 4 and it plays similar to the 5th, only ~25 yards shorter. It moves the same direction (left) and has some mounding on the right side of the fairway. After a good drive it should be a chance to knock one close and maybe make a birdie!
#8 (215 yard par 3):
It might have been the cloud cover, but the 8th looked like a completely different hole when I got up by the green. From the tee, I thought the water on the left ran all the way up by the green and short of the bunker. That’s not the case as it stops well short of the bunker. The green is large and wide but it is still a difficult hole because the left side of the green is guarded by the bunker.
#9 (551 yard par 5):
The 9th is tied as the longest par 5 on the course. It is a pretty interesting hole with some risk/reward to it even though the distance will keep most players from getting there in two. The tee shot is straight ahead with trees lining each side of the fairway. For the layup there are some choices. The hole doglegs virtually ninety degrees up near the green around some water so an aggressive, shorter second that challenges the water can leave a good chance for birdie. Another option is to play further down the fairway to the dogleg which leaves a better angle into the green. It is the #2 handicap, but I was able to hit some good shots and make a nice score.
#10 (366 yard par 4):
The back nine starts out with a short par 4 with some options. A bold tee shot will carry a fairway bunker on the left and that should leave a short iron into the green. I played my 210 yard club off the tee and had a mid iron into one of the many bunkerless greens. This is a chance for a good score to kick off a new nine!
#11 (381 yard par 4):
The 11th is ranked as the #1 handicap, but I certainly thought some other holes were more challenging. If someone can draw the ball then it shouldn’t be too tough at all as the hole curls around those pine trees on the left. I don’t work the ball consistently that way so I hit my 3 wood and still had a short iron into the green. The approach plays into a green with a couple bunkers on the left and it has a back shelf. Hitting more club off the tee can bring the trouble right into play.
#12 (368 yard par 4):
The 12th is the opposite of the last couple holes and moves to the right. It is a similar tee shot in the fact that you can run through the fairway depending on the line. The green widens towards the back.
#13 (176 yard par 3):
The 13th is a mid-length par 3 that plays uphill with Redwing Lake off to the right. The lake could come into play if going at a right pin but there is lots of room short and left to play from. It played about a club uphill for me.
#14 (505 yard par 5):
The 14th is a potentially reachable par 5 with water on the right that runs up to the green. Anything landing towards the right side can kick into the water so I’d favor the left. Even if you cannot get to the green in two after the drive I think playing short and left is a good play. That could allow for a pitch that doesn’t have to carry the water. There is plenty of space to the left of the back to front sloping green.
#15 (406 yard par 4):
The 15th slides a little right and plays to a generous fairway with small mounds on each side. That means even an average tee shot can end up in the short grass. The approach will have to carry, or at least skirt, some water that is short and left of the green.
#16 (164 yard par 3):
The 16th is the shortest par 3 on the course and it is my favorite hole because it is scenic and playable. It is all carry over the water which wraps around to the left of the fairly large green. There is plenty of room right to bail out.
#17 (386 yard par 4):
The 17th was tricky to play as a first timer. I say “tricky” because the water on the left cuts in around the tees and does the same all the way along the fairway. I hit a shot that I thought would work out just fine and ended up getting lucky as my ball somehow stayed out of the water. I don’t think laying up helps either because the fairway gets wider towards the dogleg. After the tee shot the hole moves left to the green.
#18 (551 yard par 5):
The 18th hole is the other long par 5 and almost requires a left to right tee shot. The layup is semi-blind and can cause some problems. A pond about 80 yards short and left of the green can come into play on a layup hit too far and then again on the third shot. There is a mound to the right of the fairway which can kick balls towards the pond as well. Be careful on the layup. The green has a ridge which divides it into front and back sections.