The par four 7th
High Point, Pacific Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes, Rock Creek Old Macdonald and Sebonac are all course that I really liked, so with that in mind, I decided I must go out and see St. Andrew’s Beach.
St. Andrew’s Beach is on an excellent site. The site is pretty much wide open, has great views and exciting natural terrain. I really like the routing and particularly the way it utilizes the central knoll to create a series of really good holes. The course opens up a beautiful natural valley over an undulating fairway and climbs towards the green site. Surprisingly, the green is pretty much blind on any approach unless you play long and well right to set up a half wedge for your third shot. It’s a different style of hole than most of Tom’s fives and the blind approach was surprising for an opening hole.
The 2nd hole is a standout short par four using the natural terrain, interior bunkering and feeder slopes into the green to develop a thoughtful and fun hole. It was everything I had come to expect from Tom. The third hole was difficult, but I loved the concept of the green set back in a natural bowl partially hidden by landforms, where an exacting drive could open up the view. We were off and running.
The short and fun 2nd
The 5th was an exciting tee shot, but the approach was over a bunker to a green set down below the site line in a natural bowl. I’m fine with this on occasion, but when this occurs regularly I’m left to wonder. I’ve never minded blindness from the tee, but I’ve never been a fan of it repeated on approach shots.
The 7th was a great hole and one of my favorites with the island of bunkers and long grass used to separate the 7th and 8th fairways. The 8th is effectively the third blind shot into a green (the 3rd is for almost all) since there was no realistic play to see the green.
The long 13th
I always thought Tom combined difficulty with playability about as well as anyone in the business, but the next couple of holes may have pushed the boundary too far. I thought the 9th green was quite severe and the front plateau was an unrealistic target. I also struggled with the left slope on the 10th green since the short grass propelled your ball into the native fauna, although I did like the remainder of the design. The 12th, 14th and 18th are all really good holes coming in.
I think Tom tried to push the boundaries a little bit on this course, there are things I really enjoyed and areas where I think it went beyond what I comfortable with. It certainly was worth driving down to have at look at – as all his courses always are.