Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Golfing Pine Dunes Review

Way out in East Texas, waaaay out there is according to GolfWeek, the Number 1 course in Texas. Pine Dunes Golf Resort is out in the pine barrens 2 hours east of Dallas and nestled within those pine trees and is a great golf course with no houses, plenty of tee times and lots of challenges.

I played 36 holes at Pine Dunes and despite being in Texas, I often thought I was playing in Virginia or the Carolinas, it had such a laid back, outdoorsy feel. Also, as you can tell in the pic above, the fairways were GREEN! For a SoCal boy, this was a welcomed site (now if I could just find the fairways to appreciate the color up close!).

There are two real outstanding features of PD, the first of which is the bunkering.

While the greens are wide, the throats are narrow so misses mean either you are in a bunker or shooting over one to a tight cut pin. The bunkers also contain interesting flourishes of islands of turf jutting into the bunker so even if you push a shot into the bunker you still might be in grass.

The second outstanding feature of the course is the routing. There is one par 5 that either forces a carry down the left or you have an easy bailout to the right but once you pick one route you are stuck to it as there are trees going all the way down to the green!

The course also embraces the design aesthetic we saw in the Coore/Crenshaw re-design of Pinehurst by having less turf and more waste areas (but areas you can play out of).

Allow me for a quick second to offer some thoughts about tee selection with this course. While this course is relatively new (having come about in 2001), I would argue that the white tees (making the course about 6,000 yards) is the best way to play this course rather than the blues (6,500) or the golds (7,000). I played the blue tees and the white tees during my 36 holes and the course really comes alive with the white tees. The challenges, the bunkering, the routing are all more acute and interesting from the white tees. From the blue tees you are hitting either before or over the trouble but with the white tees you are in the thick of it, which makes the course way more interesting in my mind.

Plus hitting from the white tees gives you more options like on the 18th hole which is a severe dogleg left over a pond which from the white tees you could potentially drive over.

I hit 3 of the best shots of my life and got an eagle on this hole, which will be a highlight for years to come.

The only small negative about PD is about the greens. They were a bit slow, which isn't surprising given the amount of rain in East Texas and I can't fault them for that. However, how they cut the greens in a cross-hatch pattern makes them difficult to read some times, which often led to a double break on numerous putts.

I bet during the Spring or Summer when the course drives out, the greens will come alive and give you a tremendous experience and credit goes to the greenskeeper for keeping the course as awesome as it was for a deep in December round.

The pace of play was fantastic, all the staff from the pro shop to the cute restaurant were great and with the quality of the golf, PD is well worth the trip if you are in the Dallas area. One suggestion, since the course is out in the middle of nowhere, definitely try to play 36 and/or stay at the resort so you can play the course multiple times.

Many thanks to John O'Keefe for taking many of the pictures of the course you see here, great playing partner and photographer!

For more information on Pine Dunes, check out the following:

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