Bay Point Golf Club – Panama City Golf at Its Best

Bay Point Golf Club – Panama City Golf at Its Best

Bay Point Golf ClubOver the past several years, the Panama City Beach area has really cleaned up its act. No longer is it college’s spring destination for uninhibited college kids. The real estate market is booming, area businesses are rebounding nicely, and the hotel industry is once again beginning to flourish. All is good in Florida’s panhandle.

And all is good at the Sheraton Bay Point Resort – Panama City Beach’s premier golf destination. The resort is situated on historic St. Andrews Bay and is a perfect getaway destination for couples, families and golfers. Yes, golfers. The property, which is home to 36 holes of bay front golf including the panhandle’s only Nicklaus design, recently underwent a complete remodel of the lodging, restaurants and golf clubhouse and the final results are nothing short of amazing. Sheraton Bay Point is the only AAA 4-Diamond franchise hotel along the Emerald Coast, with 320 sharply appointed guest rooms, 65 of which are one-bedroom suites. Located about a 7-iron away from the main hotel and on the fairway of the Nicklaus Course’s 3rd and 6th holes is a collection of golf villas that feature both hotel style rooms as well as one-bedroom suites that can sleep up to four golfers comfortably.

Sheraton Bay Point also features several dining options, including the ultra-casual Flip-Flops Pool Bar, where you can enjoy custom crafted cocktails and craft beers while dining on Mahi Mahi Tacos and Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Tides Restaurant offers spectacular views of St. Andrews Bay, which are only outdone by the culinary staff’s creativity. They’ve recently added a Chop House menu, which includes cuts of high-end beef such as the Wagyu Filet and a 26-oz. porterhouse steak. Another great choice for breakfast or lunch is Bar 72, located at the golf course clubhouse. Bar 72 is a little more than your typical burgers and dogs clubhouse fare. Try the shepherd’s pie or the meatloaf stack and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Bay Point Golf ClubOn property and a short cart ride away from the hotel are two of northwest Florida’s finest golf courses: The Willard Byrd designed Meadows Course and the Nicklaus Course. The Nicklaus Course is the crown jewel at Bay Point and plays 7,152 yards from the back tees with a rating of 74.3 and a slope of 143. Most golfers will be challenged from Tee 2 (6,430/70.7/132) and still leave with a little dignity intact. Ladies will be tested from a distance of 4,974 yards, yet still enjoy themselves.

Bay Point Golf ClubThe first five holes of the Nicklaus Course set the tone for your round. The first hole showcases the water that can become your nemesis on 17 of the next 18 holes. It’s a dogleg right around a lake that requires an accurate shot off the tee up around the 150-yard marker. From there, you’ll have a slightly uphill approach to a green protected in the front by two deep bunkers. Number 2 is a tough par 3 that plays 171 yards (Tee 2) over water to a green protected on the left by water and front right by a large deep bunker. The water on Number 3 shouldn’t come into play; if it does, check with the pro shop about getting a lesson. It’s a modest par 4, dogleg left with the most dramatic false-fronted green I have ever seen; it has to be at least a 6-foot drop. The green features a lot of undulation and a two-putt or better is a good thing.

Bay Point Golf ClubNumber 4 is a par 4, that plays 384 yards (Tee 2) and features a green abutted by water on the left. All of this leads up to Number 5, the most scenic and demanding hole on the course and by far the most interesting. Play your tee shot about 225 yards over wetlands to an “island” fairway. From there’ you’ll have a long iron shot over more wetlands to a long narrow green with not much room behind it. Par is a good score here.

Two of the three remaining par 3s require you to choose the right club and trust your distance; knowing the pin position is also critical. Numbers 7 and 17 are both fairly long with blind shots into the green. Choose the right club, hit your best shot and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

The back nine also features several intriguing holes including the drivable Number 13 which plays 281 yards from Tee 2. Beware of the small grove of pine trees if you push your drive right; the green is protected by water to the left and a deep bunker to the right. Number 14 is the course’s #1 handicapped hole; a long dogleg right that plays over water and sand off the tee. Your approach shot plays over a lake which also guards the right side of the green. There’s a bunker back left that catches anything long. This hole takes four solid shots to make par.

Bay Point Golf ClubNumber 18 is a great finishing hole and is almost the mirror image of the opening hole. It requires a forced carry over water that plays all the way down the left side, with more of the wet stuff short and right of the green. A tee shot over the water and slightly left of the fairway bunker will leave a short pitch shot into an elevated triangular green protected on all three sides by sand. A great end to a great round.

Number 5 is the course’s first par 5 (480 yards from Tee 2) and is also a narrow driving hole, however, with a good tee shot, it is reachable on two. Water comes into play on the left side about 250 yards off the tee, so favor the right. For most players, it’s a three-shot hole and an approach from the left side takes a few of the infringing pines on the right side out of play. The green is small and well protected. Number 9 (509 yards from Tee 2) is the second par 5 on the outward 9 and this double dogleg is a good test of your shotmaking ability. Water short and left of the green sees a lot of action and the elevated green is large and may require an extra club, depending on pin position.

Number 10 is a long par 4 (409 yards from Tee 2) with water on the right off the tee that creeps into the fairway and catches unsuspecting players. Most players will need to hit a long approach shot into a shallow green. Par is a good score here. Number 13 is the most picturesque hole on the course, a short par 3 (132 yards from Tee 2) over water into a well-protected green. Choose the right club off the tee and a low score is possible.

Bay Point Golf ClubThe Meadows also finishes with one of the layout’s most memorable holes, a 384-yard (Tee 2) dogleg right par 4 with bunkers on either side off the tee right at the bend. A good drive will leave a mid to long iron into a small green protected on the right with water and sand on either side. Another strong finishing hole.

Bay Point Golf ClubThe winter months are a great time to visit the resort and take advantage of everything Bay Point has to offer. And, since Northwest Florida’s seasonality peaks in the summer, a great value can be had between January and March.

For more information on either Sheraton Bay Point Resort or Bay Point Golf Club and to see their current offers, visit their websites:;

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

True Blue Golf Club

True Blue Golf Club

True Blue Golf ClubTrue Blue is one of those courses that, after you get a taste of it, you just want more. The course is one of only a handful of Mike Stranz courses; in fact, there are two here, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club being the other. True Blue is built on the site of a once thriving indigo and rice plantation.

Stranz was more than a golf course architect, he was a golf course artist. His courses seem to blend in perfectly with the natural surroundings. True Blue seems to rise out of the ground like a Phoenix rising from the ashes; it’s also one of the most creative golf courses you will ever play. Stranz’ creativity in design requires creativity in your shot making as you make your way around a course that has incorporated salt marshes, wetlands and maritime forests of twisting live oaks and pine trees into the layout creating memories that are one of a kind.

True Blue Golf Club was Mike Strantz’s fourth signature golf course, and opened to rave reviews in February 1998. Caledonia opened in 1994 and shortly after True Blue opened, Stranz was named “Architect of the Year” by Golf World. The course is not without its share of notoriety, being ranked 77th on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Public Courses in America list and 6th best public course in South Carolina. Golf Digest has also seen fit to rank True Blue the 29th best course in South Carolina (8th among public courses) and gave it 4 ½ stars for “Places to Play”. But this course is not just for the guys; Golf for Women Magazine recognized True Blue as one of the country’s Top 100 Courses for Women. The course is an absolute must-play for any golfer visiting Myrtle Beach.

Sand is a legitimate concern at True Blue as it figures into every hole on the course, and some of it will penalize you severely. Technically, there are no bunkers; every grain of sand out here is considered a waste area. It’s packed down in many areas so, unless you’re adept at hitting off your kitchen table, it can be a little tricky. Feel free to ground away, take some practice swings, even drive the cart through it; whatever you have to do to get the ball on the green. Because that’s when the fun starts!

Most golfers have never experienced greens like this before in their lives. They are some of the most unique sizes and shapes around. And, unlike designers who like to bury elephants in their greens, Stranz relies on lengthy angular greens – many slanting from back to front – putting an emphasis on slope and speed for longer putts.

True Blue offers a set of tees to fit everyone’s game. When in doubt, play the shorter set, you’ll have more fun. Bit off more than you can chew out here and you could be in for a long day. The Back/Gold Tees measure 7,126 yards with a course rating of 74.5 and a 138 slope. Most golfers will find that the White Tees (6,375 yards/71.1/132) will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little dignity. Of course, that part depends on how you fare on Number 18, more on that in a minute. Seniors typically play from the Black Tees (5,736/68.2/123) while ladies will enjoy themselves from the Green Tees (4,995/69.3/125).

Memorable Holes:

True Blue Golf ClubFavorite Par 3: number 3, 141 yards (White Tees). This hole can make or break your round early on. Depending on the pin position there can be a 25-yard difference between front and back. The hole plays a lot tougher with the pin in front because the landing area is smaller. Also, if the pin’s up front and you hit it short or long, you’re in the bunker, which sits well below the putting surface. Regardless of pin position, it’s all carry over water and sand to an island green. If the pin is in the back, play to the right of the hole and let the ball funnel down towards it. Par is a good score here. This is a good display of Mike Stranz the artist.

True Blue Golf ClubFavorite Par 4: Number 18, 406 Yards. Stranz has indeed saved the best for last. Water is in play all the way down the left side and the fairway slopes off on the right into a large waste bunker. It’s 200+ yards to carry the bunker just across the water and if you can find the middle of the fairway off the tee, you’re halfway there. Play your approach shot into a long narrow green that angles back left to front right and slopes down towards the water which protects the entire left side. Once you get on the green the fun begins as onlookers from the clubhouse porch cheer and jeer your efforts. This may be as close as you ever get to playing in front of a gallery so relish the moment.

True Blue Golf ClubFavorite Par 5: Number 1, 499 yards (White Tees). For my money, True Blue starts you out with the best hole on the course and builds from there. Waste bunkers frame the left side of the fairway on this long dogleg left, leading up to a creek in front of a well elevated green, meaning you’ll have to use an aerial approach. For most players it’s a three-shot hole because of the creek. To complicate matters, there’s a bunker that wraps around most of the green which is very narrow, yet receptive. A good-looking golf hole that can be tamed.

Best Chance for a Low Number: Number 4. Par 5, 493 yards. A low number can be had with two good shots back-to-back as long as you’re willing to risk it. A well struck drive in the neighborhood of 250 yards that finds the middle or left side of the fairway will leave a second shot of around 220 yards into the green. Here’s where the risk comes in: it’s all carry over water with sand catching anything left or right of the putting surface. It’s one of the smaller greens on the course but receptive to long approach shots. Whatever you do, avoid the pot bunker to the right of the green; it’s a tough up and down. Go for it; you didn’t come here to lay up!

Last Word:

True Blue certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the best golf courses in South Carolina. The late Mike Stranz sure did himself proud. Other than the par 3s, most of the holes are doglegs, some of which are created by the presence of the waste bunkers. This places an emphasis on distance and direction control. Spend too time in the waste bunkers and you’ll wish you went to the beach. A lot of the rough is cut just slightly longer than the fairway which tends to let the ball roll more, which can be both good and bad.

True Blue Golf ClubMany of the fairways are framed by waste bunkers, which adds to the natural beauty of the course. As a whole, the course is challenging without being overly taxing. It will make you play every club in your bag, and play them well. Also, there are some pretty significant elevation changes (+/- a club or two) which is unique for this part of the state

True Blue has some pretty impressive practice facilities too. Range balls are included with your greens fees and it’s highly advised that you hit all the balls they give you. There are a number of targets at varying distances so you can hit every club in your bag. Be sure to practice your bunker play; if you can make it around this course without having to play out of the sand, you’ve accomplished something!

Inside the clubhouse you will find a pro shop packed with all kinds of logoed gear from top apparel companies and some new up and comers. The True Blue Grillroom serve up all of you favorite post-golf libations as well as some authentic Lowcountry food. Breakfast is served from 7 am – 10:30 AM and lunch is available from 11 am – 3 pm.

True Blue is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round visit

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Founders Club at Pawleys Island

Founders Club at Pawleys Island

Founders ClubThe Founders Club at Pawleys Island, about 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach on Highway 17, opened for play in 2008 and attracts golfers because of its unique appeal: sand instead of long, unforgiving rough.

The course was designed by Thomas Walker, former lead designer for Gary Player Design, on what used to be the Sea Gull Golf Club, a Gene Hamm design that dates back to 1966. Like much of the surrounding area, the original course was relatively flat. Walker changed the look and feel of the course by moving around over a quarter million cubic yards of dirt. The $7 million renovation project included a new Lowcountry-style clubhouse, overlooking the 18th green.

Since Walker’s redo in 2008, Founders Club has received numerous accolades including one of the 30 Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel in 2009 and again in 2011. Founders Club was also named Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association in 2011.

As a result of all the renovation work, Founders Club features sloping fairways, bunkers, elevation changes, and mounding, lots of mounding. Overgrown rough has been replaced with waste areas filled with native beach sand, pine straw and grasses. Also sprinkled throughout the course are Lowcountry wetlands, towering live oak and pine trees and azaleas which, when in bloom, add to the beauty of the layout. You won’t find many traditional cart paths out here, instead what you have are waste areas that are in play. Another feature that sets Founders Club apart from other courses in the area are the Emerald Bermuda greens. This unique strain of grass withstands the summer heat and requires less water than other grasses; it also has less grain.

Founders ClubFive sets of tees allow players to choose their level of difficulty. From the Black Tees, Founders Club plays 7,007 yards with a course rating of 74.2 and a slope of 142. Big numbers from the Back tees. Mere mortal golfers will find that the White tees (6,394 yards/71.2 course rating/133 slope) will give them all the golf they can handle and allow them to leave with a little dignity. Seniors move up to just over 5500 yards while the Ladies will enjoy a length of 4,805 yards. Since you know your game better than anyone, picking the right set of tees will maximize your enjoyment.

With such a premium on land in the area, there is no formal driving range. Instead there is a hitting net which can accommodate 6 players at a time and a practice putting green where you can also hit some chip shots.

Memorable Holes

Number 2: Par 4, 390 yards (White Tees). Standing on the tee, this long par 4 looks intimidating, with water all down the right side and trees and a waste bunker down the left. The landing area is generous, so take advantage of it. Favoring the left side of the fairway will take the water out of play and give the best angle for approach into a large green with a long, narrow bunker on the right and a small deep bunker about half way back on the left. Keep it on play to the green and you could end up with a low score.

Number 3: Par 3, 166 yards (White Tees). Because of the shallow depth of the green, distance off the tee is crucial. It’s all carry over water to an oval green set on an angle. A deep bunker in front guards the right side. If the bunkers behind the green come into play, you weren’t listening when I talked about distance control. The green slopes gently back towards the water.

Number 9: Par 5, 493 yards (White Tees). For most, Number 9 is the first hole you see when you enter the property; it’s the one right along the road. Most golfers will comment on the way the sand slopes down into the pond, making it a great looking hole. That being said, if you want to post a low score on this hole, it’s best to avoid the pretty sand and water! This hole can best be described as a narrow strip of grass surrounded by sand – and water. You’ll need to carry your tee shot over a large waste bunker and on to one of these narrow strips of grass – aka fairway. The landing area opens up, however two bunkers on the right and infringing water on the left come into play if you hit it too far. The fairway bottlenecks and then opens back up in the landing area with the right-side waste bunker creeping in and the water on the left. Success so far will leave a short iron into a large green protected front right and in the back by large penalizing bunkers. Par is a good score here.

Founders ClubNumber 12: Par 5, 491 yards (White Tees). Number 12 looks like a hole straight out of the yardage book of a Scottish golf course with a row of pot bunkers down the middle of the fairway. Most of the time, you want to hit the ball off the tee as far as you can down the middle of the fairway; on this hole it’s not advised! Most players will come up short of the bunkers and have to deal with them on their layup shot. Unless you’re a long ball hitter, you’ll want to hit your layup shot short of the pond and then play your approach shot about 120 yards to a large, receptive green with a deep bunker front left. The fairway is framed on either side by a waste bunker. A challenging but doable hole.

Number 16: Par 3, 135 yards (White Tees). What makes this hole interesting is the deep pot bunker in the front middle of the green. You’ll play your tee shot over a small waste area on to the green. There’s really no bailout area here and you’re going to need to fly it on, so be sure to take enough club off the tee.

Last Word:

Founders Club is a difficult but fair golf course. The waste bunkers and pine straw that have replaced the rough are a welcomed change; it’s easier to find your ball and hit out of a waste bunker than some gnarly rough. In fact, every hole has a sand challenge of some sort. There are only a couple of holes that require a forced carry, even for the ladies.

Founders Club appeals to just about any type of golfer, whether you like to grip-it-and-rip-it or play it conservatively. Hit the ball as far as you can every time or layup and lay back and play it more strategically. You can play it differently each time.

Founders ClubSome players feel that Founders Club plays tough. If you feel the same way after a few holes, consider playing one tee forward from where you normally play at another golf course. If all else fails, the PGA professionals at Founders Club are always happy to give you lessons and help improve your game. Start by hitting some balls into the net to get warmed up and then head out for some real-time on-course learning.

Whether you’re coming down in the spring as part of a larger group or renting a home in the area during the summer months and just want to get away for a few hours, Founders Club welcomes you as a guest. And, if it’s been raining for a few days – as it’s known to do during the summer – odds are that the course is open and playable; it’s one of the best draining courses in the area. If you play a variety of courses in the area, you’ll find that Founders Club is one of the more unique, challenging and fun courses in the area.

The Founders Club at Pawleys Island is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round, visit the website at

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Bryan Park Champions Course  – Unspoiled Splendor

Bryan Park Champions Course – Unspoiled Splendor

Bryan Park Champions CourseShould you, an avid golfer, find yourself in the Greensboro, NC area during golf season- which according to Bryan Park General Manager and Director of Golf Kyle Kolls is all year – you need to book a round on the Champions Course at Bryan Park Golf Club.

Bryan Park Golf Club is a 36-hole facility. The Players Course opened in 1974 and was originally designed by George Cobb. Rees Jones did a major redesign of the course in 1988. The Champions Course opened in 1990 and is 100% Rees Jones; it has quickly become one of his best works. With seven holes bordering Lake Townsend, the views are just about as spectacular as the golf course. And, when the leaves change color in the fall, the scenery gets even better.

The Players Course was ranked number 2 in Golf Digest’s list of Best New Public Courses in 1990 and hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2010. Year after year, the course is nationally ranked by major golf publications and is by far the Greensboro area’s most prestigious public course.

Before your round on either course, be sure to take advantage of Bryan Park’s impressive practice facilities. The driving range is full-length and allows you to hit every club in your bag. There’s also a chipping green where you have plenty of room to work on a variety of short shots as well as improving your bunker play. The practice green is one of the biggest I have ever seen and has the ability to accommodate the largest of outings.

The Champions Course has it all: significant elevations changes, forced carries over water, sand and deep chasms, tree-lined fairways and wide-open holes. There’s something for everyone here as well as a tee box with yardage suitable to your golf game and ability. From the Back Tees, Champions plays 7,264 yards and carries a course rating of 75.8 and a slope of 142; much higher than its sister course, the Players. The White Tees at 6,536 yards (72.4/136) will give most non-touring professional golfers all the golf they can handle. Seniors will enjoy the Gold Tees at 5,905 yards (69.7/130) while Ladies will have a blast from the Red Tees (5,237/71.7/128). A 5th set of tees – a combination of the White and Gold Tees – appears on the scorecard in the form of circles; I imagine this combo yardage will be added next reprint. From these tees, the course plays 6,151; for me the perfect yardage.

The 3rd hole is a challenging par 5 that plays 482 yards from the White Tees. Longball hitters who can carry the ball over 250 yards in the air should definitely try and cut the corner and get home in two. For the rest of us, the third fairway bunker on the left is the perfect aiming point off the tee, however if you pull it right you could easily find yourself in one of the neighboring sand traps. There’s ample room in the landing area for your layup shot, setting up a short chip into an elevated tiered green. Odds are you’ll have to fly the ball on as the three deep-lipped bunkers that surround the green will swallow up anything that is hit short. Not the longest par 5 out here, but still a challenge.

The par 3 holes also present a challenge, especially on the inward nine. Number 12 plays 180 yards and gets you ready for Number 14 at 210 yards. Number 14 also features two sets of tees and depending upon the mood of the superintendent that day, can make or break your round. The harder set of tees play over a finger of Lake Townsend and, if you tend to fade the ball, you’re in trouble. A deep bunker guards the entire front of the green and there’s a nasty pot bunker right as well. Mounding on the left side can make for a difficult lie and a tough up and down. The second set of tees play just as long but take most of the lake out of play.

Bryan Park Champions CourseThe need for accuracy off the tee is really stressed on the back 9. Standing on the tee on Number 10, you get the feeling that you’re going to have to make a good shot if you want to score well. After all, at only 345 yards – most of it downhill – how hard can it be? All that is visible off the tee is the retaining wall in front of the left side of the green. Water doesn’t come into play off the White Tees unless you hit it over 250 yards, so most players can hit driver. Bunkers on the left and large grass mounds on the right beckon you to keep your tee shot in the fairway. A good drive that carries down the hill will leave a short iron into a two-tiered green guarded by water in the front left, a large bunker on the right and three pot bunkers in back.

Target golf continues on Number 11, a 501-yard par 5 that is more of a 90° angle then a dogleg right. Your tee shot is a 200+ yard carry over water and a deep chasm as well as two large bunkers. Success off the tee does not insure victory over the hole; you’ll need to hit two more accurate shots to reach the green. The fairway is narrow and slopes off on both sides all the way up to the green. A good line on your layup shot is the left bunker. Leave it short, and you’ll have the best angle of attack into the large green that features modest undulation. This was by far my favorite hole.

Number 13 is the most challenging hole on the Champions Course. It’s the longest par 4 at 435 yards (White Tees) and requires a long carry off the tee. Lake Townsend sits to the right of the tee box and figures into the equation all the way down the right side. As you get closer to the green, you will notice that you are on a peninsula in the lake, with water and deep bunkers on both sides. Mounding and sand make for a tough approach shot, especially if you hit it short. Depending on pin placement, an up and down can be a challenge.

The final three holes on the Champions Course play away from the lake, but still offer some significant challenges. Number 16 (382 yards) is a dogleg left with a well-undulated fairway that slopes right to left and is guarded by heavy woods on both sides. Your approach shot is all carry to one of the layout’s smaller greens which is protected in front by a complex of 5 bunkers.

Number 17 is a long, straight par 4, that plays 408 yards from the White Tees. The only trouble off the tee is a pot bunker on the left side about 230 yards out. The elevated green is guarded by two large and deep bunkers on the left. Two good shots and you could be rewarded.

The finishing hole on the Champions Course is a long par 4 at 443 yards (White Tees). The towering pine trees on the right shouldn’t come into play, however the same cannot be said for the large fairway bunkers on the left. A long tee shot is still going to leave a long approach shot to a large, elevated multi-tiered green that falls off on either side. Pars (or better) can be hard to come by on this hole.

Bryan Park Champions CourseLast Word: Bryan Park is one of the nicest public golf facilities I have ever had the pleasure of playing and writing about; and that goes for either course. Although the Players Course may not be quite as challenging, it is by no means an “easy” golf course.

The Champions Course on the other hand, demands a complete golf game from its players. You’ll need both length and shot making ability if you want to score well here. A couple of the par 4s are extremely long, in fact, I’ve played shorter par 5s. The front nine provides a great warmup and is the side you’re going to score well on. Be sure to save your energy and deductive reasoning skills for the back side, you’ll need to hit a few long carries and think your way around.

If you’re serious about the game of golf and want to get an idea if how good (or bad) you really are, the Champions Course will be a great barometer. If you can get around this course and still feel good about your game, you’ve accomplished something. If you’re playing poorly, just take a minute and look around; especially on the backside where some of North Carolina’s best golf vistas can be found. It’s just you, mother nature and that little white ball.

For more information on Bryan Park Golf Club or to book your next round; be sure to visit their website,

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Bryan Park – The Players Course

Bryan Park – The Players Course

Bryan ParkAnyone who plays golf in the Greensboro, NC area is no doubt familiar with the Bryan Park golf facility. This 36-hole facility is home to two stellar courses: the Champions Course and the Players Course. The latter is an 18-hole championship course designed by George Cobb in 1974 and redesigned by Rees Jones in 1988. It features Bermuda grass fairways and tees and Bentgrass greens. The Players Course has been named as a 4-Stars Best Places to Play by Golf Digest and one of America’s Top 100 Courses for Women by Golf for Women Magazine. General Manager Kyle Kolls has been there over 12 years and has assembled a great staff that is professional, friendly and truly seems to love what they do. Most of the employees have been there for quite a few years. It truly is a treat to play and should be played by anyone in the area.

From the back tees, the Players Course measures 7018 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and a slope of 133. Mere mortal golfers will find that the White Tees (6,342/70.9/127) will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little bit of dignity. Ladies can give it their best from the Red Tees (4,713/69.9/117). Four sets of tees make The Players Course fun and challenging for golfers of all abilities.

Before your round, be sure to hit the practice range located behind the starter’s shack; it’s included in your greens fees. It’s a full-length range, so you’ll be able to hit every club in your bag, which isn’t a bad thing, since you will probably use them all. There’s also a large practice putting area where you can get your speed down and try and figure out some of the breaks.

The Players Course features everything you’d expect in a Carolina golf course: elevation changes, challenging green complexes, water and sand hazards, and tree lined fairways. And then there are the greens – well-undulated, true rolling, generous and fast. Keeping it in the fairway off the tee is only half the battle, hitting the green and making the putt is the other part of the equation. Master these tasks and you’ll find this course can be tamed; stray off the beaten path and things can get tough.

Several holes bear witness to this philosophy. The par 3, 3rd hole plays 169 yards from the White Tees, and has it all. The green sits well below the fairway and plays significantly downhill; about 8 – 10 yards shorter than the stated yardage. The tee shot plays over water and over sand; in fact, there are bunkers protecting three sides of the green. The green is large and set on an angle from back right to front left; it also features a lot of undulation.

Bryan ParkOne of the more memorable par 4 holes is number 6. This dogleg left plays 363 yards from the White Tees and features trees down the left side off the tee and a lot of mounding on the right side, which adds a great look to this hole. The fairway bunkers on the left side require a long carry of about 250 yards and probably aren’t worth the risk. A well struck drive down the middle of the fairway will leave a short iron. Your tee shot plays slightly uphill and your approach shot slightly downhill. Left pin placements can be tough with two deep bunkers guarding the front, one of which is a gnarly little pot bunker. The green is large and crowned adding to the stress of a front left pin placement. Great hole!

Of all the members I spoke with during my round, the par 5, 12th hole was their favorite. Number 12 plays 493 yards from the White tees and features a lake on the left, which catches a lot of balls from unsuccessful attempts to cut the corner. Once you reach the corner, the hole moves downhill, with a narrow fairway to hit on your layup; woods and sand encroach on the right. Although the putting surface is large, you’ll need an accurate approach shot; the green is surrounded with large, deep bunkers. It takes 3 well-executed shots to score here. I think this hole is so well-liked because of the lakeview behind the green; it’s absolutely stunning; Especially in the fall with the leaves changing color.

Number 17 is another par 3 where a par or better is well earned. It plays 179 yards from the White Tees, slightly uphill and over water. The green is large and slightly elevated with large bunkers on either side and a third in back.

By far, the staff’s favorite hole on the Players Course is Number 18, a long and challenging par 4 that plays 417 yards from the White Tees. It’s a long way to the corner of the dogleg and anything pushed too far left is going to run down a steep hill and off the fairway into the trees. Your approach shot requires precision into a small, shallow, two-tiered green protected by bunkers and a lot of mounding on the front right side and back left. A par or better here and you’ll have something to celebrate in the clubhouse.

After your round, stop by the Grill Room for your favorite post-round libation. They have several local and domestic beers on tap, which are ice cold. Their food offerings stray from traditional clubhouse fare with items such as a Carolina Burger; everything is well prepared and tastes great. The pro shop is full of logoed apparel from many top golf companies such as PING, FootJoy, Antigua and Callaway Golf.

Bryan ParkLast Word: The Players Course may not be as tough a test as its sister course, the Champions, but it will still test your mettle. Just be sure to pick the set of tees that best compliments your ability. As you make your way around the course, you’ll be treated to scenic lake views which are worth their weight in gold when the leaves change color. The elevation changes and hazards add to the challenge of this wonderful golf course.

On either side of the Players Course, you get the par 5 holes out of the way relatively quick. I’ve always liked par 5s and view them as holes I can score well on. If you feel the same way, make sure to hit some fairway woods and long irons on the practice range so that you are properly warmed up and ready for them early on in your round!

The scorecard shows four sets of tees: Blue, White, Gold and Red, with the difference between the White and Gold a whopping 570+ yards. Although it is not officially reflected on the scorecard yet, Bryan Park has created a 5th set of tees. By playing the circled yardage on the scorecard which combines these sets of tees, you’ll come up with a yardage just over 6,200 yards, which is perfect.

If you plan on being in the Greensboro, NC area and you are looking to treat yourself to a couple of rounds of golf on some incredible golf courses, check out Bryan Park. Whether you choose the Players Course or the Champions Course, odds are that you will use every club in the bag and have a great time. For more information about playing your next round of golf at Bryan Park, visit their website at

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret


Osprey Cove – A South Georgia Track That Shouldn’t Be Missed

Osprey Cove – A South Georgia Track That Shouldn’t Be Missed

Osprey CoveLocated literally minutes from the Florida/Georgia border, Osprey Cove has a lot to offer. This private, gated community features luxury homes in a resort atmosphere and the climate in St. Marys, GA although warmer, allows residents to experience all four seasons, even if the colder weather is brief – just the way I like it.

Residents at Osprey Cove will find their social calendars crammed with things to do, whether it involves the fitness center, tennis or swimming pool, bike riding, boating or gardening. If that doesn’t provide enough opportunities to keep oneself busy, there’s always the 18-hole championship Mark McCumber-designed golf course.

Osprey Cove Golf Club opened for play in 1990 and over the years has gone through some tumultuous times which saw the course deteriorate to almost unplayable levels. Over the last 10 years or so, Osprey Cove has undergone a tremendous rejuvenation and is considered to be the best golf course in the area. This past summer saw the installation of new TifEagle Bermuda greens and two of the industry’s top magazines – Golf Digest and GolfWeek have recognized Osprey Cove as a “Must play if you are within 100 miles’ as well as a “Top 5 Course in Georgia”.

From the back (Black) tees, Osprey Cove plays 6,778 yards with a course rating of 72.9 and a slope of 135. Mere mortal men will find that the Blue Tees (6,236/70.7/131) provide an ample challenge and take out a few long carries off the tees. Ladies have a couple of choices as well; most choose to play from the Red Tees (5,062/70.0/117). There are a total of six sets of tees that create a yardage and difficulty suitable for golfers of ages and abilities.

Osprey Cove is the epitome of a Southern coastal golf course. It sits at the edge of the expansive St. Marys River basin and is designed around a wild life preservation area among tidal inlets and pristine marshes along the river. Golfers are treated to magnificent views out across the marshes on many holes.

Memorable Holes (All Yardages are From the Blue Tees)

Number 3: Par 5, 441 yards. Although this is a short par 3, Number 3 can be a very challenging hole, especially for someone who is not familiar with the course. What you think could be a perfect drive could easily land in the wetlands, especially if you try and hug the right side. A tee shot just shy of 240 yards will land you just short of the water that bisects the fairway. The trio of pine trees on the left side of the fairway up near the green help to create a kind of double dogleg. An approach shot with a bit of a draw could find the green and set up an eagle opportunity. Miss the green to the left and the deep bunker will test your ability to get up and down. The green is shallow and can be tough to hold with a long approach shot. Par is a good score here.

Number 5: Par 4, 334 yards. A short par 4 with an interesting ending. By that I mean the pot bunker that sits directly in front of the green, taking away the bump-and-run and forcing players to fly it on the elevated green. There is a lot of roll and undulation in the fairway and your tee shot is somewhat blind. Front middle pin placements will make you earn a low score.

Osprey CoveNumber 9: Par 4, 342 yards. Trees right and the expansive marshlands on the left keep you honest off the tee. Middle of the fairway is an ideal place to come in from. There’s a large deep bunker on the left and another to the right of this double green that co-exists with Number 18. A fair and rewarding end to the outward nine.

Number 11: Par 3, 113 yards. If I were naming holes, this one would be called “Sand” because it’s everywhere. Carry the waste bunker off the tee, avoid the two pot bunkers that guard the front of this elevated green which slopes back to front and you’ve got it made!

Number 15: Par 4, 381 yards. Standing on the tee, you’ll notice a large oak tree in the middle of the fairway, just short of where you want your ball to land. If you’re like me, I take dead aim at it, that way I’m assured of not hitting it! Left of the tree with a little bit of a fade works well too and leaves a mid-iron into a green fronted on either side with bunkers.

Number 18: Par 5, 468 yards. Number 18 requires a fairly substantial carry over the marsh from any of the men’s tee boxes. McCumber has placed fairway bunkers in the landing area on the left side off the tee and a couple more in the landing area and middle of the fairway to penalize otherwise successful layup shots. The marsh creeps up to the green on the right side and more well-place bunkers can wreak havoc with short approach shots. To me, this was the most entertaining hole on the golf course. Any pars (or better) are well earned.

Last Word: Osprey Cove is a golf course that won’t beat you up, but at the same time, it won’t let you push it around either. To many, it’s a shot maker’s course that demands a high level of placement and execution if you want to score well. McCumber has given players many targets to aim at to keep them on course. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself writing down some favorable scores. Fail to do so and you’ll pay the price.

Osprey CoveOne memorable characteristic of Osprey Cove is the smallness of the greens, compared to other area courses. Many of them have significant slope and undulations or are tucked precariously behind bunkers.

All in all, McCumber did a great job of using the natural terrain and river to create an exciting golf course that can be enjoyed by everyone. Osprey Cove is private club caliber with access to the general public and should not be missed by golfers in the area. Golf Digest had it right when they called Osprey Cove a “Must Play if You’re Within 100 Miles”. Osprey Cove is easily accessible from Jacksonville and the Amelia Island area and is a great stopover for snowbirds who are looking to get in one more round as they are heading back home.

Unlike many residential developments of this caliber, Osprey Cove offers stay and play packages that include accommodations in one of their luxurious suites overlooking the 18th hole, an in-room continental breakfast greens fees, cart fees, range balls and access to club amenities.

For more information or to book a round or a stay and play package, visit their website at

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

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