Sunday, July 12, 2009

WOW! What a course: Lonnie Poole Golf Course

The entire 18 holes opened this weekend. I played 36 holes: 18 on Saturday afternoon walking with a push cart for my clubs and 18 Sunday morning in a riding cart. Each round took less than three hours to play. I was by myself most of the time each day, though I played the last seven Saturday with a couple I caught up with on 12th tee.

87 Saturday; 81 Sunday. Black tees. 6,901 yards. 69.3 course rating. 131 slope.

No doubt the hardest part of playing the course is the bunkers. For the most part, the sand is very soft and deep. Tough to get out. Lots of opportunities to get in and to have long shots to the green, even in bunkers near the greens. Islands of natural grass in the sand bunkers all over the place. Four-inch lips all the way around. I firmly believe that's a design flaw. A ball just barely in any sand bunker leaves you with no shot whatsoever. Deep edges on the forward lip is okay. The bunkers are so large that locating a rake after playing from within is a pain. The natural areas inside the sand bunkers make it difficult to locate your ball. I've been told the best method for playing out of sand bunkers is to avoid them. That's very true at this course.

Holes 2-7 are wonderful tests, especially #3 and #5. Right now, #3 from the black tee is a 526 par four. The white tee is 501 yards. They may move the tees ahead a little or they may change par to 5, changing the total to 72 from 71. I think i hit the ball rather long for my 57 years, but even Saturday's tee shot from 526 left me with a 275+ shot over a natural area and a series of sand bunkers. (See photo above.) A neat six iron to the natural area with a good 7 iron gets you to the back of the green.

The fifth hole is 459 yard par four with somewhat of an up-hill tee shot over a hill and then down to a green that's actually up-hill again. Go figure. Just getting your tee shot to the fairway is tough.

I also like the 13th hole, a devilish 434-yard dogleg right par four. The entire right hand side of the fairway is trouble with a very large sand bunker and other natural grass and then a sand bunker on the right side of the green. There is no bail-out area to the left as a sand bunker sits just off the green on the left side.

No doubt Lonnie Poole is an interesting golf course. It has a nice practice range and large and relatively flat putting practice green. No area right now to practice sand shots, and believe me, it would be nice to have that there.

This course was built with donations by hundreds of NC State enthusiasts. There are no memberships. It's a daily fee facility.

If you want to see more photos I took this weekend, go to: JIM POMERANZ PHOTOS OF LONNIE POOLE GOLF COURSE. You may have to create an account (no charge) to view the photos.

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