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Sean_A

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2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH
« on: October 04, 2022, 12:12:53 PM »
A somewhat unusual choice of course to play on this tour, Arcadia Bluffs South is the newer cousin of the well-known Arcadia Bluffs located hard on Lake Michigan. The two courses couldnít be more different. The Bluffs is an earth moving bonanza with dramatic elevation changes and stunning views of the lake. We chose the more sedate South mostly because the design inspiration was drawn from Chicago GC. The team of Fry/Straka designed the course over a vast 300 acre, virtually treeless landscape. I believe there used to be a commercial tree operation on the site previously, but those would have been quick harvesting trees, hence the site is an open landscape not too different from Chicago GC. However, Chicago does have some trees attractively spread around the gently rolling property. Let there be no doubt that Arcadia South could do with a similar tree treatment.

Located about 1.5 miles south of the Bluffs, the South is still on sandy soil so there are no issues with banging shots along the floorÖif you donít mind zig zagging around the multitude of fairway bunkers. There are comfortably more than 100 total bunkers and they do impact play. Perhaps there are too many bunkers because the look of holes from tees is sometimes difficult to distinguish. When taking in the course, it looks fairly flat, but there must be at least 50 feet of elevation change. This change in elevation is most apparent when standing on the 12th tee. Another highly noticeable aspect of the course is the lack of water featuresÖthere are none! I didnít think about this prior to playing, but I was surprised when finished to realize the lack of water. Finally, I expected to see blatant MacDonald/Raynor template holes. The design pair wisely steered clear of this trap which therefore allows golfers to see what is built rather than compare these holes to their famous cousins.
 
Dana Fry may sound like a new name in the design business, but he has been plying his trade for nearly 40 years now after getting his start with Tom Fazio in 1983. After five years Dana started with work with Dr Michael Hurdzan, becoming a partner in 1997. Jason Straka also came from the Hurdzan stable. After working with Hurdzan for over fifteen years he joined forces with Fry in 2012. Arcadia South may be the most high-profile job of Fry/Straka, although I donít recall that much fan-fare despite its lofty rating in Michigan and making Golf Digestís top 100 public courses.   

The opener is fairly typical of what is to come; generous fairways interrupted by bunkers scattered about, large raised greens...many with serious conoiurs and slopes and somewhat punishing rough.


This hole location is particularly nasty and reminiscent of Chicago GC greens.




A more lenient hole (at least until the green is reached) than the 1st, but the 2nd is more interesting.




On many courses this would be a highlight hole, but at the South it is one of many.


This green is full of difficult hole locations.


A tough par 5 along the property boundary, the third covers practically the entire width of the front 9. I can see the fairway line is meant to match the green cut line in this case. However, in this same case the fairway cut line dead-ends into the middle of the bunker. This and/or squared-off tees not lining up with fairway cut lines is a common theme so it must be purposeful. I find these uneven lines jarring to the eye.   


Continuing to hug the boundary line, the 4th is an extremely long two-shotter which is fairly boring until playing into the green.


Then first par 3 is a depth perception nightmare. The right bunker will surprisingly gobble up slightly short tee shots which run off the green.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 03, 2022, 08:21:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

JLahrman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2022, 01:28:53 PM »
Thanks Sean, as a recent transplant from Texas to Michigan I'm interested in learning more about this course.

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2022, 04:52:57 PM »
The greens were exceptionally good, different to any others I have played. A unique set I feel.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2022, 08:58:22 PM »
Played it once. The only thing that the original course has over it, is the bag pipe player on the bluff, at the Golden Hour.

That's not actually true, but the South is a superior course to the big sister. They complement each other quite well. The OG is filled with memorable vistas and tumbling fairways, because it is that sort of property. It has some forgettable holes (one and two come to mind.) The NG has zero bad holes.
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Richard Hetzel

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2022, 07:30:00 AM »
Have played Arcadia Bluffs and finished up at sunset, awesome views over Lake Michigan. Have yet to play the South course, but it looks great! I'll get up there in May to play it.
Last Ten Played: 
Old Toccoa Farm (GA), Thoroughbred GC (KY), Urbana CC (OH), Dayton CC (OH), Maysville CC (KY), Ross Course French Lick (IN), Covered Bridge (IN), Trout Club (OH), Elkhorn Ridge (SD), Bully Pulpit (ND)
Top 5 this year:
Yale
Culver
Hawktree
Old Toccoa Farm
Chas Muni

Jim Lipstate

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2022, 03:15:15 PM »
I played the South course last month and found it to be an amazing experience. When you come up on the property it looks rather like flat pasture land and it made me wonder how good the course could actually be. Well after playing 18 holes I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite course of the trip. The course plays amazingly fast and firm. Every shot requires thoughtful consideration. Fairways have many bunkers to negotiate. The steep sided greenside bunkers may leave you looking sideways for escape if your ball ends up close to the face. Greens have run off areas requiring again thoughtful consideration as to how best to get the ball close to the flag - many options to pitch, chip or putt. With options come indecision and with indecision comes high scores.


The course plays jarringly different than the Bluffs course but taken together they make a great golfing experience.

Charlie Ray

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2022, 11:03:16 AM »
The past two summers I have played multiple rounds at the majority of Michigan and Wisconsin highly ranked publics.  The South Course was low on my expectations list, but ended up being my favorite course and the one I am most eager to return to because it restored my interest in the tee shot.  Perhaps because of this website, I became to believe that great courses were because of interesting green complexes.  Although this is certainly true, I became disinterested in tee shots on par-4s,5's because it seems that there is a preferred place in the fairway and you simply attempt to execute a shot to there.  The South Course left me standing on each tee box with the yardage book conjuring up a plan to avoid the mini cross bunkers.  For example, on the opening tee shot:  the player has the option of playing a hard low draw towards the 200 yard carry bunker on the right that could roll out and stop before the longer 260 yard bunker on the the left side of the fairway.  Or the player could attempt a Fade toward the left and could roll out behind that same 200 yard bunker on the right.  It was my experience that the course demanded that you be keenly aware of your shot shape because the ball would roll 60-100 yards after landing.  For a course that appears to have no 'vertical hazards' I was happily surprised by how it demanded shaped shots.  I guess Chicago demands the same, but the South Course altered and enriched my 'strategic eye,' and made me more aware of features on other great courses. 

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2022, 12:13:40 PM »
I saw the South shortly before it opened with Dana and loved it. One thing that struck me is that I had never seen a modern course with so many bunkers in the direct line of play (cutting into fairways, typically only part of the way across). It's a cool feature, and it fits with the design theme, but it did occur to me that it would be a course where a caddie would earn his money by advising golfers when to hit something other than driver to avoid running into a bunker.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

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Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Josh Tarble

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2022, 03:16:50 PM »
Had a trip last year that included both Arcadia Courses and both Forest Dunes courses.  Out of 12 people, 11 said the South Course was their favorite of  the bunch.  I can't imagine there's been a better course built on such average land in the last 20 years.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5) New
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2022, 08:38:56 AM »
ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH TOUR CONT

Another par five, the 6th is played through a mess of fairway bunkers, a common theme at the South Course. It may seem as though there is little space for driving, but that isn't the case.


A longish two-shotter, the 7th is a hole I admire. If trying to drive over the centre-line bunker there is the risk of bounding left into an unfavourable position.


The false front created by a ridge between bunkers is a reminder of Raynor's work at Yeamans Hall.


A decent short hole, the 8th is set off by another high quality green which runs to both rear corners. 


Playing back to the house, the 9th is a bruiser par 4, one of several! There is trouble all down the left...which happens to be the best line into the green.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 03:19:17 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-9)
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2022, 10:16:19 AM »
ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH TOUR CONT

The back nine starts much like the front, a fairway dotted with sand. I am not sure the heavy bunker theme completely works throughtout the design. While many bunkers are well placed or provocative, it did get a bit repetitive. Unless I am mistaken, there are about 70 fairway bunkers over 14 holes. However, without fail, the greens are exceptional and the 10th is another example. Even from the tee I found myself trying to get a peak at the greens.


Coming back on 10, the longish par five 11th didn't make much of an impression. The short Lion's Mouth 12th is a cool hole and the most visual of an excellent set of par 3s.   




While not an attractive hole, the Alps type 13th tests accuracy and length. I was very surprised by the lack of run down the fairway to the huge green. 


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 25, 2022, 04:09:48 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

David Kelly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-5)
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2022, 02:17:57 PM »
Played it once. The only thing that the original course has over it, is the bag pipe player on the bluff, at the Golden Hour.
 
Read this and for a second by 'original course' I thought you meant Chicago GC and I almost had a stroke but thankfully my reading comprehension ability kicked in and I realized what you meant. I'm an idiot.
"Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent." - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-13) New
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2022, 06:27:13 AM »
ARCADIA SOUTH TOUR CONT

The raised green of the par 5 fourteenth is the highlight of a solid hole. I made the mistake of going long from a blind shot down the right. There is a nasty bunker to the rear of the green which can quickly cause a kiss on the card. I like the drive and short iron 15th. I couldn't figure out which side of the fairway is best.


After walking up to the green I could see the clever large crease in the green feeding approaches toward the left bunker. 


A bruiser short hole of about 215 yards, the 16th is a cracker. Its a shame about the background because the hole deserves better. We were fortunate to have the hole on the left as the hole shines with this setup. The green is quite large with the right tier the higher side. There is a pronounced rise in the green before it runs away to the left. If the tee shot is hit to the right spot with the right shape it will feed toward the hole without having to take on the fall-off short left.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 03:23:14 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH (1-16) New
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2022, 11:05:27 AM »
Arcardia Bluffs South Tour Cont

With Church Pew-esque bunkering up the left, the tee shot for 17 is a welcome relief from the many similar looking tee shots in the round.


The style of the bunkering is different to the 17th, but the placement is quite similar.


The reader is probably trying to see flag in this photo...I can't see it either! It took some while to pick up in person. The background is a a complete mess and not just because of the flag issue. It looks like the approach is to the side of a barn!


In a general way, the visuals are the main issue I have with the design. There needs to be more trees and a better balance of fairway bunkers and land forms to break up the rentlessly flatish landscape. There are subtle differences to the tee shots for many 4s and 5s, but perhaps they are too subtle for me to appreciate given the constant barrage of level fairways packed with sand. The greens seem a complete reversal to the fairways. They are attractive and highly appealing to play. I can readily see the design connection to Chicago Golf, but there is a distinct impression of a disconnected course.  It could well be that I don't care for the MacRaynor design style. That said, with the much better land that Shoreacres and Chicago Golf provide, the style suits my eye just fine. I wouldn't mind returning to see those greens again!  2022

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 03:27:21 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2022, 08:04:41 AM »
Finally, I expected to see blatant MacDonald/Raynor template holes. The design pair wisely steered clear of this trap which therefore allows golfers see what is built rather than compare these holes to their famous cousins.
I don't understand why so many people think that template type holes have to be compared to other versions rather than just appreciating what was built. It's one of the best things about Doak's Old Mac - the holes aren't copies of other holes - you just get to see good ideas and principles applied in a way that suits the land.

I like the idea of inspiration more than copying, so Arcadia South is someplace I want to get to. It is nice seeing fairway bunkers in the fairway, but I'm interested in your criticism of the visuals. That's something that photos don't do a good job of showing. It looks awesome in drone pictures, but drones aren't on the tee trying to select a target.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2022, 09:08:58 AM »
Tucky, I would probably like the course much more with 65% less fairway bunkers and whatever number 65% is, that many cool specimen trees dotted about the property. I tell ya, I never thought I would say....you know what this course needs...😎.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 3 ARCADIA BLUFFS SOUTH
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2022, 10:55:37 AM »
Tucky, I would probably like the course much more with 65% less fairway bunkers and whatever number 65% is, that many cool specimen trees dotted about the property. I tell ya, I never thought I would say....you know what this course needs...😎.

Ciao
Hahaha I like how you use the ellipsis to save yourself from actually saying it!

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