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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS (1-9) - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2022, 11:07:13 AM »
CRYSTAL DOWNS TOUR CONT

With the knowledge that we just played one of the the monumental nines of golf, the back nine beckons.  As can be seen on the map above, the walk is far more awkward and tiresome than is the case on the front nine. I do wonder if the entire back nine is routed around 13-15. These holes are not only the furthest extent of the course, but also the best stretch of golf on the back nine. Similar to 1, the 10th is a downhill drive which takes some placement to approach the green. Whatever mistakes are made, don't go above the hole. Despite having a straight uphill line to the hole, I completely failed to see the severity of this green. And yes, the green breaks toward the 8th . The 11th was briefly mentioned earlier. An overly severe short hole which is still a head scratcher. I watched and listened to the architects talk and play the hole. I don't exactly dislike the 11th, but I don't think it is worth the harsh hike over a hill from the 10th. This is one of four poor walks on the back nine which demonstrates the difficulty of the terrain. There are long walks to 12, 17 and the proshop as well. 


Behind the green.


Below is a sketch of the green courtesy of Josh Bills. I don't know if the hole was built to this spec. The hole doesn't feel like a diagonal play over bunkers or grass hollows. That may be partly because the obvious impact of sand isn't there. The green definitely has diagonal orientation with three tiers, but it seems de-emphasized compared to the sketch.


The 12th was having some work done to the watering system so we played a shortened version. However, I did note yet another lone tree dictating play....ya have to stay right. However, I believe this beech tree is scheduled for removal. Not an attractive hole, but the green running away from play is demanding. The back nine purple patch starts on 13. The fairway is banked on the left which jumps a fade well up the hole. Any length advantage to help cope with this green is most welcome. I played a set of tees too far back and was consistently approaching these exacting greens with fairway metals in hand...not a recipe for success.


There is a nasty hidden greenside bunker on the left.


With the hole up front as shown it is almost worth taking the chance of leaving an approach short rather than going long. However, if the hole is near the back, its fine to hit deep into the green. This is a remarkable green which defies description.


Looking toward the tee.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 28, 2022, 08:53:23 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour New
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2022, 08:34:02 AM »
CRYSTAL DOWNS TOUR CONT

The seven bunkers give an impression of a very difficult hole. Despite appearances the short 14th is a bit of a breather when compared to the other par 3s. I would like to see trees cleared out to make the hole feel more open and connect the hole to the lovely views toward Sleeping Bear Dunes in the far distance.


A sketch of the green. Again, I don't know if the green was built to this spec.


The last of the really good holes on the back nine, #14 features the smallest green on the course and it is raised. There is a rise in the fairway which if carried makes the approach far easier. The bunkers create an odd impression of a funneling effect on this hole.




A visually non-descript hole, the 16th is a slog par five with yet another cool green. A long walk ensues to reach the barmy 17th. This is the sort of Spion Kop hole I would expect to find on a backwater British course. That is an intended half compliment! Because of the trees, I don't care for this short and brutal two-shotter, yet it deserves respect.




Severe!


A sweeping par 4 which reminds me of Wallasey's 17th completes the round. Cutting the corner is tempting, but there isn't much to gain considering the risk. The one regret of our great day was failing to check out the house.


It looks more dangerous, but staying right may be the better play. The green leans harshly left.


The long walk back to the proshop for some lemonade was well in order; Crystal Downs is a tough walk! While relaxing with a view of the 10th I couldn't help but to think about a few things. First, the set of greens I just played. Ok, they ran too fast on the day, but that maintenance mishap doesn't detract from their brilliance...and I say brilliance to mainly mean fun to putt. Second, I was taken aback at the disparity of styles and quality of the nines. I don't believe I am unusual in thinking the front nine is much the superior side of golf. If I was a member I could easily see myself playing the front nine on its own quite a bit. Third, the number of holes which feature one or a few trees as critical to the hole was highly satisfying. I don't recall playing a course which heavily relies on this type of architecture as does Crystal Downs. Fourth, the relaxed atmosphere of the club is very infectious. There is no awkwardness for guests or caddie requirements. That said, it was probably the case that our host fostered this feeling for the day. Fifth, it is often said, but rarely true, Crystal Downs would take a great many plays to learn the course. The greens are complex, but so too is much of the terrain. Finally, the front side could well be the best nine hole course on the planet. I can easily imagine the front nine and proshop as a perfect day.

Maybe one day I will make it back, it only took 45 years to see Crystal Downs a second time. 1* 2022

More Courses on the Tour

Arcadia Bluffs South
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71374.0.html

Lawsonia Links
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71343.0.html

Eagle Springs & Dunes Club
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71344.0.html

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 07, 2023, 06:03:34 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2022, 09:25:09 AM »
Maxwell did not follow the sketches for the greens on the back nine; Mackenzie did not come back to see that side being built.  Maybe he should have followed more closely for 11 as the never-built bunkers on the right would have kept some putts on the green!


There is almost enough space on the walk-off from 14 green for the left lobe of green in the drawing, but I’m pretty sure it was never green there, or else it was abandoned very quickly.  I can’t image building up the backs of bunkers behind the green, though.  Those drawings almost look like they were meant for a different course.

Ben Sims

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2022, 10:10:40 AM »
Sean,


I’m curious if that player in the bunker on 13 got up and down. Reason being, that appears to be the same player I saw get up and down from the bunker on 9. Surely two of the hardest green side bunker shots on the golf course. Particularly at the speeds you played.


Also, I think I disagree with your characterization of 16 as a slog of a par five. If the hole came midway through the front 9, no one would say that about it. They’d just say it’s a stiff three-shotter. Maybe sometimes it’s okay to ask golfers to “do work”.

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2022, 10:22:39 AM »
Sean,


I’m curious if that player in the bunker on 13 got up and down. Reason being, that appears to be the same player I saw get up and down from the bunker on 9. Surely two of the hardest green side bunker shots on the golf course. Particularly at the speeds you played.


Also, I think I disagree with your characterization of 16 as a slog of a par five. If the hole came midway through the front 9, no one would say that about it. They’d just say it’s a stiff three-shotter. Maybe sometimes it’s okay to ask golfers to “do work”.


To the pin position of the day, it was almost impossible to keep that bunker shot on the green, let alone get it up and down.


I didn’t think 16 was a slog either. It had the characteristics and topography of a Surrey heathland course for me. A fairly simple looking hole to cover ground until the last 75 yards which housed a beautiful green site.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2022, 11:17:18 AM »
Maybe slog is too harsh. Its just that the very uphill 8th didn't feel that way at all and it probably played just as long. 16 & 12 struck me as very average holes, except for the greens, to cover a corridor of very average land. Nothing to write home about, especially relative to many other CD holes.

Tom

Thanks. I didn't think those sketches were too similar to what is the in the ground.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 30, 2022, 11:45:54 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Ben Sims

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2022, 11:38:49 AM »
Maybe slog is too harsh. Its just that the very uphill 8th didn't feel that way at all and it probably played just as long. 16 & 12 struck me as very average holes, except for the greens, to cover a corridor of very average land. Nothing to write home about, especially relative to many othe CD holes.


Tom


Thanks. I didn't think those sketches were too similar to what is the in the ground.



Ciao


I agree with that a bit more Sean. If holes like 16 at CD need to be critiqued a negatively for their individual qualities, we should shine that light on other par 5’s that do the same. I view this hole the same as the escalator three-shotters at Friars Head of Tom’s plain-crossing par 5’s at Pacific Dunes. That’s a shallow comparison. But in the context of routing, they do the same thing.

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2022, 01:22:37 PM »
I am one that likes 16 and really likes 17. It takes a couple of plays to know where to hit your tee ball on 17. I have hit everything from driver to 5 iron. I like the driver and if the pin is left hit the tee ball to the right side of the fairway.
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Michael Chadwick

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2022, 11:47:29 AM »
Terrific tour, Sean, with helpful additional info from Tom D.


The MacKenzie drawings are, unsurprisingly, beautiful. While I do think Maxwell created better greens than Robert Hunter, it's hard to not wish a club like CD could have trademark MacKenzie style bunkers to go with its terrific layout!
Instagram: mj_c_golf

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2022, 05:00:10 PM »
Terrific tour, Sean, with helpful additional info from Tom D.

The MacKenzie drawings are, unsurprisingly, beautiful. While I do think Maxwell created better greens than Robert Hunter, it's hard to not wish a club like CD could have trademark MacKenzie style bunkers to go with its terrific layout!

You are welcome Michael. Incidentally, I was thinking Maxwell bunkers similar to Old Town might be just the ticket for Crystal Downs. The current bunkers with flare remind me of Old Town.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 02, 2022, 12:36:15 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #35 on: November 05, 2022, 10:24:31 PM »
Actually Maxwell’s bunkers were mostly pretty plain looking.  I have not seen the restoration of Old Town, but if the bunkers are really pretty, that might be Bill Coore’s work, not Maxwell’s.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2022, 03:20:50 AM »
Actually Maxwell’s bunkers were mostly pretty plain looking.  I have not seen the restoration of Old Town, but if the bunkers are really pretty, that might be Bill Coore’s work, not Maxwell’s.

Tom

It was my understanding that D White iii found some photos of lovely bunkers at Old Town and they were used as models. He noted that perhaps the bunkering was unusual for Maxwell. But I could be wrong, it's been a while since I last saw Old Town.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Brian_Sleeman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 4 Commanding CRYSTAL DOWNS - 2022 Lake Michigan Tour
« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2022, 11:37:31 AM »
An old photo from near the same spot courtesy of Josh Bills.




Thanks for the great tour around my old stomping grounds.  I hadn't seen this photo before, which I appreciate your sharing, but I just wanted to chime in with a quick correction that this is a photo taken from the location of the golf shop overlooking the 9th green in the foreground - not the 2nd, which would be hidden out of frame to the right of this photo.


I once spent an hour on the 9th green at the end of a picture perfect day hitting putts from all sorts of directions to a front-center hole location.  The last 20 minutes or so was reserved for 60-foot putts from the back shelf, and I didn't leave until I'd made one careening in from the left fringe (working back toward the tee), another straight-on, and a final putt up and off the right shoulder.  Most misses for the straight-on attempt ended up several feet off the green into the front fringe.  It is simply too much fun, and my absolute favorite golf course.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2022, 12:10:45 PM by Brian_Sleeman »

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