As is my tradition, here's a recap of my eclectic "New Plays" for 2006. An eclectic course is comprised of a course centered around one theme (region, same architect, played in a period of time) and each hole corresponds to that hole on the course. So, essentially it is a course comprised of the best first hole, second hole, and so on.
From this pool of newly played courses:
74. *Philadelphia Cricket Club - Flourtown Course(p)
75. *Sand Barrens Golf Club (West-North)(p)
76. *ShoreGate Country Club(p)
77. *The Club at Morgan Hill(p)
78. *Riverview Country Club(p)
79. *Bethpage State Park - Blue Course(p)
80. *Pine Barrens Golf Club(p)
81. Reading Country Club(p)
82. *Galen Hall Country Club(p)
83. *Lancaster Country Club(p)
84. *Woodway Country Club(p)
85. *Meadowlands Country Club(p)
86. *Neshanic Valley Golf Course(p)
87. *Glen Ridge Country Club(p)
88. *Turtle Creek Golf Course(p)
89. *Merion Golf Club - West Course(p)
90. Valley Country Club(p)
91. *Shadow Isle Country Club(p)
92. *Country Club of North Carolina - Cardinal Course(p)
93. Southern Dunes Country Club(p)
94. Mountain Lake Country Club(p)
95. *Diamondback Golf Club(p)
96. *The Claw at USF(p)
97. Lederach Golf Club(p)
98. Bethpage State Park - Green Course(p)
This was by far my most prolific year in terms of new plays since 2002, with 22 new courses. Some were great, some were bad, but all were enlightening in some form.
1: 1st Hole at Valley Country Club - this long Par 5 opener has one of the most unique green complexes I've yet to play. The bunkering alone is worth the price of admission
2: 2nd Hole at Philly Cricket - Hit my tee shot down the middle into the fog and hit a good approach into same fog to the front of the green, just as well, as the pro shop is about 5 feet behind the green.
3: 3rd Hole at Reading Country Club - Ticklishly short uphill par 4 with US422 hard right and blind, awkward stance trouble hard left. Small green protected by neat Findlay bunkering.
4: 4th Hole at Lederach Golf Club - Kelly Moran's road hole homage. Could never get the tee shot quite right (yet) but the green complex is amazingly good.
5: 5th Hole at Mountain Lake - My first biarritz and a great one at that. Perhaps the most flexible par 3 I've ever played and can literally be set up to play for ALL clubs in your bag.
6: 6th Hole at Woodway Country Club - A sweeping, reverse camber dogleg left uphill. Perhaps two of the most exacting shots I've hit all season.
7: 7th Hole The Club at Morgan Hill - While standing on this tee, one thinks they could probably hit driver onto the quad at Lafayette College. Great par 3 with nifty left side run up option.
8: 8th Hole at Sand Barrens - I felt dirty reaching this in two hitting driver-driver, but a great par 5 with many shot options. Sand Barrens is a treat.
9: 9th Hole at Reading Country Club - Quirky and delicious uphill par 4 with small green and death on the right side of the fairway. Knuckle in the middle of the fairway makes one chose between a tricky 3 iron lay up off the tee or an attempt to blast one over with driver.
10: 10th Hole at Mountain Lake - While short, Mountain Lake's back nine is a lengthy march home (Par 34 and half the 6800 total yards from the tips). Beginning on the 450 yard tenth gives one a taste of things to come.
11: (tie) Reading Country Club and Merion West - While Merion West's 11th tee shot beats Reading, the Alpish approach to the 11th green at Reading was a definite highlight in a year of highlights. Completely blind over a rock formation to a target skinny pine tree. Small, bumpy green confounds the issue. Merion West's 11th is all-world as well, and the equal to anything down the road.
12: Bethpage State Park - Blue Course - While standing out on the Blue Course is like being the most well-behaved prisoner in solitary confinement, this par 5 is a near propostion with a green cleft into the hillside. Simple and neat, I liked it.
13: Mountain Lake - Perhaps my favorite hole on the course. Visual deception off the tee my force the golfer into blasting one into what should be an aiming bunker. Hit a high cut into this fall away green to nestle your ball next to the flag.
14: Reading Country Club - Awesome par 5 (how come more isn't heard about this course!?) with a great green complex perched atop the hillside. Green falls away too and the approach is well designed for the run up shot. EVERYTHING hinges on the green/hole location all the way back to the tee. Backswing may nick a car on the road, though.
15: Glen Ridge Country Club - Nestled on the low part of the property with OB hard right and the creek left, this iron-pitch par 4 ends with a nasty Willie Park green.
16: Philly Cricket - CLASSIC AMERICAN DOGLEG LEFT
17: Mountain Lake - A hole for which my fondness increases daily. This Brian Silva interpretation of a Raynor Eden is set in as perfect a place for an Eden this side of the Atlantic. With Mountain Lake providing the horizon, a great one shot proposition.
18: (Tie) Bethpage Green and Merion West - Merion West's plays dead uphill to a severe false fronted green and Bethpage Green's has one of the most unique greens benched into a hillside this side of Huntingdon Valley's 9th. Both superlative finishes to fun, short course rounds of golf.
Comments and your eclectic 18 always welcome.