Review: Dismal River Golf Course (Jack Nicklaus Course)
Obviously the main draw of Dismal River is the golf. It is Jack’s take on sand hills golf. While initially I heard it had a few holes that Jack went over the top with, those have since been redesigned into what I think is an outstanding course. It certainly ranks among the top courses I have played. (if you browse through the reviews, there are some pretty highly regarded courses it is up against) The setting is so removed from the influence of humans, it is a 1.5 mile cart ride from the clubhouse to the course. Once you get there, it is rolling sand hills and green turf interspersed across the terrain. The experience starts and ends at Jack’s Shack, a rustic bar and grill for all your refreshment and food needs. Right next to the shack is an adequate range. It isn’t huge, be plenty for a couple of groups to warm up before their round. The putting green which is next to the first hole is an absolute necessity for anyone playing their first round at Dismal River. The undulate greens are replicated very nicely on the practice green.
As you begin your round, you get a good feel of what all 18 holes will be like; great views off the tee, mostly open tee shots, challenging second shots and lots of undulation on each green. The first couple holes offer a good mix of challenge, but the real outstanding holes on the front 9 are holes 4-6. Hole 4 is the signature hole for Dismal River. It is a beautiful par 5 with a windmill near the green. It is bombs away off the tee, careful placement of the second shot and then avoiding the windmill on the third shot into the green. Some have complained that it feels mini-golf like, but I just saw it like it was a tree there like you might see on any other course. The 5th hole is one of the tougher par 3s I have played. It looks almost impossible to hit the green from the angle of the back tees, but this uphill long par 3 is a great hole. The short par 4 6th hole probably isn’t going to be reached by many golfers, unless down wind, but it is a great hole, and requires a good second shot. The front side wraps ups with a down hill par 5 that can be reached in 2, but only with a very precise second shot.
Dismal River (Tom Doak Course)
These 18 holes are set on a more subtle piece of land along the entrance to the club. The main road actually separates the front 8 holes from the back 10. The front 8 holes meander through some outstanding sand hills terrain, but in a more walker friendly, closer together layout. I was really impressed by the use of natural lines, variety of styles, yet playable holes from every different tee.
I’ll be honest, the back 10 holes blew me away, every single hole is amazing. I was even privileged to see Tom and his crew at work. They were finishing up hole 12 which initially was an awkward par 4, but with some investigating and maneuvering of the green, it became a really solid par 4. The green will now be perched out on the edge of a cliff almost and will be the first golf hole you will see when driving into the property. What makes these 10 holes so great is their proximity to the Dismal River as well as the great cliffs that tower over it. The big and little horseshoe bowls create a spectacular setting. The 16th, 17th and 18th holes might be some of the most beautiful holes I’ve ever seen.
While I didn’t take pictures of this course, let me say it will be great! Hopefully I can return once it is grown in and see the final product. Keep you eyes open for great things at Dismal River, especially the new Doak course.
For more information: www.dismalriver.com
+Jack Nicklaus’ version of sand hills golf
+Private, but not uber-private
+Additional 18 hole by Tom Doak coming soon
–Doesn’t play very linksy
–Still private and in the middle of nowhere