It wasn't a boom, but it wasn't a bust either. The year in golf design started with a Streamsong splash and finishes with a Trump two-step. Along the way, several courses with, shall we say, long gestation periods finally opened for play. Quantity is still down, but quality has never been better.
Streamsong Resort (Red Course), Streamsong, Fla. Public course, 7,148 yards par 72 | Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, designers
Streamsong is the golf destination of the year, maybe the decade, and as the site is a reclaimed phosphate strip mine, a great example of how golf can also serve a higher purpose. The Red is practically the Best of Coore/Crenshaw, with the chasm-like bunkers of Sand Hills, the edgy water hazards of Cuscowilla and the diabolic angles of Talking Stick.
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Dismal River Club (Red Course), Mullen, Nebraska Private course, 6,994 yards par 71 | Tom Doak, designer
Different than all other courses in the sandhills, including its sister Nicklaus-designed White Course, nearby Sand Hills Golf Club and Doak's Ballyneal in Colorado. More like Doak's Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, with fairways on plateaus between gulches. Closing holes, in the valley formed by the narrow, serpentine, artesian-fed Dismal River, are outstanding.
Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course, Laredo, Texas Public course, 7,069 yards par 72 | Robert Trent Jones II, designer
A true municipal along the Rio Grande, which really isn't that grand, compared to the mighty Mississippi. The Trent Jones design, handled mainly by Texas associate Mark Voss, offers decent views of the river and takes advantage of meandering ravines throughout the property. The Max has surprisingly austere bunkering for a Jones Jr. design.
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An early taste of summer is expected to return to a large part of the eastern United States in the final days of April.
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