Plymouth Layout Follows Golden Rule
By Jim McCabe
Courtesy of the Boston Globe
PLYMOUTH – It is a view of the golf course that players rarely afford themselves, standing near the green and looking back up the fairway toward the tee. But it’s often a most telling one, for it can give you a terrific appreciation of the vision that goes into a course.
A case in point is the newest addition to the Pinehills Golf Club, the Nicklaus Course, which opened a few weeks ago to rave reviews. It’s an outstanding piece of work that pulls off that demanding litmus test we ask of courses: challenging for the better players, playable for the mid- to high-handicappers, enjoyable for all, and defined by a number of memorable holes that require good, but not impossible, shots.
Without a doubt, it’s a perfect companion to the Jones Course, which golfers started embracing from the day it opened a year ago. Now, those golfers have double the options at a facility that gives the daily-fee player a serious private-club experience. The green fees are not cheap ($85 weekdays, $95 weekends), but from the bag drop, to the range balls that are part of the greens fee package, to a courteous and helpful staff, to the bag boys who’ll clean your clubs on the way out, the experience is one of great pleasure.
Of course, the golf is what brings you here, and because that’s so good, a great day becomes even greater, no matter which course you play. Those who have played the Jones, but not the Nicklaus, shouldn’t expect more of the same because what the Leibowits family has here are two outstanding courses that set up and play differently.
In taking yet another major step in establishing himself apart from his famous father, Jack Nicklaus II has given the New England landscape yet another premier daily fee attraction. Incorporating rolling fairways and working around the few wetlands he had to work with, young Nicklaus hits a home run. The fairways are generous, though in many cases he presents ”risk-reward” type drives that will challenge the better players – perhaps to their dismay if they don’t pull off the shot – and that’s a hallmark of any design.
But once you’ve navigated your drive into the wide, plush fairways that have flourished under the guidance of superintendent Joe Felicetti, the fun truly begins on the Nicklaus Course. That’s because the oldest of the Golden Bear’s four sons and five children employs a number of devices – delightful false fronts, shallow greens that are angled, deep bunkers, strategic collection areas, and undulated putting surfaces, which put a high emphasis on quality approach shots. They can be pulled off on each and every hole, too, because Nicklaus has accomplished what good architects do: He has provided a fair and enjoyable test in which good shots are rewarded.
You can see that if you turn around as you approach the green and look back down the fairway toward the tee. With fescue waving in the breeze and a number of great elevation changes, you are able to look back and see what Nicklaus must have envisioned several years ago, how he was going to carve out holes that would give you a sense of direction or a tickle of temptation – whichever route you chose – only he was standing amid mud and trees and working with just his imagination.
The fact that he and his workers were able to take that vision and mold it into an emerald reality is to the benefit of the golf-loving New England crowd.
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