Kingsley Club Course Tour

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My Kingsley Trip

Coming Soon - Blog From a Recent Kingsley Trip

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Featured Guest Blog

Cross Country Golf

Coming Soon - You can stand on almost every tee and play to multiple greens on the front nine. Find out which hole is featured this trip!

My Favorite Hole

Coming Soon - One thing you can count on for sure is that this will change every time I visit!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Course Tour - Hole #3

Hole #3 description on the Kingsley Club web site is here.

One of many greens at Kingsley where I proclaim, "This must be one of the best greens on the course."
Here is my commentary from A Fan's Photo Tribute on

Hole #3 is a par 4
420 from the Gold tee
387 from the Black tee

After walking off the 2nd green, the golfer welcomes an opportunity to take a free swing to a wide open landing area.  This mid-length par 4 offers plenty of room in the landing zone, but the preferred zone is not quite as wide.  The left side of this undulating fairway is preferable.  The golfer landing on the high side is rewarded with a clear view of the green from the fairway.  The ball that strays to the right faces a blind shot from the fairway at best, and a fairway bunker shot or even lost ball if the shot is played too far right.  The left side, while preferable, feels rather slim.  Too far left will roll off the fairway into the rough and down the hill, so a blind approach is possible from either side.

This green is enormous (I think it is one of the three largest, with #4 and #13 being the other two if I recall correctly.)  With the 2nd still haunting ones thoughts, the green feels and plays even larger than it really is - if that is possible.  The day we played the pin was on the front right section of the green.  The back right side of the green seemed as if it could be a different hole entirely, like a large double green.  A missed approach slightly left leaves a reasonable shot at getting up and down (at least when the pin is where we saw it - playing a chip from the left side all the way to the extreme right pin could prove challenging.)  Missing short and right will send the ball running even further right.  There are two greenside bunkers that also come into play when taking on the right side of the green.  The run up area to the left side is wide open, providing yet another opportunity to take advantage of the turf conditions.  The ball will run here, and a low flyer may be the best option, as long as the ball doesn't leak too far right.

Not only is the green very large, but it is also wild and great fun.  It is one of many greens around the course where I could imagine spending an hour or so piddling around with some putts and chips.

From the tee
Another shot from the tee.  The 4th fairway is in view on the far right.
The approach from the left side
The fairway from the lower, right side
Approach to the front of the green.  The green extends even slightly further right than the photo.
The green viewed from the front.
The massive putting surface as viewed from just off the left side of the green
Looking back to the front left of the green from the far right
The bunkers guarding the right side of the green
Comments on Hole #3 from Mike DeVries:

"When building the green, I thought about having the green just be the right side of the green, which would be an adequate, although smaller, target.  Problem was -- it just didn't have the variety and options available that the entire finished green did, so it became the entire landform and almost 11,000 sq. ft., but with two very different sides and attack modes.  All of the basic green surface was intact, with the exception that I broadened and slightly raised the ridge to help shift running approaches around to the right half of the green for those not wanting to fire at it aerially past the bunkers and deep bowl and it works very well for that play.

The comments on the drive are all very good and accurate.  Depending on which tee you are playing and the length of your normal drives, the very wide yet undulating fairway presents a number of issues, making it more difficult to choose the best line that will give you visibility and a decent angle of attack for your approach shot.  The tee is slightly higher than the green in elevation (5 ft.) but the hole is essentially flat from tee to green along the spine, with 10-15' bowls folding off of each side, providing players with a play that is variably blind but playable.

The green has lots of room to the left and back for "safe" plays away from the bowl and bunkers and deep is often a good play for pins in the back center bowl that flows away from the line of play.  Front pins are delicate if you get too fancy and try to get really close, often ending in the bowl to the right, whereas a play a little to the left will often come back down towards the pin or allow for a good approach putt, even though it is downhill.

Give me 200 acres of this type of land and you will have a great golf course -- it is really fine golfing terrain."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Course Tour - Hole #2

Hole #2 description on the Kingsley Club web site is here.

The always dangerous 2nd hole from behind the green

Here is my commentary from A Fan's Photo Tribute on

Hole #2 is a par 3
161 from the Gold tee
140 from the Blue tee

As one walks off the first green still astounded at the width of the first hole, the 2nd hits you like a ton of bricks for a couple of reasons.  

The first reason is sensory overload.  You step up to the tee and most of the front nine unfolds before you.   The fifth green is in plain view (and pay sttention because it won't be when you play the 5th!)  The third and fourth fairways lay just beyond the 2nd.  Turn to your right and you can see the knee-knocking 6th tee shot in all its glory.  The entire 1st is sprawled out behind you.  The front nine comes together right here, and yet there's probably a fair chance you won't see another group when standing here.

The second reason is that the 2nd tee shot is terrifying for one of such little distance.  After playing a couple loose shots up the fairway of the first, all of the room to miss is suddenly taken away from you.  Yes, you will be hitting a mid or short iron, but that is no consolation standing on the tee.  You see more long grass and bunkering than you do green.  This is a hole where all but the most adept golfers should aim for the middle and hope for the best.  I can't imagine the shot with the wind howling.  We played in a fairly mild breeze both rounds.

As long as you don't miss short, long, or to either side of this green, you have a good shot to make par.

View from the tee
Also from the tee, but zoomed closer on the green
Front of the green
From behind the green
Another shot looking back on the hole
A skyline view of the 2nd green from the 4th green provides and example of the intimacy of the front nine
Looking at the 6th fairway (on the right) and the 4th fairway (on the left) from the 2nd tee
A view of the 4th fairway (foreground) and the 3rd fairway (background) from the 2nd tee

Comments on hole #2 from Mike DeVries:

"Kingsley was always meant to be a private club with players having the opportunity learn the nuances of the course over multiple playings.  That way the course is always interesting and players get to try new shots based on their abilities that day in combination with the existing elements.  It is also more about match play and not making a score -- that is the standard that most of us play every round, not medal.  Therefore, there are certain ways to approach the game and trying a certain shot may depend on the current match and / or position of your opponent.

The second is an exacting hole but with a short club in your hand.  There are multiple angles of play and I prefer the left side at 138 yards for the back tee -- that is a full wedge or 9-iron for better players -- but it is less visual due to the short donut bunker's lip.  The alignment with the centerline of the green is more direct from the left, whereas the right hand tee (up to 155-162 yards) offers a better view of the approach and green but is on a diagonal to the green centerline, making some of the pins more difficult to hit.  The smart play, no matter where the pin is located, is to the back half of the green, which is 2-2.5 times wider than the front half of the green.  This "safe" concept is applicable to the tee shot as well as recovery plays, but we are often tempted to make the heroic shot to a very tight pin.

One of the things that was hard with the routing of the course was how to get out to the "South 40" which is what I call the land from 2 tee to 7 tee (about 40 acres in size).  This is an amazing section of ground with a lot of natural features that were usable in a number of different ways (there are great holes that were never able to be used due to conflicts with other great holes and were thus eliminated).  The general location of the clubhouse became somewhat evident due to entrance and transfer to front and back nines, so one of the problems was "What is the best way to get to the South 40?"  That is really how #1 became a big-scale par 5 to open and then the small hike up to the 2nd tee, where the South 40 and most of the front nine was visible before you.  So the 2nd tee has a big impact on the overall feeling of the golf course and intimacy of the routing right at the start."

Mike in response to a fun back and forth with Tom Doak on the merits of the 2nd:
"So, how many options does a hole have to have to make it great?  I think one of the strong points of Kingsley in general is the plethora of options on most shots.  The second is a demanding short par three that requires a precise shot with a short iron -- I don't think that makes it bad but maybe doesn't make it great.  In comparison with the 7th at Barnbougle, which I like a great deal and think is wonderful, the safe option there into the hollow is no bargain with the severe upslope to the green (I pitched it up and two-putted for 4 but was close to going over into the bunker left -- and this was in a very mild wind) but the green itself is smaller than KC #2's and the bunker left is more severe.  My guess would be that the wind at Barnbougle is regularly stronger than at Kingsley, but I still think the hole works and is great -- it's straightforward appearance from the tee presents the entire hole quite well, whereas Kingsley's is semi-blind to portions -- maybe that is the problem with the (dis)liking of it from some?

One thing that we have adjusted is the regular rough mowing line, which is now higher up on both the 2nd and 9th holes, therefore not everyone rolls to the same general area, improving recovery lies and often giving players a fluffier lie that allows a wedge to slide under and get the ball up softly -- that has been a small change that improves the chance at recovery"

Course Tour - Hole #1

Hole #1 description on Kingsley Club web site is here.

The view from the first tee never grows old.  Shown here on a day when the sun and clouds were cooperating.

Here is my commentary from A Fan's Photo Tribute on

Hole #1 is a par 5
589 from the Gold tee
568 from the Black tee

Your day at Kingsley is jump-started with this power-packed par 5.  From the first view of the hole from the clubhouse to the trek across the 18th green to the tee... from the options on the tee to the magnificent green... this is a great start.

I was fortunate enough to play the morning round with Mike DeVries.  The first official gca question of the day was "This is really cool looking.  Is the lower left fairway really a reasonable option?"  Standing on the tee it looked like a no brainer to play to the right side of the bunkers.  It seemed like there was plenty of width and the view and approach to the green would certainly be superior from the high ground.  Not to mention that if you really plugged one from the right tee it looked reasonable to expect that you might get over the hill and enjoy a splendid turbo boost.  I'll tell you that no matter what Mike responded there was no way I was going to be aimed anywhere but right.  I got off the tee reasonably well in the right side of the fairway, confirming (based on a sample size of one) that the right side was the right play.  

Well, that afternoon I got a second crack at the hole.  The wind was blowing a little harder our way.  I'm a lefty that generally hits a fade (on a good day) off the tee.  I faded my second effort right into the nasty bunker pits from Hell.  After a couple shots extracting myself from the bunkers, proceeding to make a triple bogey eight to open the round, and determining that there was no way I was ever going to reach that green in two anyhow, I was sold on the fact that the left side was a reasonable option for me.  It's a safer play for someone that hits the ball right to left.  If you don't hit the ball far enough to roll over the mountain or to reach the green in two, then consider the left side a valid option.  Just accept that when you stand on that tee for the first time, you too will take the right side option whether or not it is the correct play for you.  Given a third shot at this hole, I'd probably still hit to the right side even though it doesn't make the most sense.

While the bunkers get all the attention from the tee, the entire fairway serves as a great preview of what the course has in store for the golfer.  The movement is wonderful throughout, and the golfer would obviously benefit from multiple plays here.  It's a fantastic members course, but playable and enjoyable for the guest as well.

The first green holds plenty of interest as well, though the golfer has no idea what's in store for him on the green complexes to come.  The first is a memorable starting hole that in my opinion must be considered alongside great opening par 5s like those found at Sand Hills and Spyglass.

Thanks in advance to John Mayhugh for supplementing my photo collection.  The tour I will present is a combined effort. 

The view from the clubhouse
A view from the tee
Widescreen view from the tee

If your tee shot creeps back down the fairway you may be left with this intimidating second shot over the mini-mountain
Looking down from the right side of the fairway
The approach - with a long way left to get home
The approach from closer to the hole
One more view of the approach from a similar angle
A look from the side of the green reveals the severe contours
One more angle that shows off the movement in the green
Widescreen look back on the 1st hole from the 2nd tee
Comments on hole #1 from Mike DeVries:
"The fairway and bunkers in total for the first landing area is 110 yards wide -- it gets aggressively narrower the longer you hit it, but with the firm conditioning and slot off the right hill, it offers the really big hitter a great opportunity to get it close enough to hit the green in two.  The left side is a very good options for shorter hitters, particularly those who are playing off the forward tees, as it stays below the wind more and can help those who slice into the hill.  The trees at the end actually improve the risk/reward option of the left side by demanding a harder second shot (and subsequently longer third) for someone who overcooks their drive and ends up left and close to the trees.  I definitely think the right side is the preferred line, but the left is a viable option for many reasons."

When asked why there were no bunkers on the left side where the fairway cuts in for the 2nd shot approach:
"There are lots of bunkers on the hole and course -- the ridge doesn't really need bunkers to enhance it and I think the long rough is enough of a hazard."

When asked about the difficulty of the long grass surrounding the center bunkers that challenge the tee shot:
"That [losing a ball] is certainly an irregular occurrence -- it is not easy but it is unusual to lose a ball in there.  The intention throughout the golf course is for the bunkers to tie in ruggedly with the surrounding landscape, so having long grass is not against the design.  In some instances, the turf can get a bit too thick but, for the most part, the ball is findable and playable.  There is plenty of open play space on the hole and having a hazard severe is okay in my mind."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Course Overview

In late 2008, I authored A Fan's Photo Tribute to Kingsley Club.  Most of my comments and photos will be included on my hole by hole tour here, but there is some great commentary from a number of participants that won't be replicated here, so it is worth a read at the source if you have the time and the interest.

Also, Kingsley Club already provides a very nice hole by hole course tour on their web site.  That tour can be found at

Links to the individual holes of my tour on this blog can be found here (in progress):

Hole #1                Hole #10
Hole #2                Hole #11
Hole #3                Hole #12
Hole #4                Hole #13
Hole #5                Hole #14
Hole #6                Hole #15
Hole #7                Hole #16
Hole #8                Hole #17
Hole #9                Hole #18

Here is the course map from the Kingsley Club link above:

The front nine at Kingsley Club is one of the most intimate nines you will come across in golf.  As noted by looking at the map, the golfer comes in contact with many holes multiple times.  The 2nd / 6th tee boxes and the 3rd / 5th tee boxes are wonderful spots to catch up with other groups when one is playing as part of a multi-group outing.  From the 2nd tee box area, almost every green on the front nine is in view.  Another really cool part about the front nine is that the attentive golfer is rewarded with views of many fairways, greens, and hole locations in advance.  In fact, the golfer will have a good preview of every pin location on the front nine aside from #1 and #2.  Many of these advance views could be partially blind when the actual shot is played, so this information will prove critical.

The back nine at Kingsley, provides more of a secluded feel, though the golfer can typically see at least one other hole at all times.  A good amount of trees have been removed to open up view and playing corridors on the 10th, 17th, and 18th - giving the back nine more continuity with the front nine.  While the front nine may be the better nine (at least in my view), the back nine counter punches with some of the best individual holes on the course.  From the jaw-dropping short par 4 13th green complex to the daunting long par 4 15th hole, each hole is sure to leave a lasting impression.

I look forward to the visitors of this site debating the merits of the individual holes and the collective nines.  I expect my own opinions to change with just about every visit. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome to Kingsley Golfer

In 2008, I attended my first charity golf auction.  Little did I realize that when I bid on a round for three at Kingsley Club, it would set in motion a series of events that would forever change how I approached playing the game of golf.  Those turn of events would ultimately lead to the creation of this web site.

The round of golf at Kingsley, for which I was the winning bidder, came with the added bonus of playing with Mike DeVries, the golf course architect that designed Kingsley Club.  For many, this may seem inconsequential.  For a guy like me that spent a good bit of his free time during the previous five years studying the design of many of the country's finest golf courses, this was a rare treat!

I showed up at the course armed with limited knowledge about the course obtained from the review on (click here) and from the Club's web site (click here).   I was accompanied by two good friends that had equal interest in seeing the golf course for the first time.  Two things struck me almost immediately: 1) The scale of the course was much bigger than I expected and 2) This place had a laid back culture that was going to suit me just fine.

Mike DeVries felt like an old friend before we left the practice putting green.  He patiently answered all of our questions about the course throughout the day.  Before we headed out for our second round of the day, we had met the superintendent, the head pro, the director of membership, the general manager, and one of the owners.  After a replay and some time to let the course soak in, I wasn't quite sure where Kingsley Club fit amongst my favorite golf courses, but I knew there was a spot for it somewhere near the top of my list.

Three months after the trip, I felt the need to engage in some additional discussion about the qualities of the course that I enjoyed so much.  I initiated a picture / commentary thread on called "A Fan's Photo Tribute to Kingsley Club."  The thread went on to generate more views, replies, and discussion than any thread I have started previously or since.  You can find the thread and commentary here.

I spent a good bit of that first winter imagining I was going to find a way to join Kingsley.  I requested information from the club and even had a few conversations with the director of membership.  Unfortunately, the timing wasn't right for me and it didn't work out.  Still, I knew I hadn't seen the last of Kingsley.  Two years passed before my next opportunity to visit Kingsley Club arose.  Andrew Lewis, a member of the club who was familiar with my love for the golf course, invited me to join a small group visiting Kingsley over Labor Day weekend.

My second visit to Kingsley was equally special.  When I visited in 2008, I was only on the property for one day.  We arrived, we played golf, ate lunch, played golf, and then departed for a hotel.  This time around I would be on the property for three consecutive days, staying in one of the cottages located near the 18th tee.  When I left, I was more determined than ever that Kingsley Club was going to be a part of my life.  I was no longer a member of a local golf club since my weekend rounds were dwindling due to two young boys that were becoming increasingly active in sports and other activities.  It was decision time.  How would my wife react to my desire to join a golf club located more than 500 miles from home?  I'd be lying if I said she really understood this urge, but she was extremely supportive and she did understand that this was something for which I had serious passion.  A few emails and phone calls later and my application was accepted with Andrew serving as my sponsoring member.  I had found a home.

Enter present day.   The journey of Kingsley Golfer is about to begin.  I have not yet visited my home club as a member.  That day is coming soon.  The inspiration for this web site was to provide a consolidated spot to share information about the golf course to the three guests, my three closest golfing travel companions, that will be joining me on my initial trek this spring.  Much of the information that will appear on this site for the first few months is information that is already available at some other location.  I will be re-producing my hole by hole analysis and photos of the golf course as an introduction.  I will be linking and pulling in some information from the official Kingsley Club web site.  Once I'm up and running with the basics, I plan to provide ongoing blogs about my visits to the club, as well as solicit commentary from other Kingsley members and guests.  Ultimately, I'd like for this web site to become the ultimate tribute to Kingsley Club.  I envision it as a place where any member of the club would be proud to refer anyone with potential interest in visiting the golf club.  Somewhere that can provide a view into the culture and vibe of the club from a distance.  I hope it can become a useful reference for anyone interested in learning more about the course.

Welcome to Kingsley Golfer.  Thank you for joining me on this journey!  


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