Playing Dunes West is like coming home. My father has belonged to DW for more than 15 years now, and it’s the site of my biggest win (the 2005 Dunes West Men’s Invitational, playing with my dad). I’ve played here nearly 100 times, and I think I’ve shot just about every score imaginable. I’ve broken 80, and I’ve failed to break 90. We still try to recapture past glory in the Invitational. And now that my daughters are playing, we get to play as a family.
My little one accompanied us for our front nine yesterday on one of those warm January days that make you glad your parents retired someplace warm.
The tees and fairways were beautifully green thanks to overseeding, but the greenskeeper has wisely decided not to continue to overseed in the winter, as it puts too much stress on the 26 year-old greens. I agree with the decision, but it led to some slow and bumpy greens.
The 1991 Arthur Hills design is remarkably playable for a course that’s routed through a housing development. Most playing corridors are at least 40 yards wide, and if your ball is in someone’s backyard, it was a big miss. One drawback to the course is that, like so many courses in housing developments, there are some horrendous green-to-tee walks. Personally, I’ve never walked more than the back nine. Some of my dad’s friends walk it, but they usually hop on a cart for some of the more obnoxious treks.
The front nine’s best hole is the Redan style 8th which, while not overly long (about 190 from the tees I played, 200 from all the way back) the bunkering forces an aerial attack. The only bail-out is long and left, and that leaves you in some gnarly rough.
The inward nine features a pair of good par 5s. The 11th dares a long hitter to hit a towering fade over a hazard to an elevated green for a chance at eagle. Short hitters can play well to the left to avoid the hazard, but then the green looks like a sliver of land floating in space.
The 15th begs you to hit it long off the tee, but fairway bunkers down the right side force you to pay attention. A set of centerline bunkers penalize an indifferent layup. A lone bunker short right guards the two-tiered green, which slopes strongly from back to front. The No Laying Up crowd would rather be in the front bunker than pitching down the hill from behind the green out of deep rough.
The 18th is my favorite hole on the course. It’s framed by a stand of oaks draped in Spanish moss down the right side of the hole and Wagner Creek down the left.
It seems deceptively simple, but the approach shot forces you to deal with the creek on the left and out of bounds uncomfortably close on the right. You can bail out long and left if you enjoy hitting a chunk and run out of deep rough to a green that slopes away from you. You can run the ball up the chute on the right, but you’d better have nerves of steel. I’ve seen single-digit handicappers lay the sod over the ball playing the final hole in the Invitational playoff.
Greens fee paid: $45 (guest of member rate, and dad paid for Allie)