Hawktree Golf Club
I told a New York City friend I was taking three days to play golf in North Dakota, and he was polite enough to inquire if I had taken leave of my senses. I was of sound mind and body, yet he blinked vacantly for a few seconds while I reassured him that North Dakota courses have won two best new course awards in the last few years (Hawktree in 2000 and Bully Pulpit in 2005 for those of you scoring at home). Moreover, there is as scenic a landscape as can be found anywhere in the country complete with horseback riding, hiking trails, fishing, National Parks and wildlife preserves. And - Surprise! - North Dakota is no more remote for travel than Texas for most Americans. Most importantly, the golf is dirt cheap.
Too few people have taken advantage of all the wonders North Dakota has to offer. Its like they actually believe things that could be headlines right out of that comedy newspaper The Onion:
North Dakota is really just East Montana, South Saskatchewan
Area Nimrod actually bragging about going to North Dakota
U.S. to Canada: Trade you North Dakota for all the Molson we can drink
Wife Concusses Husband with 9-wood for Suggesting North Dakota for Vacation Spot
All right I better quit the North Dakota jokes or golf course architect Jim Engh, a native North Dakotan, will bust my head. Nevertheless, the secret is out ' golf courses in North Dakota are claiming numerous awards for their stellar designs and unspoiled natural setting. North Dakota is no joke. The golf ' like the state itself - is an unspoiled frontier adventure, and its dirt cheap.
First, fly into Bismarck and play Hawktree Golf Club, Enghs second solo design project and his first public effort. Engh, now a Coloradan, was thrilled to create a great course in his one-time home state. I grew up riding on a tractor in my dads lap, so its nice to close the circle so to speak and come back home.
The course is unmistakably Engh and, therefore, looks nothing like either of North Dakotas other two flagship courses, Bully Pulpit in Medora and Links of North Dakota in the states northwest corner. Built-over Hawktree features Enghs now familiar side-walled fairways, bowl-shaped green settings (both of which give player-friendly bounces and help keep play moving) and squiggle-shaped muscle bunkers, this time filled with black slag, a burned coal by-product instead of sand.
Next, drive two hours west to rugged Medora, home to Michael Hurdzans Bully Pulpit. With solid design features, several different types of topography ' from serene meadows to several holes that climb through, around and over Badlands canyons - and holes with plenty of options, the course is particularly well rounded. Part shades and glens, part rugged mountains, the course is eminently natural.
While the minimalism is to be commended, the greatest asset is Hurdzans creation of many lines of charm. Bunkers frequently bisect fairways perpendicularly (most notably at six and thirteen) and meadows filled with native grasses tempt players to try to carry them to gain an advantage for the next shot. The greens have more interesting contours than most other public courses, yet do not have the cloak and dagger terror of a Black Mesa or Pinehurst No. 2.
Finally, a trip to Williston, N.D., two hours north of Medora, to play the Links of North Dakota, is a trip back to the land of the great frontier expansion. Architect Stephen Kay built the Links of North Dakota in a remote but pristine plot of land in the far northwest corner of the state. The course overlooks and meanders along he bluffs a gorgeous corner of Lake Sakagawea among heaving natural grass covered dunes. Its only twenty-eight miles from the nearest town, but the landscape seems as remote and primal as when Lewis and Clark walked there with the Lakes Native American namesake exactly 200 years ago
Best of all, all three courses can be played for $60 or less.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 260 nationally ranked public golf courses in 39 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer, Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan.
Great golf in North Dakota You betcha
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.