16 Exceptional Hybrid Courses

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16 Exceptional Hybrid Courses

March 05, 2016

Photo By: Bluejack National GC

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Dan Garson

Photo By: Jason Miller

Photo By: The Prairie Club

Photo By: Chris Monti

Photo By: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes G.C.

Photo By: The Resort at WaterSound

Photo By: Tripp Davis Associates

Photo By: Dr. Bruce Twaddle

Photo By: Robert McNeil

Photo By: Cindy Melland

Photo By: ©2014 Hawkinsphoto.com

The Playgrounds at Bluejack National G.C., Montgomery, Texas

Let’s start with the hybrid most in the news. On March 2, Tiger Woods attended the opening of his 10-hole pitch & putt, dubbed The Playgrounds, at his Augusta National-inspired Bluejack National G.C. Tiger, who designed it as a scaled-down version of the main course, was upstaged at the event by 11-year-old Taylor Crozier, who made a hole-in-one on the first hole with his first swing. What a debut. Nothing could better emphasize a hybrid’s functions, which Woods described as “a relaxed setting for beginners and families as well as where good players can sharpen their skills.”

Photo By: Bluejack National GC

Bandon Preserve, Bandon, Ore.

Same concept - 13 one-shot holes – but in a far more rugged presentation, this four-year-old dazzler was conceived by owner Mike Keiser as an afternoon breather for players too tired to play a full-blown second 18 at the magnificent Bandon Dunes Resort. It was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who also did the resort’s Bandon Trails course. (Coore is currently converting a third nine at Farmington Country Club in Virginia into a 10-hole hybrid course.)

Photo By: Ron Whitten

The Challenge Course at Monarch Dunes, Nipomo, Calif.

To complement their dramatic 18 built in sand dunes and eucalyptus forest, architects Damian Pascuzzo and Steve Pate (a former Ryder Cup player) added the 12-hole par-3 Challenge Course in 2008. It’s indeed a challenge, with large, undulating greens and five ponds in play, but with two sets of flags on each green, one set in eight-inch cups, it’s a definite hit among youngsters of all ages.

Photo By: Dan Garson

Bunker Hill G.C., Pickering, Ont.

They call it Bunker Hill because it’s revolutionary. Faced with a land reclamation site in a Toronto suburb, on a rectangular site barely big enough to squeeze in a regulation 9, Canadian architect Jason Miller opted to create the 12-hole par-3 with features that harken to Old Country golf, including tiny Coffin bunkers on the sixth and looming Spectacle Bunkers halfway down the 246-yard closing hole. Says Miller, the aim is to serve “the new direction of leisure time management.”

Photo By: Jason Miller

Pine Valley Short Course, Pine Valley, N.J.

Perhaps the most exclusive hybrid course in America is also one of the best. Consisting of 10 par-3 holes, each replicating an approach shot faced on the main 18, it was co-designed in 1992 by Tom Fazio and the late Ernie Ransome, longtime president of the club. Several holes have no formal tees, just fairways where player can pick their lie and angle of attack, often into a green that’s an exact replica of the real thing.

The Prairie Club (Horse Course), Valentine, Nebr.

Like the hybrid at Pine Valley, the Horse Course at the resort Prairie Club (which also features two regular 18s) is a 10-hole pitch & putt without formal tee boxes. Created by architect Gil Hanse and golfwriter Geoff Shackelford, the idea behind the Horse is similar to the basketball game of the same name, with the winner of the previous hole choosing the shot for the next hole. E.g.: from this bunker, over the gulch, to the far green, nothing but net.

Photo By: The Prairie Club

The Orchard at Olde Farm G.C., Bristol, Va.

After architect Bobby Weed and associate Chris Monti created a new full-service practice range at Olde Farm on new land, club founder Jim McGlothin urged the designers to put the original 7-acre range to some use. They came up with miniature version of the main course, building a pitch & putt layout featuring eight greens, plenty of bunkers and tall fescue roughs. Monti calls it a “free range” experience where golfers can play clockwise, counterclockwise and even cross-country.

Photo By: Chris Monti

miniDunes at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes G.C., Maricopa, Ariz.

While recently remodeling the once-private, now daily-fee Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, architect Brian Curley suggested that if the six target greens in the driving range were real greens, the range could occasionally double as a junior course. He built them, they’re maintained as putting surfaces and now the range is closed each day around 2:30 p.m. to allow anyone under 17 to play unlimited golf on six pitch & putt holes at no charge. The course name even includes a hashtag (its real name is #miniDunesat Ak-Chin Southern Dunes G.C.) to urge its mention in social media

Photo By: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes G.C.

The Origins Course, WaterSound, Fla.

A decade ago, Davis Love III and his design team created a six-hole residential course that features two par 4s, three par 3s and one par 5. By tucking in four extra, smaller greens along the par-4 and par-5 fairways and adding a few extra tee boxes , they also made the layout double as a 10-hole par 3 course. Or one can play it as three par 4s and six par 3s, making it a 9-hole executive course. Or eight par 3s and one par 4. You get the picture.

Photo By: The Resort at WaterSound

Trilogy at Ocala Preserve, Ocala, Fla.

A similar design idea has just been opened at this new residential golf development in central Florida. This time it’s one par 5, one par 3 and four par 4s. With additional greens beside most fairways, each par 4 can also play as consecutive par 3s and the lone par 5 as three one-shot holes. Designed by Tom Lehman and architect Tripp Davis, it also has a separate loop of six par 3s, so Trilogy is both a 6-hole par 24 and an 18-hole par 54.

Photo By: Tripp Davis Associates

The Watson 9 at Mozingo Lake, Maryville, Mo.

Inspired by the youth course at North Berwick, Scotland, Maryville dentist Bruce Twaddle convinced Tom Watson to join him in creating a course specifically for junior golfer on 30 acres next to the small town’s Mozingo Lake golf course. Watson and his design associate Bob Gibbons donated their time in creating the 9-hole “precision layout,” with Watson giving personal attention to each green. The course opens in mid-May. Junior green fees will be $5.

Photo By: Dr. Bruce Twaddle

The Preserve at Boulder Hills, Wyoming, R.I.

This could be a classic lemonade-from-lemons story. Paul Mihailides, the original owner of a billy goat 18, aptly named Boulder Hills, sold it to Foxwoods Casino, which closed the course a decade ago in favor of a new 36-hole complex elsewhere. So Mihailides bought the land back, this time turning the property into a private hunting and fishing preserve, with architect Robert McNeil converting eight of the abandoned holes into a lovely, playable 18-hole par-3 course.

Photo By: Robert McNeil

Hawk’s Landing at Blue Skies, Yucca Valley, Calif.

In its 1960s heyday, Blue Skies G&CC was a favorite of Hollywood cowboy stars like Roy Rogers. But Blue Skies had dark clouds and folded. After it went fallow, local publisher Bill Brehm bought the land at auction and hired golf architect Cary Bickler to revive it as a full-length 12-hole layout. Routed with a front and back 6 (instead of 9), Hawk’s Landing can be played as a 6-hole, 12-hole or 18-hole round. Now in its second year of operation, it’s a legacy to Brehm, who passed away in 2015 just after his 90th birthday.

Photo By: Cindy Melland

David Toms Academy 265, Shreveport, La.

In his hometown, former PGA Champion David Toms created the ultimate practice facility, with a multi-directional practice range, three-hole practice course and nine-hole pitch & putt, all designed by Shreveport architect Jim Lipe, a former senior design associate of Jack Nicklaus. The academy (called 265 in honor of Toms’s record low score in a major) is by membership only, and seems to be a breeding ground for future members of the golf team of LSU, the alma mater of both Toms and Lipe.

Photo By: ©2014 Hawkinsphoto.com

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