Making a putt to finish a hole, can be an exhilarating feeling, a feeling that can also leave you relieved but right around the corner is another opportunity for success and redemption. That walk in between, from green to the next tee can be an aha moment. It can be, the best walk in golf. Ok, the best walk that no one talks about in golf. First time I played Pacific Dunes at Bandon. I gazed upon #10, par 3, downhill with the Pacific Ocean in the background. 2 large mounds bookend the green and frame the hole beautifully. I sneak in a 10 footer for par, and wonder if it gets any better than this? I walk towards the ocean, #11 tee is tucked behind this large dune, with the tee teetering on the cliff. Short little par 3 all along the pacific, I say, yes it does!
Not knowing what is around the corner, what the next hole has to offer is adventure golf. When I play courses that hide their secrets and reveal them one memorable hole at a time, the course wraps its arms around you and you in it. Being lost in the moment or in that time, is why we play. Hedges, hills and elevation are great foreshadowers of things to come, things that make our hearts jump with more adventure at every corner.
The land you use for golf courses is the beginning of it all. There are often areas where you can’t use for golf, instead it’s used for transitions, getting from one hole to the next. It can be very tricky. Mickelson National did not have that hindrance. The property was 240 acres of flatness, now it’s upwards of 60ft of adventure in the foothills. Amphitheatres are plentiful created by bulldozer artists. Out of the 11 completed holes, the NEXT hole can never be seen until you step on to the tee. The curtains are drawn and the stage is set.
Standing on tee boxes at MN is big sky territory. The hole, the Rockies and other areas of the course present itself. You then drop back into your hole, with the privacy of your group and the course. Attention is never taken away from the immediate surroundings, with the mounds as your audience. Green sites are shockingly intimate, with winding pathways leading upwards. Cardio intervals come at no charge. Each step provides you with anticipation of the challenge ahead, with each passing hole another layer of its beauty is unveiled.
Mickelson National is a different kind of playground, with mystery and fun all wrapped into one. The walks in between will be filled with anticipation, what do we have here? Instead of holes meshing into one, with no separation, Mickelson holes will begin a new chapter but with the same theme. Don’t get lost in the space in between.
I’ll see you on the pathways.