There are certain golf courses that each of us put on our bucket lists for one reason or another. It may be pictures, stories from friends or you have played a course by a particular designer. The last was the case for me when it came to Tobacco Road. One of my all-time favorite courses is True Blue in Pawleys Island, SC and both were designed by Mike Strantz.
Unfortunately, Strantz passed away too early in life. There are only 20 or so courses he designed. Everyone that I have played has a spot in my top 10. They are that good.
If you are looking to warm up, the practice area at Tobacco Road is great. The driving range had multiple targets and gives you a great warm up. The putting green is amazing. It has so much slope in it. You can get a great test of what you are going to see on the golf course. There was a putt on there that played up hill over 15 feet and had 8 feet of break. It was a lot of fun!
One of the things you find at Tobacco Road are plenty of memorable and photograph-able holes. This starts with the first hole! The blind tee shot par 5 has mounds pinching in on each side. It gives you a feeling that you need to hit one hard. When you look in the yardage book you realized there is more room out there. The mounds are only a 200 yard carry from the back tees. Getting to your ball and turning around you see it looks so much easier than it did from the tee.
When you get out to the fairway you have to decide if you want to go for the green or layup. Both choices require some homework in the yardage book. The green slopes from front to back. You can carry one onto the front edge and it will chase back to the back of the green. If you come up short right there is a very deep bunker that will swallow your ball. One of the cool things about all of the bunkers at Tobacco Road is they are all played as waste bunkers. There are no rakes. You are allowed to smooth your lie out and place the ball in them. You can also make practice swings in them and I do suggest that you do. I did find that the texture and depth varied from shot to shot.
Tobacco Road has 5 memorable par 3’s. The first one is number 3. This par 3 isn’t overly long, 150 yards from the back tees but the green is incredibly designed. There is so much slope from right to left and a huge slope in the middle of the green. Club selection is paramount. The day we played the pin was all the way in the back. One of the guys in the group hit a ball into the slope and had a putt that was about 80 feet. He needed to play up in the fringe and it broke 15 feet.
The 5th hole is a great risk reward par 4 that plays up hill. It was into the wind when we played so we all layed up but our second shot was no picnic. With wedge in our hands we had to hit a shot the right distance because of a steep false front and a slope off the back of the green.
Arriving to the 6th hole I was having a slight flashback to the 14th hole at True Blue with an elevated tee shot and all carry over a waste bunker. The green gives you a ton of room left to land the ball but if the flag is in the middle or the right and you decide to fire at it you bring a lot of trouble into play. If you miss the green you will have a bunker shot with not a lot of green to work with and no way that you can fire at the pin.
The 8th hole is the final par 3 on the front. It plays downhill and club selection is vital to you success due to the amount of slope in the green and where the flag is located. The front right bunker is almost death with the amount of slope in the green in trying to get the ball close to save par.
Getting to the 9th tee you look out and see an uphill tee shot that has your approach shot playing up an even steeper slope. From the fairway we couldn’t see the flag because of the slope and its location at the back of the green. The cool part about the green is that it really narrow and falls off quickly on the right side into a bunker. If you miss the green it makes for a really fun bunker shot.
The back nine opens with a great downhill dog leg right par 4. It plays nearly 440 yards from the back tees. It requires 2 great shots to give yourself a chance at birdie. If you are in the bunker on the right you are in trouble.
Arriving to the 13th tee you see a downhill tee shot to a dogleg right par 5. When you get to the fairway the fun begins. Going for the green in two is almost impossible with the angle of the hole and the bunkers short of the green. I spent a lot of time looking at my yardage book and my SkyCaddie SX500 to make sure I played the right layup shot. The green is very wide but not deep at all. Club selection is paramount in not leaving yourself an impossible chip shot.
Fourteen is a great downhill par 3. The large green sits against the edge of the water and is the only pond you will find on the course. Selecting the correct club is important to leave a putt on the correct level as the flag. If you find the left bunker you have a downhill bunker shot going towards the water, not the ideal situation.
The 16th was a really fun hole. You need to hit a fairway wood or hybrid towards the smoke stack on the far side of the fairway. Leaving yourself with an uphill approach shot, need to make sure you carry far enough onto the green. You need to carry it far enough the ball will come back down the slope some 40 yards, leaving you a really tricky chip shot. If the pin is upfront and you hit one too far onto the green you will have to play enough break to get the ball to stop. If you take a direct line at the hole it may not stop and you will have that 40 yard pitch shot for your next shot.
Every Strantz course I have ever played has an incredibly memorable finishing hole. This one is no different. It has a forced carry of 200 yards from the back tees to find the fairway on this dogleg left hole. It is one of the best tee shots that I have ever had. When you get out to the fairway you have an uphill blind second shot to a green that has a ton of slope in it from left to right. If you miss the fairway or the green you leave yourself with a tricky shot that is going to be difficult to find the putting surface.
The Club house isn’t the largest but it is adequate. There a great porch on the back side overlooking the 18th green. It did have one best specials I have ever had at a course. They had a Pimento Cheese Hot Dog with melted Pimento Cheese on it. It was so good that I have been making them at home since going. Mine don’t taste quite as good as Tobacco Road’s do.
Dads Say So, Tobacco Road didn’t disappoint. I may have woke up that morning fearing that it would fall short of expectations. When I finished my round I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around just how great the course was. From start to finish it was memorable hole after memorable hole. It quickly moved into my number two spot in my top 10 courses I’ve ever played. I have never had to think and spend so much time trying to figure out where to hit the ball to post the best score. If you are going to play this Stranz Masterpiece, I do suggest that you purchase a yardage book from the clubhouse. You will be lost without it. If you are visiting the Pinehurst area and not playing Tobacco Road you are missing out on the best course in the area. To find out more information about Tobacco Road go to TobaccoRoadGolf.com and find out more today. Trust me, even with my lofty expectations it didn’t fall short. I know that when I get back to the Pinehurst area Tobacco Road will be on the list and I can’t wait to get back!