One of my West Coast friends was in Johnson City, Tennessee this weekend so I headed that way to meet up with him for some golf. I worked a half day on Thursday and hit the road to make the four and a half hour drive.
I’ve been meaning to play some courses in Southwest Virginia and Draper Valley was the first course I considered to break up my drive. Unfortunately, they aerated the greens last week so I decided to save that one for next time! Auburn Hills was also along my route so I called over a couple days earlier, to see about playing. The proshop was friendly and told me that they weren’t going to be busy and to stop by!
I showed up a little before 4pm and got out right away on a quiet weekday afternoon. I caught up to a group on the back nine but they hit the nitrous and were gone in a flash! I cruised around in under 3 hours and managed to get back on the road earlier than I thought. That’s always nice on one of these golf road trips!
Auburn Hills is a golf course community and the course is routed through the development and the nearby woods. The homes are set back and never bothered me. I scoped the course out on the satellite before playing and the thing that stood out to me were the wooded holes. I thought that they could cause me some angst because they looked extremely narrow!
After playing the course, those wooded holes are what I will remember the most about Auburn Hills! Holy smokes, you had better bring the straight ball in order to play a third of the course! I scored well on the open holes but struggled on the tree-lined ones, which are spread out between the front and back nine. Out of all the courses that I’ve played in the Commonwealth, these tree-lined holes are some of the narrowest I can recall. Unless you are the PGA Tour leader in driving accuracy, I’d prepare yourself for a blow up hole. The only saving grace is that some areas are cleaned out so that you might be able to find your ball and advance it.
The difficulty of the course is evidenced by the slope, which is an astronomical 140! I played the Blue tees which are only 6534 yards and have a rating of 71.7. Besides clanking a ball around in the trees you will also have to overcome elevation changes, uneven lies, and difficult green complexes in order to secure a good score. The best chance at a good score is going to come from a good day with your short irons. I had close to a dozen short iron opportunities and knocked a couple close for my birdies. The green complexes also have slopes that act like bowls so you can get some nice bounces! It isn’t impossible to end up with a good score, just very difficult. Make sure you try to land the ball on the high side of the hole and let it feed towards the low side.
I’ve played enough golf in Virginia to know that the southwest part of the state is hilly. However, I was surprised that Auburn Hills had as much elevation change as it did! Parts of the 10th and 11th holes border a road and I caught glimpses of those holes while driving by years ago. I just assumed that the rest of the course would be flatter, like what I had seen from the road. Wrong! Just about every hole requires you to add or subtract yardage due to elevation change. You can end up with plenty of uneven lies which makes it tough to get the shot shape exactly as you’d like.
The greens are another standout feature at Auburn Hills. They are wacky shapes and sit at funny angles so that you have to hit a pinpoint iron to get it close. If you miss the line or distance then you could still have a birdie putt, but you might not have a clear putt at the flag. That happened to me on the 3rd hole and for a moment I thought about chipping it off the surface and over a tongue of fringe! Ultimately, I decided against it and I’m sure the greenskeeper supported my choice! The greens have constant slopes so I don’t think it is a course where you are going to run the table with the putter.
The conditions at Auburn Hills were fairly typical for a Mid-Atlantic course towards the end of summer. The greens were soft and a medium speed except on the downhill putts which never seemed like they would stop! They rolled well and rewarded a good putt. Even though the course was very green, it was starting to feel the affects of the summer heat. The fairways were firm, but fairly full and playable. A couple times I ended up with thin lies and had to adjust by playing a lower lofted club than I normally would. Off the fairways was some hardpan. The tees had plenty of grass but I noticed some of them were sloped, which is something that drives me crazy!
I wanted to love the course because it has such a relaxing, country setting but the design had a few too many goofy features for my taste. There are some super narrow holes, including the par 5 6th where a driver probably isn’t the best club from the tee. The 11th has power lines running directly in front of the blue tee box, the 15th has a tree in line with the green, and the 16th is a severe dogleg left. I hadn’t played a new course in a while so I enjoyed my round here and loved the friendly staff! Like always, give the course a shot yourself and see what you think!
#1 (369 yard par 4):
#2 (393 yard par 4):
#3 (229 yard par 3):
#4 (494 yard par 5):
#5 (348 yard par 4):
#6 (505 yard par 5):
#7 (210 yard par 3):
#8 (367 yard par 4):
#9 (385 yard par 4):
#10 (558 yard par 5):
#11 (237 yard par 3):
#12 (394 yard par 4):
#13 (306 yard par 4):
#14 (168 yard par 3):
#15 (535 yard par 5):
#16 (330 yard par 4):
#17 (190 yard par 3):
#18 (516 yard par 5):