I’ve seen the term “golf course collector” a bit online and although I didn’t coin the phrase myself, I think it describes me well! My friend is willing to try new courses, so on Saturday morning we headed over to Kiln Creek, a new course for both of us.
We teed off about 9:30am, paired with another twosome who was local to the area. They pointed out a few spots where we should and shouldn’t hit it, and were great to talk to! It turned out to be a nice, almost summer day in the Mid-Atlantic with a high of around 90. A good beach day, if that’s your sort of thing!
I played the blue tees which are 71.2/129/6394. A slope of somewhere between 125 and 130 is my favorite, but I prefer a course to play closer to 6,600 yards. I was happy with my final score, just letting some strokes get away on the greens. I think my decent play stemmed from so many short irons into the greens!
As it turns out, there are a few more trouble spots around Kiln Creek than you might imagine looking at the scorecard! I drove it well, which made the course significantly more easy. For those who don’t bring the tee game, the course is likely to be a nightmare! Average shots, especially drives, can end up in some bad places.
The thing that makes Kiln Creek so tough, and tougher than what’s on paper, is all the mounding! The course is a community course and except for a few holes, it is surrounded by homes. Tom Clark, a well known architect in the Mid-Atlantic, designed Kiln Creek and I’m guessing that he used all the mounding to make the course interesting to play and make it feel as if a golfer wasn’t playing in someone’s backyard. I’ll admit that the mounding created that isolated feeling that is nice to have a course, especially when homes surround.
But, the flip side to the mounding is that it yielded many poor bounces for our group! Time after time it seemed that we’d land shots on the top of the mounds that line the fairways just to have the ball kick towards the out of bounds markers. If you were still in play, then you are left with a blind recovery shot!
It was similar around the greens, there seemed to be more bad bounces than good bounces. For instance, the 17th is a 149 yard par 3 that features a volcano green. The green cannot be more than 20 yards deep and if you miss the green, the ball is kicking away from it. It is one of those greens you can play hockey across for sure. I hit the green and made a par, but it could generate some controversy among your group.
There aren’t any easy shots at Kiln Creek. If you hit a good drive, you’ll need a good approach in order to have a birdie putt because the greens are small. I mentioned the mounding, there is also plenty of bunkers, some water, and trees that you’ll need to carve shots around. The 8th is the hole that comes to my mind with these features!
The 8th is the #1 handicap and plays 416 yards. I got a great picture from the tee so you’ll see the water all down the right side, the hole’s eight bunkers, and some pine trees that guard the left side. From the tee don’t miss right, don’t miss left, and don’t hit it too far. Then do same thing on the approach, but you may have to hit that one high! Other holes have the same level of involvement. No doubt the holes look great, but playability tastes will vary!
What I liked about the course was the collection of par 3’s. I already mentioned the 17th, but the 4th is my favorite hole on the course. These holes are similar yardages, but the 4th requires just as a precise mid iron as the 17th. On the 4th, water is to the left green and a bunker behind, so right is the only miss! The other par 3’s are longer and a bit more forgiving to misses. I also liked that from the tees I played, the par 5’s could be reached in two. One person in our group played them -5, impressive!
I’d call the conditions on the day we played “good”. The greens were the highlight and were pure and a good holing pace. The greens were receptive and a fair challenge, with many subtle breaks. I thought the fairways were nice too, allowing me to clip the ball. Off the fairways conditions were a step down as there were plenty of bare spots. I think the mounding makes the maintenance a challenge in many locations.
If you asked me to sum up my thoughts about the course into one word, I’d pick “excessive”. My friend mentioned that if half the bunkers were removed, it wouldn’t hurt the design and only help amateur play. I agree 100%! I’m always happy to try a new course, but I don’t see much reason to go out of your way to play Kiln Creek unless you live nearby or are in search of a new course to add to your list. For $30 per person, it was a steal though!
#1 (387 yard par 4):
#2 (483 yard par 5):
#3 (348 yard par 4):
#4 (152 yard par 3):
#5 (368 yard par 4):
#6 (522 yard par 5):
#7 (169 yard par 3):
#8 (416 yard par 4):
#9 (307 yard par 4):
#10 (349 yard par 4):
#11 (414 yard par 4):
#12 (342 yard par 4):
#13 (502 yard par 5):
#14 (201 yard par 3):
#15 (464 yard par 5):
#16 (434 yard par 4):
#17 (149 yard par 3):
#18 (387 yard par 4):