As most of my golf friends know, I’m always on the lookout for a new course! I have a few social media accounts and was contacted by a member at Old Town Club. He offered to have me out, and of course (I love that pun) I couldn’t turn down that offer! I play mostly public courses, so I’ve been looking forward to this weekend’s round at Old Town Club for quite some time. And, Old Town Club is not just any private course. It is one of the top 100 courses in the country, depending on which golf magazines you read!
I don’t consider myself a student of golf course architecture in the truest sense, so keep that in mind when reading my review. If you love architecture then there are other write ups and articles that you can find, which offer those details about Old Town Club. However, my host provided me with bits and pieces of the club’s past!
Before the round I got quick tour of the clubhouse, which has all sorts of memorabilia. There are pictures of other holes designed by Perry Maxwell, the designer of Old Town Club. There are photos of Wake Forest PGA pros, and with Wake Forest nearby the club is home to their golf team.
Coore and Crenshaw, whom many in the golf community hold in high regard had their hands on the club in 2012 or 2013, when they did a restoration. Some of the work they completed was re-doing the bunkers, and they look fantastic! The bunkers have that rustic look with jagged, fescue lined edges. Speaking of history, the course dates back to 1939 and is one of those courses with lots of charm and character! The course plays over rolling land, set back from some impressive houses and close to the Wake Forest campus.
To me there are a few things about the course that stand out. First, for a course in the Mid-Atlantic, Old Town has a friendly, open feel to it. The fairways are wide and inviting and except for maybe the 4th, you can play your natural shot shape from the tee! I tend to enjoy courses where I don’t have to hit drives down chutes, and some average drives still give you a chance to play here. My host was telling me that the club has been going through a deforestation project and that the course looks quite a bit different now, compared to a few years ago. It seems that project would only help with member enjoyment, increase pace of play, and allow for better growing conditions.
The second thing that stands out to me about Old Town, is just how many uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies there are! I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me since this area of North Carolina starts to get more mountainous, compared to areas to the east. Years ago, apparently Maxwell got to pick the land to route the course and as a result you’ll get every sort of lie and some semi-blind landing areas! For instance, on the 1st hole you’ll play from a downsloping fairway up to the green. Throughout the round I just tried to let the slope naturally shape the shots, but if you want to go flag hunting here then you’ll have to flight and shape shots against the slopes. Yet, despite all the elevation change, Old Town can be walked and that’s exactly how we enjoyed the morning.
We played the blue tees which are 72.5/134/6637 and even though the course is open, don’t think it will play easy. I didn’t get to see all of Old Town’s teeth as it was playing soft due to recent rains. That was just fine by me though, I got the idea that the course can play tough! What makes it so tough, besides all the slope that I mentioned earlier, are the green complexes. There are small plateaus where the flags can be hidden and ridges that require an extreme amount of precision. There are plenty of false fronts short of elevated greens, which makes chipping tricky. After our round I heard some stories about balls being putted off the front of the greens!
As you’d expect for a top 100 course, the conditions were excellent! Let’s put it this way, only you will be to blame for a poor score. I called the greens quick, but to my host they were slow! Funny how your experiences influence your perspective in that regards. Secretly, I’m glad I didn’t have to look silly with the putter. My driver takes care of that for me, ha!
Just playing the course for the first time, I don’t see a way to dispute that Perry Maxwell was ahead of his time. There are some unique features including a double green for the 8th and 17th and then a double tee for the 9th and 18th. Maxwell routed the course around a creek, which sneakily comes into play more than it looks like it should. If you love golf course architecture and get the chance to play here, make sure to take advantage of that invite! You won’t be disappointed.
#1 (416 yard par 4):
#2 (159 yard par 3):
#3 (402 yard par 4):
#4 (526 yard par 5):
#5 (382 yard par 4):
#6 (183 yard par 3):
#7 (383 yard par 4):
#8 (398 yard par 4):
#9 (433 yard par 4): Sorry, no official picture. But it is the hole off to the left, if you look at #18.
#10 (410 yard par 4):
#11 (195 yard par 3):
#12 (421 yard par 4):
#13 (427 yard par 4):
#14 (322 yard par 4):
#15 (213 yard par 3):
#16 (367 yard par 4):
#17 (593 yard par 5):
#18 (407 yard par 4):