The round at Brooksville Country Club went quickly and I was itching for more golf. That’s what a week of wonderful weather will do I suppose! Also, I was hoping to play a beautifully maintained course after some middle of the road maintenance in recent days.
From my research, I knew that Southern Hills was an upscale facility and I figured it had to be in great shape. Plus, this was as good of a time as ever to play there since it was a weekday afternoon. I booked my tee time from the parking lot at Brooksville Country Club and headed fifteen minutes south to Southern Hills.
I passed through the security gate and immediately realized that Southern Hills is an elaborate club. The security guy told me to turn right at the “T” intersection and that would loop me around to the clubhouse. When I got to that intersection, I turned right but not before noticing the massive clubhouse off in the distance! The clubhouse was built on a high part of the property, and clearly is the centerpiece of the community.
When I checked in, I was told that I would be the last tee time of the day and that I could hit some range balls if I’d like. I figured it couldn’t hurt since I hadn’t hit a fairway yet on the trip and enjoyed some range time.
Speaking of the conditions, as I expected, they were excellent! For $80 it seemed like a good value too, this time of year! The conditions are the reason you’ll want to play here in my opinion. Everything was cut down and I never had a bad lie. The tees were being overseeded and a little long, which isn’t uncommon this time of year in Florida. The fairways had super tight lies so that made it easy to clank one, especially around the greens. I mean that as a compliment to the grounds crew, it has to be tough to get everything cut so closely to the roots. The greens were firmer and rolled so smooth! My Edel really got to shine on the glass-like surfaces.
As far as the design goes, Southern Hills is a newer Pete Dye creation with some elevation change. The course opened in 2006 and works its way through an upscale community. I’m not sure how many homes are primary residences, but the homes never bothered me. I’m sure the club was private at one point, but now it has some public exposure.
In all honesty, the course wasn’t a complete bear to play. I played the Oak tees (73.7/140/6962) which were a bit long for my game, but I managed to have some par looks after my squirrelly shots. I’m not sure if Dye has gotten softer in his old age or if he needed to design a course for members to play, but Southern Hills wasn’t the traditional beating that I’ve come to expect from Pete. Overall, there is very little water in play and I didn’t see one railroad tie! However, there is a volcano bunker in the 15th fairway, which I thought was neat.
The biggest challenges at Southern Hills are going to be controlling the irons from the fairways, trying to recover around the greens, and the length of the course. Dye designs courses to test the top golfers in the game, and if you look closely here you will still see that is the case, just with wide fairways and little lost ball potential.
There is an incredible amount of slope in the fairways, so much in fact that you might have to worry about your ball ending up in a divot. Everything seems to collect in certain pockets in the fairways. The Dye mounding means you will have all sorts of stances and lies so getting an iron shot close takes some skill if you are a good golfer, and some luck if you aren’t! Around the greens is just as tough with not many good bounces and collection areas that have an amateur trying low percentage short game shots.
Southern Hills is a beast when it comes to distance. The front nine isn’t too bad, except for maybe the 7th hole which is a 567 yard par 5. The back nine is longer, thanks to par 4’s of 471, 447, and 464 yards! Plus, it has a 563 yard par 5. Overall, I thought the yardage was fairly well mixed for a long course. And, if you hit the big ball then the tips are over 7,500 yards!
To sum up the design at Southern Hills, I’d say it is a tolerable Dye layout. Think along the lines of TPC Louisiana or the Dye Course at Barefoot. That’s fine, but I left feeling a bit underwhelmed, almost as if Dye compromised too much when building the course. No doubt though, the club is top notch and overall I think it is worth a play if you are golfing at the World Woods courses.
#1 (392 yard par 4):
#2 (372 yard par 4):
#3 (197 yard par 3):
#4 (388 yard par 4):
#5 (505 yard par 5):
#6 (452 yard par 4):
#7 (567 yard par 5):
#8 (187 yard par 3):
#9 (321 yard par 4):
#10 (410 yard par 4):
#11 (471 yard par 4):
#12 (538 yard par 5):
#13 (148 yard par 3):
#14 (447 yard par 4):
#15 (373 yard par 4):
#16 (563 yard par 5):
#17 (167 yard par 3):
#18 (464 yard par 4):