Played: July 19, 2010
Greens Fee: $65
Cost/Stroke: $0.65 (100 strokes; foursome scores 89, 100, 105, & 107)
Pace of Play: Rangers and cart messages keep play to 4.5 hour pace
Overall Rating: Well conditioned course with a less than satisfying experience
Renditions is a course composed of replica holes from around the world. The day we played the course was cart path only and that slowed play. For the record our group finished about 20 minutes behind schedule and the effect of constant warnings from the rangers and the clubhouse made the back nine less than enjoyable. Renditions sells itself as re-creations of holes we have seen via television from various major tournament venues such as Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass and Oakmont. This may be true but if it was my course I would have a little literature on each cart so that the players would know what they were playing and thereby could appreciate the experience more fully. The only way to know what you are playing is by reading the hole markers at the teeing areas, and, with the harassing by the clubhouse about pace of play, there was no time to do so. On a normal day maybe there is sufficient time, but when it is cart path only and the cart paths only travel on one side of the hole then the round is always much slower. Many of the strolls to play our second shots were in excess of 100 yards each way and you had to take 5 clubs with you because of the wide variance of lies you might encounter…you might be in a pot bunker, tall grass, or have a perfect lie that you could hit a 3-wood from but until you found your ball you had no idea what to expect.
The Course: Conditioning of Renditions was beautiful. I’m not an agronomist but I think the fairways were all bent grass giving you very nice lies. The pot bunkers from the various British Open courses were things to avoid but it was fun to see others have to get out of them.
Greens: The greens must be spectacular during most of the year because they were recently aerated on the day we played and they still rolled true and fast without any bouncing offline as usually happens if they are not perfectly cared for. The steepness of some of the greens (like #13 at the Masters) and the dropoff on Sawgrass #17 (the “Island Green”) were fun to putt. While these greens were fast, there is no way they were rolling at 13+ on the stimp like they do at Augusta so you really can appreciate the touch that the pros have when they putt down a “ski slope.” If you play this course then putt bravely because if you don’t jar the first putt you probably will have two more putts coming back.
Quirky Stuff: Without sufficient information, such as a descriptive yardage book or a simple writeup on the GPS screens on each cart, most of the holes were just golf holes. Personally I am not familiar enough with Royal Birkdale #15 or Winged Food #7 or Medinah #6 to recognize what I am supposed to be playing. Knowing the history of the hole would have added greatly to my enjoyment of the course. Therefore, without the background knowledge the holes tended to be a mish-mosh of unrelated and weird holes. By its nature the course is not intended to be a single entity but a “rendition” of 18 holes from other courses and it certainly played liked that—a little disjointed without a particular flow or feel to it.
Did Not Like: The cart path only rule should have told me this but it was not until I sat down to evaluate the course that I had this revelation: it is impossible to re-create the feel of a links course while at the same time having target golf holes such as we have in America. I tried to play some links-type shots to intentionally experience running along the ground (as opposed to the accidental “worm burners” I often hit) and none of them were successful. The revelation was that links courses do not have bent grass fairways and links courses do not have soft landing areas. In fact, the scorecard even states that “the embedded ball rule is in effect.”
Great Good Fun Stuff: I did thoroughly enjoy playing two very recognizable holes—Augusta #12 (bogey) and Sawgrass #17 (par). With wind in our faces at Augusta #12, pulling the right club was a challenge that the four of us, evidently, were not up to—one in “Rae’s Creek”, one short of the green that almost rolled back into the creek and two left of the green, scores 4-4-4-6). The Island Green hole played downwind and was everything you expected it to be. One perfect tee shot that hit near the hole and rolled off the back into the water, two shots short of the hole on the green, and the fourth shot in the drink off of “Pete Dye’s” railroad ties (scores of 3-3-5-6).
Overall Rating: While the course was beautifully manicured, the overall effect was less than I had hoped for. Since the course really has to be played as a target-style course, too many of the holes really did not deliver the feel of their big brother holes that they tried to imitate. So, while it was fun, it did not leave me with the feeling of it being “great, good fun” that I have to share with others. I would play it again if someone really wanted to try it but Renditions is not calling me back for another play if left to my own devices.