Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pine Valley Golf Club

The Crump Cup

Pine Valley is a very difficult course to gain access to, however, they admit the public once a year to view the final day of the Crump Cup championship. They allow you to walk the course unescorted. The great thing is that there are normally only a handful of matches of the course and you are allowed to walk wherever you want and I generally choose to walk the holes ahead of the match and can usually do so in quiet isolation. I don’t have any pictures of the course to share because they don’t allow you to bring a camera. You are also not allowed in the pro shop or clubhouse. Nevertheless, it may be the only way some of us will ever see the course.

A Reader's Impression of Pine Valley

I am waiting until I play the course to provide my personal impressions of the experience but I would like to share with you the experience of a reader who wrote to me after playing the course a couple of weeks ago. His passion and excitement are reflected in his writing. I can’t wait to play.

"I just returned from a memorable East Coast Swing, albeit short - it was indeed sweet. I now can just sum up all of the top 100 questers in the world like yourself by stating it all ends at Pine Valley. I have now played about 30 top 100's (depending on which year’s list) and Pine Valley definitely stands alone. That includes all of the top 25's that I have seen. It is golf's Holy Grail. It is a Mecca of perfection from A to Z. It is simply the best experience on this planet. Experiencing it ranks number four in my lifetime achievements, behind my wedding and the birth of my two sons. It is not just the course, but the whole package. If you could ever dream up how does it right, just blueprint everything about the place. Starting with the property itself, continuing to clubhouse, the cottages, and the simplicity of what a true great golf experience should be. It has it all. I had the privilege of a Saturday night dinner (that was exceptional yet simple - New York strip med. rare, a fine Bordeaux, incredible pie for dessert) followed by Port and Cuban cigars on the terrace. I was the first to stay overnight in my room in the new cottage building.

Perfection again with a simple room designed only for a comfortable night's sleep (A members mattress company provided the beds and it is so comfortable - many members order them for their own houses). The room only includes a flat screen television and an incredible overhead shower. No locks on any doors, no telephones, nothing written anywhere re. rules, etc. So we awake to breakfast (a small buffet that appeases a simple early a.m. appetite) and then golf. A perfect driving range, large and immaculate, of course with Pro V-1s. Before our early a.m. tee off, I noticed the course workers dragging the fairways to remove the morning dew and dry the fairways. Wow. Have not seen that at Riviera, LACC or anywhere for that matter. Then 18 different holes of absolute perfection. Waste areas, waste areas, waste areas. Perfect fairways, perfect rough, perfect greens. A layout and routing unmatched by any course in the world. With due respect to Old Tom, H.S., C.B., Dr. Mackenzie, Tillie, Raynor and Thomas.........Mr. Crump is the greatest golf architect that ever lived. Pine Valley is all he needed.

The caddies there are as great and colorful as any lot at St. Andrews or Augusta. On the course they even address members by first names and nicknames. It is not about the pomp at Pine Valley, it is about the golf and the nirvana like experience. The only yardage markers you see are codes on a few sprinkler heads.....for the caddies. Wow. No smoking on the golf course. Yes! No rakes on the golf course. Brilliant! After playing many of the holes you may have heard about or seen pictures of in books, magazines, the Golf Atlas on the web, etc., you come to the 13th tee and finish with best of the best. What a string of six finishing holes. Awesome.

I love the fact that there are only 350 members. A perfect amount. And women are not allowed to set foot on the property until Sundays after 1:00 p.m. Annika herself who wanted to play there this year was resigned to only that brief window of time. Love it! Tiger has never seen the course, albeit he has been invited. Trevino played there for the first time last year. I feel blessed, and as if my life is complete having had the whole Pine Valley experience. Passing thru the gates one gets the feeling of achieving a physical and spiritual wholeness. It is truly AWESOME.

If you can, save it for last. Play it after 99 others. Then go to heaven. "