The Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Carlton Woods was unveiled in 2001, five years before Tom Fazio’s 18-hole layout was laid out on a property three miles to the south of the Golden Bear’s original 18 holes.
Jack’s course is long and demanding, where tree-lined fairways wind around a property dotted with several small ponds and lakes. Water features at the 3rd to the 5th hole but the hole ranked as the most difficult on the front nine is the long par four 2nd.On the inward half, the 455-yard 15th is a real tough nut to crack. It may be devoid of sand but a menacing creek crosses the fairway twice from tee to green. The 18th is a fine home hole too, doglegging slightly right before bending in the opposite direction round a lake that runs along the left of the fairway.
Before I get to the golf course, the staff here provides the most luxurious vibe I've ever experienced at a facility. I felt very fortunate to get the opportunity to play here, and the hospitality, amenities, and conditions made me all the more thankful. I've never felt more important and out of place because every person on property treated me and my playing partners like royalty.
On to the golf course. It didn't hit me until about a month ago that all of Houston-area courses are virtually completely flat. The topography in this part of the country provides so little opportunity to do anything with the land beyond 99% complete flatness. Knowing that, Jack did about as good a job as one could do by making a flat area interesting for a golf course. The water hazards are all really crafty. The 15th, which the blurb mentions, was my favorite hole because of that creek that winds its way from tee to green. It was also a beautiful green complex and brought back memories of when I first walked around Amen Corner at Augusts National. The 9th and 18th are framed by the clubhouse in the background which makes two really good holes to begin with all the more epic.
In true Nicklaus Design style, if you're not precisely on-point with your yardages, you're penalized severely. I had several occasions throughout my round where my ball was on my target line, but just a yard or two short/long of where I needed to be and paid the price by getting either a short-sided bunker shot or watching my ball roll into water. Frustrating at times, but the opportunities to score are readily present and I just didn't take advantage. Throw a Tour player out there and he'll shoot 65 pretty easily.
Carlton Woods - Nicklaus is a Top 6 course for me now and it has nothing to do with anything wrong about this property. The courses above it just have more unique features on-site that could be taken advantage of.