Behind the gates that lead to a substantial 1,200-acre residential site at Forest Creek Golf Club, are 37 holes that were laid out over the rolling sand hills of North Carolina by Tom Fazio.
The South course was the first to open in 1997 to immediate critical acclaim, which is no small feat for a layout that lies just a few miles along the road from the world-famous, attention-grabbing, Pinehurst Golf Resort.
Indeed, a number of other new courses in the area with blue chip architectural credentials have not exactly found favour with the critics, including designs by Jack Nicklaus and Rees Jones.
Fazio, however, managed to pull off the toughest of all golfing tricks, which was to fit the holes into the existing landscape with as little earth movement as possible, keeping as natural an appearance as possible to fairways that weave through pine trees. And, to cap it all off, Fazio built a second Sandhills course at Forest Creek, the North, which opened for play in 2005. This new Pine Valley look-alike has scooped all the accolades and pushed the gently winding parkland South course into the shadows.
The North course is a brute, measuring 7,139 yards from the tips. Huge, raggedy, waste bunkers give the course that Pine Valley look and while it may not be in the same league as the Clementon course, the North can stand up for itself in the toughness department. According to Golfweek, “Tom Fazio evokes a Pine Barrens look with lots of over-the-hill shots and interesting angles. The last four holes are more linear and conventional, but the first 14 are scratchy, raw and compelling.”Interestingly, Forest Creek has an extra par three 37th hole in front of the clubhouse and it’s been put to good use over the years in settling a few small wagers when match play bounce games have ended all square after a regulation round.
My favorite of the two courses at Forest Creek. A great collection of holes with large waste areas to negotiate and excellent bunkering around the greens. The back nine runs down to a lake and the dog leg 17th is particularly memorable and difficult. This course is more open and expansive than the South course and really demands excellent ball striking to score well.