The longer of the two 18-hole layouts at Forest Highlands Golf Club, Tom Weiskopf’s Meadow course made its debut in 1999, twelve years after the unveiling of his Canyon course co-design with Jay Morrish.
The 18 holes of the Meadow course lie to the north of its older sibling and, with fairways laid out on a flatter, more open landscape, the layout’s a little more forgiving than the top ranked Canyon course.It’s perhaps not the signature hole on the card, but the short par four 6th is certainly one of the more memorable. Measuring only 342 yards, it’s almost driveable for long hitters teeing it up at an altitude of almost 7,000 feet above sea level. Sensible golfers will note the narrow fairway and tiny green, however, and lay up accordingly.
After the rousing success of the big brother Canyon Course the hope was that a second 18-hole layout would be a strong rival. Unfortunately, the Meadow is not blessed with the same terrain and the holes, while good in a few spots, is devoid of compelling architecture that truly sustains itself beyond those brief moments.
Unlike the Canyon Course which is routed through rugged canyons and rocky outcrops -- the Meadow is as its name states. The holes are not as varied as those on the big brother layout and the general sense I left with was feeling the experience was rather empty.
The Meadow is good layout but the issue is that it must compete against the highly successful Canyon Course -- which Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish also designed. The issue for many facilities is if more than one course is likely to happen -- it's far better off to have two different architects do the work so as not to have one course be seen as inferior to the other. That was the brilliance of Mike Keiser when creating several uniquely different courses at the Bandon Dunes complex in Oregon.
The issue for Forest Highlands was in going with Tom Weiskopf for the 2nd 18. The issue is not the architect per se, but the wherewithal in hiring someone else would have meant a greater probability that the needed differentiation between the courses would have been better served.
A number of facilities that came into being recently have seen fit to get the involvement of different architects in order to bolster the overall standing of the final products. Weiskopf did a fine job with the land site but when held against the likes of the adjoining Canyon Course it's truly a night and day situation.
Similar to movies it's often best to realize sequels very rarely equal or exceed the original. It's best to get a different director and create a completely different vision. The Meadow provides more golf holes -- just not memorable ones.
by M. James Ward