The original golf course at Keswick Hall Golf Club was laid out by Fred Findlay back in 1949 and Arnold Palmer upgraded this layout at the start of the 1990s. When the business was sold in 2012, the new owners of the 600-acre boutique resort called in Pete and Alice Dye to upgrade the course.
Work started immediately, but it took until late 2014 before all the changes were completed, thanks in large part to the amount of time it took to haul almost two thousand truckloads of sand onto the property to cap the fairways. Over a thousand yards was added to the overall length and half the holes had their par changed.
The new course is a rather minimalistic, low profile design, with holes blending beautifully into the rural landscape. Despite elongating the layout, the challenge presented by Pete and Alice Dye isn’t about length, it’s about the best line of approach to firm greens that are open at the front, allowing all golfers the chance to score well.
Our well-travelled contributor, Paul Rudovsy, commented as follows after playing here in 2018:
“The course is fun, and requires thinking and precision. Filled with lots of Dye’s small bunkers (total of 81 bunkers on the course), one often faces bunker shots with awkward stances – similar bunker shapes and sizes are found at Brookline.
On most holes, the tee shot offers strategic alternatives… play a safe tee shot and face a difficult approach, or hit a tee shot to an area with trouble nearby and if successful you are rewarded with a generous approach. This requires you to know your game and think through the alternatives.
Interesting how Dye has gone back to his original style of courses at the twilight of his career. And what a career it has been… always at the edge, and the tutor of some of the greatest architects designing today (e.g., Coore, Doak, Urbina, and Whitman).”
I have been playing this course 2-3 times a week for the past 3 years, and I give it 2.5 stars solely due to the poor maintenance of the course. In terms of design, it would be a supremely enjoyable course and deserved of its ranking if it was actually maintained in a fast and firm nature. Most of the greens are open in front, some of the holes have nice collection areas around the greens, and Dye designed some of the longer holes such that you can use the contours of the fairway to get the ball close to the flag. However the course superintendent keeps the fairways and greens extremely soft and slow for almost the entire year. Consequently being able to use the ground to run the ball up on the green becomes non-existent. They have reduced it to a strictly aerial style golf course and have taken away the options, playability, and enjoyment of the course design. Outside of the poor course conditioning, the course has a variety of par 4's, long par 3's and 5's, and a very nice 18th hole. I wish I could give it a better rating but until things change dramatically with the course conditioning it is tough to recommend when other courses close by are routinely in much better shape.