"In the spirit of the game." That is the mantra for The Kingsley Club. Pure magic. Pure fun. When you arrive at The Kingsley Club you encounter simplicity -- no bells and whistles clubhouses -- no staff people suffocating you -- no inclusions that scream "excess" to the max. The 18-holes is the storyline here and the journey starts off in a big time way with the exciting par-5 1st.
The players are faced with a big time decision at the outset. How aggressive or safe does one wish to play on the 610-yard opener. The land on the outward side is simply top tier -- always moving in one direction or the other -- the bounce of the ball is always an element to be considered when deciding on one's line of attack.
I had been told about The Kingsley Club prior to my visit and often times the more I hear people gush about courses of recent vintage I am often left underwhelmed when I do make a visit. That was not the case with my visit here. The rare case when the complete opposite happened.
The goal of the club was to get core golfers in a setting that maximizes what they seek most -- the golf itself. It's amazing to think the ownership entrusted a relatively unknown person in the name of Mike DeVries to do the job. DeVries hails from the area and has always been a long time fan of the nearby gem Alister Mackenzie course -- Crystal Downs. DeVries delivered big time here.
What makes Kingsley so alluring is the constant changes and decisions you face. There's no set pattern -- no sense of predictability easily gleaned. Adjusting is a constant state of affair when playing. Shotmaking is the sine qua non at Kingsley.
To even have a conversation that would suggest a course can be in the same league with Crystal Downs speaks volumes on how good Kingsley really is.
There are plenty of interesting holes to mention. The downhill 7th is the perfect equal to the qualities encountered with the other par-5 on the front side. The land pitches left and the player able to work a left-to-right ball flight can reap huge dividends. Converesely, the player unable to keep the ball from going left will face a much more daunting task.
When you arrive at the par-3 9th you encounter a hole that provides plenty of fodder for what is considered fair and appropriate on a hole. The landing area is quite demanding -- but when faced with a shot that's under 170-yards I don't see it as being too much to ask for a player to be asked to execute at a high level. There's two different teeing areas -- the angles each provides presents its own set of challenges.
The lone weakness at Kingsley comes when making the turn -- I see the 10th and 11th as good holes but given what you have played already the fall-off is apparent. That changes when you reach the long par-4 12th. At 460 yards the hole is a clear statement that only the finest of shots will be rewarded. The fairway provides suffcient width but you get the feeling it's narrower. Hesitation in executing here can prove fatal.
The short par-4 13th is truly special. One would think that at 292 yards the opportunity for birdie and even eagle is certainly doable. The key at the 13th is making sure you leave your ball with the perfect angle to wherever the flag is located. The green is enormous -- the contours are akin to a stormy day on the Atlantic Ocean. Many have come to the tee thinking a low number is doable -- then left the green muttering why they fared so differently than they had expected.
Those playing Kingsley always talk about the demand of the long par-4 15th. The central aspect deals with a putting surface that is rather small and not entirely receptive to anything but a stellar approach to the perched target. The most important thing to remember about the 15th is not to steer the long approach. Being short of the green is not a bad situation but missing too far to either side is a quick roadmap for double-bogey or more.
The ending series of holes are well balanced and quite varied with a par-3, par-5 and par-4 conclusion. The 18th is good closer -- down an undulating valley -- finishing with a putting surface set in an amphitheater setting. The best part is how the green is angled and protetced by a right front bunker. A tough hole for sure but not an extreme one where finishing well is out of the question.
It's hard to put into words the incredible feeling one gets when playing such a top tier layout. Walking the grounds with the bag on your shoulder and the weather cooperating to the max provides a combination truly hard to beat.
For those always on the lookout for experiences that are truly tour de force in the deliverance of pure golf keep Kingsley on your radar screen. The time spent here will always be remembered.
by M. James Ward
Date: May 04, 2017