Like its designer, Charles Blair Macdonald, the Mid Ocean Club is big and bold, built on a scale that most golf courses never achieve, the only two remotely close being Yale and Bethpage Black. Partially, I suppose this is because the course was built before the era of large earth moving equipment and Macdonald used the naturally hilly terrain to great advantage. The most memorable hole on the course is the 5th, the “Cape” hole, which plays from a high tee over water to a demanding green. A Macdonald invention that has been widely imitated in golf design ever since, the Cape Hole here is the best rendition in the world. What makes it so is that it plays from a very high tee and the fairway that you have to hit slants downhill from top to bottom the entire way. The trick, obviously, is to choose how much of the water you want to take on. Aiming left is a bold line and if you can carry your tee shot over the lake you have a much shorter shot to the green. The more timid player aims right and finds land instead of water but has a very challenging second shot on the 433-yard hole. It is classic. The 16th is a very demanding par 4, you have to hit your blind tee shot over what appears like a sheer wall of a hill, very steeply up just to reach the fairway. The short par 4 eighth plays to a sharply elevated green. The tenth hole, "Mercer Hill", has unforgiving terrain requiring skill hitting off Bermuda grass on an uneven fairway over a steep hill! The 238-yard Biarritz hole, the 13th, is a testing specimen of this variety with the requisite hollow in the middle of the large green. For those that can't get on the super-exclusive National Golf Links of America or Chicago Golf Club, playing Mid Ocean is a worthy substitute since the great man's genius shows through strongly. Unaccompanied guests can play at Mid Ocean if their round is arranged through select hotels on the island and is limited.
Date: September 19, 2019