Deep bunkers, raised greens and wandering creeks all contribute to the challenge of the Championship golf course at Mirimichi. Justin Timberlake bought the layout when it was known as Big Creek Golf Course in 2009, spending a reputed $15 million on the property before selling it to a Memphis businessman for half a million dollars five years later.
William Mitchell laid out the original course in 1965 but this was completely redesigned by Bill Bergin after it was acquired by singer/songwriter/actor (and big golf fan) Timberlake. Fairways now weave around six lakes and a couple of wandering streams on a partly-open, partly-tree-lined property.
Highlight holes on the outward half include the 225-yard 3rd (“Nayu/sand”) and 452-yard 5th (“Agaliha/sunshine”), with big forced carries over large, sandy waste areas. On the back nine, the 453-yard 16th (Niladyyi/creek”) is rated the toughest hole on the card, featuring a serpentine stream that runs the full length of the fairway along the left side.
I was really looking forward to playing Mirimichi. When I lived in Memphis during the early 1980's I would often make my way out to the Old Woodstock Hills course, and I had fond memories of playing a somewhat interesting municipal course that was certainly better than the city-owned courses in town. I had followed the hoopla associated with Jason Timberlake and the renovation of the course, so I took the opportunity to play on a recent trip to Memphis. Basically, I found the course to be amazingly underwhelming and quite a disappointment.
It seems to me that the renovation consisted of moving some land and adding some artificial appearing contouring to the otherwise completely flat front nine. The greenside bunkering bordered on the bizarre, with several bunkers placed an awkward 20 to 40 yards away from the greens. The greens did have a few interesting runoffs, but the green complexes themselves were very boring with very few interesting features. From the blue tees, the front nine is basically one mundane 400 to 435-yard par-four after another, all running in the same or opposite direction. The back nine is a bit more interesting as the land is much more rolling. I think 15 and 16 are actually pretty interesting par 4's, and if the rest of the course was built to the standards of those two holes, it would possibly be worthy of the accolades. Alas, I think the high regard that the course has been held is a function of celebrity association and has little to do with the quality of the course. They basically took a nice, average muni, dressed it up around the edges, and used a brilliant marketing plan to overcome the shortfalls of the land and design.
The course looks a little worse for the wear at this time. Conditioning is average at best. While I played in a twosome with my wife, we were held up by an eightsome ( yes, that is correct. 8 players). I called the clubhouse to remark on this remarkable circumstance, but they did nothing about it. We went through while the armada of players was taking lunch at the turn, but we spotted the mighty cohort of eight weaving their way down the fairway about 4 holes behind us on the back nine. Woe to those behind them!
This course is nowhere near a top 20 course in the state.
Richard, having just met you this past week, I’m shocked that a 29 y.o. such as yourself can’t properly identify “Justin Timberlake.” That said, keep up the good work and continue speaking truth to the hype.
Jason, Justin, what the heck? Both my daughters are older than 29, which certainly explains my cultural ignorance!
Mirimichi was originally called Woodstock Country Club and then Big Creek and is less than 30 minutes north of Memphis. I was told that Justin Timberlake played there as a kid before he became famous. Thus, when it was being auctioned off he had an emotional reason to buy it. Supposedly, he invested/dumped $16M into it. Mirimichi was the first course to receive Audubon International's Classic Sanctuary certification as well the first course in the US to be certified by the Golf Environment Organization for its sustainability. It also has a rainwater-driven irrigation system. Timberlake and investors have a spinoff company called Mirimichi Green Express that takes much of the lessons learned in TN and applied them to their environmentally friendly products. He sold it approximately 6 years ago at a loss of over $15M.
The first hole is welcoming. Leans left with water down the left side. Fairway bunker right and two front left and right greenside bunkers. It is rated the easiest hole on the course. The second is a pretty straight away par five. Big hitters can get home in two, there is a scattering of trees and bunkers that do pinch the fairway, but three average shots and you will have a birdie putt. The 3rd is a long par three to a green that is protected by some large bunkers. It is ok to hit driver. The 4th is a long par 4 with a gunch and cross bunker carry. The green is protected by bunkers left and a steep slope right of the green. The 5th parallels the 4th, a wee bit longer and a wee bit tougher. The par five 6th is a good birdie oppty. Sadly. It parallels 5 and 4 has a couple of fairway bunkers and a peninsula green. High risk/reward to go for it two. For those of you playing smart, the further right you are after your second shot the easier the hole. The 7th is another parallel hole. Off the tee pay attention to the cross bunkers. On the approach lots of trouble left, water hazard and three greenside bunkers. The 8th is another long par three. Depending upon where the tees pin are, but you may have a water carry, couple of bunkers short and long. The 9th is the longest par four on the front and is the number two handicap hole. Pretty straight, water off the tee right and water left on the approach. Both have to be pretty bad snots for these to come into play.
The back starts off with a long par four with fairway bunkers in the landing zone left. A creek cuts across the fairway and then taunts you down the right side. The 11th is a mid-length Florida par three. The 12th is a long par five that leans right. Favor the left off the tee and your second shot as there is a creek right. The elevated green is protected by five bunkers short left. The par three 13th felt very similar to 11, just opposite hand. The 14th is the shortest par four and a good birdie oppty if you can avoid all the trouble. A puddle water hazard and creek down the right and a fairway bunker left. Consider laying up to your preferred wedge yardage. The green has a water hazard right and two bunkers left and one right. The 15th is a long par four that bends right. Woods left and treelined right with an assortment of fairway bunkers and two right front greenside bunkers. It seemed a lot tighter than it really was. The number one handicap hole 16, is a long par four that parallels 15. There is a creek that meanders in and out down the left side and a fairway bunker and trees squeezing the fairway from the left. The raised green is caressed by a water hazard on the right and rear. The 17th is the longest par four and is a slight dogleg left. Woods left, creek and fairway bunkers right. Favor the right off the tee. The green has a bunker left and water right. The 18th is the longest hole with a small water carry off the tee. On the second shot water left, fairway bunkers left and right. I think the best approach angle is from the right to a green with bunker left and front right with a ridge running front to back about a 1/3 of the way in from the right side.
I really enjoyed Mirimichi and would pay to play again.