Old Marsh is aptly named. Though it’s not particularly old (a Pete Dye design from his heyday in the late 80s), the course is surrounded by Florida marsh, giving the golfer a good idea about what much of the undeveloped interior of Florida looks like. It’s quite an aviary as well, boasting sand hill cranes and roseate spoonbills amongst it winged inhabitants. The challenge of routing on this sort of land forced Dye into long (over 100 yards) walks from tee to green on six occasions. This was preferable tomore forced carries. Marsh or water (or both) is in play on every hole, but generally on one side of the hole. Dye limited most of the forced carries to tee shots and none is over 150 yards from the member tees. The wetlands can be hazardous, though. My caddie told me his player the previous day had lost 41 golf balls.Two holes are worthy of note. The fifth, a short par 4, has an approach that channels the famous Dell hole at Lahinch, complete with a blind approach over a 20 foot high hill and a white marking stone on the hillside to show the hole location. The hole’s unusual nature has caused a number of members to advocate removing the hillside. In his customary manner, Dye has told the club they’ll have to take his name off the course if they do. Number 8 is a par 3 Dye is said to have called the best par 3 he’d ever designed. When asked if it was better than #17 at Sawgrass, he told the members, “Alice designed that one.” Old Marsh’s greens are quite small with interesting contours, and lots of chipping areas to provide opportunities for various approach shots and for interesting recovery shots if the green is missed. Only the short par 4s (5, 10) require a high approach. I found some repetition in a number of greens—8, 9, 11, and 15, for example are all bisected by a ridge in the middle of the green. But this is only a small complaint. Seminole and Pine Tree may have the big reputations in this part of Florida, but I found Old Marsh more enjoyable to play.
Date: February 27, 2016