The fundamental question at Seminole is the degree to which difficulty makes for a great golf course. If one equates resistance to scoring with greatness (a la Golf Digest and—probably—Ben Hogan), then Seminole is surely a great one. If, however, your abilities are closer to mediocre (i.e. a double digit handicap), you may not put Seminole in your golf course pantheon. A perfectly struck approach shot will often yield a good birdie opportunity, but anything less will leave a long putt or worse………..often way worse.
One of the property’s finest features is the high ridge that runs along the western edge of the course. A smaller one runs along the beach on the eastern edge. Donald Ross used both ridges expertly in his routing. Only 4 holes don’t touch the ridges (1 and 8-10). The ones on the ridges (3-6 and 17-18) run north south, while four at the other two ends of the property run east-west. The rest run in a crazy quilt of directions. The line of charm is evident from the get-go (a sizeable bunker complex confronts the tee shot on the dogleg right 1st) and continues to challenge the drive from there on, reaching a crescendo at 15 and 16. Ross’s heavily contoured greens add to the challenge.
There is some debate as to how much Dick Wilson’s revisions affected the Ross greens. While the contours certainly looked authentic to me, the lack of ability to run the ball onto the green made me think Wilson made significant alterations to the green complexes. Like a number of great courses, Seminole might be a bit much for anyone but expert golfers to play regularly. But the opportunity to play here should not be missed.
Date: March 31, 2016