I’m sometimes skeptical reading glowing reviews from folks who haven’t posted many reviews here. But Tim and Troy are spot on. Sutton Bay is a Top 100 course.
The only shortcoming I could find is the routing. The course is over a mile from the clubhouse and there are a number of long, unintuitive walks from green to tee. Everything else, however, is splendid. There are tees for every game—5300-7300 yards (though Cody, the assistant pro told me even the top players are likely to play the back tees only when the prairie winds don’t howl).
The line of charm is present on the majority of tee shots—asking the player to decide how much risk to take to obtain the reward of a better line on the second shot. It’s also present on the second shot on three of the four par 5s…..an area where architects often go to sleep. Every green also offers choices on the approach. And once you’re on the green, a whole new set of challenges arise dealing with the contouring. There are some hole locations which could lead to “unfair” putting challenges, but these can be avoided once the player knows where not to land the ball. Despite a very rainy year, the course played firm and fast in September 2019. My stimpmeter read 13.
One of the most interesting things about Sutton Bay is that this is Graham Marsh’s second design there. The first suffered mightily from land movement so severe that there were often multiple irrigation line breaks in a single day. So Marsh went up the hill and used a flat piece of land to create a very linkslike replacement. This is the same challenge Pete Dye faced on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits and Marsh did just as fine job creating a lay of the land looking course.
Date: September 24, 2019