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Atlanta Athletic Club - Would you Join?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Watching the '11 PGA major at Atlantic Athletic Club makes me wonder why members would enjoy playing there as a home club. The design is brutal with trouble front and back of greens, water everywhere, traps with some horrible sand.It's all-ready set a record for most double bogie's....a very dubious distinction.


I pretty much agree with Phil Mickelson's comments that it suitable for PGA pro's only. I appreciate that some are drawn to very difficult designs, some like to test themselves occasionally, but, at least for me, it would not be fun on a daily basis. If this is what members need to do to attract a major, it's a shame.


The tour was in Philly several weeks ago at Aronimink which is a classic design and is being considered by the PGA as a future site. I've played it, it's very tough, but, fair....not junked up at all, pro's praise it. Throughout the golf world, the classic courses are becoming obsolete for modern tour golf. Not a good thing.

post #2 of 6

Reminds me of a local course built as the center piece of a real estate development.  They would give perspective buyers a free round of golf, a lot of which were recent or soon-to-be retirees.  The course was a great design, but is pretty tough, with lots of water, sand, and elevated greens that  severely punish anything but very good shots ("target golf").  A lot of the buyers decided they did not want to spend everyday playing such a tough course, so it actually cost them sales instead of promoting them. 


"Tough but fair" is good if you have a low handicap, but for the majority of golfers it does not lead to a pleasant experience because in an 18-hole round they will undoubtedly have a couple of holes that totally destroy their score.  I really enjoy playing tough courses, but I don't think I would spend money to belong to a CC that kicked my ass every time I played it.

post #3 of 6

Only if I was given an unlimited lifetime supply of Nike golf balls. That track would make me quit golf entirely. It is absolutely beautiful but way too tough for the mere mortal. Barely any bailout areas for those who cannot carry certain distances. It made for a fantastic finish for the PGA  Championship though.

post #4 of 6

Agreed. (Caveat--- I would join anywhere someone wants to pay for me to belong!!)


The 18th is really a par 4.5 with a forced third shot carry over water. I would hate to finish every round with that hole. Most of the modern architecture stuff that I have read espouses multiple options with lateral and partially encroaching water, so there is always a route for a high-handicapper/short-hitting straightie to play around the hazard. Better players/longer hitters just aren't affected by crossing water unless they mishit a shot or they are playing for significant $ or significant championships. I would assume, though, that a lot of those shaved banks are rough collars on an everyday basis for the members. I also despise fairway bunkers that do not allow the option to play full shot out of them. If a better player wants to try a difficult shot from a fairway bunker then they should be allowed to do it. The green complexes should be designed to punish any failed shot from those fairways bunkers, but the option to try the shot shouldn't be taken away from the player simply because they land in a bunker five yards off the fairway when they might have a better shot if they miss wide of the bunker entirely. Having said all that, for the touring pros, especially in a major, anything goes! I'm sure Keegan Bradley has absolutely no complaints about the course at all!!! Dude was striping it. Probably because he grew up skiing!!

post #5 of 6

I would enjoy playing it but I'd never be a member since almost all of my friends would not enjoy it.  A well designed course can be both challenging to the pros and accessible enough for a 20 handicapper to enjoy himself.

post #6 of 6

On the other hand, we have Oakmont. The beauty of these kinds of clubs is that it gathers all the nuts in one place and then busts them. (insert punch line here)


I love tough courses, but there is a PB Dye course (that sells memberships) 15 minutes away that I would not join at any price. My initial perception of the course difficulty was that it is designed to punish "good" shots. With experience and charity I'll say that to score well on that course you need to learn the course first and then hit the shots that it demands. So for the greens that are shaped like upside down bowls, you must hit bump and run approaches instead of trying to stop a high wedge shot. And for the blind dogleg that slopes away after the dogleg to redirect shots that land in the middle of the fairway into the rough, well you have to memorize those features that you can't see and land your drives in the rough so that they trickle onto the fairway. If I played the course 10 more times I could easily memorize where all the gimmicks are and start to figure out what shots Mr Dye demands that I hit. Maybe 30 more times after that I could actually get decent at hitting the demanded shots and start scoring. For some people this would be a worthy enough challenge to get them to join. For me, I might have considered it. But when the staff treated me like they were doing me a favor to let me play on their aerated course at full price, I decided that this course was just a super expensive and super snooty version of mini-golf.


There's another course close by (Whiskey Creek - Ernie Els design) that is also expensive and tricked up. The last hole is a 547 yard par 5 with the remnants of an old stone farm house (+ tall tree) sitting smack dab in the middle of the fairway.If you hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway, there's a fair chance that house is going to cost you a stroke. But the trouble is plainly visible and all strategic options are available (left/right/short/long/draw/fade/high/low) to deal with what amounts to a largish vertical bunker. My initial perception was that the course was too gimmicky and not well managed (one green had a pin placement/stimpmeter combo that turned it into a putt putt hole). But the starter was waiting for me at the turn to apologize for the misplaced pin (I had not complained) and asked for my opinion of the course at the end of the round. When I told him I did not have a good time and probably would not return, he gave me his card with free round on the back and encouraged me to give it another try. These guys "get it". On the second round I was able to recognize the "gimmicks" as thought provokers instead of "things that pissed me off". From the tips it's 74.8/136. It's out of my price range for regular play, but I greatly enjoy my occasional visits. On those visits I have observed that Ernie did a great job of positioning the forward tees to allow recreational golfers the opportunity to enjoy their round instead of getting their nuts busted.


Skiing has some of the same kind of "problem" resorts. Whether the resort is ridiculously over intimidating (no names mentioned Taos - Al's run) or ridiculously over opulent (no names mentioned Deer Valley - valet ski unloading), they turn off just as many potential customers as they attract and rarely leave visitors emotionally in the middle. The beauty of niche marketing is that if you are unique enough, you can probably get enough customers to prosper if you're well run. But if you're living on the edge of a niche, there's a razor thin margin for error (e.g. Taos allowing snowboarding risked alienating their core customer base but turned out to be wildly successful). So although Phil's comment may be mostly accurate, it does not necessarily mean it must be taken literally.

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