Masters Preview

The first major championship in golf is nearly here, the 2015 Masters Tournament.  It is the tournament most looked forward to by golfers without a doubt, marking the coming of spring and the golf season.  For many of us who have dealt with long, cold winters, it is the first truly green grass we see and gets us excited for the coming season.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of

The Course

Augusta National Golf Club is the home of the Masters Tournament.  The course was the dream of Bobby Jones and designed by Alister MacKenzie with the help of Jones. Par for the course is 72 with a total yardage of 7,435. While normal golf courses may occupy 180 acres of land, Augusta National sprawls out on 360 acres. The unofficial course rating is 78.1 and unofficial slope is 137. There are no “official” ratings for this course.

The course record of 63 is held by two players, Nick Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996).

Par-3 6th hole - Photo courtesy of

Playerf fixing ball marks on the par-3 6th hole – Photo courtesy of

The golf course features extreme elevation changes, most which are not easily seen on television. The greens at Augusta are mostly small, severely sloped, and run extremely fast during the tournament. It is said that green speeds during the Masters run at around a 14 on the stimpmeter, but once again no “official” data is provided to the public. 14, for those who don’t know the rating system, is frighteningly fast.

The course features many landmark spots, often named after golfers or past presidents.  Some include the Hogan Bridge,  Sarizan Bridge, Ike’s Pond, Eisenhower Tree.

Perhaps the most famous landmark on the course is “Amen Corner,” the stretch of holes 11-13.

The Atmosphere

The Masters and its huge crowds provide an amazingly vibrant golf atmosphere. The layout of the course is great for spectators and the “roars” heard from crowds echo throughout the entire course.  A great shot on the par-3 16th and the subsequent crowd roar, can easily be heard clear up to the first tee.

Interesting Stats

The record for most wins at the Masters Tournament goes to Jack Nicklaus, with six. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have won the event four times.  Several players have won the tournament three times, including Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson.

Hole 13 - Par-5 - Photo coursesy of

Hole 13 – Par-5 – Photo coursesy of

Returning champion Bubba Watson has won the tournament two times.  Other two-time winners include Ben Crenshaw, Ben Hogan, and Seve Ballesteros.

Players To Watch

Rory McIlory comes into the Masters as the favorite to win.  The Masters is the only major championship McIlory has not won and doing so would give him the “career grand slam.”  Long hitting left-handed players do well at Augusta, making Bubba Watson a favorite to win again, along with Phil Mickelson.  Mickelson has not had a great 2015 season, but always seems to gear his game up for the Masters.

Other favorites for the Masters include 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, who has yet to win a major.  Big-hitter Jason Day has been at the top or near the top of the leader board for several years and should be a favorite.  Adam Scott always plays well at the Masters, and does have one victory in 2013.  Dustin Johnson is back from a leave of absence and has the length and skills to contend at Augusta, if his mental strength is up to the task.

At press time Tiger Woods was still undecided as a competitor at the 2015 Masters.

UPDATE: Tiger Woods officially announced participation in the Masters Tournament, as well as the par-3 contest.


Killer Course: Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

With the most amazing resorts, great weather year-round, and great golf courses everywhere, Las Vegas is a tremendous golf destination.  There are many fantastic golf courses in Vegas proper, but if one is willing to make a short drive out of the city there is some truly amazing and scenic golf to be experienced.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort is a short 25 minute drive northwest of the Las Vegas strip in the desert of Southern Nevada. With the Spring Mountains as a backdrop, this facility offers three Pete Dye designed courses. Pete Dye is one of golf’s all-time greatest architects, perhaps most famous for his design at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, home of the PLAYERS Championship and the #17 “Island Green.”

Snow Mountain Course

The par-72 Snow Mountain is a very challenging course, rated at 73.0 with a slope of 126 from the Black tees (the tips). The total length of Snow Mountain plays to 7,146 yards.

Water comes into play on seven of the holes, while other hazards and hole shapes provide as much challenge as they do beauty.

“Pete Dye” style railroad ties abound.

Sun Course

The par-72 Sun Course comes in at 7,112 yards. Course rating is 73.4 and a slope of 140, making it statistically tougher than the Snow Course. That said, most consider this course to have a little less of a bite to it due to some forgiveness in the fairways and greens.

The Sun Course features some fun stretches of holes, including their own version of Augusta National’s Amen Corner, holes 11-13.

The Wolf

By far the toughest course of the trio is the Wolf. The Wolf clocks in at an astounding 7,604 yards. This par-72 course rating is 75.5, about as tough as a course can be legally rated, with a slope of 145. With ratings like this, PGA Tour pro’s would be happy with rounds in the mid-70’s.

The Wolf definitely has a bite, but with five sets of tees golfers can decide how much course they want to bite off.

(702) 658-1400, (800) 711-2833
10325 Nu-Wav Kaiv Boulevard
Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada 89124

Killer Course – Engstligenalp Paradise Switzerland

Switzerland is not known for its famous golf courses.  It is known for the Alps and skiing.  In the autumn there is a “form” of golf available at one particular area in the alps known as the Engstligenalp paradise.  This mountain paradise is a valley which sits at about 6,500 feet above sea level and is accessible only by cable car.  High above the valley is the fantastically beautiful 600 meter-high Engstligenfälle, a large mountain waterfall. The peak of the mountain above rises to 10,640 feet above sea level.


In the summertime the area is home to about 500 cows and when the cows leave their summering area, golf is played.


In order to preserve the pristine paradise, the golf is a little different. Tees and greens are made from artificial turf and have a very small footprint.  Some tees are built out of wooden pallets with turf on top (below).


Below is a public relations description, converted from swiss to english.

Golfing in thin mountain air, on a natural basis, with constantly changing wind and weather conditions – here is the new golfing experience.

The 14 km2 large, flat plateau of the Engstligenalp in Adelboden belongs to Sennen in the summer. About 500 animals live during this time on the plane and enjoy the juicy herbal and fresh mountain air. Once the cows leave their summering, fly on Engstligenalp again the golf balls. Played by classical rules of golf, the game is designed in a nature reserve, of course, a little different than on accurate groomed golf course. Although golf mountain is not a links course in the traditional sense, but it has with such a natural golf course lot in common. To protect the landscape, is aufgeteed at each stroke as in winter golf. Moreover tee and the green are generously equipped with high-quality artificial turf. The natural stone sectors, the headwaters and quickly changing winds are an additional challenge for any golfer. , the golfer and the golfer spend all day in a breathtaking mountain panorama. The backdrop provides the perfect ambience to be completely involved in the game and forget the stresses of everyday life. To complete the infrastructure is a driving range is built. New offers this – in addition to the discount options on artificial turf and natural grass – three practice holes, which can be played even by inexperienced golfers without handicap. Thus, the golf course golf mountain also offers a perfect setting for corporate events.

Below: Berg (local) hotel in summer and winter



Killer Hole Worth $1 Million

There’s a cool article in the Daily Mail about a golf course in China which is offering a $1,000,000 prize to any golfer who can make an ace on one of the course’s par-3 holes.  The only problem is that the hole is 656 feet long and drops off a cliff 263 feet.  That’s about 220 yards in length and an 88 yard drop in elevation.

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One thing which should be mentioned as well is that the green is floating on the Chinese lake Baofeng by the use of pontoons.

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Details details.

Killer Course – Gleneagles

Ah it has been two years in waiting…  It is RYDER CUP WEEK!  What a great time this is for the golf world.  The Ryder Cup is arguably the most exciting, and most patriotic of golf events.  Team USA or Team Europe?

At the last Ryder Cup, on USA soil, Team USA blew a large lead on the last day.  This year the cup is on Team Europe’s soil, in front of Team Europe’s home crowd.  Let us take a look at the home of the 2014 Ryder Cup, Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course.

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Gleneagles is located near Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, Scotland (see map to right). This is the lower 3rd of Scotland, approximately 1-1.5 hours southwest of St. Andrews. The course is located inland, and is therefore not a “links” style course. Links courses “link” the land and the sea technically.


Jack Nicklaus took on the task of designing the course in 1988 and the course was completed in 1993. The course winds through and over hilly terrain with classic scottish mountain backdrops.

Five sets of tees challenge players of all levels. The Ryder Cup tees will be at roughly 7,300 yards. Course rating from the longest tees is a tough 77 with a slope of 145. Tough indeed.

Bunkering takes on more of a flatter and wider american style and less of the round and deep pot-bunkers found on traditional scottish links courses.

Ryder Cup

As the course architecture is slightly more american than scottish, there’s not necessarily a distinct advantage for Team Europe. The primary advantage the european team will have is playing in front of their boisterous home crowd.



The stretch holes of 16-17-18 should provide some great drama. 16 is a 518 yard par-5 which is reachable in two by most players at the Ryder Cup level. Expect to see many birdies and even some eagles on this hole. Hole 17 is a long par-3 which stretches to 194 yards, slightly downhill. The green is guarded by plenty of bunkering, rewarding accuracy. Hole 18 (below) is another par-5 which is even more reachable than hole 16. This finishing hole is perfectly designed to reward aggressive play and should be the location of many dramatic moments in the 2014 Ryder Cup.




Scotland PH3 1NF

Killer Course – Gunsan Country Club, Korea

To qualify as a Frogger Killer Course, a course needs to be… well, killer.  What makes a course killer?  There are many qualities or features we consider like the design, location, history, aesthetics, or perhaps having a 1004 meter (1098 yard) par-7 hole will do the trick.

The latter would be Korea’s Gunsan Country Club, home of a 1098 yard par-7 hole.  For perspective, that’s well over half a mile long.  Gunsan Country Club is an 81 hole facility which covers a 1,060 acre area which was once a salt field.  18 holes on the course are private for club members and the remaining 63 are public.


Signature a.k.a. Killer Holes

As mentioned, the par-7 third hole of 1098 yards is one of the longest golf holes in the world.  Imagine the play: driver, fairway metal, fairway metal, hybrid, wedge!

Right.  But not to be outdone, the course also offers a par-6 hole which measures 661 meters (723 yards).  What a combination.  In fact, that combination is 200 feet longer than one mile!


Aside from the killer long holes, 380 acres of the course is water.  That’s more water acreage than the entire 360 acres which makes up Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament.


There are so many lakes in fact, that it takes 26 bridges to connect all of the landing areas.  You might want to bring a few extra balls.


After a long day of navigating 380 acres of lakes and literally miles of golf holes, one can enjoy the restaurant, clubhouse, and pick up a logo ball in the pro shop to commemorate the golf conquest.


Gunsan Country Club
1685, Namgunsan-ro, Okseo-myeon, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do
South Korea

Killer Course – Zotter

German chocolate, edible zoo animals, kids activities, and a “golf” course…  These make Germany’s Zotter the latest Frogger Killer Course.

Zotter makes chocolate, but also has a whole facility including many fun activities for kids of all ages.  Some activities include:

  • Choco-Shop
  • Choco-Shop Theater
  • Zoo Animals
  • Oraganic Restaraunt where all foods are prepared from their own farm
  • Edible Animals

Last but not least they offer a form of mysterious golf on what appears to be a golf course which is more “Volkswagen Golf” than real golf:


The Zotter website is German so the translation of their golf course description is even more intriguing:

Farmer’s golf – the slightly different type of golf, with rubber boots as projectiles

Attempts to research more information about the course, par, slope, rating, or number of holes have failed.  That said, it looks like a fun round.

Killer Course – Dinaland

There’s a small town in the northeast corner of Utah called Vernal. Vernal is the home of Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur National Monument features one of the worlds biggest and best collections of dinosaur fossils and bones. In the Carnegie Quarry over 1,500 fossils and bones from dinosaurs large and small are on display, party excavated.

Not far from Dinosaur National Park is a killer and fun course called Dinaland. Not many, if any other courses in the USA or the world have a dinosaur theme or name. The course itself is not killer in the sense of difficulty level, but should a Tyrannosaurs Rex try to eat your group on the 5th hole it would certainly qualify.dino-g

Dinaland is not a high end resort course or even a high end municipal course. It is a down-home course, easy on the game with wide fairways and short yardages. It is easy on the pocketbook too. No $200 rounds here, with $15 buckets of range balls. In fact, for the cost of a bucket of balls at one of those high end resort courses one could play 18 holes at Dinaland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis public course opened in 1950 as a nine hole offering. In 1993 the second nine was built. Total yardage for this par-72 course is 6,773 with the shortest tees coming in at just over 5,000 yards. Course rating is 71.5 with a slope of 129. Challenging for golfers of all levels when playing from the appropriate tee.

The course architect is Jim Macphilmomy.


Dinaland Golf Course
675 S 2000 E
Vernal, Utah
Phone: 435-781-1428

Killer Course – Troon North Pinnacle Course

Arizona is well known for having many terrific golf courses, some which are rated very high by entities like Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.  One such highly rated course in Scottsdale qualifies as a Frogger Killer Course, Troon North’s Pinnacle Course.


Troon North’s facility is home to 36 holes of golf, the Pinnacle course and the Monument Course.


The facility is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, a short drive from the Phoenix metro area depending on traffic.


The Pinnacle was designed by Tom Weiskopf, who fabulously winds the course and routes the holes through, over, and around desert hills and arroyos.

The Pinnacle course would classify as a “desert target” course.  This style of golf is a minimalistic style where areas not on or near the primary areas are typically the native desert landscape.  In the case of Troon’s courses, that landscape features sandy areas, rugged rocks, huge saguaro cacti, desert arroyos, and rolling topography.


Tee shots at the Pinnacle can look more intimidating than they are in reality.  Forced carries and the undulations of the landing areas can make them look small, but they’re plenty big.



The fairways at the Pinnacle roll greatly and provide many tee shot placement challenges.  Many odd lies due to the rolling nature of the terrain can produce stances which will require full concentration and execution on approach.


The large and undulating greens at the Pinnacle are challenging to hit and fun to putt.  The greens’ undulations are dramatic but fair.  Large bunkering guards many greens, forcing carries or strategic run-up shots.



The clubhouse and its facilities at Troon North are as nice as any golf club you will visit.  From the well stocked pro shop to the locker rooms to the food and beverage, the whole operation exudes class.

The practice facilities are spacious and full of great areas to hit balls, putt, and work on short game.


Troon North Golf
10320 E Dynamite Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Photos by Tony Korologos at Hooked On Golf Blog – Used by permission

Killer Course – Cochiti Golf Club

Less than an hour’s drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico is an area with some great terrain, near the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The elevation of the area varies from 5,300 to 6,800 feet above sea level. Nestled near the preserve is the reservation of the Pueblo de Cochiti indian tribe, roughly 54,000 acres. On that acreage is the beautiful Cochiti Golf Club.



Cochiti was designed by famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the son of one of the greatest golf architects in history, Robert Trent Jones. The terrain is hilly, winding through the high New Mexico desert, lined with pines and desert flora.

Par for the course from the tips is 71, with a total yardage of 6,817. This medium length golf course can play a little shorter than the number, as the elevation allows the golf ball to fly farther than at sea level.



The pro shop offers great apparel and golf equipment, logoed with the unique Cochiti branding.

The practice areas include a very scenic driving range with private areas. There are also separate chipping practice areas and putting practice areas.

The Stone Kiva Bar & Grill provides great local food choices and a full bar.


Tee Box Yardage Rating / Slope
Red 5100 yards 68.3 / 113
White 5841 yards 66.1 / 119
Blue 6413 yards 68.6 / 128
Gold 6817 yards 71 / 132


5200 Cochiti Highway
Cochiti Lake, New Mexico 87083