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2 Play the Tips played Dunes at Seville on Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dunes Golf Club at Seville

The Dunes at Where?


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#1 - Let it rip on this opening Par 5. You're in for a pretty good surprise at this highly underrated course.
#1 - The approach on the 1st plays uphill. The green is set in the dunes and gives you a good idea of what you'll face throughout your round.
#1
#2 - A Classic looking dogleg left. Play your drive just inside the bunkers to open up the green on your second shot.
#2 - Don't miss left of you'll be in some deep bunkers.
#3 - Take it over the trees if you're feeling gutsy.
#3 - The bunker just beyond the trees is no fun to play out of. Still want to try and cut the corner? Good luck.
#3 - This is what people will face if they choose the safe route off the tee. It's a little longer but not as dangerous.
#3 - That bunker awaits anyone's ball who tries to cut the corner and catches a bad break.
#4 - A gentle draw fits this hole the best off the tee.
#4 - Here's the approach from just over 150 out. This green site sits very naturally in the dunes.
#5 - Tee shot at the 5th
#5 - This crowned green is perched above waste area to the left. Hit the middle of the green, or watch your ball roll off.
#5
#5
#6 - Par on this short par 3 is no easy task. The green complex is guarded by deep bunkers and wild undulations.
#7 - This is one of the only areas on the course with houses.
#7 - Your approach to the 7th green must carry over the mound short left of the green if your going to get it close to the pin.
#7 - The mound short of the green reminded us of the 2nd at Lost Dunes.
#8 - Add a club or two and then navigate the tricky green to get your par on this good par 3.
#9 - We loved how the tee boxes were laid out over the dunes.
#9 - Watch the deep bunkers on this shot... long is better than short here.
#9 - If you miss the green, this nasty little pit can give you hell.
#10 - Hit it right over the directional bunker to this split level fairway.
#10 - The split fairway makes things interesting at the 10th.
#11 - This was really the only hole we didn't like. It just doesn't fit with the rest of the course.
#11 - Don't hit it right! It'll be a watery grave.
#12 - This hole will make your jaw drop a little bit. Are we in Florida anymore?
#12 - If you miss left you'll need a flop shot to get close to the hole.
#12 - This green is in a really serene area of the golf course.
#13 - One of the best par threes we've played since coming to Florida. What a great view!
#14 - This is a solid uphill approach to a really interesting green.
#15 - Another dogleg - there aren't many straight tee shots at the Dunes.
#15 - Anything right is better than anything left here.
#16 - There is a fine line between perfection and finding the cavernous bunker just left of this green.
#16 - Find that bunker and you'll have one of the tougher up-and-ins on the course.
#17 - Any tee shot struck inside the waste area on the right will be perfect on this par 5.
#17 - Jason's approach on 17.
#17 - Dave contends with the waste area just off the fairway
#17 - The Biarritz green!
#17 - Raynor? C.B.? Nope... Hills
#18 - Blast away on this uphill finisher.
#18
#18 - Even a good layup will leave you with a tough uphill shot to this great hole.

The lost and found bin... Tough.  Durable.  23" L x 15" W x 16" H.

There's been one of these Rubbermaid containers everywhere I've spent a significant amount of time in my life. Grade school, high school, my college dorm, Beverly CC in Chicago, and now Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Florida; they've all had one.  I guess I always just assumed they were filled with a bunch of misplaced junk.  I don't know why, but the "Lost and Found Bin" just has a negative ring to it.  It wasn't until a recent emptying of our bin at work that I looked inside and noticed everything it was holding.  This particular lost and found was filled with great things.  It was like our pro shop was crammed into a 19 gallon space.  There was one particular piece that caught my eye - a light blue Peter Millar cashmere sweater.  It was brilliant.  The color, the material, the cut, and the stitching all screamed high class.  It was a little frumpy looking at the moment of discovery - most likely because it had been rolled up in a ball and buried beneath a mountain of other pieces of misfit clothes and headcovers - but it had tons of potential.  All it needed was some tender loving care, and maybe a trip to the dry cleaner and a little febreze, but this baby would thrive on the right set of shoulders. 

It's hard to believe so many things get lost in the shuffle without proper care, but it's even harder to believe that people don't look harder to recover their lost items.  Sometimes all it takes is a little digging and you never know what you might pull out of the lost and found - you might even have something in there yourself. 

Parts of the US serve as a lost and found for some great golf courses.  Places that fell on hard times or were run into the ground by bad ownership lie still for years until they are restored by people who truly want what's best for the game and the course.  Some places are lost forever; closed due to housing development, commercial real estate, and a whole host of other reasons. Seeing a golf course disappear can be a sad thing; so many of us grew up going to one with a family member and learning how to play on warm summer afternoons.  We hate to see them get thrown away, either because no one claimed them before they were discarded by time, or someone took the opportunity to make a quick buck or two by turning the land into a concrete jungle. 

Recently we were lucky enough to find a course that had been sitting in the lost and found bin for a while, but is starting to show that its potential was well worth the trouble that people have gone through to reopen it in 2008. In finding the course, however, we couldn't help but feel a little lost. 

Where are we?  What course is this?

We had to ask ourselves this a few times that day - even when we pulled into the parking lot at The Dunes Golf Club at Seville... or The Dunes Golf Club... or The Dunes of Seville... or The Dunes... Whatever.  Even if you ask inside you're likely to get two different names shouted at you from behind the counter of the Pro Shop.  Maybe they still aren't quite sure what they pulled out of the lost and found yet.  We'll give them a little pass as they still try to make the golf course feel like their own.  It could also be that everybody's bells were still ringing from the bombs that had been dropped on site some 70-odd years prior during World War II training exercises.  Either way, we were happy to be there and see what this Arthur Hills design had to offer.

Standing in the middle of the sand based parking lot, the place looked like it had been wiped off the map by one of those bombs.  You could barely see the clubhouse.  We followed the footprints in the sand over a hill to the the front steps of the clubhouse.  It looked a little more trailer park than we were used to seeing, but hey, this is a reclamation project; it would have to do.  Aside from the clubhouse, we were pretty impressed with what we could see as far as a nice enough driving range, a short game area (something not enough public facilities have), and a small but conveniently located putting green just steps from the first tee.  The course is actually on a really impressive piece of land for a golf course - especially in Florida.  The land is both rolling and covered with towering pines.  The soil, as we could tell by the au-natural style parking lot was basically all sand and was ideal for a golf course.

The soil composition, the aforementioned bombing missions, and a little help from Arthur Hills led to the creation of some of the most expansive, natural looking waste areas we have seen anywhere.  Hills also did a great job blending the bunkering to fit the natural look of the sandy terrain.  This great job of camouflaging really gets you wondering which bunkers were made by Arthur and his bulldozers, which were made by bombs, and which were there long before any of that.

The course was also routed in a really interesting manner.  From overhead, the course is routed in two distinct loops, each consisting of nine holes - most of which are really quite interesting and well designed.  Arthur Hills said he didn't intentionally lay out the course in this figure eight form.  Instead, he and his team picked out the 18 most interesting green sites on property and worked backwards so that he could utilize the dunes and natural movement of the land in his design. The routing not only took advantage of some interesting green sites, but it really allowed for the course to move through some extremely serene places.  Since the holes are all set apart from each other, each one feels very peaceful and unique.  While not exactly in the middle of nowhere like Forest Dunes Golf Club, the most serene and desolate place we've ever played, it did give us a similar feeling a few times, especially on holes three, six, twelve, and thirteen. 

For being so hole-in-the-wall unknown, the course was really interesting.  The looped routing was almost traditional links-ish style; going out and then coming back in (only here you do it twice).  The course felt a tiny bit contrived but seemed natural all at the same time - giving it a strikingly similar appearance at times to some of the golden-era courses.  Everything was very strategically plotted out and with its interesting greens (number 17 being a version of the famed Biarritz), we wouldn't have been shocked if someone told us that it was Seth Raynor, not Arthur Hills, who had drawn up the blueprints for The Dunes at Seville.

The Dunes at Seville had a lot of really good holes and not many bad ones.  The third was a great par 4 which presented tons of options from all of the different tee boxes.  On this dogleg right, a player could choose to hit straight away off the tee with a hybrid or fairway wood, or they could try to cut the corner and carry the trees on the right hand side - taking a much more direct line at the green.  While the more direct line shortens the hole considerably, it also brings a nasty little pot bunker in to play, located in the middle of the fairway just over the trees.  This devilish little pit waits eagerly for any golfer that plays a little too aggressively off the tee without thinking about the consequences. 

The par threes were all pretty much world class here.  Numbers six, eight, and thirteen were our favorites and even number sixteen wasn't too shabby.  They all involved a little bit of elevation change and none of them run in the same exact direction, making reading the wind direction an ever changing challenge.  The other great thing about these one-shotters was that they all looked great.  Each hole was set naturally on the land like it had always been there.  They required anything from a short iron on the sixth to a hybrid on the eighth - really testing your ball striking throughout the entire bag.

The same could be said about the rest of the course. We were tested from all different lies and from lots of different yardages.  We were also tested on the greens which were miles better than The Dunes' wildly overrated neighbor to the east, World Woods.  In fact, the whole course at The Dunes was better than World Woods - so much so that if they were both in the same lost and found bin, I wouldn't think twice about which one I would save and which I would send to the bottom of the garbage can. 

The Dunes at Seville is a great track.  The signs of its revival are starting to show.  With a little tender loving care (and maybe a trip to the dry cleaners) the golf course is good enough that it could start popping up on some top 100 lists in years to come.  For now, our list will have to do.  Our guess, though, is that after years at the bottom of the lost and found this course is just happy to be noticed by someone.  We're happy to be that someone.



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TAGS:  ARTHUR HILLS, BIARRITZ , ROUTING