With the stark contrast of lush green fairways and brown
rough Spectacle Islands certainly has a unique look to it, a look that
certainly grew on me as I neared the end of my round even if the course does
look a bit bare on occasions. (The clubhouse behind the 18th green looks great
In terms of hole design there are no major flaws, and the
undulating fairways and firm settings do work well to create a links like feel,
but there isn't quite the variety or chance to play any real risk/reward shots
that might have elevated this course to a level where I'd class it as one of my
I love the idea of this course, with the wide fairways, large greens, and well-placed hazards and mounds to present a variety of results and ways to play each hole. I played the (THU) Tour version of the course, so I assume the regular version plays a little slower and softer. If that is the case, I anticipate that it will be a truly enjoyable round for a lot of players.
When analyzing the Tour version, though, this one just becomes a bit too unwieldy in high wind conditions, and much too predictable. A tailwind is death here, because the front of most greens, including the fairway leading into the green, is sloped from front to back. It's impossible to land the ball short enough to keep a ball on the green, and the front to back slope kicks every ball so hard to the back of the green. With my foursome of ghost balls, there were at least a dozen holes where all 4 approach shots found the rough behind the green.
Most pins were modestly placed at the back of the green, but that was not enough to help. What resulted were short and makeable chips or flops on almost every hole, completely sucking the variety out of the course.
Again, all of the conditions are here to make this one of the very best courses in the game, and perhaps with some practice I could master the approach shots here (or at last get more favorable winds), but the automatic kick to the back of the green is currently holding the Tour version back. The regular version, though, should be on everyone's to-play list, no question.