Review: Lake of Isles (South Course)

Course Name: Lake of Isles (South Course)

Designer: Rees Jones (2005)

Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

History: Designed in 2005 to complement the public North Course, the South Course is home to 298 members. Ranked number 4 in the state of Connecticut in 2016 Golf Digest (6 spots ahead of its sister course).

Conditions: 8/10, Lake of Isles was in great shape. Greens were fast and smooth, while fairways, tees, and bunkers were all in good shape. No complaints here.

Value: 5/10, the course is private but was just north of $100 with a cart with reciprocals. This is a fair value.

Scorecard:

Tee                Par      Yardage             Rating           Slope

Black            72        7259                   76.7               142

Gold             72        6862                   74.2               140

Silver           72        6395                    71.7              136

Copper        72        5812                    68.7              132

Jade              72       4883                    69.1               122

Best Score: See below.

Front 9 Best: My dad and I played from the Gold Tees and lost so many balls that keeping score wasn’t really an option.

Back 9 Best: 43 (Silver Tees), 7/31/2015 with Dad

Hole Highlights: The theme of the course is medium-length par 4’s with extreme elevation changes, forced carries, and penal trees. The front 9 devastated me and my dad and Hole 2 is a perfect example of why. This hole plays 440 from a tiny tee-box uphill over 150 yards of water. Anything short, left, right, or long is lost forever. Somehow, this hole also accomplishes being a dogleg, with another forced carry to an elevated green. I think my dad and I lost 5 balls on this hole together.

Hole 8 is an extremely difficult par 5 that is a true 3-shotter. An elevated tee requires you to hit it 220+ in the air. I remember being so nervous I hooked three into the woods, before finally crushing one right into the cross bunker in the fairway. As you get closer to the green, the hole narrows, making any sort of layup extremely difficult. This hole is also notable for the view of Foxwoods Casino in the background.

The back 9 follows a similar formula, but is more surrounded by lakes and rivers in the area. This water background leads to two great par 3’s, which are much better than their counterparts on the front 9. 12 is a shorter par 3 with an island green. 16 is another great par 3, and perhaps the best hole on the entire course. An elevated tee-box forces you to hit long iron over the water onto the green that juts out like a peninsula.

After losing many golf balls, the 18th hole is relatively easy and weak finishing hole. A par 4 measuring only just over 300 yards has a fairway spanning over 150 yards wide. In my opinion, a good short par 4 is reachable, but with plenty of danger. In this case, hitting driver was not really an option, as the green was blocked out by trees and any ball through the fairway was OB.

General Comments: This course is a considerable challenge. The most shocking thing about the entire course is the fact that the greens and surrounding areas are extremely easy. This explains why a course measuring just under 6400 yards from the Silver tees has a 136 slope: your entire day will hinge upon how you drive the ball. As with most Rees Jones courses, tiered teeboxes over long forced carries is the norm, and any ball not in the fairway will result in double-bogey or worse. Pace of play was very good, as not many people were out on the course. The range also was extremely nice, with unlimited balls and plenty of distance to rip driver.

Verdict: If you get a chance to play this course, you certainly take it. Just beware that you have to have your A-game and play the correct tees or you will be in for a very frustrating day. This course offered some amazing views and was in good condition but to me did not warrant its high ranking. I may be a bit bitter over how I played that day, but to me the course wasn’t a great design. Every hole followed the same elevated tee-forced carry-OB left and right formula and the holes did very little to differentiate themselves.

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