Four Seasons Carmelo
Uruguay

9th hole, 445/420 yards; The bunkering schemes off the tees are used to great effect at Carmelo. In this case, with a lake down the left, the architects wanted to avoid a hole that felt similar to the fifth. Thus, Moran and Thompson placed two long bunkers in the hitting area perpendicular to the lake. In conjunction with another bunker on the high right side, the fairway is transformed from being a straight one ala the fifth to an ËœS’ shaped one.

A glimpse of the bunkers down the left is afforded the golfer from the back markers of the ninth tee. The green is in line with the clubhouse. As tough as it may be, the golfer must avoid the line of charm and make himself aim toward the right edge of this photograph.

A glimpse of the bunkers down the left is afforded the golfer from the back markers of the ninth tee. The green is in line with the clubhouse. As tough as it may be, the golfer must avoid the line of charm and make himself aim toward the right edge of this photograph.

Dick Wilson made his reputation in an age of golf course architecture whereby aerial approaches dominated the design process. The ability to hit a high approach is crucial when the hole location is set on the right of the ninth green.

Dick Wilson made his reputation in an age of golf course architecture whereby aerial approaches dominated the design process. The ability to hit a high approach is crucial when the hole location is set on the right of the ninth green.

12th hole, 375/350 yards; The widest fairway on the course greets the golfer, despite the addition of a central waste area by Randy Thompson three years ago. At over eighty yards in width, every golfer is bound to hit it. However, off to the right, across the elbow of the lake and marsh is the white flag blowing in the wind, luring the golfer in that direction. The flag is only 280 yards from the blue tee on a direct line. All kinds of greedy thoughts creep into the golfer’s mind, generally the start of a high score! Good golf course architecture goads the player into decisions that he later rues, with this hole being a fine example.

The view is from the twelfth tee with the white flag acting as a siren, wooing the golfer into potential trouble. If able to resist, the smart golfer hits straight down the fairway, leaving himself a relatively simple pitch and a chance for birdie. Conversely, one mighty blow and the golfer may be putting for eagle...

The view is from the twelfth tee with the white flag acting as a siren, wooing the golfer into potential trouble. If able to resist, the smart golfer hits straight down the fairway, leaving himself a relatively simple pitch and a chance for birdie. Conversely, one mighty blow and the golfer may be putting for eagle…

14th hole, 415/400 yards; Two of the design’s primary attributes in terms of how flexible the course can play are highlighted at this hole. First, the placement of the tee pads greatly influences the hole’s difficulty. From the back markers, the carry off the tee is over water to a fairway at an oblique angle to the tee. Meanwhile, the rest of the tee markers are straight in line with the fairway, nearly removing the water as a hazard with which to contend. Secondly, the configuration of the green complex provides a wide range in hole locations. As we see below, a back left tongue provides for one of the hardest hole locations on the course with which to get close. Any resort course must have the flexibility to accommodate a wide range in playing skills, and such is the case at Carmelo.

Only the back markers have the golfer hit over water to the fairway; from the shorter 400 yard markers, the golfer hits straight down the length of the long fairway with the water out of view. The green's white flag is visible on the left.

Only the back markers have the golfer hit over water to the fairway; from the shorter 400 yard markers, the golfer hits straight down the length of the long fairway with the water out of view. The green’s white flag is visible on the left.

The ideal drive leaves the golfer on the inside of the dogleg left with this view of the green. This particular hole location is extremely well hidden - only fools chase after it. Meanwhile, hole locations front right leave the golfer with higher ambitions.

The ideal drive leaves the golfer on the inside of the dogleg left with this view of the green. This particular hole location is extremely well hidden – only fools chase after it. Meanwhile, hole locations front right leave the golfer with higher ambitions.

15th hole, 400/360 yards; A bigger version of the twelfth hole, the temptation to cut over the elbow of the lake is great. The ‘S’ shaped lake snakes along the right of the entire hole. Its random, winding appearance makes it appear far more natural than if Moran and Thompson had settled on building a big oval or circular lake.

From the dogleg right fifteenth tee, just how much should the golfer bite off? The answer surely depends on the state of his game as well as the days wind.

From the dogleg right fifteenth tee, just how much should the golfer bite off? The answer surely depends on the state of his game as well as the day’s wind.

Assuming one avoids the water off the tee, the walk down the fifteenth fairway is made all the more enjoyable by the view of the horses on the far side of the lake. The sense of truly being in a remote place, far from all worries, is complete.

Assuming one avoids the water off the tee, the walk down the fifteenth fairway is made all the more enjoyable by the view of the horses on the far side of the lake. The sense of truly being in a remote place, far from all worries, is complete.

16th hole, 530/495 yards; Visual deception helps keep a course fresh. Without it and with all features laid in plain view, the courses secrets are revealed to the golfer after only a few rounds. If a course is that easy to get to know, why bother coming back? As seen throughout this design, the subtle land movement that Moran and Thompson created adds immeasurably to the fun and challenge of a game here. In this case, a nest of bunkers built into the crest of a gentle rise in the fairway 120 yards from the green obscures the view of the putting surface. If the golfer is unable to get past these bunkers, the view of only the flag without the putting surface creates depth perception problems for one’s approach.

Hard to believe but the bunkers in the foreground are one hundred yards from the flag.

Hard to believe but the bunkers in the foreground are one hundred yards from the flag.

The 220 yard seventeenth and 440 yard eighteenth provide the classic big finish so sought after in Wilson’s day. A review of the photographs in this course profile shows how the course teases the golfer into getting out of position. For instance, he just misses the second flag to the left, leaving a flop recovery shot out of Bermuda grass from well below the green. On the third, he chases after the back hole location in the boomerang green only to pull his tee ball slightly into the back bunker. Just a few more yards to the right under either scenario and the golfer has a short putt for birdie. Such incidents of just slightly having missed a great shot occur throughout the round. Importantly, never does the golfer feel unduly punished – the water is mostly well out of play and the bunkers are rarely deep. Instead, the golfer is encouraged to have a go at some of these interesting hole locations as well as learning when to act with more prudence. Over all, the golfer enjoys the chess match with the two architects.

As fun as the round, the best may be yet to come back at the world class resort. The Balinese artifacts collected by Laith Pharaon set the tone of unhurried luxury. Relaxing by the pool during the summer months of November through March will certainly not make any traveler from Europe or North America wish they were home. Indeed, if life is well, thoughts of booking one’s return trip to this resort may be the most pressing decision.

Congratulations to the Four Seasons for their presentation of both the course and the resort. The course was built for $2.5 million (USD), in part because no big name architect fee had to be paid. Instead, the Four Seasons got what matters most: two talented architects who stayed on site and poured time and thought into every hole. The result is there are no weak holes. Though some of the Four Seasons courses have had larger budgets (especially the excellent Jack Nicklaus design at the Challenge at Manele in Hawaii), this course is one of the three or four best within the Four Seasons group of golf courses.

By keeping construction costs down, the Four Seasons can contemplate using this model in other such remote locations. Though the foot traffic will never be great, the loyalty that the patrons who visit Carmelo will show to the Four Seasons brand around the world provides its own satisfactory return.

Laith Pharaons unique flair dominates the decor within the resort.

Laith Pharaon’s unique flair dominates the decor within the resort.

The bungalows at Carmelo are the perfect retreat.

The bungalows at Carmelo are the perfect retreat.

The quincho, a private gazebo along the beach of the Rio de la Plata, or the nearby three level swimming pool are idlyllic spots to relax after ones golf game.

The quincho, a private gazebo along the beach of the Rio de la Plata, or the nearby three level swimming pool are idlyllic spots to relax after one’s golf game.

The End