World Woods (Pine Barrens)
Marketing campaigns that claim a course is the ‘next Augusta National’ or the ‘Pebble Beach of the east’ tend to alienate some golfers. After all, why bother playing a poor copy? An example is the Pine Barrens course at World Woods that many golf writers have dubbed as ‘the poor man’s Pine Valley.’ Such comparisons were intended to be highly complimentary, but in the end they have caused some serious golfers to underestimate the course and to deem it not worthy of a trip. This is a great shame.
While there are a few holes that remind the player of Pine Valley, Tom Fazio created a brilliant, original course. Fazio goes all out with alternate route holes and some of the most heroic shots to be found on any inland course. The comparisons to Pine Valley are inevitable, as the course is laid out over similar land – rolling, pine-covered and sandy. However, World Woods is far from an imitation of the New Jersey course.
A significant difference is that World Woods has several holes of the type that Pine Valley curiously misses: a gambling, reachable par five (the 4th) and a drivable par four (the 15th). One would have thought that Pine Valley would have been the ideal site for both these types of cherished holes.
Tom Fazio has made quite a name for himself in the last dozen years. He brought a softer, more artistic approach to his designs. They are pleasing to the eye; particularly the big, bold bunkering that could be singled out as the common feature of his courses. Much of his commercial and critical success is owed to the backlash against the ‘contrived’ harsh courses of the 1980s. His courses are almost entirely without controversy as he gets the fundamentals right.
Holes to Note:
1st hole, 370 yards: As with other first holes in this manuscript, it does the key thing: it makes you want to play.