Whistling Rock Country Club
Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Fourth hole, 325 yards; Given that the fairway pivots around a lake at an 80 degree angle, the direct tee-to-green line is considerably shorter than the card indicates. Having a go at the green is a genuine temptation. To thwart the tiger, Iverson shrunk the green in front and along the left side and placed a bunker short left of the green. As he notes, the bunker is only blind from the tee. For those that lay up with a three wood, it becomes visible front left of the green and makes the pitch less comfortable.

The hot pink flag peaks out from the stone, winking at the golfer to have a go from the tee.

Tee balls come in from the right and need to be hit with a high fade to have any hope of holding the smaller green. Note Iverson’s new bunker front left and how the tight bank of short grass left of the green swoops misplayed shots away.

Fifth hole, 155 yards; While the fourth green is deep but none too wide, the target here is wide but none too deep. It seems obvious to avoid the deep front right bunker but long left is worse, such is the slope and pace of the back to front green. The climate at some 700 feet above sea level provides conditions ideal for good golf, something that is not as true for courses located in the southern region of the country.

The reworked front bunker drips down the slope after Iverson reduced the turf between the bunker and the native area.

Only a precisely struck iron will find the shallow putting surface.

Sixth hole, 330 yards; Iverson’s past experience with Perry Dye in Japan indicated that perimeter holes in mountainous settings were often the most challenging and such proved true here. As previously noted, Iverson raised the fairway and lowered the green to give the player more appealing shots along the extreme western perimeter of the property. Bill Coore once told the author that Coore & Crenshaw would accept a project only once they knew they could find eighteen suitable holes. When asked to elaborate, he responded that one weak hole had the potential sink the perception of any course. According to several members, this hole was the worst of the twenty-seven to the point where mid-handicap players sometimes never finished it. Now, the drive is with anything from a driver to a five iron and the approach is to a heavily contoured – but visible – putting surface. Both shots readily appeal – and kudos for a marked transformation in removing the worst hole from the course.

The short, tempting sixth – certainly a drive over the fairway bunkers will make the approach easier to the back right hole location seen above. Alas, that line is where the trouble lurks.

Seventh hole, 580 yards; The longest hole on the property not surprisingly embodies the property’s standout features. Additionally, Iverson used a leaning tree, left of the green to great effect by extending the putting surface behind it to create a neat lower bowl. His work here epitomizes his directive to create more options on the approach. A back lower left hole location begs for a running draw to funnel toward the rear from an approach played from the right portion of the fairway. Meanwhile, a front right hole location high on the plateau requires an aerial approach from the left portion of the fairway.

The twenty foot waterfall to the right captures the eye off the tee but it is the less obvious shallow valley in the left fairway that also needs to be avoided because it hinders forward roll, making the second shot blind.

The sound of rushing water is heard throughout much of the property, contributing to an overall serenity.

Whistling Rock has been open for five years – and it shows. Vegetation now drapes the rock ledges that were exposed during construction and softens the course’s profile as only nature can.

A superb green, one whose challenges greatly shift dependent upon a lower left hole location or …

… an upper right one.

Iverson’s prime mandate was to create more fun hole locations for the members. This view from high right shows the enhanced flexibility and course set-up options that were created when he lowered and extended the left side of the green.

Ninth hole, 375 yards; The author’s three favorite holes on the property might well be the ninth on each nine. While quite different from one another, all enjoy the advantage of playing toward the incomparable clubhouse. Playing in the shadow of such a colossal design is rare. The Old Curmudgeon might harumph “What backdrop? I am here just for the golf.” The reality is something quite different and altogether awe inspiring; thoughts of playing golf in the National Mall in Washington DC toward one of the Smithsonian buildings dance in the head. Here the closing hole was markedly improved when Iverson pulled a left bunker forward to place it directly in the driving zone. Clearing it is no mean feat but the risk/reward is pitch perfect as the second shot becomes much easier from the left side of the fairway.

Carrying the left bunker sets the golfer up for success at the ninth.

Conversely, not carrying it brings a big number into the equation as a stream fronts the green.

The golfer just creeped over the water hazard from the fairway bunker but the highlight is the handsome stone bridge in the background.

Front right hole locations become accessible only by those that drive over the newly created left fairway bunker.

Temple Course

First hole, 355 yards; The direct line from tee to green on most of the holes at Whistling Rock is invariably interrupted by some form of hazard. This is the height of good architecture. Here, a widespread fairway bunker juts into play from the right and the golfer must decide whether to flirt with it off the tee. The sight of the flag behind it certainly acts the siren but the prospect of hitting an approach shot off sand over the stream that fronts the green mutes greedy tactics. On the green, a dominant ridge crosses the putting surface producing a series of interesting hole locations. Having grown up on the east coast of America, I had not played a Ted Robinson design before arriving here and greens like this became a pleasant revelation.

The fairway bunker extends to the left edge of the green and the fairway swings right around it. See the ridgeline behind the green? It extends well up the mountain and has the appearance of the back of a dragon, especially from the vantage point of the clubhouse balcony. Dragons are revered in Asia as being all powerful, so the only restriction placed on Robinson on the entire project was not to touch that spine.

Several different shallow bowls exist within the 1st green on the Temple course. Often the play is to hit high left past the hole and let the approach feedback back toward it. The increased amount of grass that is maintained at fairway height along the front right of the green ominously filters toward the stream.

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