After a recent pilgrimage to Pinehurst NC, which some might consider the heart of the Golf World, I have a newfound appreciation for golf course design and architecture.
The New Course at Talamore is a perfect introduction to the Carolina sandhills for a first-time visitor: A course with beauty, challenge and score-ability all rolled into one.
Before talking about the course as it plays today a little history lesson is necessary. “The New Course” was the brain child of Rees Jones, son of famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones, and the course opened in 1991 as part of the larger Talamore Golf Resort project. Changes have marked the short history of the course but the most recent renovation has brought life back to some features of the original design while adding more details to the course.
One of the most notable updates is the restoration of the greens to their original sizes and the addition of 5-foot collars. While this makes the course seem more playable and leads to more greens hit in regulation, make sure your lag putting is dialed in.
Another great new addition to the course is the 12 sod wall bunkers sprinkled throughout. While these bunkers will give you feelings of Scotland and look absolutely phenomenal, you do not want to find yourself in them!
A final update to note is the widening of fairways and limiting of the amount of rough. Although this may have you thinking you don’t have to be accurate off the tee that is far from the case. Perfectly positioned hazards and shaped hole layouts ensure you have to remain focused while on the tee.
Watch the video below to get a brief flavor of the course before diving into individual hole details:
Navigating the Course
Stepping onto the first tee at Talamore you stand shoulder to shoulder with Carolina Pines in a dramatic vista of the longest hole on the course. This 600+ yard par 5 is carved through the rows of trees and gives you a quick awakening to the challenges that await. If you are a northerner on a visit, beware of the Bermuda grass greens featured on this course. They feel, roll and run completely different from the bent you’re likely used to. Get settled in quickly or it can turn into a long round fast!
The downhill second is a mid-length par 3 that will give you a look at your first sod bunkers. The approach to the green is guarded by two of these beauties, so it’s best to be long if you want to avoid a day at the beach.
The third begins to showcase some of the wide fairways that were promised. This 400-yard par 4 provides the opportunity for golfers to unleash their drivers off the tee. The second shot is all about ball placement as the 3rd hole green is hard to stick and may require a run-up shot to the hole.
The fourth presents yet another par 5 with challenge being provided by a tree-lined fairway, center bunker and a large complex of sand protecting the right side of the green. This green is reachable in 2 for some and provides a great scoring opportunity.
The par 3 fifth and par 4 sixth are holes that require accuracy off the tee. Both of their green complexes are guarded by intimidating bunkers that will swallow your ball if given the chance. Two more sod faced bunkers greet you on the par 3 but the size of the green provides the opportunity to mishit and still be putting for birdie.
I like to think of the 7th as the “Drawer’s Delight.” A dogleg left par 4, it is the number-one handicap. A carry over marshlands off the tee and long second shot will leave you happy walking away with a par on this hole. While the green is relatively unguarded the length of this hole provides all the challenge that is needed.
The 8th hole provides a bit of a break after walking off the difficult 7th. This par 4 has sloped fairway edges providing a funnel for most shots to find the fairway. The green complex is free of sand but be wary of the slope. A short or long shot will surely run off into collection areas leading to a difficult chip onto its multi-tiered green.
To round out the front 9 is one of my favorite holes on the course. This short par 4 is uphill from the start with a great combination of bunkers, fescue and a tiered green. If you are in control of your wedge game this hole sets up as a great birdie opportunity.
Fade players will finally get a chance to take advantage of a hole shape as they step to the tee on 10. This uphill par 4 is guarded with a myriad of fairway bunkers but a relatively open green. The entire complex is surrounded by high walls and sloping grass depressions that give it a visually daunting appearance when looking up from the fairway.
Yet again designed to appeal to the draw player, the 11th is a long par 5 that becomes reachable if an accurate tee shot is hit. This hole has some incredible topography which can only really be appreciated from the air. I also found the green-side bunker and fescue area to look amazing. This was one of my favorite holes to photograph.
Holes 12 and 13 play as a long par 4 and par 3 making them some of the most challenging on the course, in my opinion. Both holes demand accurate tee shots and great putting simply to make par. The green complexes for each are built on significant plateaus with any misses leading to tough recoveries.
If you weren’t clued in already by the Talamore logo and clubhouse filled with llama-themed merchandise, llamas are a focal point for this course. The llama pens located between the 13th and 14th holes offer a quick glimpse at these animals that you wouldn’t typically see on golf courses. These “caddies” are actually available for hire to roam the course with you (and a handler), carrying your clubs from tee to green.
With a gallery of llamas watching, the tee shot on 14 is one of the most challenging on the course. Another hole shape favoring the draw, a long bunker guards the left side of the fairway and high slopes dominate the right. Perfectly positioned trees protect the approach to a sloping tiered green that demands accurate placement yet again.
Just as you are starting to lose energy the 15th hits you with a long par 3. Playing 238 yards from the back tees this hole will challenge even the best players. Two bunkers guard the approach to the green with a tempting open runway up the middle daring you to split the uprights to reach the putting surface.
As you head into the final stretch of holes, numbers 16 and 17 combine to create a tale of two par 4s. Hole 16 is an uphill 450-yard monster with a protected green while 17 is a short, drivable par 4 with one of the least guarded but trickiest greens. Both holes are great summarizations of the diverse typography, hazards and green complexes found throughout the round.
The finishing hole at the New Course is an absolutely stunning par 4 that features a tee shot over water and a dramatic finish in front of the clubhouse. Be sure to check the carry distance and give yourself plenty of room to cover. You do not want to find yourself in either of the bunkers that guard the far shores of the pond.
This video from Talamore Resort provides a great hole-by-hole overview if you are wanting to see more of the course:
Talamore Top Tracer Range
If you don’t have time for a full round of golf or want to rid yourself of your demons after finishing on the New Course, Talamore Resort also recently opened a Top Tracer Range. This digital range provides an atmosphere of fun as well as practice, giving players the ability to see data and metrics on their shots while playing social contests with friends, even while sipping on some drinks.
Maybe the best part of the Talamore Range was the night aspect. Even after a long day of golf we were still eager for a few last shots under the big lights. We were able to have some cocktails, relax and enjoy a few more swings.