Date Played: October 2nd

Earlier in the Summer, I was down in Portland and had a pretty bad experience at The Reserve.  After playing the other courses on my list, everyone who’d played the course told me I needed to reconsider my stance.  I obliged, not because I felt like I should give them another chance, but because I do this for fun and I don’t really want to steer anyone away from a course because they were jerks.  I want to do it because it’s a bad course.  I booked my time this go around on golfnow.com to avoid any more trouble and made the fairly long trip from downtown to Aloha.

The first thing you notice when you pull up to the course is the gigantic clubhouse/restaurant.  It’s huge, nice and has great architecture.  It’s well-appointed inside and there was enough staff on hand to help me pretty quickly.  The service was a complete 180 from my last visit as the guy behind the counter asked if I had played before and when I said no, he offered up directions to the range and how to get to the proper course.  The Reserve is a two course, semi-private facility where the two courses rotate for public access.  The 1-15th of each month, the South Course is open to the public, while the 15th to the end of the month sees the North Course as the non-member option.

I took my bag of balls and headed to the range.  I would recommend heading there without balls, as 3 of the 20 some stalls had 10 or more balls left in them by the high-end clientele. The range itself is large, double-sided and all grass.  It’s uncovered, so I suspect it’s in worse shape over the winter, but it’s big enough to move the teeing ground around to avoid having to play out of old divots.  I rode on this day as my online time included a cart, and the new electric carts are nice and stocked with towels and seed.

The South Course is carved out of a forest, and it’s apparent that trees were abound before the course was built.  The look of the course might have you thinking about tight fairways and lost balls, but the layout is extremely open.  Fairways are not too tough to hit if you can avoid the 114 bunkers that are littering the course.  There are lots of mounds on both sides of the fairways which often funnel balls back towards the center and into the bunkers, but there are plenty of flat lies to be had if you can be precise off the tee.  There isn’t much in the way of water on the front nine, but as you make the turn there is a creek and multiple ponds that will eat up wayward shots.  The greens are in good shape, but have an awful lot of sand on them, which can be seen rooster tailing on longer and speedier putts.

The design is clever in that is true target golf.  Every green on the course is heavily guarded by bunkers, which are very well kept and just soft enough.  Playing from the combo tees shortens up some of the long par 3’s and the long par 5’s for a duffer like me while still clocking in at a 134 slope.  The par 4’s are varied, but none really stand out besides the 16th, which is 318 yards which requires a measured tee shot and an accurate short iron in to a green guarded by bunkers in the back and water directly bordering the right.  My other favorite was the par 3 11th.  It’s a 171 yard par 3 that requires a soft shot into a shallow green that’s shared with the 17th hole.  The green has a deep bunker directly in front of the and a pot bunker separates the shared green.

All in all, I’m pleased that I gave it another chance.  The facility is tremendous and the course is above average.  The people were nice and $54 riding on a weekday with a bucket of balls is a pretty good deal for the quality (although they were much pricier during my last visit).  Final Score: 47/60.

Design – 7/10
Test of Golf – 8/10
Condition – 7/10
Amenities – 9/10
Value – 8/10
Experience – 8/10