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Jason played Lost Dunes on Monday, August 1, 2011

Lost Dunes Golf Club

What was Lost has now Been Found

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Bar Area with Blackhawks banner from the old stadium
The clubhouse from just off the 9th green
The guest list
The greens and the cart paths are equally dangerous here.
The Wall of Fame
#1 - Everything slopes away from you, and you can only see the top of the flag from the fairway.
#1 - Aim right over the bunker on the left - your first awkward angle of the day.
#2 - You'll need to challenge the bunkers on the right for a good angle to this green
#2 - One of the coolest shots on the course. The pin for us was tucked behind the mound on the left.
#4 - The more left you can hit it the shorter you'll have on this par 5
#4 - Approach shot on the par 5. This green is crazy so hit it close!
#4 - The wild and controversial green at the Par 5 4th
#5 - Reverse redan hole
#7 - Aim left or aim right over the bunker. This fairway is wider than you think.
#7 - The approach shot on 7 requires that you hit it to the proper side of the green depending on where the pin is.
#8 - One of the forced carry tee shots at Lost Dunes
#8 - Another half blind approach shot.
#9 - Tee Shot on the par 3. You can barely see this green either - see a theme here?
#10 - My approach from 245. I hit the green and two putted for birdie.
#11 - The pin was tucked behind the trees on the left. Use the spine in the back of the green to feed the ball back and to the left.
#12 - Dramatic Elevation Change from the tee to the fairway.
#13 - Tee Shot
#14 - More elevation change...Don't miss right!
#15 - Another forced carry over water. Aim it just right of the barber pole for a chance to hit the par 5 in two shots (I did).
#15 - If you lay up, this is what you'll have left
#17 - Make sure you don't hit the left side of the 17th green or your ball might roll straight into the bunker.
#18 - Tee Shot on the closing hole. Hit a good one here.

We interrupt your program with breaking news... We have found Lost Dunes... I repeat, Lost Dunes has been found.
The discovery took place on August 1, 2011 at 9:30am Eastern Standard Time.  On site at the time of the discovery was Jason Moss, a member of team 2 Play The Tips, and seven others reigning from the Beverly area just outside of Chicago. Jason has heard stories of the legend that is Lost Dunes, but did not know what to expect upon arriving at the site. “Due in large part to past experiences," said Jason, "I tried to temper my expectations when discovering a new course. Sometimes you show up, play 18 holes, and leave with an empty feeling because you expected greatness. It’s just business though - rub of the green, if you’ll pardon the pun - but I keep coming back for more because I never know when I might stumble upon a gem."

Lost Dunes, fathered by Tom Doak in 1999, measured an impressive but not overwhelming length of 6,905 yards from end to end. But don’t be deceived - this specimen uses more than length to defend itself from pin seeking darts thrown by aggressive golfers attempting to capture low scores. If they aren’t careful, these golfers can easily be brought to their knees by the end of the round. While The course has a variety of hazards and quirky tricks that make big scores as easy to find. While it's teeth may be made up of the tall fescue that hugs the fairways, treacherous bunkers, and a few lakes that come in to play, it’s the greens, the angles, and the blind shots that give Lost Dunes its ferocious bite.

Let's now join Jason Moss, live at the scene of the discovery.

My trip to Lost Dunes gave me a clear view as to why controversy surrounds the course and its designer, Tom Doak.  It's definitely a little bit quirky, but it’s loads of fun. The greens are wild, the angles are awkward, and the blind shots are unsettling. Never before have I seen greens like this with such monstrous slopes, ridges, and backboards. Some greens are slanted back to front, some side to side, others tilted from front to back, and some just slanted anywhere and everywhere. Oftentimes these greens have been the target of criticism from golfers who suffer one too many three-putts and a score too high for their liking. Mix in the aforementioned blind shots and funky angles you need to play, and you’ve got one hell of a challenge and maybe a high score to boot.

I interviewed roughly ten people before my round at Lost Dunes and opinions about the course were as up and down as some of the putting surfaces. Some people thought it was a thrill ride unlike any other stateside courses and that Tom Doak did a superb job with an otherwise boring piece of land. Others - maybe the majority - thought it was the goofiest, most unfair test of golf they had ever experienced, but that it had a great atmosphere.

I couldn't disagree more with those who hated the course...

Lost Dunes is a complete blast to play if you understand its nuances. I've always had the ability to play golf creatively and that helped me out during my round. I'm primarily a feel player and love visualizing and playing different shots during the course of a round, so maybe that’s part of the reason I enjoyed the course so much. I loved having to play interesting shots. Take the first hole for example: from the middle of the fairway, I bumped my approach from 115 along the ground only to have it finish a few feet from the pin on a green that is a seamless extension of the fairway. These are the kinds of shots that make the golf here so great. What you see isn’t always what you get. You have to think your way around the course.

Even though it doesn’t look like it, Lost Dunes has extremely wide landing areas off the tee. Players can easily hit poor tee shots and still have their ball wind up in many of the fairways. You are, however, rewarded for hitting certain areas of the fairway - either by gaining some extra distance or having a clear look at a pin that would be blocked off from the other side of the fairway. For all the banter I had heard about how unfair this place was, I wonder why I didn’t hear people rave about how forgiving the fairways were.  The surrounding areas may be overly penal, but if you miss a fairway that's 80 yards wide, you deserve it.

Only a few holes have really demanding tee shots and those are holes that require some sort of forced carry over water off the tee.  Usually I’m not a big fan of forced carries, but these seemed to fit the course.  The tee shots on these holes look intimidating but actually aren't that difficult (so long as you hit the ball solidly). Other tee shots provide interesting angles with even more interesting sightlines. Hit those sightlines and you'll be rewarded with an easy approach to the green, miss them and your score could take a turn for the worse. Some of the most interesting features included the elevated tee boxes that Tom Doak perched high up in the sand dunes. With these tee boxes, you need to worry about more than just your score taking a fall. Watch your footing around some of the tight turns that resemble some of the slopes you see in the green complexes!

Doak may have successfully hidden some greens behind large mounds, but there’s no hiding the fact that these greens are severe. What I liked was that some of the craziest greens on the course (or on any course for that matter), are on some of the easiest holes from tee to green. The greens on the short par 5s are crazy enough to look like they're guarding the holy grail, not a golf hole. When you have eagle putts (I had two during my round) on holes that are easily reachable in two, though, it softens the blow a little bit.  A three putt par is better than a three putt bogey.

The other thing I loved about the course was that the greens allow for players to utilize the contours of the greens to their advantage on approach shots. There are many greens (almost all) that require the approach to be played to the proper spot on the green in relation to the pin or a three putt will surely ensue. I had numerous shots that I aimed away from the pin, hit my intended landing area, and watched the ball funnel to hole. That’s not to say you couldn’t take aim at the pin if you wanted to ignore the slopes, but having the option is pretty sweet. This style of architecture is something we don’t see enough of.

Speaking of sweet, the facilities here are fit for a king. The clubhouse has a rustic cabin feel to it that makes you think that a logger won the lottery and decided to start his own club. The locker rooms are simple looking, yet have steam rooms, saunas, and just about anything else you can think of. The bar area has a pool table and a few larger tables for players looking to sit down and enjoy some of the delicious food at Lost Dunes.

While enjoying the relaxing atmosphere after your round, maybe you’re thinking about your three putts or maybe the eagle chances you had on the par 5s. What I hope you are thinking about, is that this golf course is different than probably any other that you have ever played. Just because it’s different, though, doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s a daring design that offers a lot of reward for hitting great shots and penalizes you for hitting awful shots. I hope to discover more courses like Lost Dunes in the future.

Reporting live from the scene of one of the most intriguing course discoveries in 2 Play the Tips history, I’m Jason Moss.


For more info on what Tom Doak was trying to do with his controversial style at Lost Dunes, Check out this Links Magazine article by Lynn Henning.


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