Planting your peg on the first tee of a great new course is like waking up on Christmas morning. You may have some idea about the gifts that await, but the surprise is half the fun. As each hole unfolds, it’s akin to unwrapping one present at a time. Each hole, and course, is different, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. As the calendar year comes to a close, GOLF.com will unveil its best of the best when it comes to new courses of 2018. Check the December 2018 issue of GOLF magazine for the full lineup.
On the tee: The best new private course of the year
Ohoopee Match Club
7,319 Yards, Par 72
As low-key private clubs go, this one’s nearly off the grid. Ohoopee Match Club is situated on the Ohoopee River in rural Georgia, 75 miles west of Savannah. It’s the quietly realized vision of Michael Walrath, a tech mogul and venture capitalist who thought it would be fun to create a place where he and his pals could enjoy match-play golf. In Hanse Golf Design, he found the perfect accomplice to execute that vision.
Hanse peeled away layers of convention to craft a 22-hole layout atop a rolling, forested, lakeside property that was once an onion farm. Eighteen holes form the traditional layout; the extra holes, including a few that criss-cross each other—à la many ancient Scottish links—will be the basis of an alternate, par-69 “Whiskey Route” track of 5,600 yards that should be ideal for members seeking to walk a second round in a day.
The course is bracketed by native sandy soil, scrubby vegetation and gorgeous live oaks, but it’s plenty wide to allow for multiple options off the tee. Artfully sculpted bunkers of all sizes, inspired contouring on and around the greens, and a good number of half-par holes provide Ohoopee with endless risk/reward opportunities, making it ideal for match play.