Well, I finally got around to finishing this a month later. I originally planned to play Longaberger GC when I was out in Columbus. Unfortunately, weather didn’t cooperate on the day that I had time to play. However, I did get a chance to play at Timber Banks, the day before my flight out, with my buddy Kris, who lives in Syracuse. The weather wasn’t great and we got drizzled on a bit, but nothing too bad. The course is predominantly set on wetlands, with a few tree lined holes. The club opened in 2010 and is the only Jack Nicklaus designed course in upstate New York.
We played from the White tees, which measure up to 6202 yards. It’s a par 72 with a course/slope rating of 70.5/133.
Hole 1-296 Yard Par 4
Timber Banks starts off with a very easy, short par 4, which is always nice. Just take whatever club will get you to your preferred layup distance and put it down the middle. Below is the view from the tee.
Below is the approach shot. I hit a 6 iron off the tee, didn’t catch it cleanly and still only had a 9 iron in. I’m going to mention this only because it rarely happens to me. I put my approach just on to the front of the green and sank the putt for a birdie on the first hole. Great way to start the round!
Hole 2-514 Yard Par 5
The 2nd hole is a dogleg left, relatively short par 5 which is reachable for a lot of players. The tee shot is fairly straightforward. You just need to avoid the bunker complex on the left and you’ll be in good shape. I doubt very many people can carry them, but if you do, you’ll have a short second shot. The short carry over the marsh, as you’ll see, is a theme here and is never really an issue.
For the second shot, however, the marsh does come into play. You must either decide to carry it or layup short, about 110 yards out. I decided to go for it, feeling hot off my birdie on 1, and put it just on the right edge of the big bunker in front of the green.
Below is a shot of what the layup shot would look like, just short of the marsh. You can see the big bunker in front, guarding shots that come short. It shouldn’t be an issue if you lay up, but if you go for it, make sure you carry it or actually hit into it. I was just on the edge and had a severe ball above my feet lie, which ruined any legitimate birdie opportunity.
Hole 3-340 Yard Par 4
The third hole is a short, dogleg right, par 4. I love these kind of holes, where accuracy is much more important than distance. A nice fade with a 3 wood or hybrid is all you need here.
Below is the short, 100 yard approach into the green. Only trouble is the bunker in front. Trying to cut the corner paid off with a good angle to the right pin placement.
Unfortunately, I three putted for bogey. I couldn’t really capture it in my pictures, but the greens here are very undulating and punish you severely if you don’t land on the correct tier.
Hole 4-153 Yard Par 3
This a pretty straightforward, shorter par 3 from the White tees. However, from the tips it plays at a long 226 yards. It drops off on the back and left and there’s bunkers on the right, so your only place to miss is short right.
Hole 5-398 Yard Par 4
The 5th is the #1 handicap hole, but I’m not really sure why. It’s not very long and there’s not a lot of trouble, especially from the tee. Take aim at the big tree in the middle of the fairway, with a little draw for the best line on this slight dogleg left.
The approach here is where the trouble comes into play, but as long as you avoid the bunkers, it’s not a tough green and is where I got my 2nd and last birdie of the day.
Hole 6-360 Yard Par 4
I didn’t get a pic of the approach, but the bunker just in front of the green, which can be seen from the tee above, can be a little intimidating to hit over.
Hole 7-529 Yard Par 5
The 7th is a medium length, slight dogleg right par 5, which is reachable with two good shots. The drive should go right over the bunker in the middle of the fairway. It’s only a 190 yard carry, so it’s not really in play.
The second shot features another carry over a marsh area that’s not in play. Make sure not to go right, because there’s a lot of water over there.
Hole 8-161 Yard Par 3
This is a very difficult hole with a severely tiered and undulating green, not to mention the large bunker to catch errant shots to the right. Hitting the green here does not guarantee par.
Couldn’t really capture how tricky this green is in the picture, but here’s a closer look.
Hole 9-412 Yard Par 4
This is a very difficult, long par 4 and was where my round started to unravel. If you have trouble hitting a draw with your driver, like I do, this hole does not set up well for your eye. Most people will have to hit to the right of the bunker complex as it is a 250 yard carry off the tee.
I didn’t get a picture of the approach, since I didn’t exactly have a traditional one, but I did take a picture of another crazy green on this hole.
Hole 10-287 Yard Par 4
When you make the turn, you’re greeted with fun, short par 4. Despite the short yardage, it’s pretty hard to drive the green here with it being uphill the whole way. The fairway bunkers are definitely in play, if laying up off the tee, and there’s water down the right side.
Below is the short approach into the green from a little over 100 yards, which I proceeded to thin my 52 degree wedge and end up with a double on one of the easiest holes. As you’ll see from me forgetting to take pictures on some of the holes, the back 9 did not go so well for me.
Hole 11-529 Yard Par 5
The 11th is a long, 3 shot par 5 for most people. Even from the white tees, you’ll need a good 280 yard drive to be able to even think about going for it. The safe play off the tee is to the right of the bunkers as they require a 230 yard carry to get over them.
The second shot requires you to carry the bunkers in front of you for a short approach into the green.
Hole 12-365 Yard Par 4
Here we have a shorter par 4 that runs adjacent to the highway. I had someone honk in the middle of my backswing and my friend informed me that it’s a very common occurrence, which I found a little annoying. Luckily, I still pured it down the middle. You definitely don’t need driver on this hole. It’s a much better idea to hit 3 wood to shoot the gap and make sure you don’t go left on to the road. There’s also a large fairway bunker awaiting errant shots to the right.
Hole 13-158 Yard Par 3
The 13th is a straightforward one shotter that plays a little uphill and requires a mid-short iron. It’s definitely one of the easier holes on the course and a good birdie opportunity with a front pin location. The only trouble is the bunker on the left.
Hole 14-523 Yard Par 5
This is a long par 5, which is the most difficult hole on the course, in my opinion. A good drive down the middle doesn’t guarantee par on this hole. You’re still left with a lot of hole and a lot of trouble.
You’ll have to have a lot of guts and a lot of power to go for this green in two. It requires a long carry over water to an elevated green. The layup is to the right. Just aim at the bunkers and take a club that puts you short of them and at a distance that puts you at a good yardage for your third.
Below is the 100 yard approach into the multi-tiered, severely undulating green.
Hole 15-306 Yard Par 4
The 15th is a short dogleg left. Short par 4s are usually my favorite holes because of the risk/reward aspect of them, but this one is all risk. There’s very little opportunity for reward and it would require a perfectly played, big draw over a hazard. Just poke out a long a iron short of the bunkers and wedge to the green.
Below is the short approach after hitting a 6 iron off the tee.
Hole 16-136 Yard Par 3
Don’t be deceived by the yardage on the last par 3 here. A HUGE bunker will swallow up shots short and right and there’s no bail out the left as another bunker is there as well. The green is large as well and just hitting it doesn’t guarantee a two putt.
Hole 17-335 Yard Par 4
Now this is a fun hole. I didn’t play it well, but I liked the idea of it and I’m very disappointed I forgot to get a picture off the tee. There’s a line of bunkers that cross the fairway that you’ll have to carry in order to have a short approach into the green. The furthest on the left requires a 245 yard carry and to play short of the bunkers, you can only hit a 180ish yard shot. Below is the approach after carrying the bunkers.
Hole 18-400 Yard Par 4
The home hole at Timber Banks is a test. You’ll need two good, long shots for a shot at par here. There’s a hazard left and a bunker right on the tee and your approach will have to carry the hazard on the left. Below is a shot of the approach.
There’s no denying that Timber Banks is a nice course, and probably the best course in the area, but it didn’t wow me by any means. It was well manicured, but I really wasn’t a fan of the design. Nicklaus’ designs are interesting. They’re either fantastic or like this one, they just seem very contrived and more like a template design, rather than something unique. The holes just seemed to blend together. There was nothing really visually interesting and only a couple of fun holes. I guess I’m also a little salty that I didn’t break 80! It’s definitely worth it to play here, especially with the twilight rate, because of the groundskeeping and to play a Nicklaus course if you haven’t before, just don’t expect anything too special.
Next stop, the classic Donald Ross design that has hosted 3 U.S. Opens, 3 PGA Championships, 2 U.S. Amateurs, and a Ryder Cup…Oak Hill Country Club!